Report: Cadillac cancels Converj hybrid coupe

A new report has confirmed earlier fears and suggestions that Cadillac may retract its commitment to building the Cadillac Converj. GM representatives have now confirmed that GM has determined that the business case is simply not strong enough to produce the Converj concept.

GM chairman, Bob Lutz, first told the world that the Cadillac Converj had been given the green light for production in early November, only to be corrected shortly after by John Howell, global product director. Howell went on to clarify that the business case was still very much in review - but stopped short at the time of confirming the Converj would be canceled.

Now Bloomberg is reporting that GM has confirmed that production plans for the luxury two-door coupe that would have utilized the Voltec powertrain have officially been canceled. GM executives cited the need to add too much weight and technology in order to make the Converj meet the luxury and performance standards that are expected by the brand, resulting in a significant drop in electric range. The result would have been, relatively speaking, underwhelming and overpriced compared to the rest of the lineup.

The Chevy Volt is expected to have a 40 mile range on battery power alone - the Converj would have only been able to obtain a 20 mile range, in addition to the fact that the cost to produce the vehicle would rise by about $30,000.

"The future lies in plug-in hybrids with smaller electric range," said Eric Noble, president of CarLab, an Orange, California-based automotive consultant, when speaking with Bloomberg. Noble suggested that GM dropping the Converj is "a tacit admission from GM that they over-batteried the Volt."

In addition to the realization that the environmentally friendly benefits of the Voltec powertrain would be largely lost in the translation to a luxury performance coupe, GM has also introduced an upcoming CTS-V Coupe - a vehicle that shares a considerable amount of design language with the Converj concept. GM may have come to realize that many customers who would have considered a two-door Converj coupe may instead opt for the incredibly high-performance CTS-V Coupe - for what would have likely been a very comparable price.

GM also said that it will instead focus on cheaper plug-in hybrids with shorter electric-only ranges in order to keep the price significantly down. GM executives suggested that in addition to the already planned Cadillac XTS sedan - a plug-in hybrid - Cadillac may expand the technology used in the XTS to other models.

The gas-powered Cadillac XTS sedan is scheduled to go into production in 2013 - with the hybrid model to follow shortly after.

1. 'GM said to drop Volt-based...' view