This week Buick had a webinar for dealers explaining some changes coming to Buick this summer. The major news Buick went over was the new “eAssist” technology. It will be standard on all 2012 BuickRegals and Lacrosse only in the 4 cylinder engines. So what is eAssist? The best way to describe it is not by saying Hybrid. This is a whole lot better.
First of all this will cost thousands less then your typical hybrid. The eAssist is not an electric engine that replaces the gasoline engine. It works with it. What happens is the electric engine will assist the combustion engine, hence the name eAssist. During acceleration the electric engine will assist the combustion engine to reduce fuel consumption. The electric engine will also power several components of the Lacrosse and Regal. For example the air conditioning and audio system.
So what? Well this will not be changing the price of either vehicle. Give you a highway MPG of 37 on both the Lacrosse and the Regal. Around town the Regal will get 26 MPG and the Lacrosse will get 25 MPG. You can see why this is a great move by Buick
The electric motor is 15 Kilowatts with a 115 volt Battery. The whole eAssist system will weigh in a little over 60 lbs. The batteries, which are made from Lithium Ion, will way a little over 30 lbs. The batteries will be in the forward section of the trunk taking up only 2 cubic feet. So the trunk space is not reduced by much, giving you 11.4 cubic feet of trunk space. You will still be able to fold the rear seats as well.
The system will charge it self during braking. The combustion engine will shut off during braking and use the friction from the brakes to charge the battery system. During acceleration the electric engine will ad 15 horsepower to the vehicle. Also giving you quieter acceleration as well as improved throttle response.
Some changes were made to both the Regal and the Lacrosse to keep the same curb weight as before. Since the addition of the eAssist (a little over 60 lbs.) Buick wanted to reduce the weight of the rest of the vehicles. They reduced the fuel tank size. Which at first, I thought to myself. Why would you want to loose fuel capacity. Then I realized who cares! I am getting 37 MPG, I don’t need the extra fuel. Buick also changed the rear knuckles to aluminum and replaced the spare tire with an inflator kit. Hopefully they will still give dealers an option of adding back in the spare tire. The gauges will also change a little. For vehicles without navigation, the DIC (Driver’s Information Center) will show the Eco and Powerflow Gauges. Eco Gauge will let you know how you are driving in relation to fuel economy. The Powerflow gauge will show which engine is being used as well as when charging happens. For vehicles with navigation it will be displayed in the touch screen nav.
The warranty on the batteries themselves is 8 years or 100,000 miles. The Powertrain warranty will still be 5 years or 100,000 miles and the Bumper to Bumper Warranty is 4 years or 50,000 miles. This applies to both the Regal and the Lacrosse.
So again to compare against other hybrids on the market. The system weighs 40% lighter than most hybrids. The battery system is 25% smaller than most hybrids. If for some reason the batteries fail, the vehicle will still drive. Both vehicles are thousands less than most hybrids on the market. But the main reason is the same reason whyBuick will not label this as a hybrid. When most people think hybrid, they think sacrifices. You have to sacrifice wheelbase, options, and typical issues. As you can see, you are not sacrificing anything with the purchase of either model.
So when can you get one? They will be on the lot in August. However, my guess is there will be limited availability. I will be taking pre-orders for my customers when ordering becomes available for us as dealers.
Watch this video from the Philly Auto Show. At the end you can see the Lacrosse with eAssist. Also sign up for my newsletter. I am getting a VIP pass to the New Your Auto Show at the end of this month. I am sure I will be getting more details there. If you have any questions you can always email me at Jamie@JamieGoshorn.com Also follow this link to my facebook page to see more great pictures of the Lacrosse with eAssist