Hybrids & Electrics

The Buick Electra Concept Proves the Brand Isn’t Just Your Grandad’s Grocery Getter

Buick, whether right or wrong, is pretty connected with grandad-ness. As a kid of the ‘90s, grandparents loving Buicks was indelibly woven into my consciousness at a young age. The sky is blue, water is wet, and old folks dig a Buick. These are simple facts. The Buick Electra concept seems set on changing that.

Don’t get me wrong, Buick has made some very cool cars in the past like the ’70s Riveras or the early ’50s Skylarks. But, it was extremely normal to see an older person proudly exit a freshly washed and waxed Buick Le Sabre, or Rivera, or Regal, or Electra; take your pick of semi-luxury sedans from the ’80s and ’90s. The folks at Buick, after roughly 400 million years or so, are ready to launch past the present and into a sci-fi future with the newly resurrected Buick Electra concept. 

Buick Electra design overview

Buick Electra Concept
Buick Electra Concept | Buick press kit

The top brass at Buick brought in a design studio from Shanghai to create this futuristic Electra concept, reports Autoblog. The Electra concept is seemingly a statement by Buick trying to get across the sentiment that it isn’t old. It’s hip and cutting edge. Autoblog goes on to say that the Buick concept is a fully-electric tall sedan or maybe even a crossover depending on how you look at it. The Electra concept sports Tesla-esque butterfly doors, which Buick says is inspired by space capsules. 

Buick makes a new name for itself

Gray 1988 Buick Rivera model parked next to a dark blue 1989 Buick Rivera model which is 11 inches longer.
1988 Buick Riveras | Andrew Sacks/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

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I think Buick has mostly catered to people who wanted a well-equipped and comfortable car but who might be on the more conservative side. To be clear, I don’t mean politically conservative; I mean a more reserved person, not wanting to come off as flashy or excessive. Even outside the more grandpa-centric models from my childhood, Buick makes well-equipped and often luxury cars without the flash and glamour of Caddilac or Lincoln. The Buick Electra concept makes a decisive move away from that pattern. 

Buick uses the new term, “Potential Energy” to describe the design language that will continue through the new line of Buicks. It starts with the space capsule inspiration and continues to design techniques that hope to show a car that is sculpted, not chiseled. Buick says the concept is designed to resemble a glass pod. I can’t help but feel as though they still managed to draw inspiration from the 1950s futurism, but that’s ok; we’ll let it slide. 

Grocery getter turned “space capsule”

Autoblog reports the Buick Electra concept continues the space-age thematics with a cabin filled with high-tech gadgets that the designers managed to hide cleverly, avoiding button overload. Inside the Electra concept, strange shapes abound like a curved screen replacing any buttons or controls you might expect to find on a dash and a retracting square steering wheel (pop pop won’t like that one bit). They go on to say it will also have an AI-powered assistant (uh oh) that will help set the A/C, radio, and other common driver distractions. 

Electra concept interior
Electra concept interior | Buick press kit

The Buick Electra concept has a distinctly youthful feature that sounds like it was dreamed up by a nine-year-old while drawing his/her dream car with a crayon. The Buick concept has a “space-age” skateboard integrated into the vehicle’s design (What? A skateboard?). They built the “space-age” skateboard into someplace beneath the back bumper. It’s almost as if Buick said, “What are the youths into these days? Skateboards? Space movies? Vaping? OK. Let’s do skateboards.” 

Buick is going for supercar speeds

Buick also gave the specs for the electric system used to power the giant space skateboard. They built the Electra around the GM designed Ultimum battery technology currently in use across other GM properties slated to enter the market in 2024. They claim the motor can hit hyper-car like figures, cause, of course, it can. At this point, staggering 0-60 mph times and high horsepower is simply commonplace in the EV sphere. 

Autoblog reports the Buick Electra concept has a dual-motor drivetrain sending 583 hp to all four wheels. Pop Pop could get to the hardware store in no time with that kind of power. 

What Buick realistically plans to do with the Electra in the coming years is truly anyone’s guess, but this doesn’t feel like something they intended to make at all. I would wager this is a message from Buick to the world saying that it’s an agile and adaptive company that sees the future coming and wants in. I feel like this pledge to the future will make Pop Pop even more proud of flexing his pristine ‘96 Buick Regal in the hardware store parking lot. And to that I say, flex on em, Pops.