At the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, Cadillac shows off the Converj concept, based on the Volt's power train.
Wayne CunninghamManaging Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
The rumors before the 2009 Detroit Auto Show were true, Cadillac showed off a concept based on the Volt series hybrid power train. The Cadillac Converj concept shows off a low, sporty looking 2+2 coupe design with Cadillac's Art and Science design language present through-out. With the Converj roll-out, GM had a few announcements about its series hybrid efforts, such as its intention to build a factory to produce automotive batteries.
The powertrain for the Converj and the upcoming production Volt now has a name: GM calls it Voltec. This power train uses an electric motor to drive the wheels, getting power from a t-shaped lithium ion battery pack in the car's chassis. A small gas engine serves as a range extender, generating additional electricity once the car gets driven past its 40-mile electric range. Although the Converj concept looks sporty, it gets the same power train as the Volt, giving it 273 pound-feet of torque and a top speed of 100 mph.
The Converj does gets some elements not found on the Volt, such as an adaptive magnetic suspension that can keep it flat in hard cornering. Twenty-one-inch wheels hold the front up, while 22-inch wheels support the back. In good concept form, it does away with mirrors in favor of rear-view cameras, which transmit a panoramic rear view image on the dashboard. The interior pushes the eco-theme, with renewable materials such as wool in the floor mats, suede comprised of post-industrial waste on the seats, and a silk headliner.
Of course, when GM first showed its Volt concept, the car was a low, two door sports model, and morphed into a Malibu-sized family sedan for production. If history is any guide, a production Converj will gain two doors, reduce its wheel size, lose some of the high-tech gear, and raise its roofline.