Electric Cadillac may be on the way

Automaker seriously considering a zero-emissions luxury car.

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by Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com senior writer

Cadillac Converj

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors is moving forward with plans to produce an electrically driven Cadillac luxury car, according to a source familiar with the plan, but no decision has been reached on exactly what that the final product will be.

GM showed off a concept vehicle called the Converj at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The Converj was, essentially, a Cadillac version of the Chevrolet Volt electric car.

The Volt, a compact car which is scheduled for production in late 2010, is a plug-in electric vehicle with a gasoline engine that it uses to generate electricity for long-range driving. The Volt can travel up to 40 miles under plug-in electric power before needing to rely on the gasoline engine.

It is unlikely that GM will ultimately decide to build and sell a car exactly like that under the Cadillac name, said the source, although the car will probably resemble the Converj.

As a luxury brand, Cadillac caters to a different sort of customer than the mainstream Chevrolet brand and Cadillac customers will likely want a different sort of driving experience or an entirely different type of vehicle than the Volt.

At this point, GM is still at the stage of sorting out exactly what type of vehicle to pursue, the source said. The car could ultimately be a sporty performance car, he said, or an electric-only car instead of a range extended car with a gasoline engine.

In an August interview with CNNMoney.com, Cadillac general manager Bryan Nesbitt acknowledged that the carmaker had been investigating the possibility of creating an electric Cadillac. The Converj, he said at the time, was essentially conversation starter to get customers talking about what they would want in such a vehicle.

"What's the threshold of cost," he said, "What's the customer really willing to pay?"

One thing GM has learned from its conversations with customers and from its experience with the Cadillac Escalade hybrid SUV is that luxury customers are not willing to give up what they've come expect -- lots of features and performance -- for the sake of fuel economy.

"Our impression is that there's not a lot of tolerance for sacrifice," he said.

Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell would not confirm that GM has moved toward any more formal plan to pursue an electric Cadillac.

"We're not in a position of announcing anything like that," he said. To top of page

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