Last week GM announced it will expand its forthcoming electric vehicle lineup by putting the Cadillac Converj concept into production.
For those who chose the blue pill and forgot what the Converj is all about, here’s a quick summary: the Converj concept is a two-door coupe that uses the same technology as the Chevrolet Volt. It debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show and was very well received, winning several awards.
According to sources, the Converj was included in a production plan presented by Cadillac officials to GM’s board of directors, who green lit the vehicle’s production. This is good news to GM and Cadillac fans the world over, since earlier this year GM said there were no plans to build the Converj. Given GM’s recent financial situation, many even wondered whether it would ever be available in showrooms.
The decision to build the Converj marks the second major product reversal for GM in recent months (the first was nixing a planned Buick CUV). This should be looked at as a major change compared to the old GM, where decision making was often a long and drawn-out process.
Keep reading for a more in-depth look at the Converj and the auto industry.
Cadillac Converj Concept
Since the Converj is based on the Delta II platform used by the Volt, it’s a safe bet that the Cadillac EV will be a front-wheel drive vehicle. All-wheel drive may be an option or a standard feature, although we haven’t received reports that confirm or deny this yet.
At the Detroit auto show in January, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said that if the Converj were approved for production, it would resemble the concept car – similar to the new Camaro’s evolution from concept to production.
Being a Cadillac, it would make sense the Converj would command a premium price. Using the infamous “if-then technique” popularized by GM Authority, we can make the following statement:
If the Volt is expected to be priced at $40,000, then the Converj – by simply being a Cadillac – would be priced higher.
How much higher is anyone’s guess at this point. The common sense lover in us thinks that $55,000 would be a good starting price.
Since the Converj is based on te Volt (which GM plans to make available sometime in late 2010), we think it’s fairly logical to assume that one would be able to purchase a Cadillac Converj sometime after that date. Exactly when that would be is up in the air.
According to Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics, the Converj was born after the Volt program was already under way. As such, he estimates that it would take about two years after the Volt reaches showrooms for the Converj to start production.
And while it’s true that the ($1 billion worth of) engineering and development effort that went into the Volt would be carried over to the Converj in some form, we aren’t sure about the extent to which the two EVs will be related.
While Cadillac has been churning best-in-class vehicles (CTS, CTS-V, CTS Sport Wagon, SRX, Escalade), sales are down 39.2 percent so far this year – the steepest decline among GM’s four core brands: Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Buick. The Converj could help re-invigorate sales, but not when it’s so far away that a production date hasn’t been set. Instead, look for Cadillac to regain sales by revamping most of its car line-up in the next few years by introducing the ATS and XTS sedans.
On the electric vehicle (EV) front, it only makes sense that the Voltec technology would be used in more General Motors vehicles. Doing so gives the company the ability to realize greater economies of scale by spreading development costs. In fact, the strategy can be likened to that of Toyota’s Prius – which was the only Toyota utilizing its Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) during the car’s first and second iterations. HSD then spread to such mainstream vehicles as the Camry, Highlander, and even Lexus’ RX, GS, and new HS250h luxury hybrids.
According to Detroit News, Bob Lutz said it would have been easier financially to produce a Cadillac EV before producing the Volt because a premium brand would justify a higher sticker price, helping offset the cost of lithium-ion batteries used to power the vehicle. We tend to agree, wondering whether GM was paying any attention to the Prius. (Because it it were, the Converj – and not the Volt – would be GM’s first EV to market).[Source: Detroit News]