Persistent rumors have Cadillac introducing a car equipped with the E-Flex drivetrain to initially be introduced on the upcoming Chevrolet Volt. 
GM isn’t denying the story. It isn’t confirming it, either. The impression they give is that of being entirely happy to let you think they might, but not even hinting that they would.

Here is GM spokesman Rob Peterson on the topic:

“The beauty of the E-Flex system is that it is flexible enough to incorporate different powertrain propulsion systems, design styles and if necessary brand characteristics. That said, the development team is currently focused on the development of the E-Flex System - fuel cell and range-extended variants - and the Chevrolet Volt only. Discussion about vehicles built on the E-Flex System for other brands is purely speculative.”

Presumably, the “discussion” to which he refers is the public speculation about other vehicles, not internal GM talk.
But, does the E-Flex make sense for Cadillac? 

One need look no further than the Frankfort Auto Show – or even Hollywood – to see that it does.

Nary a week goes by that BMW doesn’t issue a press release about some celebrity driving their water car. Mercedes-Benz offered as the show stopper at Frankfort a Bluetec hybrid S Class sized concept car, with almost a 50 mpg capability. 

Certainly, BMW’s Hydrogen 7 is large part publicity stunt. But it is a clever publicity stunt: apparently, BMW wants people to equate “hydrogen car” with both style and luxury. They’re not looking at fuel cells as power for some skatekey city car. Conditioning the market before entering that market is a time-honored and time-proven strategy.

The concept of E-Flex in the public mind is currently linked to the Volt, and to it’s concept and limitations. But E-Flex is a powertrain, not a car. Just as Chevrolet produced the “small block” in displacements ranging from 265 cu. in. to 402 cu. in., there is no reason to believe that the E-Flex system – emphasis on system – cannot similarly accommodate different platforms and different vehicles. Indeed, GM is making it clear that E-Flex is not tied to any one particular power source.

Mercedes and BMW have been portrayed as producing alternative power concept cars in response to tightening European fuel economy and emissions standards. Certainly, that is a part of it. But both companies also clearly perceive a market for cars that are not exclusively gasoline powered. As the cost of petroleum goes up, the cost of petroleum based fuels goes up. 
At some point, there is a limit to the ability of the engineers to continue offsetting fuel cost increased by improving internal combustion economy. Those who manufacture big, expensive luxury cars that earn fat profits have even more reason to worry about that trend than those who make small, inexpensive cars.

If GM is contemplating an E-Flex Cadillac, it’s just keeping up with the competition.

Source: GM Volt

Ralph Kalal
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