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Cadillac Considers More Battery-Car Options

Maker also developing business plan for Elmiraj concept.

by on Oct.31, 2013

Cadillac is looking at adding other battery-based vehicles that would follow the ELR plug-in, shown here.

Even though its new plug-in hybrid, the Cadillac ELR, is still nearly two months from launch, the Detroit luxury maker is giving serious thought to adding more battery-based vehicles to its line-up, has learned.

Other models could include an even larger and more upscale offering than the compact ELR, confided Caddy’s global sales chief Bob Ferguson, who said the technology could generate significant interest among buyers – both at home and abroad – who don’t have General Motors’ flagship brand on their radar screens.

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In a wide-ranging discussion, Ferguson also told that there is growing support inside GM for transforming the well-reviewed Elmiraj concept vehicle into a production vehicle – and as quickly as possible, though formal corporate approval is not yet a certainty.

“I’m so optimistic about how well (the Cadillac ELR plug-in) will do, especially on the West Coast and in the Northeast,” said Ferguson during a one-on-one discussion with “It will bring us a lot of new customers, I’m sure.”


GM Likely to Give Go-Ahead to Cadillac’s Flagship Omega Project

Encouraged by strong response to Ciel concept, Caddy will get new premium-luxury sedan, along with several hybrids and other new models.

by on Aug.29, 2011

Cadillac is expecting the go-ahead to build a new flagship based on the same platform as the Ciel concept car.

General Motors is expected to give the go-ahead to Cadillac’s flagship Omega project before year-end, according to senior sources, the maker’s top management encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive reaction of the luxury division’s new Ciel concept vehicle.

It’s unclear whether a convertible or sedan version based on the big Omega platform would be first to market, but there is a clear consensus that Caddy needs a super-premium model if it is to have a chance of regaining its position as “standard to the world,” as its long-time ad slogan declared.

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Omega would be just one in a wide range of new offerings that would be added to the Cadillac line-up, officials told, helping the once-dominant marque fill in the so-called “white space” between its current model mix.  That will include not only a new plug-in hybrid – but very likely some more conventional hybrid-electric models, as well.


GM Inks Another Big Battery Car Deal

Following deal with A123, GM will also partner with LG Chem on battery car development.

by on Aug.25, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson and LG COO Juno Cho sign a new battery car development deal.

Even as skeptics question the market potential for the groundbreaking Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, General Motors is charging into the battery world with the latest in a series of deals aimed at making it a leader in electric propulsion.

The maker will expand its current alliance with Korean battery supplier LG Chem, the two partners saying they will work together on the development of new electric vehicles.  Precisely what type of products they hope to bring to market remains to be seen, but GM has already announced it will launch more Volt-based plug-ins, including a new model for Cadillac.  And, using batteries from LG Chem’s rival, A123, the Detroit maker is expected to launch its first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in 2014, reported earlier this month.  (For more on the A123 project, Click Here.)

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“Many solutions for tomorrow’s transportation needs may be available more quickly by building on our partnership strategy,” said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. ”Consumers benefit by getting the latest fuel-saving technology faster if we work with the best suppliers and we save time and money in the development process.”


First Look: Cadillac Ciel Concept

“The hint of a fin,” as Cadillac goes forward into the past.

by on Aug.19, 2011

Cadillac reveals a show car that could serve up a hint of the brand's next flagship in the form of the four-door Ciel convertible.

“Retro” was definitely not a word Cadillac officials wanted to hear as they pulled the covers off the luxury division’s new Ciel Concept during a Thursday night preview.  But with what General Motors chief designer Ed Welburn described as a “hint of a fin,” the striking show car provides a vision of where Caddy might be going by touching on where it had been in a once-glorious past.

Long the leader of the luxury market, Cadillac now lags behind overseas rivals like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.  But it has begun regaining ground, in recent years, with a renewed focus on distinctive design.  And confident there’s an opportunity for growth, GM management has given Caddy the green light to add a variety of new models, including the ELR plug-in hybrid, approved just this week, as well as the small Cadillac ATS and larger XTS.

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But, “You need a flagship in your portfolio to be successful in the luxury market today,” asserted Clay Dean, the brand’s lead designer.  And the Ciel is a hint of what such a car might be.  Nearly as long as the big Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle, the prototype was shown in convertible form, but if taken into production would likely also be offered as a full-sized sedan, company insiders told

The name, Ciel, is French for “sky,” and carries something of a double meaning.  There’s the reference to the convertible design but it might also suggest that the sky is the limit, as far as GM is concerned, if Caddy can pull off a true turnaround.  That would likely depend on tapping into more than just the U.S. market – even though it is the largest luxury market in the world.  The Ciel, whether in convertible or hard top form, would also be targeted at China, now the largest overall automotive market on the planet – and a place where increasingly affluent buyers have shown a distinct predilection for cars that are large and lavishly equipped.


Cadillac Reviving Converj Concept, Will Launch as ELR Battery Car

Shares plug-in hybrid technology with Chevrolet Volt.

by on Aug.18, 2011


Cadillac offers a hint of its luxury plug-in the ELR.

General Motors has apparently reversed course and now plans to add a second plug-in hybrid to its U.S. product line-up, this one targeting the luxury market where pricing could be less of a concern than it has become for the more mainstream Chevrolet Volt.

The new model, dubbed Cadillac ELR, is based on the wildly popular Caddy Converj, perhaps the biggest hit of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.  Details including price and timing have not been released, though industry sources tell that the new model would likely be launched well before mid-decade and carry a sticker price pushing towards the high $40,000 mark – reflecting significant added content beyond what’s now offered in the plebian Chevy plug-in.


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It’s not clear whether the ELR will add significantly to GM’s overall sales goals for its so-called Voltec plug-in hybrid technology or will simply take up some of the already-planned capacity that had until now been assigned to the Volt and a second gas-electric model, the Opel Ampera.  Together, they’re expected to generate 16,000 sales in 2011, with production rising to 40,000 next year.

According to a GM release, the Cadillac ELR will share the same extended-range electric vehicle driveline as Volt and Ampera.  That means that under all but the most demanding circumstances the wheels are turned solely by an electric motor.  Power initially comes from a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, but after the batteries are discharged the vehicle automatically switches to an onboard 4-cylinder gas engine.


GM IPO Could Determine Future Electric Car Strategy

Maker needs funds to invest in Volt follow-up effort.

by on Oct.20, 2010

While GM has scuttled the Cadillac Converj project, the maker is working up a number of other possible battery car programs, insiders report.

Key decisions about General Motors’ long-term electric vehicle strategy could depend on the success – or failure – of the maker’s upcoming IPO.

Though the maker has yet to publicly define its plans, the initial public offering of the “new” GM’s stock is expected to raise billions of dollars in capital.  A large chunk of that money is anticipated to go to help repay the federal government for its 2009 bailout of the then-bankrupt automaker.  But billions more, observers believe, will be pumped into the corporate treasury, at least in part to help fund product development efforts.

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Company officials, including new GM CEO Dan Akerson, have said that coming up with world-class product is essential to the corporation’s turnaround.  But the electric vehicle program, in particular, could become particular crucial as the overall auto industry presses into what has been dubbed “electrification.”


Vivaro Suggests Future Applications of Extended-Range Electric Vehicle Technology

Concept is a European delivery van based on technology in Chevrolet Volt.

by on Oct.07, 2010

The Opel Vivaro concept suggests what might be next for General Motors' extended-range electric vehicle technology.

While the Chevrolet Volt, due to hit dealerships in limited numbers later this year, is critical to General Motors’ resurgence, expanding use of the technology to other types of vehicles will be important for the automaker’s future.

But concepts using what GM calls Voltec technology, have been lacking, partly because the automaker has been so focused on developing the Volt itself, partly because development money has been scarce as the automaker recovers from its 2009 bankruptcy.

There was the Cadillac Converj concept, basically a Volt dressed up in Cadillac clothing, and Opel is planning to sell a version of the Volt as the Ampera.

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Now GM Europe is showing the Vivaro e-Concept, a delivery van that would be capable of traveling about 60 miles on battery power only. The Vivaro’s battery is double the size of the 16 kWh battery in the Volt, which is projected to have an electric-only range of 40 miles.

There are no plans to introduce the Vivaro in the U.S., but it does illustrate how GM might expand its lineup of extended-range electric vehicles beyond the Volt. In theory, the Vivaro’s drivetrain could be placed in a minivan or a Chevy Traverse-style crossover or other larger vehicle.

Listening to Customer Not Always Best, Says Lutz

Battery cars likely to remain niche, warns GM Vice Chairman.

by on Jan.13, 2010

The customer, says GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, isn't always right. And sometimes you can't listen to what they say if you want to give them what they actually want.

The customer is always right.  Or so goes the old saw.  But General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says it’s not always a good idea to listen to the customer.

Without a clear point of view, a manufacturer risks developing bland products that no one really wants, warned “Maximum Bob,” during a conversation at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.  Just consider the last three generations of Cadillac’s once cutting-edge STS sedan.

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Until recently, the mantra of GM’s product development process was not to offend anyone, explained Lutz, so the company would look for so-called “dis-satisfers,” and eliminate them from its vehicles.  Lutz likened it to the pizza shop that kept eliminating ingredients because someone didn’t like anchovies and someone else didn’t like pepperoni.  Eventually, it wound up with nothing but dough.


Cadillac Reveals XTS4 and ATS

Automaker expanding the product envelope.

by on Aug.11, 2009

Carol Browner (right) director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change listens as General Motors Vice President Global Design Ed Welburn gives her a tour of the Cadillac Converj electric luxury coupe.

Carol Browner (right) director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change listens as GM Vice President Global Design Ed Welburn gives her a tour of the Cadillac Converj electric luxury coupe.

Cadillac officials have confirmed plans to add a pair of new products that will expand the brand at its extremes.

The news came at an unusual background briefing as General Motors officials pulled the wraps off a wide variety of future product programs going out to 2011, including two new Caddy models tentatively dubbed the ATS and the XTS4.  They’re a critical part of what the division’s new general manager, Bryan Nesbitt, described as the “reinvention of Cadillac.”

The XTS4 is the much-needed replacement for two existing products, the slow-selling STS and DTS models.  Vaguely reminiscent of the heralded Cadillac Sixteen concept vehicle, the XTS4 will target top-line premium luxury competitors, such as the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The ATS, on the other hand, will slot in below Cadillac’s current entry model, the CTS, and take aim at models like the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

“The 3-Series is BMW’s bread-and-butter,” noted Nesbitt, in a conversation with, and “We’d like to think” the ATS could become the best-seller for Cadillac, once it hits market.

Cadillac of course has tried to enter this market before with the Chevrolet Cavalier-derived Cimarron, and the Opel Omega derived Catera. Now, presumably it will use a compact Opel platform once again for its latest attempt to stop a decades long decline in sales and reputation.


Will EVs Dominate Ford Line-Up ?

Can EVs and Plug-Ins Deliver the Green?

by on Mar.06, 2009

Ford will make the Transit Connect its first Battery-Electric Vehicle.

Ford will make the Transit Connect its first Battery-Electric Vehicle.

Once you ignore any mention of bankruptcy, the year’s big buzzword, in automotive circles, is “electrification.” According to industry experts, virtually every new vehicle will use at least some form of battery power in its drivetrain by the end of the next decade, even if its just a basic Stop/Start system, or the sort of battery regeneration showing up on numerous European models, such as the new Audi A5 Cabriolet.

Yet, according to some, plug-ins and pure Battery-Electric Vehicles, or BEVs, could make up a significant portion of the future fleet. And one of those someones is Ford CEO Alan Mulally, at least if you hear what the former Boeing executive had to say during the recent Wall Street Journal ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, California.

“In ten years, twelve years, you are going to see a major portion of our portfolio move to electric vehicles,” said Mulally. He noted that gasoline power isn’t going away, stressing his belief that, in the coming years, “we’ll have a significant improvement in the fuel efficiency in the internal combustion engine.” But while Mulally forecast, “You’ll see more hybrids…you will really see a lot more electric vehicles.”

Ford, you may recall, was the first American automaker to come up with a true hybrid-electric vehicle and, indeed, its Escape Hybrid was the world’s first HEV truck. This year, the automaker is doubling its line-up of gasoline-electric models, and the new Fusion Hybrid has the – well-publicized – advantage of delivering a full 4 mpg more than the similarly-sized Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Stung by the media success that is the Chevrolet Volt, Ford has been moving aggressively to make up lost ground — especially on the green PR front – and promises to have an assortment of both plug-in hybrids and BEVs ready for market by the beginning of the coming decade. The carmaker has been vague with details, though it confirmed, during a Chicago Auto Show press conference, last month, that the first battery car will actually be a battery-powered truck, a version of its new TransitConnect commercial van, which will debut in 2010. A plug-in is expected the following year.