Buick reveals futuristic Smart Pod and GL8 Flagship in China

Auto Guangzhou 2021 is underway in southern China, and at the show, numerous automotive manufacturers have revealed new green vehicles. Of course, some of these vehicles may never make it to the US, but it's interesting to see what some of our domestic automakers are looking at for the future of electrified vehicles. One of the automotive brands on hand is Buick, and at the show, it revealed two concept vehicles, including the Smart Pod and GL8 Flagship.

The GL8 Flagship was created with help from design professionals in China. The exterior of the vehicle is very futuristic and attractive. It has sculptural surfaces looking like something carved rather than built in an automotive factory. One of the biggest design aspects of the vehicle is a glass canopy extending from the front to the back of the vehicle that Buick says improves aerodynamics.

The vehicle also has wing-shaped headlights, which are a Buick design signature. The interior of the GL8 Flagship is very interesting, looking more like a living room than the inside of a vehicle. It uses seats similar to the zero gravity chairs you might see at home and has a flexible seating layout allowing the cockpit to function as an open space for passengers. The interior was inspired by Chinese mountain and water landscapes, and it has a tea tray inside.

The vehicle has multi-screen connectivity with a 30-inch free-form display focused on the driver and an integrated touchscreen on the steering wheel. The vehicle also has an advanced full-width head-up display. Buick has integrated a premium audio experience with a sound system integrating speakers into seat headrests, and most functions of the vehicle can be controlled by voice. The automaker also integrated its V2X intelligent mobility technology for a safe autonomous driving experience while maintaining connectivity between the vehicle, pedestrians, and the infrastructure.

The other concept vehicle is called the Buick Smart Pod Concept. The automaker says it's meant to allow users to maximize productivity while traveling with "world-class" comfort, safety, and connectivity. The concept is meant to handle hub-to-hub transportation. The Smart Pod is a design concept meant to leverage advanced technologies, including electrification, autonomous driving, and digital connectivity features.

The vehicle was designed to focus on personal space and occupant well-being. It's a fully autonomous electric vehicle that uses the GM Ultium platform and its VIP electric architecture. The vehicle uses micro-LED lighting technology for its headlamps and taillamps. To give the vehicle a sensation of space, Smart Pod has a glass lattice roof that maximizes visibility and allows passengers to feel connected with nature. It also has a sleep seat that fully reclines and a variable seating layout that can be adjusted for working or resting on the go.

Some interesting technology inside the Smart Pod includes tables that can be deployed when needed, noise-canceling technology, ambient sound management, air purification, and more. It features a 50-inch retractable retina LED screen and utilizes a virtual cockpit. The vehicle is designed to function as a remote office and offers enhanced navigation and real-time integration with personal devices. Intelligent voice command and advanced eye-tracking are integrated into the smart cabin. Unfortunately, there's no indication that either of these concept vehicles will ever enter production.