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Confirmed: Cadillac Will Build Converj, Call It ELR 18
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Cadillac, Cadillac Converj, Cadillac ELR, Chevy Volt, Electric, Extended Range Electric Vehicle, GM, Kurt, News on 08 18th, 2011

The Cadillac ELR. Image: © GM Corp.

Just last week we told you that, like zombies and politicians, the Cadillac Converj electric car concept had risen from the grave. Now GM is confirming those rumors, admitting that development work is underway for a car it’s calling the Cadillac ELR. The name ELR (“Electric Long Range” is our guess) befits the car’s electric propulsion system, and ties in with the brand’s three-letter naming convention.

Like the Volt, the ELR will be powered by a lithium-ion battery pack powering an electric drive unit. When the batteries are depleted, a range-extending generator will kick in, giving the ELR the benefits of an electric car around town, with the range of a conventional, gasoline-powered car for longer trips. GM isn’t releasing any details on the ELR just yet, but Green Car Reports says it will be built around the Voltec 1.5 drivetrain; in other words, it will be more advanced than the current Volt, but not yet up to the specifications of the next-generation Volt.

The two big unknowns are performance and price. The current Volt has a battery range of around 35 miles, under “normal” driving conditions, but it’s tuned to limit acceleration to achieve this range. Cadillac buyers will likely expect better performance from the ELR, so some range will need to be sacrificed in the name of acceleration. Balancing the two will take a significant amount of work, as well as a significant amount of market research to determine what buyers want, and what they can live with.

Then there’s the issue of price. The Cadillac ELR will clearly sell above the Volt’s $40k price point, but will be better-appointed and more luxurious. It’s rumored that GM still loses money on each Volt sold, and they can’t afford to do the same thing on two cars across two divisions. To be profitable with the ELR, GM will need to contain the production cost, which all-too often means reducing interior content. If the ELR stickers for $15k more than the Volt (and we’re just guessing here), consumers will expect that much more performance and that much more quality.

We’re fans of the Volt, but we’re bigger fans of the Voltec drivetrain’s potential. Cadillac has done well with their CTS and SRX models in recent years, so it knows a thing or two about building cars that the public wants to buy. We’re guessing that Cadillac will be successful with the ELR, and we can’t wait to drive one.

Source: GM

Report: Cadillac Converj Electric Car Rises From The Dead 12
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Cadillac, Cadillac Converj, Concept Vehicle, concepts, Electric, Extended Range Electric Vehicle, GM, Kurt, News on 08 12th, 2011

Cadillac's Converj concept. Image: © GM Corp.

When Cadillac showed their Converj extended-range electric concept at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, it was a huge hit with both the public and critics alike. The futuristic coupe was unlike anything Cadillac had styled to date, and the car’s lines foreshadowed the CTS Coupe, released in 2010. The Converj project got the green light, and by January 2010 the Converj had even been approved by GM’s management.

Then, without warning, GM killed the project in March of 2010, saying only that the program had not reached a point at which “development would be occurring in earnest.” While vaguely ambiguous, the statement meant that GM couldn’t make a profit on the low projected sales volume of the Converj, and they couldn’t find a way to blend luxury, range and performance in a way that would suit Cadillac customers.

Image: © GM Corp.

Now that GM’s had some development, production and sales experience with the Volt, the automaker is willing to take another shot at the Converj. Green Car Reports has learned that the car is back in Cadillac’s product plan, and will likely launch in 2013 as a 2014 model. It won’t get the next generation Voltec powertrain, which isn’t due until 2015, but it will get an updated version of the system used in the current Volt.

Today’s Volt is capable of substantially more performance than it delivers, but improving acceleration greatly reduces range. The Converj will need to balance the acceleration and handling that Cadillac customers have come to expect with a reasonable battery range. In the process, the car’s content and comfort can’t be sacrificed, and that’s no easy task for engineers.

Image: © GM Corp.

It’s far too early to speculate about what the Converj will cost, but it will have to cost more, possibly much more, than a fully loaded Volt. If you check all the option boxes on a 2012 Volt, it comes to $45,270, which means the Converj will likely start north of $50k. Whether or not that’s too much money depends on the car’s content and performance, as well as Volt sales and reputation over the next 2 years.

If GM has again given the Converj program a green light, it means that they’ve figured out a way around the obstacles that killed the car back in 2010. Let’s hope that’s the case, because we’d love to see a performance oriented Cadillac extended range electric car on the roads.

Source: Green Car Reports