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Buick unveils Riviera concept car

Fourth concept venture in China reinforces Buick's attachment to the largest market in the world, where it sells far more cars than in the U.S.

  • The image of cars in a showroom

General Motors unveiled a sleek China-designed Buick concept coupe Monday at the Auto Shanghai show.

It dubbed it the Riviera, reviving the name of the stylish two-door from Buick’s 1960s glory days for the futuristic concept, a plug-in hybrid that seems similar in direction to the coming Cadillac ELR plug-in coupe.

It’s the fourth global concept vehicle to come out of GM’s Shanghai GM and Pan Asia Technical Automotive Centre joint ventures. And it’s the second time Buick has used the name for a concept from China.

Buick is celebrating the 110th anniversary of its founding in the U.S., but its future may depend a lot more on China, the world’s largest auto market, where Buick sells significantly more vehicles than in the U.S.

GM said the Riviera’s designers were inspired by the Chinese saying: “The greatest good is like water,” as they tried to capture “the vibrant nature of a moving river” and a “three-dimensional effect that resembles waves in the ocean” in the car’s design. Inside, the design attempts to evoke the style of Chinese jade-inlaid wood with aluminum, suede and ebony.

But the concept retains a version of Buick’s signature “waterfall” grille and incorporates the wing-shaped LED running lights that Buick is hoping to make a signature. You’ll see them on the refreshed 2014 Regal and Lacrosse models.

GM says the powertrain is a new plug-in hybrid system that can be charged via a cable or wirelessly through a panel on the undercarriage. A nostalgic touch: the charging socket is integrated into a Buick “porthole,” the faux vent holes that date to the 1950s.

No concept worth the name these days would be offline, and the Riviera sports a high-speed 4G LTE mobile Internet system.

And while GM does not call it a “driverless” car, the Riviera concept incorporates a high-tech active safety setup that provides a lot of driver assistance including, GM says, an “autopilot” system.

The Riviera uses 10 cameras and 18 sensors to gather traffic information that it displays in a heads-up holographic image on the windshield, and GM says it offers night vision help, full-speed adaptive cruise control and blind spot, lane departure, lane change and cross-traffic alerts.

With files from MCT Information Services

  • Buick unveils Riviera concept car Buick's Chinese-made concept car takes its style inspiration from the Chinese saying "The greatest good is like water."
  • Buick unveils Riviera concept car Buick unveils the sleek Riviera concept car at the Shanghai Auto Show. It retains the "waterfall" grille and incorporates the wing-shaped LED running lights Buick hopes to make a signature.
  • Buick unveils Riviera concept car Buick Riviera concept car is revealed Friday, April 19, 2013, on the eve of the Shanghai Auto Show in Shanghai, China. (Nathan Bomey/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

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