I’ve refrained from covering this story in the past couple weeks since the story was told as ‘the Volt may be badged a Cadillac instead of a Chevrolet’ – originally reported by MotorTrend.com – which I found patently ridiculous.
Now we have a more feasible report from Automotive News.
In the past months, we’ve heard that GM was considering not only a gas/electric version of the Chevy Volt, but also a fuel-cell/electric version. Now, a fuel-cell stack would be a pretty expensive piece of tech that might not only push the Volt into a price point that is considered too high for Chevy but might also over-complicate marketing/sales of the Volt. So, what GM may actually be considering is a Cadillac version of the Volt architecture that would the the home for the fuel-cell version of the E-Flex drivetrain.
For those that haven’t been following the Volt…it is a series hybrid/plug-in electric car. It drives the wheels only through an electric motor that is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. When the batteries discharge, a suplemental power supply (range extender) kicks in to both run the electric motor and charge the battery pack. In the Volt, the extender is a 3-cylinder gasoline engine connected to a small generator. In the rumored Cadillac version, the range extender would be a fuel-cell stack combined with a hydrogen storage tank.
GM’s marketing name for this technique (electric car with range extender) is ‘E-Flex’. The advantage is that, for folks that take shorter trips, they may never burn a drop of gasoline (or use any hydrogen in the case of the fuel-cell range extender).
If GM is truly looking to take the E-Flex system to a Cadillac, expect to see a concept car in the next year or so. Also, expect the Cadillac version to be more luxurious and possibly more utilitarian or sporty than the Volt, in keeping with Cadillac’s brand image.
Automotive News (via eGM Car Tech): GM Plans Cadillac Version of the Volt, new baby RWD Caddy confirmed