Buick Velite 5 is the Volt’s new Chinese Alias

Buick’s first ever extended range EV made its debut yesterday in Shanghai.

Joining the LaCrosse Hybrid under the new Buick Blue alternative propulsion banner, the Velite 5 is the first serious salvo from Buick as it aims to convert its 8 million strong stranglehold on the Chinese premium market, into a leadership position in the nation’s budding new energy sector.

Truthfully, the Velite 5 is little more than a Chevrolet Volt with a new name. Besides the matching sheet metal, it has the same direct injected 1.5L engine, the same EVT transmission, the same two electric motors, and the same T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack. The only real change is the range: 72 miles on electricity or 477 miles if you kick in a full tank of gas, even so, Buick assured us the difference is purely down to the Chinese test cycle.

Like the Volt, the Velite offers OnStar, Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE connectivity and Bose speakers; plus adaptive cruise control, lane keeps and high beam assists.

The significance of the Velite 5 doesn’t lay in the car at all–it’s the first genuine PHEV to be produced in the People’s Republic–and it opens the door for other, Chinese specific vehicles to be built atop the Voltec powertrain. Buick has promised additional PHEV and pure EV vehicles over the next two years, so there’s still hope for something sexier to make production.

Two trim levels are being offered and both are eligible for a subsidy from SAIC-GM.