We hear it from Gas 2 readers all the time. When will General Motors leverage the Voltec powertrain it developed for the Chevy Volt to build a plug-in hybrid SUV with all wheel drive? After all, SUVs are the hottest segment of the American new car market. Why keep the Voltec buried on the hood of 4 door sedan, a vehicle type that more and more Americans are less and less interested in buying?
GM has slowly added Voltec technology to some of its products. The Malibu Hybrid that gets best in class fuel economy uses it but without the plug. Cadillac’s newest large sedan, the CT6, uses it but the plug-in hybrid version is build exclusively in China and is imported to the US. The Buick Velite is a prettied up Chevy Volt but it is for Chinese customers only.
On April 19, Chevrolet will take the wraps off what it calls the FNR-X at the Shanghai auto show. The teaser photo you see here is all we know about it officially. Its aggressive styling is reminiscent of the current Camaro. Could it be a version of the bold FNR concept Chevy brought to Shanghai two years ago?
Probably not. That car was too wild for production. But we know Cadillac is testing a smaller crossover SUV to be called the XT4 and it has a charging port built into the left front fender according to spy shots that have surfaced on the internet. GM is unlikely to be working on two different SUV products, leading to speculation the FNR-X will be the Chinese version of the Cadillac XT4.
Chinese news sources say the FNR-X will be built in country by Shanghai-GM for the domestic market only. But a version of it would be a welcome addition to the Chevrolet lineup in the US and Canada where the only plug-in hybrid SUVs available today are pricey offerings from Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo. Here’s another hint of things to come. Chevrolet claimed the name CrossVolt back in 2014 and still has the marketing rights to it.
If you are curious about the FNX-R name, FNR stand for Find New Roads which indicates to Chinese customers it is a “new energy vehicle.” The X suggests it will benefit from and all wheel drive configuration. On April 19, we will know more.
The takeaway from all this is how slow traditional car companies are to bring new technology to market compared to disruptive companies like Tesla. The major manufacturers seem to move at a languid pace as if they have all the time in the world and don’t want to rush things. Tesla moves at a torrid pace as if there is always a hungry lion chasing it and the lion is gaining.
The Voltec plug-in hybrid powertrain has been on GM’s radar for a decade or more yet the company is adding it to new models at a glacial pace. For green car advocates, that lethargy is frustrating. The technology is there. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. Why not use it and derive the benefits that flow from economies of scale? Readers can form their own opinion on that question.
Source: Green Car Reports