Let’s Go (Electric) Wildcats!
Buick's Future is Electric
The Wildcat EV points to Buick's future design language in an all-electric world.
By Glenn Oyoung
Wed, Aug 24, 2022 09:00 PM PST
Featured Image: The Buick Wildcat points to Buick’s design language of an electrified future.
All images courtesy Buick
This is the Buick Wildcat EV Concept. Take a look, let it soak in. I’ll wait. And… we’re back. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, this really is a Buick. No, I don’t think they’re making this exact car. Yes, there is a point. This Wildcat is going to be the face of future electrified Buick’s.
LACar was invited to check out the Wildcat EV at GM’s North Hollywood Design Center and speak to Buick’s design luminaries. Upon walking into the highly secure compound, I came face to face with the Wildcat and literally stopped in my tracks. The Wildcat EV looks great in pictures. In person it is a show-stopper - in a classy, elegant, this could actually be a production car kind of way. If the Wildcat was rolling off assembly lines right now, I would not be the only one rushing to provide a deposit. Believe me, I tried with the Buick team (repeatedly).
Buick recently announced that it will go all electric by 2030, five years before GM has committed it will do so across its entire family of brands. To promote and support that transition, Buick has resurrected the Electra name and adopted a sleeker restyled tri-shield logo. Rounding out the news, is the Buick’s Wildcat EV – so named after Wildcat concept cars designed in the early 1950s by the legendary GM chief designer Harley Earl.
In the last decade, Buick has reinvigorated the brand by focusing on the ever-popular CUV and SUV market and by refreshing its branding and marketing strategy. Today, Buick’s product mix and brand positioning have made it the most popular brand amongst females. To that end, Buick recently debuted their futuristic “Come Dream With Us” campaign starring Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon and the Wildcat EV.
“Come Dream with Us” - Buick’s Vision for an Electric Future (video above). Sign me up for the romance setting and the split-second self-parking!
Design no doubt plays a significant part of it too, as the brand has invested heavily in refreshing the Buick design language. “The Wildcat EV concept represents the real design future for the brand,” said Sharon Gauci, executive director, Global Buick and GMC Design. “Buick has always been forward looking and this expression is a glimpse of where we’re going, and the optimism we have for the limitless possibilities of an electric future.”
Both Gauci and Bob Boniface, director, Global Buick Design were on hand to field my questions and walk me through the thinking behind the Wildcat. After the third time offering to Venmo them a deposit, we got to talking about the car. Gauci and Boniface explained the idea was to make something timeless and elegant, and at the same time modern and optimistic.
We talked about how GM cars in the 50’s had a similar goal, and how the jet age informed the tailfins and aircraft-inspired hood ornaments adorning the tri-fives I love so much. How is the electric age shaping design thus far? In the coming era of electrified vehicles, some cars will look like appliances – literally rooms on wheels, some will look like the latest Apple Magic Mouse due to the constraints of aerodynamics, and some will look like, well, cars. The Buick design team was adamant that they would not be in the camp making faceless cars. The Wildcat is proof.
I remarked that the I was picking up a feeling similar to one when I look at an Aston Martin or a 911 – a shape that continues to be iconic as it evolves. Gauci shared that Buick was aiming to make something that could be in the same rarified air as fashion brands (think Chanel, Hermes). Boniface shared that the goal from a design perspective was to create a language that could position Buick at the forefront of the electrified future, while building on GM’s rich design legacy.
The New Face of Buick
The face of the Wildcat EV is arresting, and is most likely going to heavily inform the face of Buick’s to come. It is simultaneously angular, sinuous, complex, and elegant. The trapezoidal grill houses a Super Cruise sensor and Buick’s strategic use of brightwork imparts a luxury feel to this sporty concept.
The Wildcat is a low-slung 2+2 with a powerful profile that practically screams speed. “From every angle, the vehicle looks like it’s ready to pounce,” said Boniface. The 18-spoke turbine wheels in satin chrome are Jet Age-inspired and also a striking response to the many boring wheels adorning so many EVs these days. They were one of my favorite elements from the Wildcat.
Another was the animated horizontal check mark taillights, which animate upon start-up. The way that Buick’s team addressed the age-old supercar ingress/egress challenge was novel as well – hinges on the roof raise slightly to help you get in and out without having to contort your body like a Cirque du Soleil performer. While the Wildcat is a concept car, it is a luxury one after all.
The Interior Of The Future
Inside, the Wildcat is every bit as futuristic as the exterior. As Gauci pointed out to me, the colors alone are striking. I loved the pairing of white in the seats and doors, Legato Green, and brushed or polished aluminum throughout. Bright orange seat belts set the whole thing off, and the whole interior just becomes *chef’s kiss*.
There were so many details the longer I looked that I could have been at the Design Center all day. The cantilevered headrests were like sculptures floating in mid-air. The dash and infotainment system feature a sweeping touchscreen that appears to go on for days, and apparently will be similar to the ones you’ll see in Buick’s in the not-so-distant future.
The 50s GM fan in me loved the square-bottom steering wheel with acrylic-looking top. Of course, being a concept car, Buick’s designers had to let their imaginations run wild when it came to other interior features. The Wildcat EV concept is built to be a platform for futuristic features such as artificial intelligence, biometrics, and aromatherapy. A Zen Mode is activated by changes in the driver’s heart rate, dimming the cabin lights, dispersing calming aromatherapy scents, and activating the massage feature of the seats.
“We are on the cusp of true change, and this concept is a tangible vision of it,” said Gauci. “It inaugurates the next chapter in Buick’s design heritage, as we make the crucial transition to our all-electric future.”
If this is the future of Buick, then all automakers – legacy and upstarts – would do well to keep an eye on this electrified heir to the Wildcat name.
About The Author
Glenn Oyoung is a marketer based in Los Angeles. Glenn’s lifelong passion for cars is rooted in playing with Hot Wheels, and has continued into 1:1 scale. He’s the former marketing director of American Racing, author of ‘vehicular alphabet books’ “C is for Car” and "P is for Petersen" in collaboration with the Petersen Automotive Museum. His passion for cars extends to his role as the founder of the monthly car meet Carcadia at Route 66, the most diverse car meet in the San Gabriel Valley.