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In the past, we have sometimes been critical of GM over its concept cars never coming even close to becoming production versions. We have posited different ideas as to why GM comes up with some fantastic concepts accompanied by much fanfare and great public reaction, only to ignore it entirely or develop a highly watered-down production version. Recent comments by GM President Mark Reuss about the coming Buick Envista may have finally revealed why this continues to happen over the decades. 

What did GM’s President say about the Buick Envista?

Buick Wildcat to Envista | MB-GM

GM has always been one of the leaders in automobile design. And their concepts prove it. Unfortunately, their execution continually disappoints. At a press unveiling of a new SUV from Buick called Envista, Reuss said, “It’s already in production in China. Again, the paying forward of the Buick design off of the Wildcat concept. Beautiful vehicle, getting ready for the U.S. here as well.” 

Wildcat EV concept
The Buick Wildcat EV concept | GM

So, unless there is another meaning to it, “paying forward” in this context means that the Envista design was based off of the Wildcat concept. That GM‘s talent and money plowed into the Wildcat’s creation was justified, with the Envista end result. Right?

But if you look at both vehicles, there is nothing about the Wildcat that can be translated into the Envista. Oh, maybe there is one. That sculpted whoop in the side body surface of the Envista may have originated with the Wildcat. However, we’ve seen a similar treatment on various Mazda vehicles for years. 

Do the Buick Wildcat and Envista look similar to you?

 Wildcat EV
The Buick Wildcat EV concept | GM

The point is, whether it’s the details, proportions, silhouette, or any other cues you look for as comparisons, there are none. It’s like saying a football begat the apple. There really is nothing similar. So, what can Reuss’ remarks tell us?

We’re speculating here, but it would indicate one of two things. Either Reuss needs some justification for the time and expense of the Wildcat concept and thought to wedge it into the Envista discussion. That, or he actually sees similarities that, frankly, just aren’t there. It’s like the power of suggestion changed his perception so that he sees vast similarities. 

Honestly, it seems astonishing that any discussion of the Envista would include the Wildcat, and vice-versa. We only see it as a hint of how automaker executives see their products. In this case, Reuss can turn the bland Buick into a Wildcat concept in his mind. And it is such a stretch that if he can do it in this case, how does he view a Traverse or an Impala? 

Do you like the look of the Buick Envista?

Buick Envista
2024 Buick Envista | GM

There has always been a rap about decision-makers in Detroit being so insular. In the past, it has been argued that Detroit execs don’t see, or have any knowledge of, anything outside the city of Detroit. All of their assumptions and input begin and end there. That they may say they have a global outlook, but only based on their Detroit perspective. 

Wildcat concept
Buick Wildcat EV concept | GM

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We won’t ever know if that is the case here. But it makes sense that with all of the money, time, talent, and manpower spent on these incredible concept cars that go nowhere, it must be how the boardroom sees their worth. Even if it isn’t there to see.