On the eve of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, Buick has just unveiled the Regal eAsssit powered by the same mild-hybrid powerplant as the recently-announced Buick LaCrosse eAssist. Combining the 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW induction motor-generator unit to the 2.4 liter ECOTEC gasoline engine and six-speed transmission boost fuel economy to 26 MPG city and 37 MPG highway — a 25 percent improvement over the non-eAsssit (2.4 liter ECOTEC) model.
But unlike the LaCrosse, in which the eAssist will outright replace the base 2.4 liter ECOTEC engine, the Regal eAssist will be sold alongside the 2.4 liter naturally aspirated and 2.0 liter turbo ECOTEC variants of the Epsilon II-based sedan. The mild-hybrid powertrain Regal offers a few unique features, including:
- Lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels and tires with decreased rolling resistance
- A driver-selectable fuel economy-optimizing mode for the air conditioning system that enables more frequent and longer-duration engine stop periods
- An ECO gauge on the instrument panel that continuously responds to driving behavior, enabling the driver to drive with greater efficiency
- A powerflow readout in the 7-inch infotainment screen that shows the flow of energy through the electric assist system, such as battery charging from regeneration and electric power directed to the engine
While no prices were announced today, Buick did confirm that the Regal eAssist will go on sale this fall. To us, it will be interesting to see how Buick markets the hybrid version of the Regal, since “sport-injected” and “Autobahn-bread” (both of which have described the Regal in launch commercials) usually don’t go together with the word “hybrid”. That said, we do have the following from Tony DiSalle, Vice President of Buick marketing:
“Buick’s eAssist technology means customers don’t have to trade a premium driving experience for efficiency. We believe Regal and LaCrosse with eAssist provide more logical and affordable choices, compared to other hybrid midsize and full-size luxury sedans.”