Speculation

Is the Buick Velite 7 the Chevrolet Bolt EUV that GM keeps talking about?

The Buick Velite 7 hints at what Americans can expect from the Bolt EV.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Thursday, the Buck Velite 7 debuted. The what? Don't worry about remembering its name. It's not coming to America - at least with that moniker.

It's not uncommon for automakers to have vehicles that are region-specific. Some cater to the exact needs of an industry or lifestyle, or take into account safety regulations (or lack thereof). The Velite 7 has been developed specifically for the Chinese market, which represents 80 percent of the Buick brand's sales.

2020 Chevrolet BoltFor 2020, the Chevrolet Bolt received a 21-mile range increase.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

GM has announced that the model will offer an electric range of up to 500 kilometers under New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) conditions on a full charge.

Underpinning the Velite 7 is the same architecture as the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is sold in the U.S. - the BEV2 platform. General Motors has alluded to the fact that the platform will be used to expand models in the U.S. in the near term before giving way to the company's new BEV3 design.

The BEV3 platform features the Ultium battery technology GM recently debuted. The new Ultium batteries feature large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This arrangement option allows engineers to stack the cells in a way that makes sense for the vehicle and customer, on a global scale.

The energy options for the batteries range from 50 to 200 kWh, which can result in a GM-estimated range of up to 400 miles on a full charge. The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt, the automaker's only electric vehicle currently sold in the U.S., has a 259-mile all-electric range.

General Motors EV batteryGeneral Motors and Honda have agreed to jointly develop Honda EVs using GM's new Ultium battery tech.Photo courtesy of General Motors

Electric vehicles that are propelled by the batteries are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. The batteries in the truck platform will consist of 800-volt battery packs and 350 kWh fast-charging capability.

Buick uses the Velite sub-brand to designate its electric vehicle line. GM sells the Chevrolet Volt, which has been discontinued in the U.S. as the Buick Velite 5.

Is the Buick Velite 7 the Chevrolet Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle) that GM keeps talking about? Yes and no. It's likely that with a few design tweaks, this is basically the Bolt EUV that will make its way to the U.S. The Bolt EUV is due to debut in mid-2021 (possibly at next year's North American International Auto Show) as a 2022 model.

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VW purchased the rights to the iconic Scout name and plans to make new EVs under the brand.

Volkswagen

Automakers bring back names and brands from the past all the time, but it's not every day that a major company purchases a brand name specifically for the purpose of reviving it. That's exactly what Volkswagen just did with Scout, the name of an ultra-popular off-road SUV that was built by International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the types of vehicles we'll see from the brand, we currently only have the renders to go on. The pickup truck and SUV both feature throwback styling that is reminiscent of the original Scout shapes. Beefy off-road tires and lifted suspension are the only other clues available in the drawings.

Volkswagen has its own EVs, and its other brands like Audi and Porsche have made significant progress with electric vehicles as well. That said, VW doesn't really have a solid off-road option from any of its brands at the moment, so the Scout purchase opens doors for the automaker in that arena.

The announcement sounds exciting, but we've still got plenty of time to wait before there's a Scout-branded EV on the roads. Volkswagen said the plan is to release vehicles by 2026, but it won't be sitting idle between now and then. The VW ID.4 is still very fresh and the automaker says it will launch a total of 25 new EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

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The Denali Ultimate trim is new for 2023.

GMC

The GMC Yukon has always been a luxurious family hauler with beefy capability, but it moved even more upmarket in recent years with added tech and upscale interior materials. GMC just announced an even cushier version of the SUV for the 2023 model year. The Yukon Ultimate Denali gets unique styling touches and upgrades that take the already plush SUV to another level.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate22-inch wheels are standard GMC

The Denali Ultimate gets exclusive upgrades over other trims that include 22-inch wheels and chrome accents outside. The full-size SUV just got a complete redesign for 2021, which brought updated boxy styling, and a sleek look, so there are no additional exterior changes for 2023.

GMC offers three engines in the standard Yukon, but only two make it into the Ultimate. The standard powertrain includes a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel is also available that makes 277 horsepower and a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic transmission is standard for all engines, and four-wheel drive is available.

Inside, the Ultimate comes with Alpine Umber full-grain leather upholstery with 16-way power front seats and massaging. Trim-exclusive contrast stitching and aluminum trim accent the space, and the top model gets an 18-speaker Bose audio system with stainless steel speaker grilles.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali UltimateGrained leather upholstery and upscale interior finishes are standard. GMC

A 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, and offers Google services built in. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, along with wireless phone charging. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Amazon Alexa functionality are available. GMC also offers Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the Denali Ultimate.

GMC hasn’t detailed pricing for the new SUV yet, but we expect it to start at a premium over the standard Denali, which starts at just over $70,000.

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