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Cadillac Pushes GM's Electric Switch


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From Canberra Times

Canberra, AUS. January 30, 2009: American cars were once the epitome of massive gas-guzzlers but today all the once-great but now- struggling "big three" are working flat out on alternative fuels and smaller vehicles.

Another example is the electric- powered Cadillac Converj concept that was one of the star exhibits at the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Developed as a well-appointed grand touring 2+2 coupe with strong design cues and lots of interactive technology, the four-passenger car is intended to show how GM's Voltec electric-propulsion technology could be used to power a luxury coupe.

Voltec gives the car a range of up to 65km of petrol- and emissions-free electric driving with extended-range capability of hundreds more kilometres.

With a top speed of 160km/h, the car has independent MacPherson struts, front magnetic ride, a compound crank-twist rear, four-wheel disc brakes, full regenerative brakes to maximise energy capture and electric power-assisted steering.

It has a 2742mm wheelbase, massive 21-inch wheels at the front and 22s at the rear, and is 4620mm long, 1883mm wide and 1368mm high.

The Cadillac's Voltec electric propulsion system comprises a 16-kWh, T-shaped battery, an electric drive unit and a four-cylinder engine- generator and electricity is its primary energy source.

A thermally managed battery pack with more than 220 lithium-ion cells is integrated into the Converj's chassis and stores electricity from the grid when the vehicle is plugged in. It takes less than three hours to recharge the battery at 240V, or about eight hours from a 120V outlet.

When the battery's energy is low, the Converj seamlessly switches to extended-range mode. During this secondary level of operation, electricity needed to power the vehicle is created on-board by a flex-fuel- powered engine that operates rather like a home generator to create electricity.

Irrespective of whether the car is in electric or extended-range mode, the Converj is propelled by an electric- drive unit that converts into mechanical energy the battery's electrical energy or the energy from the engine-generator. The energy generated during braking is captured and stored in the battery and the driver has 370Nm of instant torque and 120kW of power to play with.

The aerodynamically designed Converj uses GM's magnetic ride control and the car's all-glass roof incorporates solar panels that help offset power drain from the vehicle's accessories.

To reduce drag, there is a full under-vehicle cover and small grille openings and low-profile rear-vision cameras replace conventional outside mirrors.

Also, the wheels are designed to push air outwards for smoother side airflow.