According to Merriam-Webster, a hybrid is “something (as a powerplant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function.” To Buick, hybrid means an efficient and intelligently designed way to power a vehicle, and they spell it eAssist™. The eAssist system begins with the use of an advanced lithium-ion battery and a 15kW motor-generator, and then it adds various aerodynamic tweaks to achieve new levels of fuel efficiency.
The eAssist system currently comes paired with a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The system uses electricity stored in the air-cooled lithium-ion battery to provide an electric boost during certain driving conditions, allowing for more optimized operation of the drivetrain. The battery and motor-generator unit can also provide up to a 15 hp boost during heavy acceleration. The system is even charged in an intelligent way, by using a regenerative braking system to capture energy that would be otherwise lost.
More than any other hybrid system, eAssist is an entire design philosophy. Vehicles equipped with eAssist also use intelligent battery charging systems, start-stop systems and aggressive aerodynamic enhancements that include features like underbody pieces to reduce drag and electronically controlled shutters in the vehicle’s fascia to improve aerodynamics at higher speeds. Buick even makes sure you understand how the car is currently using its collection of eco-wizardry pieces. With a special ECO gauge in the instrument cluster, you can monitor just how the power is being distributed to the vehicle and use the information to drive more efficiently.
All this incredible technology has other uses besides saving fuel. The imperceptible start-stop system is enhanced by using the electric motor-generator to bring the engine to a smooth stop. The engine is then ready and prepped for a smoother take-off once it’s restarted, making for a more comfortable experience compared to many competitors’ start-stop systems. The active aerodynamics on the front fascia can be used to speed up the engine warming process in colder weather, allowing the heater system to work more quickly on those chilly mornings.
What makes eAssist better than other hybrid systems? Buick manages to enhance your fuel economy without dulling your driving experience. Vehicles with eAssist offer all the premium driving and handling attributes associated with Buick. All eAssist vehicles are as responsive, quiet and comfortable as their non-hybrid counterparts. The eAssist system is currently available in elegantly designed and dynamic vehicles such as the Buick LaCrosse and the new Buick Regal.
How much of a difference does a system like eAssist make when compared to similar model cars? The Buick LaCrosse with eAssist earned an EPA-estimated 36 mpg highway rating. This number bests the Acura TL (29 mpg hwy), the Lexus ES 350 (27 mpg hwy) and the Lincoln MKS (24 mpg hwy). Even compared to other hybrids, the LaCrosse holds its own with the Lexus HS Hybrid only managing an EPA highway rating of 34 mpg.
The goal of eAssist is not to make a hybrid Buick. The idea of eAssist is to create a more economically responsible vehicle that comes with the joys and comforts of owning a Buick. Test-drive a Buick model with eAssist and see for yourself.