General Motors Co will build a Cadillac luxury electric car based on the technology used in its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, people familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.
The U.S. automaker's plan for the rechargeable battery-powered hybrid Cadillac, which will be built in 2013 as a 2014 model, would revive plans for GM's Cadillac Converj concept car that won acclaim for its bold design when shown at the Detroit auto show in 2009. The sources asked not to be identified because the product plans have not been announced.
Right now we don't have anything to announce, but stay tuned, Cadillac spokesman Brian Corbett said.
The news comes at a time when Toyota Motor Corp has begun marketing its 2012 Prius plug-in hybrid.
The Converj was named the best concept vehicle of that show. Automakers routinely show concept vehicles that have not been approved for manufacture at auto shows to build excitement for their brands and explore design ideas.
In January 2010 then GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the automaker's board had approved the Converj for production, but the fate of the project and the timing of a release of an electric Cadillac had been uncertain after initial production approval was reversed.
Dan Akerson has driven GM more aggressively toward electric vehicles since becoming CEO a year ago. He has said GM has a technology lead in that area that it should push to extend.
The company's push has centered on rolling out plug-in hybrid technology in a broader range of vehicles to recoup its investment more quickly.
The Volt has a 400-pound lithium-ion battery to provide an electric-only range of 25 to 50 miles. After the battery is depleted, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine provides power.
It is not clear how the Cadillac would be configured, although GM officials have said any Cadillac version would be built to appeal to buyers of a luxury brand closely associated with horsepower and performance.
GM also is exploring building an all-electric subcompact car for the Chevrolet brand, the sources said. The battery for that car's powertrain would be supplied by A123 Systems Inc, which was just awarded a contract by GM for unspecified future electric vehicles.
A Chevy spokesman declined to comment on those plans. We are exploring others (body styles), but we're just not ready to make any announcements, Mike Albano said.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, editing by Dave Zimmerman, Phil Berlowitz)