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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 Claiming Lead in Innovation

Tops among 182 auto and transportation companies.

by on May.17, 2011

To feed the need for advanced products like the Chevy Volt, GM is pressing to take the lead in patent work.

The Patent Board has ranked General Motors as the top innovator of 182 companies in its quarterly automotive and transportation industry scorecard.

The Board analyzes intellectual property performance across 17 industries and determines the leader in each sector based on measurements that include the number of patents, impact on the industry, and technology and science strength.

GM also ranked first in the automotive/transportation sector in the previous scorecard, published in January.

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“We focus on inventions that make our vehicles more sustainable,” said Alan Taub, GM’s vice president of R&D. “Our engineers are developing advanced technologies that increase fuel efficiency and ensure safety while maintaining the excitement of personal mobility.”


Buick Regal to Get New eAssist Drivetrain

At 37 mpg, a 25% mileage bump.

by on Feb.08, 2011

The eAssist system bumps Regal mileage to 37 mpg on the highway, 26 around town.

The new Buick Regal, currently an also-ran in the midsize mileage race, is about to get back in the game.

The maker will give Regal the same eAssist hybrid driveline used by the bigger Buick LaCrosse, it will formally announce at the Chicago Auto Show, this week.  That technology will bump fuel economy upwards by an estimated 25%.

While the Regal will still lag behind Ford’s 40+ mpg Fusion Hybrid, the Buick offering will still get a respectable 37 mpg on the City, according to preliminary estimates, and 26 mpg in city driving.

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And that’s a big improvement from the conventionally-powered sedans current 19 City/30 Highway rating.

The eAssist driveline is what generally is known as a “mild hybrid,” or “mybrid,” though General Motors prefers the term, “light electrification.”


Pair Indicted In GM Spy Case

Engineer, husband, had been passing secrets to Chinese.

by on Jul.26, 2010

Trade secrets for GM hybrid technology -- the maker's prototype Saturn Vue plug-in shown here -- were allegedly taken by a Chinese engineer and her husband.

A federal grand jury in Detroit has indicted two engineers of Chinese descent with corporate espionage that had targeted General Motors Corp. hybrid technology by stealing documents with a market value of $40 million.

The case was considered significant enough for FBI agents to keep the pair under surveillance long enough for agents to watch as they disposed of shredded documents in a dumpster behind a suburban Detroit shopping mall.

Charged in the seven-count indictment are Yu Qin, aka Yu Chin, 49, and his wife, Shanshan Du, aka Shannon Du, 51, of Troy, Michigan.

From December 2003 and continuing through May 2006, according to the indictment, the defendants conspired to possess trade secret information of General Motors relating to hybrid vehicles, knowing that the information had been stolen, converted, or obtained without authorization.

The indictment charges that Du, while employed by GM, provided GM trade secret information relating to hybrid vehicles to her husband, Qin, for his benefit and for the benefit of  their own privately-held  company, Millennium Technology International Inc.

Approximately five days after Du was offered a severance agreement by GM in January 2005, she copied thousands of GM documents, including trade secret documents, to an external computer hard drive used for MTI business.

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A few months later, Qin moved forward on a new business venture to provide hybrid vehicle technology to Chery Automobile, a Chinese automotive manufacturer based in China and a competitor of GM.


GM Planning Four-Mode Hybrid

Next-gen hybrids could yield big gains for big trucks.

by on Aug.14, 2009

GM's two-mode hybrid has yielded significant fuel economy gains in vehicles like the 2010 Cadillac Escalade, but a more advanced four-mode system is under development.

GM's two-mode hybrid has yielded significant fuel economy gains in vehicles like the 2010 Cadillac Escalade, but a more advanced four-mode system is under development.

If each new generation of computer processor is able to double the speed of the previous one, is it any surprise that GM’s next-generation gas-electric hybrid powertrain for its big pickups and SUVs will be four-mode instead of the current two-mode?

We first heard a four-mode hybrid powertrain was in the works in 2007, during a conversation  with then-vice-chairman and product czar Bob Lutz – now GM’s marketing chief. We’ve picked up a bit more information after our latest visit to GM earlier this week for a product and technology preview.

Good in any mode!

Good in any mode!

“It’s all about any hybrid system,” said John Turzewski, GM’s lead development engineer for full-size truck hybrids. “As you evolve and go through your next generation, it’s cost reduction, smaller, lighter and better packaging. There’s lots of improvement all along those lines.”


Buick to Add Plug-in Hybrid Crossover in 2010

Five-passenger CUV shares key components with Chevy Volt.

by on Aug.06, 2009

Buick will launch an all-new small crossover in 2010, and introduce a version with a plug-in hybrid powertrain a year later.

Buick will launch a small crossover in 2010, and a version with a plug-in hybrid powertrain a year later.

General Motors has revealed plans to add a new plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, or PHEV, to its line-up, a 5-passenger Buick crossover that will go debut in 2011, a year after a conventionally-powered version of the CUV will be launched.

The as yet-unnamed Buick, which GM expects to be the first commercially available plug-in SUV, will share many of its underlying components with the much-touted Chevrolet Volt, though there will be distinct, underlying differences between the two products.

Plug into

Plug into

“This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and center in the advanced technology game,” proclaimed Tom Stephens, GM’s new “car czar,” during a speech at the Management Briefing Seminars, and auto industry confab, in Traverse City, Michigan.  “Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology,” he added, “so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover.”