The Chicago International Auto Show is taking place this week, with press preview dates on the 9th and 10th. An interesting fact about the event is that, by floor space, it is the largest auto show in the nation. The first production model to come out of the gate is from Buick, a brand that has been on a roll recently.
For each of the past few autoshows, Buick has had important launches. Most recently the Verano compact debuted at Detroit. Prior to that, a very significant development for Buick – the LaCrosse eAssist – debuted in Los Angeles. With a strong response, the Regal eAssist is being introduced shortly after.
Overall, the Regal eAssist looks the same on the outside. To our eyes, that’s a good thing. It is the changes that take place underneath that count with this car though. eAssist is General Motors’ next-generation BAS (Belt Alternator Start) hybrid technology. The system is more advanced than the previous BAS, with it now utilizing a lithium ion battery pack.
With the hype Buick has been receiving, GM is giving the technology to Buick first to help cement its ascendant status. This is the kind of thinking that Buick needs to really move forward. Eventually, we can expect the system to infiltrate the GM lineup in order to provide impressive fuel economy numbers across the board. The numbers speak for themselves: 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.
For a mid-size luxury sedan to be achieving those numbers is highly impressive. The figures promise to be a huge selling point in the market; 25 percent improved fuel economy over Regal CXL for a relatively small cost increase.
Savings is achieved by regenerative braking and pairing a small electric motor and lithium ion battery pack with GM’s 2.4-liter ECOTEC four-cylinder. Together the system makes 182 horsepower and 172 foot-pounds of torque. Certainly no gutless wonder here either.
For 2012, the Regal’s larger sibling the LaCrosse gets standard eAssist. On the less expensive Regal, it is optional – and that is a good move, helping to provide space and differentiation between the two. Offering the option is also great insurance against future gas price spikes.
The Regal eAssist differs over the standard car by offering standard 17-inch aluminum wheels and in the interior, a a standard 7-inch touchscreen that displays information regarding power flow of the system. There is also an ECO indicator in the gauge cluster and a optimization mode for the air conditioning system. The Regal eAssist is set to go into production in fall of 2011 at GM’s Oshawa, Canada manufacturing facility. Currently all Regal models are being imported from Germany.