November 19, 2016 at 9:00 am by Greg Fink | Photography by THE MANUFACTURER
Some 12-plus years ago, the Buick Velite convertible made its debut at the 2004 New York auto show. That concept never went anywhere, but now the tri-shield brand has taken the wraps off another show car bearing the name Velite. Unveiled at the Guangzhou auto show in China, the latest Buick Velite is a four-door crossover that the brand calls a template for future alternative-energy vehicles it plans to produce.
While the Velite’s name may ring a bell for those with a preternaturally strong recollection of Buick show cars, the styling is more of an instantly familiar assemblage of design cues from today’s crossover SUVs. Beyond the winged grille—which is spreading throughout the Buick lineup—the design, from the boomerang-shaped LED headlights to the multitude of busy body lines, strikes us as little more than a mashup of elements that could have come off a BMW, an Infiniti, a Mercedes-Benz, or a Toyota.
As to the Velite’s powertrain, Buick isn’t sharing much beyond noting that the crossover concept is a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid with a lithium-ion battery pack.
With both China and the United States displaying an insatiable appetite for crossovers, we’ll admit a production version of the Velite has the potential for sales success. Nevertheless, if the goal of a concept car is to generate customer excitement, then Buick’s too-familiar Velite falls far short of the brand’s other most recent efforts, the Avenir and the Avista.