Buick SUV concept gets 550hp EV powertrain

Buick Enspire SUV front three quarter

The Buick Enspire SUV concept has been unveiled in China, in a move by Buick to announce its EV credentials.

Sure, it’s just a concept at this stage, but it gives a very close look at Buick’s future, especially in China, where EVs are all the rage, thanks to strict emissions regulations.

The Chinese government also has some pretty decent incentives for manufacturers, which is why we’ll see plenty of electric SUVs in the near future. But the Buick brand is very well received in China, so it makes sense that General Motors would push a concept like this in the brand’s most popular market outside the US.

Buick Enspire SUV rear three quarter

And that’s why the Enspire SUV is going on show at Auto China 2018 at the end of April.

Buick says that the Enspire is “an exploration of Buick’s bold design ideas and innovative technologies for future mobility”. Certainly the design is very impressive, combining modern styling with the SUV shape that so many companies are going for these days.

The company says it has a “surround skyline” interior theme raised rear seating to give rear occupants a better view. You know, those occupants who aren’t actually going to be in this car because it’s a concept? Yeah, those ones.

Buick Enspire SUV interior

It’s said to get 5G wi-fi capability, plus an OLED display screen in augmented reality for the head-up display. Pretty cool, right?

Check out the power figures

Well, the drivetrain is the coolest part, no argument.

Under the bonnet, so to speak, is what Buick calls an “eMotion” electric drivetrain setup, which runs power to all four wheels.

The system makes a colossal 550hp (410kW) which is enough to shove the Enspire concept to 60mph (96kmh) in 4.0-seconds flat. Yes, folks, that’s definitely moving.

Even more staggering is that it claims a range of 370 miles (595km) on a single charge. Around 80 per cent of its capacity can be charged in just 40 minutes. And it can be charged with both wireless and fast-charging setups.

Again, it’s a concept, but if Buick can bring this sort of tech to market soon, it’s going to be a game changer. But it will need to be, as Audi is already talking up its e-tron SUV which will be hitting the market soon.

Battery tech

GM hasn’t said yet, but the battery used sounds very similar to the latest Toshiba battery technology.

Toshiba says it has come up with a new battery for electric vehicles that will not only extend the range – eliminating range anxiety – but also accept a much faster charge time. Think minutes instead of hours.

One of the biggest hurdles for EVs has been the charge time, compared with fueling up a conventional SUV. Imagine taking your SUV to a charge station, waiting a few minutes and getting the same range as your petrol sibling. Sound unbelievable?

Toshiba answer is the next generaiton SCiB, which has been around for years in its current form, but these new batteries have replaced lithium-titanium oxide anodes with titanium-niobium oxide (TNO) anodes. What this means is it can charge a battery in six minutes, yet get a range of 320km. The company says this change is far less likely to experience lithium metal deposition during ultra-rapid recharging or in cold conditions, which is the current cause of battery degradation, or even internal short circuiting.

Toshiba SCIB Battery
The new SCiB battery

Toshiba claims that a typical 32kWh EV battery will give you triple the range when compared with the current (pun-intended) lithium-ion battery in the same six minute charge period.

“We are very excited by the potential of the new titanium niobium oxide anode and the next generation SCiB,” says Toshiba R&d boss Dr. Osamu Hori, “rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game-changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV. We will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aim to put the next-generation SCiB into practical application in fiscal year 2019.”

Even after 5,000 charge and discharge cycles, which is an average of one per day for 14 years, Toshiba says it will retain 90 per cent of its original capacity. This was using a 50Ah prototype of the new battery.

When will it be on the market? According to the Japanese company, it will be available in 2019. Costs? Well, that hasn’t been discussed yet. Probably for a good reason….

About Karl Peskett 406 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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