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Cadillac converges on Volt technology

Mean and green: The aggressive Cadillac ELR 2+2 coupe will use a version of the Chevrolet Volt's range-extender hybrid technology.

GM’s luxury brand to cast off gas-guzzler tag with petrol-electric Cadillac ELR

22 Aug 2011

CADILLAC, the luxury brand best known for fuel-guzzling limousines throughout its 109 years, is set to go green with its own version of General Motors’ range-extender Volt hybrid, the ELR 2+2 coupe.

With completely new sheet-metal and a suitably plush interior, the plug-in ELR is expected to become one of three new models for release in North America over the next year or so.

The others include the XTS large luxury sedan and ATS rear-drive compact sports sedan, both of which should be in Cadillac showrooms by the middle of 2012.

The ELR will become the third GM product to employ the American giant’s petrol-electric powertrain after the Chevrolet/Holden Volt and Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.

Only the Volt is set to make it to Australia, where it is due to plug into Holden showrooms in the second half of 2012.

No details of performance, price or release timing have been given for the ELR, which is based on the well-received Converj three-door coupe concept that starred at the 2009 Detroit motor show.

163 center imageLeft: Cadillac Converj concept.

When it arrives, it will become the smallest Cadillac, sitting below the forthcoming ATS sedan that is aimed at the BMW 3 Series and similar sports sedans.

Although the Volt was not mentioned in the media announcement for the ELR, the description of the powertrain, with its T-shaped lithium-ion battery, electric drive unit and four-cylinder engine, appears to be the same as the Volt’s.

The major unanswered question is whether the Cadillac version will boast extra range or greater performance to fit with the brand’s up-market position.

The standard Volt is said to deliver between 40km and 80km of driving in pure electric mode, increasing to 610km after the petrol engine kicks in. Full charge time is 10 hours using a 120-volt system in the US and Canada (or four hours using Australia’s 240-volt outlets).

The Volt’s two electric motors deliver a total of 111kW and 370Nm through the front wheels, providing a nine-second 0-100km/h sprint and a top speed limited to 160km/h.

If the production ELR is true to the concept’s design, it will emerge as a four-seat three-door coupe instead of the five-door five-seat hatch layout of the Volt and Ampera, immediately setting it apart as a sports-oriented compact car.

Vice-president of Cadillac marketing Don Butler said the Converj concept had generated instant enthusiasm in 2009.

“Like other milestone Cadillac models of the past, the ELR will offer something not otherwise present – the combination of electric propulsion with striking design and the fun of luxury coupe driving,” he said.

GM vice-president global design Ed Welburn said the Converj sparked the idea of combining the desirability of a grand touring coupe with electrification.

“There’s no mistaking it for anything but a Cadillac – an aggressive, forward-leaning profile and proportion showcases a uniquely shaped, modern vision of a personal luxury 2+2,” he said.

Cadillac said it selected the name ELR to indicate the car’s electric propulsion technology, in keeping with the brand’s three-letter international model naming convention.

The GM premier brand is expected to get other hybrid powertrains over the next few years, with a twin-turbo V6/electric being shown in concepts such as the Ciel grand tourer that was revealed at last weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance in California.

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