[ad#post_ad]GM is set to launch a brand new version of its classic Buick Regal sedan.

Discontinued in 2004, the new Regal is a rebadged and slightly redesigned version of the Opel Insignia which is already popular in Europe.  The new Regal which will begin selling next year in the US as a 2011 model will initially be built in Germany for its first 12 to 15 months of production.  It will begin production in North America in 2011.

According to a report in Wards' Auto, GM will begin production of a mild-hybrid version of the Regal later that year.  This would then be the first vehicle GM makes using its second-generation belt/alternator/starter or BAS+ hybrid system.  The system is reported to achieve 20% increase in fuel economy over standard gas versions of the vehicle.

The new BAS+ system has a 120 V lithium ion pack made by Hitachi and, takes up 24% less space, has 40% less mass, and has 33% more power than the current system, such as the one found in the Malibu Hybrid. That car was discontinued due to weak demand. The new system has slow speed EV only operation, electric assist during acceleration and engine off at stops.

The Regal will launch initially with a 2.4 L 4-cylinder direct injection engine. A 2.0 L turbo model, expected achieve 30 mpg on the highway will follow next year.

Jim Frederico, the Regal's vehicle line director told Ward's that the car has the appropriate dimensions to house not only the BAS+ system but also the upcoming 2-mode plugin drivetrain as well.

That drivetrain was initially intended for the Saturn VUE. After Saturn was terminated, GM next said it would appear in a similar-sized small Buick SUV. After those plans were also scrapped from negative public feedback GM hasn't announced where the drivetrain would debut.

Placing it in this mid-sized sedan may be just the right solution.  What do you think?

Source (Wards Auto, subscription required)