GM to put electric Cadillac Converj Concept into production

It’s official. Sort of. Cadillac is getting a Volt of its own. Word has it the stunning Converj concept car is slated for production as a series hybrid.

We’ve been hounding General Motors about this car ever since Vice Chairman Bob Lutz revealed it at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, and there have been rumors afoot about its impending production for awhile now. Now, according to the Detroit News, the concept’s been greenlighted. We have to wonder if Lutz wasn’t bending a few arms behind the scenes to make it happen.

The Converj uses the same technology and drivetrain layout as the Chevrolet Volt. The extended-range electric car not only will offer consumers some serious green cred and great mileage in an all-American brand but also put them miles beyond the Toyota Prius when it comes to style.

The News, citing unnamed sources familiar with the General’s inner workings, says the Converj is as real as a heart attack. Cadillac officials are said to have presented the production plan to GM’s board of directors last week.

It’s no secret “Maxium” Bob Lutz has been a big supporter of the Converj, nor is it any secret that what Lutz wants, Lutz pretty much gets. He’s said the production model would look similar to the concept pictured above. The show car was bold and striking, like something from Giorgetto Giugiaro, not Detroit. It’s as sexy as the Volt is mainstream. Sultry sheet metal aside, though, the two cars probably will be essentially the same.

“The car still is slated to share much of its drivetrain with the upcoming Chevrolet Volt,” according to the perennially perky Motor Trend. Others, including unnamed GM insiders, echo that claim. If so, look for a 1.4-liter four-banger up front and a big honkin’ lithium-ion battery pack providing juice to an electric motor. It should have the same 40 mile range before the gasoline engine kicks in to drive a generator that will keep the electric motor turning.

Still, we’re talking about Cadillac, so look for some upscale touches.

Slapping a Cadillac badge on a Chevrolet Volt is a smart move because it will help the General recoup some of the money it’s spent developing the innovative drivetrain — when we drove a Volt mule, GM told us it’s sunk close to a billion dollars into the Volt. The margins are, after all, much higher on a premium marque than a Chevy.

“You can charge more for a Caddy than a Chevrolet. It’s one of God’s immutable laws,” auto analyst Jim Hall told the News.

You can look at the upcoming Converj as being the exact opposite of Honda’s Insight. Where the Insight went down market to go up against the industry leading Prius, Caddy’s Converj is heading up to where the Haute Living set like to chill out. Cadillac is staying tight-lipped about how much cash the Converj will demand, but with the General desperately trying to keep the Volt under $40,000, figure the Converj will clock in north of that.

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