The Cadillac CT6 PHEV Is A “Volt On Steroids”


The first 100 Cadillac CT6 PHEV cars are in the country and are on their way to dealer showrooms. As a reminder, all hybrid versions of the CT6 are built in China and imported to the US.

The car features an electric only range of more than 30 miles from its 18.4 kWh battery. Hmmm … isn’t that the same size battery GM uses in the Chevy Volt? Yes, it is, but it is not the same battery. Instead of being T shaped like in the Volt, the battery for the CT6 is more rectangular and fits between the rear seat and the trunk.

Cadillac CT6 PHEV

The CT6 PHEV builds on the Voltec technology GM developed for the Chevy Volt, but there are significant differences between the two powertrains. For starters, the CT6 PHEV has rear-wheel drive, whereas the Volt is front wheel drive. The Volt uses a 1.5 liter normally aspirated 4 cylinder gasoline engine, whereas the Caddy has a 266 horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter 4 cylinder under its hood.

The transmission for the CT6 is similar to the Volt transmission in that it uses two electric motors — one is an induction motor, which requires no rare earth materials to manufacture. The second is a permanent magnet motor. Combined, they add 183 horsepower for a total of 449. The motors are enclosed in the transmission housing that sends power to the rear wheels.

Cadillac tried to make an upmarket clone of the Volt called the ELR, but it was a dismal failure. More than anything else, it was deemed too slow off the line to be a “true” Cadillac. For the CT6, the company has remedied that weakness by stuffing  3 planetary gears (two simple, one double-pinion) and 5 clutches into the transmission, which now has four continuously variable transmission modes with 3 fixed gears.

“Basically, that gives you a Volt on steroids. It gives you tremendous launch torque. It’s actually a 6.8 step down in the EVT low. You look at some of the EV effort we have here, you’re almost above 5,000 Newton/meters. You have that EV launch feel,” says Tim Grewe, GM’s general director of electrification. As a result, the 4,431 pound CT6 PHEV slingshots to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The 3,543 pound Volt takes 8.4 seconds to accomplish the same feat.

Starting price for the CT6 PHEV is $75,095 plus a $995 destination fee. That’s about $15,000 more than the base price of the conventional CT6, but it comes with more equipment standard and includes the cost of installing a 220 volt charger. The CT6 PHEV is rated 117.7 MPGe by the EPA.

Will buyers flock to Cadillac showrooms to buy the CT6 PHEV? There are other plug-in hybrid luxury cars on the market, including the Mercedes S-Class 550e and the BMW 7 Series iPerformance sedan. What none of those cars offers is an SUV body style, a glaring lack in a world where SUVs dominate the passenger car market. But Cadillac may have a plug-in hybrid crossover SUV with all wheel drive known as the XT4 in the works. It will likely be a twin to the FNR-X Chevrolet, which will debut at the Shanghai Auto Show later this month. There is no word at this time about price or availability.

Sources: Hybrid Cars and Green Car Congress

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • BigWu

    18.4 kWh battery, 118 MPGe, yet only 30 miles of range? Shouldn’t it be 65 miles of EV range? Is only 8.5 kWh usable in EV-mode?

    • Steve Hanley

      It’s the same size battery as the Volt but it weights a half ton more. The Volt only has a certified range of 53 miles so I’m not sure where you are getting the 65 miles figure from.

      • BigWu

        There’s 33,400 Wh/gallon of gasoline, it’s rated at 118 MPGe, or 283 wH/mile. 18.4 kWh / 283W = 65 miles.

        • Steve Hanley

          Dunno. Difference between theory and reality, I guess.

        • Rick Danger

          GM is well known for limiting the usable battery capacity in the Volt. That’s probably what they did here. Add in 1000 lbs more weight and better performance, and you get closer to 30 than to 53.
          At least they made it RWD finally.
          Actually, 118MPGe sounds kind of high for a car like this.

  • Joe Viocoe

    So it’s the ELR again.
    Smart not to call it that.

    • Steve Hanley

      Not really. The ELR was tiny by Cadillac standards (Think Catera) The CT6 is a full size car. It also has MUCH more performance than the ELR, which was FWD like the Volt. Similar is some respects but definitely not the same.

  • Chris Overholt

    Why would anyone spend $75k on this when they can get a far superior Model S for the same money. A faster car, a safer car and cheaper to operate and maintain. Only an idiot would buy this car. I’d call it DOA or at best a ho hum Sales. Now an all electric Caddy with 300 miles of range would be compelling… And build a darnn Super charger network as well. ?

    • Rick Danger

      You forgot to mention that it’s made in China 🙂
      I’m curious to see what the build quality is like on this car compared to American made Caddys.

      • Steve Hanley

        Uhhh…..second sentence, amigo. Quality will probably be better than your average Landwind X7!

  • Mr. Ed

    This is a “joke” article, right? A Chinese hybrid Cadi, for $75k? Not even the Chinese will want to buy this piece of junk!