GM/PATAC debuted the Buick Business Concept in Shanghai yesterday to much excitement by the locals and their multi-generation families. Let's take a closer look at this ballerific, Chinese-designed and decidedly sexy
minivan business-casual MPV.
So the Buick Business Concept didn't look as garish as our quick MSPaint rendition from last week — Thank you GM for not taking our direction — Instead, GM/PATAC designers managed to create a wonderful piece of people moving Buick-ified rolling design. I was initially told that this MPV would ride on something around the size and proportion of the Chevy Orlando Concept, but I was more than surprised to realize that this thing is a Shanghai beast, not unlike some of the dim sum and liter beers I've been throwing back while staying in China. But don't think for one minute that this 4,195 pounder isn't environmentally friendly because PATAC engineers have applied GM's next-generation hybrid system for a more economical experience. Hrm...
Buick designers describe the concept as having "dynamic exterior surfaces" and "yin and yang interior tones" which basically translates to, "the Buick concept is all business on the exterior and harmonious on the inside." Wait, I didn't do much better, did I? The main inspiration for the Business Concept were the 2008 (also Chinese designed) Buick Riviera Concept, Chinese artifacts and modern iconic electronics. And Buick Marketing finishes off the sell with this little gem; "The vehicle, inside and out, communicates an orderly elegance that transcends cultural boundaries and conveys the tranquility and power of Buick." Wow, I
want need one now.
• Embodies Buick's New Global Design Language in an MPV
• Leading MPV Trend in China, Designed for China's Business Elite
SHANGHAI, April 20, 2009 – The Buick Business Concept, a new concept vehicle designed to showcase Buick's future vision of "business class on the road," made its global debut today at Auto Shanghai 2009.
The multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) was developed in China by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), a design and engineering joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), with global design input.
The Business Concept Vehicle captures the essence of the Buick form language in a thoroughly elegant and expressive design, with its taut surfaces, double sweep spear belt line, strong front and rear identities and dynamic presence.
"The Business Concept Vehicle has a grand presence and makes a strong statement when it pulls up to the front of any establishment," said Ed Welburn, GM Vice President of Global Design. "The Chinese market and business person have some unique requirements. Our team has responded with an elegant solution to their business and personal needs."
Classic Influences in Modern Design
According to Cao Min, PATAC Concept Car Chief Designer, the design team set out to create a modern global design for Buick, yet include a subtle Chinese essence and influence. To achieve this balance, they sought to draw from their heritage outside the automotive industry – from classic shapes to arts and ancient relics.
The Business Concept Vehicle's dynamic exterior surfaces and "yin and yang" interior tones are drawn from diverse inspirations including the 2008 Buick Riviera concept car, Chinese artifacts and modern electronic icons. The vehicle, inside and out, communicates an orderly elegance that transcends cultural boundaries and conveys the tranquility and power of Buick.
Exterior Design – A Sense of Presence and Buick Essence
To establish their design direction, PATAC designers took the global Buick design vocabulary of sculpturally beautiful and dynamic forms established by the Riviera concept car and successfully extended it to a tall, one-box architecture.
The Business Concept Vehicle develops the Buick form language further and incorporates elements of Chinese culture and artistic influences into the details. It takes the Buick design treatment to a new level of sophisticated boldness.
The famous Buick waterfall grille takes on a bolder treatment. Intricate detailing gives it an even more prominent look. The backlit Buick tri-shield logo leads into the distinctive mid-hood crease prevalent in classic Buicks and consistent across the new Buick line today.
The prominent LED headlamps show influences of popular Chinese liuli glass through three-dimensional transparent and multifaceted surfaces. Liuli is a Chinese crystal sculpture art form that incorporates cultural and modern references. It has become a popular symbol of modern Chinese prosperity.
The elongated, jewel-like headlamps are connected to the body shoulder line through a strong chrome accent that flows the length of the vehicle from the hood to the body sides, accentuating a strong double sweep spear design until it finally comes to rest wrapped around the taillights. This is the most distinctive design element of the Business Concept Vehicle, as it offers a modern approach to the classic Buick double sweep spear. Familiar Buick portholes are gracefully integrated into the chrome strip extending from the headlamps.
This distinctive double sweep spear shape not only provides expressive dynamism to the vehicle profile, it is also functionally important. It defines the window line from the body sides and incorporates the rail guides for the power sliding doors. Additionally, it lowers the rear passenger sightline and adds significant shoulder room to the rear compartment.
"This vehicle was inspired by the grace and gesture of great Buicks. PATAC designers have cleverly incorporated other design cues from traditional Chinese art, such as applying a huiwen motif on the turn signals and fog lamps," Cao Min said.
The Zitan Purple exterior color was chosen to elicit the right level of attention and respect. The color is found in rare zitan wood used for sculptures and fine Chinese furniture. This deep burnt-purple color perfectly highlights the concept's grandeur.
Power sliding doors with no B-pillar were selected for their ability to showcase an expansive view of the interior and ease of entrance and egress.
The Business Concept Vehicle sits on 20-inch, 9-spoke forged aluminum wheels, with a polished mirror finish, and low-profile tires. The outside mirrors incorporate turn signals with the huiwen motif.
Interior Design – Functionality and Soothing Serenity
Serenity and advanced functionality come to mind when entering the vehicle. The use of deep burgundy suede and subtle creams, representing earth and wood themes, are conveyed through high-quality leather bucket seats, plush vehicle carpet and a luxurious padded steering wheel. Completing the tranquil feel is a roof comprised of two full-length sunroofs that offer a celestial connection for occupants.
"Through deep burgundy suede carpet, high-quality leather interior decoration with liuli and soft, ice blue ambient lighting, we wanted to create a mobile VIP lounge for passengers," Cao Min said.
Interior trim and features befitting Buick prestige abound such as a power central console with a deployable tablet for writing or to hold a laptop computer. The console can be moved up and down the two rows of rear seats. The second row of power captain's chairs slide on hidden rails and swivel 225 degrees, enabling them to be adjusted to an infinite combination of orientations. Traditional huiwen patterns are embroidered onto the seats and seat backs, bringing harmony to the entire design theme.
The three-dimensional instrument cluster reaches across the entire width of the front panel and features a multi-layer information display. The instrument cluster design reflects the liuli art influence but is utterly modern in design. It is complemented by a central console with touch pad controls on either side of a cylinder-shaped roller mouse. A large LED display crowns the central console. Once again, the huiwen motif shows up as details on the wings of the instrument panel.
The OnStar security telematics feature is easily accessible on the rearview mirror, with three prominently yet tastefully displayed call buttons.
"The design of the vehicle inherits Buick's vision for business class on the road, creating a sense that space means possibility," Cao Min said.
Next-Generation GM Hybrid System
PATAC designed the Buick Business Concept Vehicle to accommodate the next-generation GM Hybrid System, which will be introduced in China in the near future.
The next-generation GM Hybrid System will build upon the successful belt-alternator-starter hybrid technology currently available in the Buick LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid. An advanced lithium-ion battery will help make the next-generation GM Hybrid System more powerful than the current system, improving fuel economy of vehicles with this system by up to 20 percent, depending on engine and vehicle application.
The next-generation GM Hybrid System helps optimize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by:
• Turning the engine off at idle
• Offering brief electric-only propulsion
• Using a more powerful electric motor to enhance engine efficiency
• Extending fuel cutoff during deceleration
• Extending regenerative braking to recapture more energy
• Performing intelligent hybrid battery charging
"Developing and launching the Business Concept Vehicle in China underscores the diversity, strength and depth of GM's global design network," Welburn said. "It also reflects PATAC's growing role within the GM design family and China's significance as the world's largest Buick market."