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Electric coupe convergence

2009-01-16 12:06
GM has no money, but it has some spectacular products under development, like Cadillac’s Converj, shown at the Detroit auto show this week.

Featuring characteristically brash (yet appealing) Caddy styling, Converj is based on the Chevrolet Volt chassis, and uses GM’s plug-in hybrid drive system. Drive is via the front-wheels and primarily from a 16kW/h battery pack.

Electric performance

Containing more than 220 Lithium-ion cells (no nasty nickel-metal hydride here) the Converj (pronounced converge) can cover up to 64km on a single charge of pure battery power.

As the battery starts to deplete a four-cylinder petrol engine swings into action to charge it, extending range appreciably.

GM says economy is in the region of 5.8l/100km; though they won't say how big the fuel tank is; so calculating an effective range is near impossible.

The Converj’s electric drive unit converts batter power - or the four-cylinder, flex-fuel engine’s mechanical energy - to drive, delivering 370 Nm of torque instantly and 120kW at full power.

At no time is the four-cylinder engine ever connected to the front wheels; power is stored and channelled via the electric drive system. Top speed is around 160km/h.

Powering up the Converj to full battery range takes three hours with a 240V household power point, and eight hours with a 120V outlet.

Efficient design

Cadillac styling cues such as the vertically stacked headlights and ornate front grille are present in the Converj design.

Nearly all of the details are cunningly engineered to assist overall efficiency. That grille might be large, but is has minimal openings to reduce drag.

Instead of conventional, drag inducing side-mirrors the Converj employs rear-view cameras. Even those gorgeous seven-blade, 21-inch wheels have spokes shaped to channel airflow outward, rendering less drag. Underneath the Converj a flat under tray ensures optimal airflow.

Achingly good-looking (as most concepts inevitably are) the Converj has little chance of beating the Volt to market, with the latter only becoming available during 2010 at best...

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