GM, Buick to launch plug-ins, electric cars in China

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Friday its Buick brand will soon launch its first extended-range electric vehicle, the Velite 5, in China.

The Detroit automaker said it plans in the next two years to introduce plug-in hybrid gasoline electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles under the Buick brand in China. GM’s largest sales market is China, where Buick last year topped more than 1 million in sales and more than 8 million since its introduction in 1998.

Last year, GM launched a new Buick LaCrosse hybrid electric and showcased the Velite Concept in China.

The Velite 5 has an electric motor drive unit, a 1.5-liter engine and a liquid-cooled lithium battery pack. The electric-only driving range is estimated at more than 100 kilometers or 62 miles. In extended-range mode with the engine, the Velite 5 has a driving range of more than 750 kilometers or 466 miles, GM says.

In the United States, GM sells the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with range extension. Redesigned for the 2016 model year, the Volt gets an estimated 53 miles of pure electric driving and has total range of 420 miles.

GM last year said it would introduce more than 10 “new energy” vehicles such as plug-in electric hybrids and pure battery electrics in China in the next five years.

In 2016, sales of “new energy” vehicles in China totaled 507,000, up 53 percent from 2015 levels, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

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