During a recent press conference at the Shanghai Auto Show, Cadillac announced that it will be offering the CT6 sedan with an available Plug-In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) propulsion system in order to double the fuel economy of the car. The 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant will reportedly put down 335 horsepower and 432 pounds-feet of torque. According to the company, the CT6 PHEV “takes advantage of the car’s advanced lightweight structure to create a unique formula for the prestige sedan.”
Much like Chevrolet’s Volt, the CT6 system offers owners all-electric driving for cruising around town but runs on a mixture of petrol and battery power at higher speeds to balance out efficiency with a healthy dose of turbocharged power to keep the car up to speed. Cadillac said that the use of a two-motor system “provides smooth and seamless power through the entire driving range,” and that this latest CT6 can have its battery system charged via either a 120V or 240V charger.
With Cadillac CT6 Executive Chief Engineer Travis Hester confidently claiming that this latest hybrid “will deliver exceptional smooth, responsive acceleration that Cadillac and luxury sedan owners demand,” the idea of a turbo-hybrid Caddy might not be such a bad idea after all. Long gone is the mindset that putting a massive Northstar V8 in a car is the only way to make a Caddy go quickly. The only question now is: How many people will want to buy one?
We like to think the CT6 plug-in stands a pretty good chance of doing well in the American market. It has all of the luxury of a small yacht, offers exceptional safety systems, and puts up solid power numbers to go with all that energy efficiency. From the outside, it still looks like a regular CT6, has a ton of tech inside the cabin, and doesn’t have the ride height of an earthworm like the Chevy Volt. All of this adds up to make the PHEV version of the CT6 a real contender in the electrically charged luxury market.
Cadillac says that because all-electric launch performance is “one of the key purchase considerations for PHEV and EV owners,” the Cadillac CT6 PHEV will utilize a new rear wheel electric variable transmission (EVT). The system’s two motors are designed to provide what Cadillac calls “smooth, spirited acceleration” while minimizing the amount of energy wasted by traditional transmission systems. The CT6 PHEV will also feature both the company’s iBooster and Electronic Stability Program, which has been built to provide energy recovery from braking while reducing stopping distances and besting the fuel economy found in more traditional regenerative braking systems.
This car will also allow drivers to select three different operating modes, depending on what driving style or terrain is on the radar for that particular day. “Normal Mode” offers what one would expect: a balance of performance and fuel economy. The option of driving the car in “Sport Mode” instantly provides a more aggressive pedal feel and tricks the steering into stiffening up considerably for tighter turns. And then there is “Hold Mode,” which is easily the most interesting setting. In this option, a driver gets to choose when the CT6 burns fossil fuels, thus saving the remaining battery for use at a later time. This comes especially in handy during city travel, where all-electric drivetrains usually work at the best.
The CT6 PHEV will also feature what Cadillac calls “Regen on Demand,” which permits temporary energy regeneration from the vehicle’s momentum and converts it into electricity that can then be stored in the car’s battery pack. This system causes the car to act much like one equipped with a manual transmission, further slowing down the vehicle as it downshifts to better align itself before exiting a turn. Regen on Demand can be engaged via paddle shifters on the steering column and offers the driver a trifecta of increased performance, energy efficiency, and secure handling, all at the same time.
This all sounds quite promising to us, as the CT6 is already off to a strong start with its lavish interior and cutting-edge electrical gadgetry. But the key question still remaining is a simple one: How many people really want a rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged, American-made luxury vehicle for $70,000? This car has the potential to be a real threat to Jaguar’s XJ, Lexus’s LS, and BMW’s 7-series, since Cadillac plans on offering the well-equipped CT6 for far less than its competitors. It also sounds like Cadillac’s president, Johan de Nysschen, is banking heavily on the car, saying, “the first-ever CT6 is a technological showcase throughout, making it an ideal platform for Cadillac to offer its first plug-in hybrid.”