Buick revealed eAssist, its latest technology for the Regal, at a former power plant turned local hot spot called the Illumination Company. This century-old building in Chicago stands for what the brand hopes to be: trendy, urban and electric.
The eAssist is a mild form of electrification that slightly improves the Regal’s fuel-economy ratings to 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. This system was first seen in the LaCrosse at the 2010 Los Angeles auto show.
Both cars are expected to arrive in the summer as 2012 models. Instead of the alternator, this system uses a 15-kilowatt electric generator and it works with a 115-volt lithium-ion battery. What it does is gather energy during regenerative braking and periods of coasting. This is also effective with an aggressive fuel cutoff, which cuts gasoline when the car is decelerating, and an auto start/stop system.
All these augment the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which continues to deliver most of the running power. It goes by the principle of taking basic hybrid tactics and using them to improve the conventional gasoline engine. Stephen Poulos, eAssist global chief engineer, said, “We've kind of boiled down what we've learned.”
The LaCrosse offers eAssist as a base powertrain option but the Regal will position the technology above the entry-level four-cylinder. It’s to be expected that it would be quite expensive; however, Buick officials have yet to discuss its pricing.