Cadillac Converj concept: 'Volt' meets luxury

As anticipated, General Motors used a press conference at the Detroit auto show on Sunday to launch the Cadillac Converj concept -- an extended-range electric vehicle based on the same technology as the Chevrolet Volt. The car can travel 40 miles on electricity alone, and several hundred miles thanks to a small gasoline generator.

Converj is "a logical extension of our plan to reinvent the automobile," GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said. "It clearly shows what a Cadillac electric vehicle could look like, and clearly indicates that global luxury customers can have a car that has both strong design and electric propulsion with a total range of hundreds of anxiety-free miles."

The Cadillac Converj's Voltec electric propulsion system is made up of a 16-kWh, T-shaped battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator.

The thermally managed battery pack contains more than 220 lithium-ion cells that can be charged by plugging in to a home outlet. The battery takes less than three hours to recharge the battery at 240V, or about eight hours from a 120V outlet. The intention is for commuters to plug the vehicle into a power source overnight, providing enough juice for a typical day's commute without ever burning any gas.

Whether in electric or extended-range mode, the Converj is propelled all the time by an electric drive unit. It converts electrical energy from the battery or the engine-generator into mechanical energy to drive the front wheels. It also delivers 273 lb.-ft. (370 Nm) of instant torque, for a quick launch, and 120 kW of power. The top speed is 100 mph.

To enhance the ride feel, the Converj also features GM's Magnetic Ride Control; and for even greater efficiency, energy during braking is captured and stored in the battery.

An all-glass roof incorporates solar panels that help offset power drain from the vehicle's electronics. Low-profile rearview cameras replace conventional outside mirrors to reduce drag. Renewable materials are used throughout such as wool-blend carpeting, a headliner made from silk, and suede made from post-industrial content.

High-tech OLED screens are used on the reconfigurable instrument cluster. Touch-screen are used for navigation, climate, center-stack controls and audio systems. Push-button ignition and power-folding front seats round out the list of luxury features.

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