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Shanghai show: GM goes back to the future with FNR

Stunner: Chevrolet's FNR concept would not look out of place in Marty McFly's garage in 2020.

All-electric Chevrolet FNR concept brings science fiction to life at Shanghai

Chevrolet logo20 Apr 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

GENERAL Motors has unwrapped its vision of an all-electric supercar in the swoopy shape of the Chevrolet FNR concept.

Revealed on the eve of the Shanghai motor show, where the swing-doored, wedge-shaped four-seat design exercise will take its place today alongside the production-ready, Australian-developed 2015 Malibu for the Chinese market, the FNR is said to embrace a number of technologies previously seen only in science fiction.

These include magnetic hubless-wheel electric motors and iris-recognition start, as well as the increasingly commonplace wireless automatic battery charging and an autonomous driving system that can map out the best route and take the passengers automatically to their destination, while the driver swivels their seat 180 degrees to chat with back-seat passengers.

The striking see-through wheels give a view of the suspension and magnetic drive system that, while fanciful for now, look just realistic enough for serious potential.

The FNR was designed at GM's Pan Asia Technical Automotive Centre (PATAC) – a joint venture with China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) – under the management of Australian-based GM International Operations vice-president of design Michael Simcoe.

The vehicle employs a capsule design with “dragonfly dual swing doors” and crystal laser headlights and tail-lights.

GM said it drew on all of its experience with electric vehicles when designing the technology for the FNR. However, there appear to be no plans for production, and no details of potential range or performance were revealed.

On a more practical front, the American company announced it would release a plug-in hybrid version of its new Cadillac CT6 flagship with what it claims is a new benchmark for all-electric range – more than 60km or about the distance of the average daily commute.

To be built in China, the Cadillac CT6 PHEV gets an all-new rear-wheel electric variable transmission with exclusively designed motors “to provide smooth, spirited acceleration”.

Two electric motors combine with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine for a combined 250kW of power and 586Nm of torque, driving the rear wheels via a Toyota-style planetary gear continuously variable transmission (CVT).

However, GM boasts that its CVT is better. Says Cadillac CT6 executive chief engineer Trevor Hester: “We have managed to achieve superior drive quality when compared to our PHEV competitors due to our exclusively designed EVT.”

An 18.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack between the rear seat and the boot has 192 prismatic pouch cells, and uses GM's the latest generation chemistry that will be used in other GM vehicles such as the Bolt all-electric hatch that was also shown in Shanghai.

Cadillac is claiming a combined city/highway fuel consumption of about 2.0L/100km.

The car will be built alongside conventional petrol Cadillacs at GM's new plant in the suburbs of Shanghai, where the car was revealed in a showy pre-motor show media event for all of GM's brands in China.

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