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May 3, 2013

Buick Riviera concept generates attention

In the world of concept cars, there are basically two categories: the kind that are ready to show up in your local dealer's showroom, and the kind that are created for pure imagination.

To be clear, this car falls into the second category.

It's the Buick Riviera concept car that General Motors unveiled in China recently, and — while it's not going to appear at your local Buick dealer any time soon — it is perhaps the most talked-about vehicle from what is quickly becoming the most important car show in the world: the Shanghai Motor Show.

Part of its appeal is that the design is just so stunning. It's the kind of car of which childhood dreams are made, with gullwing doors, futuristic styling and a low-slung, sexy shape that you never see on the road today.

GM pulled out all the stops for this concept car because China is a critical market for the Buick brand. In fact, Buick sells a whole lot more cars in China than it does in the United States, making it a great market for showing off a dream-inducing supercar just for fun.

The excitement around this car goes beyond its pretty, classically inspired styling that draws on Buick's rich history here in the United States. It's also for GM's forward-thinking designers to imagine what features cars might have in years to come, including:

A plug-in hybrid drivetrain that charges wirelessly. Instead of literally plugging into an electric wall socket, which is all the rage among eco-minded cars today, this concept car can charge via a "sensory recharge panel" that receives power when you park over a special pad.

Four-wheel steering, a suspension that is controlled by electromagnetics and air springs for the ultimate in comfort. These are all real-life technologies in use today, but they've never been combined in one production car before. The Riviera imagines that mixture.

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