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Auto blogMon, 10 Dec 2012 11:57:00 EST
We admit it. We have no earthly idea how this whole thing is going to shake out.
Typically, after driving a new car or truck, we come away prepared to hazard a guess as to whether said model has a good chance of being a sales success. We've amassed enough time watching the industry, scrutinizing the competitors, and so on, to make a reasonably educated bet. Yet here we are, days removed from driving the new 2013 Buick Encore, and we still have no bloody idea.
General Motors has announced a large investment in its Spring Hill, Tennessee facility. The former home of Saturn production will be getting a $167 million addition to a previously announced $183 million, to cover a pair of new midsize vehicles. The investment is expected to create 1,800 jobs at the factory.
That $350 million is being divvied up for a pair of programs at Spring Hill. The first will take the bulk of the money ($223 million) and create 1,000 of the 1,800 jobs, while the other will take the remaining $127 million and generate the leftover 800 positions. But GM says the investment will cover "midsize vehicle programs." So what could they be?
The leading candidate in our minds is a new crossover for Buick, called the Anthem, that will slot between the Encore and Enclave, but will be slightly smaller than the Equinox and Terrain. As we've explained, the new model will likely be the first product to sport GM's new D2UX platform, which will eventually replace both the Delta and Theta platforms. Spring Hill is already building the Equinox, so there could be some credence to this theory.
It's nighttime in China, and Buick has just concluded an evening event the day before the first - and only - press day of the Shanghai Motor Show. The star of this evening's party was the Buick Riviera concept vehicle, a plug-in electric hybrid coupe that the automaker says gives a glimpse at its future design direction, not to mention resurrecting some nomenclature from the brand's history that includes a similarly named concept from 2007.
The shape of the Riviera is said to be inspired by water. While the traditional Buick "waterfall" grille is present, the front end gains a more aggressive note thanks to what appear to be vertical air inlets below each headlight.
As for the concept's drivetrain, Buick says it uses General Motors' new dual-mode wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle propulsion system, or W-PHEV for short. The keyword there is 'wireless,' as the Riviera can charge its onboard battery packs with a traditional cable or wirelessly via a "sensory recharge panel" underneath the car.