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Buick cuts the cord: Riviera plug-in concept offers wireless charging


April 19, 2013

The Buick Riviera concept debuts at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show

The Buick Riviera concept debuts at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show

Image Gallery (56 images)

The fourth global concept car developed by the Shanghai GM and Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) joint ventures, the Buick Riviera emulates the form of moving water. The concept designed for the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show is powered by a plug-in hybrid system that can be recharged wirelessly.

Wireless plug-in vehicle charging isn't entirely novel. A number of companies and research entities are working on wireless charging systems that could simplify charging by offering it in parking spaces and even while driving.

In the Buick Riviera, the system is called W-PHEV (wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) and uses a "sensory recharge panel" on the chassis. This is a pretty out-there concept by the looks of it, and GM didn't feel the need to elaborate on that system any further. The concept is equipped for all-electric and fuel-electric hybrid driving, but Buick doesn't specify what type of muscle is behind the effort, nor does it go into any detail on the "intelligent four-wheel steering" system.

What GM does spend some time expounding upon is the car's radical styling. The Shanghai team put its own twist on the "moving while standing still" cliché, pulling inspiration from the Chinese saying "the greatest good is like water." Aspects of the design that hint at its hydro-inspired character include the three-dimensionally styled sides that mimic ocean waves frozen in time and a greater aesthetic that "goes from thick to thin" like a raging rapid calming and thinning into a clear, still pool.

Other interesting elements of the Riviera exterior include the gullwing doors, wing-like daytime running lights and reimagined waterfall grille. We're guessing the gullwings have no future, but Buick says outright that the light and grille design will influence future production styling. A raked windshield, 14-degree fastback and metallic fiber spoiler give the Riviera what Buick defines generally as a low drag coefficient. Active grille shutters, diffusers and active pneumatic wheels help the Riviera fight skillfully against the momentum-sapping air molecules ahead.

"The new Riviera offers a preview of Buick’s future design language," said Shanghai GM President Ye Yongming. "By seamlessly integrating advanced technologies, flexible functions and contemporary aesthetics, the new Riviera heralds the start of a new chapter for the 110-year-old Buick brand.”

Driver meets machine in what Buick calls a 360-degree integrated design, which we assume refers to the airy, open space created by the rear bench seating and floating front seats. The interior is outfitted with aluminum alloy, lava suede and ebony, helping to create a look nostalgic of traditional Chinese jade-inlaid wood. The driver position is simplified with stripped controls and a centrally mounted digital speedometer with bright blue illumination. Rear passengers are separated by a more defined rear center console than is typical of passenger cars.

Buick leverages the 4G LTE integration of the future, giving the Riviera intelligence capabilities like real-time-traffic and weather updates, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and traditional infotainment features. The concept also has an advanced forward monitoring system that utilizes 10 high-resolution cameras and 18 micro high-precision sensors to monitor traffic information and display it via a holographic image on the windshield.

Take the full tour of the Riviera concept in the photo gallery and let us know what you think.

Source: General Motors

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

When the Manufacturing Engineers get done with this it will look like a 1996 Honda Civic.


I love it which makes me all the more sad. The last "concept" that actually made it to production was the Landrover Evoque. Indeed a rare occurance. So it is frustrating that they use all this artistic design language and talk of inspiration when it usually comes to naught. I hope GM have the fortitude to get something very close to this to market. Electric cars are the future.


I like the car photos. I wanted to see the photos the holographic display.

Facebook User

It looks comfortable enough but the front end is revolting. And of course electric cars are under performing and overpriced.


Wow, looks good. Contactless recharging is a game changer. It is one thing to charge at standstill at the parking lot or at traffic lights, but if it can be done with the moving vehicle, then great, as this will lead to limitless range and low battery weight. This, in turn, leads to lighter vehicles with grid electricity supply which means the energy cost to the consumer will be so much lower than exsting.


Great - when can we buy it?

Falco Falk Guthert Güthert

re; Nantha

Do you have the couple hundred trillion dollars to build the electric transmission infrastructure? It would probably cost an equal sum to just get the permits to build the necessary additional power plants to generate the required wattage as well.


re: slowburn you wouldn't need trilllions of dollars worth of added electrical infrastructure, there is plenty of radiated power already floating around all power lines everywhere. Maybe just a few hundred million to add radiating wires on the back roads is all you would need. the trick to adding to moving vehicles is to make a variable receiver / transformer, in order to pick up the different frequencies, voltages, and current.


Eddie has it right, American Automakers always talk a big game, but never really follow thru with anything worthwhile..

The comment on the Gullwing Doors, "We're guessing the gullwings have no future" is typical of American thought process. Gee can you imagine if every car had these gullwings then you would not have these idiots slamming the door into your car at the parking lot!!!

So it appears as usual that the BIG American auto makers are going to come up with the same mundane crap as usual. Unlike a company like TESLA who really is an innovator in the Automotive industry, unlike the big companies who just brown nose with the oil companies.


An antenna/coil that can deliver the kinds of current necessary to wirelessly charge a car overnight is gonna be impressive in its own rite. Putting aside the ginormous RF/EM exposure to the occupants of the home where such a charger would be installed, one would certainly gain the ability to charge every portable electronic device in the neighborhood.


re; CommanderKlassen

The power grid is already straining under the load. Adding electrified transportation to it will require major upgrades in transmission and generation. And magnetic fields don't reach that far. Try playing with some rare earth magnets sometime.


It's unfortunate that engineers tend to screw up concept designs. A good engineer will take this design and make sure all of it makes it to the end of the assembly line. This is one car I'd love to own, I'm tired of paying for gas..


re; Gargamoth

There are more cost effective was to stop buying fuel from big oil.


HoHummmmmmmmmmm Slowburn at it again with his baaaadmouthing. The BEST real car out there is the Chevy Volt. It will be followed next year with a Caddy and then a production version of this Buick Riviera. All GM all American.

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