GreenCarReports, citing a GM source known to be reliable, said the Converj, shown as a concept in January 2009 at the Detroit show, could be given a Cadillac-style three-letter model name and use “a generation 1.5 Voltec” powertrain.
That would be an updated version of the extended-range electric powertrain from the 2011 Chevrolet VOLT , possibly with better acceleration to suit the Cadillac image but not the fully revised second-generation version that will go into production in 2015.
General Motors had earlier approved the Converj for production, with then-product chief Bob Lutz [recently interviewed by just-auto] saying in January 2010 it had been cleared by management.
Two months later, it was killed, with Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell saying the Converj program had not reached “a point [at] which development would be occurring in earnest in any case”, GreenCarReports noted.
Two reasons were given for the axing. GM could not make a profit at the low volumes the Converj had been planned for.
Now, with the Volt essentially sold out and GM trying to boost production as fast as possible, perhaps Converj volumes can go higher, meaning each car may cost less, the report suggested.
Second, product planners were concerned that the greater weight and additional luxury features of a Cadillac would cut its electric range and performance – reducing its appeal, much as the Lexus HS 250h has sold in lower numbers than expected for Toyota ‘s luxury arm.
Both concerns have been resolved, it seems. One reason for resuscitating the Converj, said GreenCarReport‘s source, was that CEO Dan Akerson is “all about profit.” The 2012 Volt lists at US$39,990, and tops out (before dealer markup) at less than $50,000.
If some Voltec cars could be sold not for US$45,000 but, say, $60,000, that might enable GM to make money on its first generation of Voltec cars. Or, perhaps more realistically, to lose less money on the technology – until a less-costly second generation can be rolled out.