Cadillac ELR Plug-In Hybrid Could Be Rear-Wheel Drive

Before the Chevy Volt even came to market, GM went ahead and built a Volt-based Cadillac concept called the Converj. First the Converj was on, then it was off, and then back on. Rumors swirling the Interwebs today suggest that the Cadillac ELR (as it is now officially called) may even be the first rear-wheel drive application of Voltec technology.

A Sporty, Luxury Volt

Automotive Newsreckons that a rear-wheel drive Cadillac Volt could be what the brand needs. Such a car could the upcoming Cadillac ELR, which may or may not use the all-new“Alpha” platform. The Alpha platform will definitely underpin a “baby” Cadillac called the ATS, and will likely be used in next-generation Camaro as well. Apparently the ELR will be a 2+2 passenger setup just like the Volt, and now the pieces start coming together.

The problem is that a battery currently sits in the Volt where the driveshaft would go. Except that there are a few ways to get around this, being that electric motors, not the gas engine, drives the Chevy Volt. Either jack up the battery a few inches to make way for a drive shaft, use in-wheel hub motors, or just put the electric motors at the rear of the car in the first place.

As The Truth About Cars points out, jacking up the battery would ruin any handling benefits gained from a rear-wheel drive setup. But what neither article mentions is that a lot of progress has been made with in-wheel hub motors, which directly drive the wheels, no driveshaft needed. And being a Cadillac, the higher cost of such technology could be offerset by a the price premium luxury cars carry.

Another possibility is that the battery pack could be smaller, or packaged in such a way as to not interfere with a driveshaft…though there may not be a need for a driveshaft at all. GM could easily put the range extender at the front of the car, and the electric motors at the rear of the car without resorting to in-wheel hub motors, thus circumventing the whole issue without sacrificing passenger space, or handling. And let’s remember that, if GM did build a rear-wheel drive Cadillac ELR, it would NOT be based on the Volt, which uses the Cruze platform. That’s not to say the Volt technology won’t carry over…but then again, that might be exactly what it means. So all this hypothesizing about making it work might be a moot point to begin with.

Then there is one final piece to the puzz;eTTAC also points out that, back in 2009 (right around when the Converj was in the works) GM recieved a $105 million DOE loan for development of “ second-generation GM global rear-wheel electric drive system.”

In other words, booyah.

Not that I’ll ever be able to afford one...but booyah nonetheless.

Source: Automotive News | The Truth About Cars

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.