Cadillac Converj Concept will become Cadillac ELR production extended-range electric vehicle, GM says

Cadillac Converj Concept

Although this is a really a 2009 Cadillac Converj Concept, Cadillac mis-identified it in press materials as a Cadillac ELR. A Freudian slip, perhaps?

As Cadillac announces that the Cadillac Converj Concept extended range electric vehicle–Chevy Volt technology with two doors, and a crest and wreath on its eggcrate grille–will see production as the Cadillac ELR, pundits are rushing to say that the Converj has “come back to life”.

That’s not exactly true. The Cadillac Converj Concept never really went away.

Cadillac announced today that the production version of the Cadillac Converj Concept will be named the Cadillac ELR, in keeping with the GM division’s “3-letter international model naming convention” and the vehicle’s electric power.

Because the development of the Cadillac ELR is just beginning, details on performance, price and timing were not provided. However, the announcement did state that the ELR would have “an electric propulsion system made up of a T-shaped lithium ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator,” which is the same configuration as used in the Chevrolet Volt and its European counterpart, the Opel Ampera. And like the Volt and Ampera, the Cadillac ELR will use electricity as its primary source of power, automatically switching over to its extended range mode when the battery runs low on juice.

Unlike the Volt and Ampera, however, the Cadillac ELR will stay true to the Converj Concept’s coupe configuration with dramatic Cadillac “Art and Science” design. “Like other milestone Cadillac models of the past, the ELR will offer something not otherwise present–the combination of electric propulsion with striking design and the fun of luxury coupe driving,” said Don Butler, vice-president of Cadillac Marketing.

Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design, who held that position when the Converj Concept was conceived and completed, said of the Converj, “There’s no mistaking it for anything but a Cadillac, an aggressive, forward-leaning profile and proportion showcases a uniquely shaped, modern vision of a personal luxury 2+2.”

Cadillac Converj Concept

Cadillac Converj Concept, to become Cadillac ELR, shares Cadillac “art and science” design themes.

Although Cadillac specifically deferred specifying when the ELR would arrive, most conjecture places availability in 2013 as a 2014 model.

But has the Cadillac Converj Concept come back to life? That the Converj is “back to life” means that it was dead. Indeed, in January, 2010, then GM vice chairman Bob Lutz told a meeting of the Society of Automotive Analysts that the Converj, which had debuted a year earlier at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, “is cleared for production,” though saying that “it won’t be next year of the year after that.”

Lutz called it a good way of recovering some of GM’s cost of development of the extended-range electric vehicle technology beyond the Volt and Ampera, and not long before his retirement suggested that a production version of the Converj might make more sense as a four-door.