Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – Flair, grace and elegance mark the history of Buick design, says Edward Welburn, General Motors Corp.’s vice president of global design.

That’s why his youngest designers are eager to work on the brand. “They love designing Buicks,” he says.

At a press conference on the eve of the New York International Auto Show here, Welburn gives a sneak peak at Buick’s latest concept by revealing a partial view of the Invicta that debuts at the Beijing auto show next month.

Welburn declines to say whether the Invicta name will return to Buick after a gap of 45 years as a production model.

But the concept, co-developed by GM studios in North America and China, will influence a future generation of Buicks with its design cues, he promises.

It’s possible the new Invicta will play a similar role to the Velite and Y Job concepts of the past that yielded design inspirations for other models but never went into production. Even so, the past concepts did their job, he says.

Some, but not all, future Buicks will be the same in North America and China. There still will be some models sold exclusively in one region and not the other.

Meanwhile, GM is working on world-car designs for its other brands. “Every car we now develop is designed with international regulations in mind,” Welburn says. “We have a couple of cars under development that will be sold in every region around the world.”

GM has the flexibility in its product-development process to make those moves. “We’re a few months away from the first announcement of one of those models,” he says.

Another high priority for GM design is to improve the aerodynamics of its future models, especially hybrids and electric cars. However, safety requirements that add to the mass make this a daunting task.

“It’s a challenge,” Welburn says, noting longer vehicles are easier to make more aerodynamic. Using components such as deployable spoilers makes it cheaper to do than a lot of other methods.

The idea is to add length without adding weight to achieve a coefficient of drag in the 2.4-2.5 range. Designers also are attempting to achieve breakthroughs in managing air underneath vehicles.