Buick is going all-electric with its throwback Electra line
Taking a look back at the brand's long history—and its new EV future.
First launched in 1903, the Buick brand has been around for well over a century. On June 1, Buick—the division now positioned as the General Motors brand sitting between Chevrolet and Cadillac on the luxury scale—announced that it would be launching its first all-electric model next year for the 2024 model year. This will be the first in a long series of EVs for Buick, as it also announced this new EV will be the springboard to transition Buick to an all-electric brand. And in a move that looks to the future of the brand, Buick is keeping an eye on its own past by reviving the Electra name.
The Electra name was introduced in 1959, and denoted Buick’s largest and most luxurious model available at the time, slotting in above the Invicta and LeSabre. For over three decades the Electra was a large comfortable American luxury cruiser. It downsized in the late 1970s as a response to competition and rising fuel prices, but continued to fill the same slot in the General Motors lineup of automobiles. The name was last used in 1990 when the sixth-generation Electra was replaced by a vehicle with a totally new shape called Park Avenue.
For the past two decades, Buick has been a somewhat nebulous brand without much of an identity. Its resonance with the Chinese market kept it alive through the 2008 financial crisis, which claimed former GM stablemate Oldsmobile. For many years the brand’s American dealerships were largely kept afloat with rebadged imports from Germany and South Korea. Once a vibrant and full fledged sub-luxury automaker, Buick has now been relegated to a lineup consisting of just three crossovers of varying size.
The company is now set to transform itself into an all-electric brand by the end of the decade, kicking off with the aforementioned Electra—a name that has been dead for longer than it was originally used. Starting next year, however, the Buick brand will use that long-extinct name as a sub-brand for all of its battery electric vehicles.
“The Buick brand is committed to an all-electric future by the end of this decade,” said Duncan Aldred, global vice president, Buick and GMC, in a release. “Buick’s new logo, use of the Electra naming series and a new design look for our future products will transform the brand.”
As part of the June 1 announcement, Buick also pulled back the wraps on a new concept car to help showcase the future of the brand’s design language. Also inspired by a nameplate from Buick’s past, the new Wildcat EV concept proves that the brand and its artists can still pull off an inspired and forward-thinking design aesthetic.
“The Wildcat EV concept represents the real design future for the brand,” said Sharon Gauci, executive director, Global Buick and GMC Design. “Buick has always been forward looking and this expression is a glimpse of where we’re going, and the optimism we have for the limitless possibilities of an electric future.”
The concept 2+2 (that refers to two seats in the front, and two in the rear) coupe is striking in a way that Buicks have not been for quite some time, delivering the elegance that the brand once had in spades. There’s a blend of sporty performance and luxury that gives the concept an almost Lexus-like visual hook. Unlike many concept cars of the recent past, Buick doesn’t quote any out-of-this-world performance figures or headline-grabbing power numbers. The company clearly wanted this design to stand on its own merits, showcasing what future electric Buick models could look like.
In conjunction with this transition to EVs, and a new design language previewed by the Wildcat, Buick is also refreshing its logo. The company’s tri-shield badge, which has remained largely unchanged for over thirty years, is also getting a whole new look.
Back in January of 2021, General Motors made a commitment to discontinue all gasoline and diesel-powered light-duty vehicle sales by 2035, across all of its brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. Buick, it seems, is bringing that goal forward by half a decade, discontinuing all internal combustion products before 2030. The company’s three remaining models are getting quite long in the tooth, so the lineup is already due for a refresh.
Watch a video about the Wildcat EV, below: