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Interior and exterior views of the Cadillac Converj concept-- according to a new report, the Converj has received the go-ahead for production and will hit the streets in 2011. It could be GM's first profitable electric vehicle and is expected to have more power than the Chevy Volt.  (Source: Motor Trend)
GM gets the second entry in its electric armada ready as it faces troubling times

When it comes to GM, it’s hard to remove its financial predicament from news of its tech developments.  However, assuming that it can survive, GM has approved production of the Cadillac Converj according to a recent report.

Though some have poked fun at the name, the Converj has been quite popular ever since it was introduced as a Volt-derivative plug-in Cadillac concept at the North American International Auto Show 2009 in January.  The model seemed a logical move -- the Volt's production price is well above that of an average Chevy, but closer to that of a luxury brand model -- like a Cadillac.  By essentially re-releasing the Volt with luxury styling, the cost of deploying the Volt could be offset somewhat with an even pricier model under the Cadillac umbrella.

The vehicle has received official go-ahead from GM according a report from Motor Trend.  GM reportedly plans to unleash it on the roads in 2011 making it a 2012 model year vehicle.  Sources say that the Converj could even be the first profitable electric vehicle -- a major victory for GM, and a big boost in getting federal approval of their revised restructuring/bailout proposal, due June 1.

The source at GM says that the Converj will be followed up by a people-mover/crossover utility based on the Voltec (Volt) architecture. 

A GM spokesperson denied both comments, saying that no changes had been made with the Converj or other models.  However, Motor Trend stands by its source, stating.  The publication points out that the drivetrain (lithium-ion battery pack and 1.4L four-cylinder engine) could be largely reused from the Volt, with more battery mass added to give it more power.  The main work would be working an all-new sheetmetal and interior.

The new production model will reportedly be a two-door coupe, like the concept.  This is different from the 4-door with hidden handles version that retiring product chief Bob Lutz suggested.  The height of the production vehicle will also have to be tweaked to make production financially feasible.

The source says that they believe the Buick brand is a likely target for the people-mover.  GMC is another branding possibility.  The Voltec CUV would have two to three rows of seats

GM is continuing to make efforts to grow its profitable brands as it reluctantly agrees to kill other ones, as part of its restructuring -- including Saturn, Saab, and Hummer, according current expectations and reports.  GM has also entered into a partnership with Segway to release new light electric two-wheelers for urban streets.

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Killer design
By KnightBreed on 4/15/2009 12:56:51 PM , Rating: 0
This thing is gorgeous from every angle. Give it a bigger battery pack, add a turbo to the 1.4L, and send it to production.

RE: Killer design
By FITCamaro on 4/15/2009 1:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
Given that the 1.4L engine doesn't drive the wheels, adding a turbo would be pointless.

RE: Killer design
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 4/15/2009 1:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, just like a diesel electric locomotive. Old tech.

RE: Killer design
By FITCamaro on 4/15/2009 2:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you think locomotives had that design? Because it was the most efficient.

It also is the most flexible design. The car doesn't depend on the gasoline engine. They could remove it if they wanted to and the car could still work. But they can also replace it with a diesel engine or a fuel cell with minimal rework.

RE: Killer design
By yomamafor1 on 4/16/2009 11:27:09 AM , Rating: 2
Actually its not because its most efficient, but rather the most suitable design for locomotives. Train pullers usually require massive torque in order to start the entire train, while speed is the secondary concern. Therefore locomotives use electric motor's advantage of constant and maximum torque for its power strains.

Putting the same technology onto a car renders the car to have excellent acceleration, but poor top speed. Just like the Tesla Roadster, where it can beat a lotus from the stop, it can only reach 125Mph top speed.

RE: Killer design
By djc208 on 4/17/2009 7:02:39 AM , Rating: 2
There is also the issue of size and weight. The transmission on a car is a fairly large component with clutches, gears, controls, and drive shafts. Given the amount of power and torque required to move a train how much larger would that gearbox have to be? Plus the extra maintenance and complexity.

The diesel/electric drive is simpler and more compact than a direct drive setup would be.

RE: Killer design
By Steele on 4/15/2009 3:30:56 PM , Rating: 2
I know a guy who built a diesel-electric hybrid truck. He gutted a Ford F-250 flatbed, put a Yanmar (I think) diesel and some batteries in front, more batteries in back, and a couple of electric motors on each axle. He gets about 50mpg. In a 8,000 pound truck.

If a retired sailor can do it, surely GM can?

RE: Killer design
By Spuke on 4/15/2009 4:12:55 PM , Rating: 5
If a retired sailor can do it, surely GM can?
Your retired sailor doesn't have to worry about warranties, safety requirements, or even reliability. How does that truck fare in -20 degree temperatures? Or going up the hill outside of Baker in 115 degree heat with the A/C on and a trailer out back? Not the same thing dude. Do you people really think that's it's easy to design and build a car that millions of different people will drive in various conditions with low maintenance, comfort, and high reliability?

RE: Killer design
By RamarC on 4/15/2009 4:27:55 PM , Rating: 4
everyone forgets the gm ev-1. regardless of whether or not you believe who killed the electric car, gm has known how to make a production line electric car that meets highway standards for more than a decade.

RE: Killer design
By Keeir on 4/15/2009 4:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
Does that truck pass current 50 state emissions?
How about regulation on safety, let alone how it performs on crash safety?
What is the reliablility testing that has been performed? Think it will last 100,000-200,000 miles if its getting the stuffing beat out of it by careless owners?
Is the fire and electrical safety acceptable?
Hows the performance? Comparable to the latest gas cars?
Sounds like lots of batteries... still get the same amount of cargo/bed space?
What was the end cost of this conversion?
How much time did this take?

Let alone marketing and infrastructure costs...

A hobbiest (free labour) willing to treat thier car with kid gloves and not meet certain safety/regulation standards should be able to outperform a company bounded with all the above restrictions AND the need to make a profit on a car sold...

RE: Killer design
By RandallMoore on 4/15/2009 5:13:54 PM , Rating: 5
I think what he was getting at is... "If this one man can do it, than surely a dedicated engineer team can find a way also"

It's their JOB to do theses things, and if they can't then there is no need to call themselves engineers. Everyone should know that cars should be able to get 200 mpg by now. It CAN be done within legit safety and quality standards. Furthermore, the whole point should be made that we could have been long since migrated to hydrogen fuel cell cars. That would be a dream come true. There are 1,000,000 reasons why hydrogen cars are better than gasoline.

RE: Killer design
By Spuke on 4/15/2009 5:56:15 PM , Rating: 4
If this one man can do it, than surely a dedicated engineer team can find a way also
They CAN do it. They ALL can!!! But are you willing to PAY for it? I sure as hell am not. Look at the Volt. The closest thing to an all-electric car and look at its projected cost. Look at the cost of the Tesla roadster. Look at the projected cost of the Tesla sedan. This tech costs MONEY!!!! Not dreams and hopes, but MONEY!!! And, once again, to all of the people demanding these cars, are you going to buy one when it's available? If you really want this tech to come to fruition, then you should go out and buy one regardless of cost. An argument that many Prius owners make is that they'll pay the extra cost to use a little less oil.

I can respect the Prius owners. I do NOT respect people making demands on the auto industry and have no intention of supporting those demands with THEIR own cash. I have no intentions of buying a hybrid nor an all-electric car. And I will support that by not buying ANY of those cars. I like noise and I like the individual character of combustion engines. Driving a car that sounds like a case fan with a bad bearing is extremely unappealing. Will I ever own one? If something catches my eye in the far future, possibly. I never say never but as long as I have a choice, it will be combustion tech all day long.

RE: Killer design
By RandallMoore on 4/16/2009 10:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
I like noise and I like the individual character of combustion engines.

Damn straight! Nothing like the sound of a 70's mustang :D

Driving a car that sounds like a case fan with a bad bearing is extremely unappealing.

For now, yes. Did the first internal combustion car have the massive sound appeal that most cars have today? Haha, not a chance. I bet they sounded like a sputtering mess. Give it time though, I bet if we ever get to enjoy a zero emissions pure power fuel celled car they will definitely find a way to make it sound furious. I'll take the dying fan noise for all the benefits any day of the week though.

RE: Killer design
By callmeroy on 4/16/2009 11:25:27 AM , Rating: 2
The sound was actually one of the first things I kind of went "oh geez here comes the wimpy electric revolution there goes beefy sounding cars...."....performance WAS a concern but its been proven electric doesn't have to mean slow.

Someone suggested sound chips before to make a custom sound...I guess that would be one way to address the issue but it would feel lame to me and I'm sure see with an ICE you get the sound but --- its real and there's a genuine purpose for it. If electric cars rely on artificially creating the sound by sound boards/chips/speakers --- it just won't feel right.

I'm sure down the road several years everyone would just accept it and adjust to it,and many many years into the future the young adults and kids won't know the difference , but to us folks now the transition will be hard since we've known and loved our gas guzzling sports cars and the beautiful sound of raw explosion created horse power.

....but that's just me.

i don't drive much to begin with --- so the impact or drain on the enivornment I do personally with my gas guzzler is LESS than the average person they use for those far.

RE: Killer design
By Spuke on 4/16/2009 1:29:01 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, not a chance. I bet they sounded like a sputtering mess.
It's an electric motor. It sounds the way it sounds. There's no cylinder firing order or exhaust to be tuned.

RE: Killer design
By Keeir on 4/15/2009 7:27:06 PM , Rating: 5
It's their JOB to do theses things, and if they can't then there is no need to call themselves engineers.

Are you an engineer? Have you ever tried to get something past safety regulations?

I think this statement answers the question

Everyone should know that cars should be able to get 200 mpg by now.

Heres the an actual analysis of the situation:

A gallon of gas contains approx 132 x 10^6 Joules of energy

The best possible gasoline engine that could every be created will turn approx 45% of that energy into rotational energy/motion.

59.4 x 10^6 Joules

The best possible trasmission/gearing will only transfer approx 90% of that rotational energy/motion to wheels.

53.4 x 10^6 Joules

Force exerted by Air Resistence alone =1/2*p*v^2*Cd*A. Cd is best possible right now as .25. Cross Section Area... I don't want my car to be smaller than 50 inch high by 60 inch (A prius is 58 by 66) so minimum of 3000 in^2 (1.935 m^2). I want to travel at least 60 mph (26.82 m/s). Standard Air has density 1.2754 kg/m^3.

So minimum Force acting on a car is 221.89 kg*m/s/s or 222 N.

Work is F*d. A gallon of gas using IDEAL components can push an IDEAL car 149 miles.

Being realistic, due to safety requirements, pollution requirements, and variablity requirements, a 30% efficient gasoline engine would be an amazing peice of technology.

A system to get the engine motion actually transfered to forward motion at around 85% is pretty good!

And to be fair, a drag+friction force more like 350 N (Current Civic) is much more reasonable to allow for comforatble cars that seat more than 2.

This gives a maximum reasonable steady state at 60mph on a flat road of ~60 miles on a single gallon of gas. This is what should be acchievable right now using gasoline.

RE: Killer design
By wookie1 on 4/15/2009 9:43:48 PM , Rating: 2
Did you also factor in the rolling resistance of the tires and the drivetrain losses? Rolling resistance is the more significant drag up to at least 30 to 40MPH.

RE: Killer design
By goku on 4/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: Killer design
By Keeir on 4/16/2009 3:49:32 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry, but "I don't like your conclusion" is not a great basis for saying my math is wrong.

Read my input assumptions:
Safe Medium Sized Car, similar to US Civic/Accord
Meeting Tier 2 Bin 5 emission requirements
Steady State, 60 mph travel

If you take a Geo Metro body (Does not pass current safety standards, and is Tiny! Making it practical for only a small subset of the population), add a gasoline engine similar to a Prius (probably the most efficient mass produced engine, not really suitable to varied loads but hey if you are willing to deal with crummy performance you can get better milage) and throw on some expensive and non-durable low rolling resistance tires.... Yep, you too can have a car capable of traveling 75-100 miles per gallon at my 60 mph speed... Did I mention stripping of the pollution controls? The car might produce more harmful emissions per mile, but hey less CO2!

In reality, people want/need the civic/accord/cr-v/pilot sized cars... Why do you think ALL manufactures are producing RD prototypes outside the gasoline range? Their engineers know there are realistic limits about how efficient various car types can ever get...

In conclusion, I am not saying 60mpg Highway is the limit for all autos, just ones the public would be willing to buy! Hey look at the tiny Honda Fit... It gets what like 33 mpg Highway? It's really only about 50% as efficient as that frontal area ever could, so it really isn't like there is no room for improvement (Hatchback increases drag, durable tires increase friction, variable engine to allow "sporty" performance, radios climate control etc)

RE: Killer design
By RandallMoore on 4/16/2009 10:33:52 AM , Rating: 2
Are you an engineer? Have you ever tried to get something past safety regulations?

Yes, a network engineer. Safety regulations isn't of my concern so no, I have not. It is not my job to do so. However, it is my job to continually find new and different ways to upgrade and maintain networks and electronic equipment while standing within a certain (most often unreasonably low) budget.

I can't challenge your technical layout of gas efficiency but I can say that just because I am not an auto engineer doesn't make me unable to evaluate innovative progress or lack thereof.

You are right that there is a finite limit on the efficiency of internal gas combustion. I'll never dispute that. Perhaps my number of 200mpg is a little more than what's possible but my whole point is they are no way near what they should be in terms of the age of the internal combustion engine. We all know with absolute fact that the oil companies and their ties with legislation have been the biggest hindrance. That statement also brings me to say that hydrogen adoption will only come about when the tycoons and law dogs find a way to take complete control. Seeing how you could perform a safe hydrogen extraction from well water in your own back yard, it is hard to imagine that they will ever make that push.

No hard feelings about this discussion though, cheers!

RE: Killer design
By cerx on 4/16/2009 10:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Why do you think SUVs were so popular in the 90s? Was it so hard to see a gas-price hike back then? No. The car companies made SUVs instead of researching more fuel-efficient vehicles. And now they are reaping what they have sown.

RE: Killer design
By djc208 on 4/17/2009 7:23:58 AM , Rating: 2
Because people like large powerful vehicles and gas was cheap enough to afford them.

The auto makers produce things because people want them. While they certainly hold blame for letting their smaller cars falter in that environment you can't blame them for not wanting to spend money where it's not profitable.

The fact that a high performance car now days has at least 500+ HP and most closer to 600, or the fact that GM managed to create a whole new brand around one of the most fuel in-efficient SUVs (HUMMER), or that Cadillac's resurection was funded by the vehicles like Escalade and CTS-V points to the fact that most people don't want smaller vehicles if given the choice.

The problem for the big three (and all the rest of the auto makers too) is that what people wanted changed essentially over night. When new car development takes years but the price of gas can double in a month there's no way the auto companies can suddenly throw out new vehicles into a changing market.

RE: Killer design
By Spuke on 4/16/2009 1:35:47 PM , Rating: 2
This gives a maximum reasonable steady state at 60mph on a flat road of ~60 miles on a single gallon of gas. This is what should be acchievable right now using gasoline.
Nice work! Very informative. Thanks.

RE: Killer design
By ThePooBurner on 4/22/2009 5:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Please redo your equaltions to be based on a steam powered engine that runs on gas or diesel and then come back. 60mpg max for a car people would want. Psh.

RE: Killer design
By mikeyD95125 on 4/16/2009 3:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
Ok you can pay $1,000,000 for your fuel cell car. I'd take an EV-1 anyday.

RE: Killer design
By Oregonian2 on 4/15/2009 6:55:12 PM , Rating: 2
adding a turbo would be pointless

I disagree! I agree that it would be technically useless, but that's not what the "Turbo"'s number one job is. It's a marketing thing.

Putting "Turbo" on the car gives it marketing pizzazz!

Make a model fire-engine red and put a '7' into it's model number (maybe, "VOLT Turbo-7"). And off it goes!


RE: Killer design
By mindless1 on 4/16/2009 7:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
What if by using a turbo you get faster battery charging, or size and weight reduction from a smaller engine?

IMO, the primary problems are addt'l cost while the car designs are already too costly, and lower reliability in what *should* currently be very reliable as a single speed, moderate RPM engine except for the issue of being a new design with bugs to work out and further refinements to work in over time like all new designs.

RE: Killer design
By Black69ta on 4/16/2009 12:54:28 AM , Rating: 2
adding a turbo would be pointless

Turbos increase Volumetric Efficiency, which increases gas mileage and Power for a given RPM. A larger could allow a bigger Generator thus charging the Battery pack in less time. allowing better MPG.

RE: Killer design
By Black69ta on 4/16/2009 12:57:34 AM , Rating: 2
A larger could allow a bigger Generator thus charging the Battery pack in less time.

Sorry that was supposed to read:
A Turbo could allow....

RE: Killer design
By cunning plan on 4/16/2009 5:53:20 AM , Rating: 2
The more air you cram into a cylinder the more fuel you have to use. The reason for putting more air into the cylinder is so more fuel can be used creating more power without degrading the mixture to the point of miss-fire / stall. Basically if you pile loads of fuel in a cylinder without the correct mixture of air, the engine will miss-fire and probably stall, but if you FORCE induction of air into the cylinder you can add more fuel use that oxygen to combust.

The only time that a turbo engine is as efficient as a N/A one is off the boost and if that is the case there’s no point adding the turbo!

However, I agree that a turbo would increase the power of the engine which in turn allows a bigger generator and reduces the recharging time. BUT the fuel consumption would go up!

RE: Killer design
By JediJeb on 4/16/2009 12:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
Not always. If you read up on people who are putting the 4 cylinder diesel Cummins engines into just about everything, they increase their milage by adding a turbo and upping the power so they can in turn put in a better gear ratio. Producing more power can allow for a change in gearing that will produce the same speeds at lower RPMs, which can if done correctly actually use less fuel because you are using it more efficiently. Tractor trailer trucks and farm tractors use turbos more to increase fuel efficiency than to increase raw power.

RE: Killer design
By mindless1 on 4/16/2009 7:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
Since we don't know the tweaks made to GM's battery charging engine it may be difficult to say whether a turbo, also tweaked, would be more or less efficient since we are comparing a different use of different engines.

RE: Killer design
By phorensic on 4/16/2009 12:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
The only time that a turbo engine is as efficient as a N/A one is off the boost and if that is the case there’s no point adding the turbo!

Sorry, this is just plain wrong.

RE: Killer design
By RU482 on 4/16/2009 11:08:02 AM , Rating: 2
he meant add a turbo to the electric drive, duh

RE: Killer design
By KnightBreed on 4/17/2009 1:04:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming a bigger battery pack and higher performance means you need a bigger engine to generate electricity. Unless, of course, the current 1.4L is enough on it's own...

Christ, and I'm the one to get voted down.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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