Just two days ago Bob Lutz told the world in no uncertain terms that the "Cadillac Converj is cleared for production," but today we're getting a different line from within Cadillac, including a report of Cadillac's global product director, John Howell, refuting Lutz's statement. Our own sources within Cadillac tell us why.
According to a report from mlive.com, Howell left no doubt that Lutz's announcement was premature at best. The business case for Converj production is simply not there.
That makes sense, especially taken in light of the comments from our source within Cadillac. Comparing a rushed Converj to the Lexus HS 250h, the source told Motor Authority that Cadillac would not bring Converj to market until it could be produced to a standard that fits with the rest of the brand's image. Cutting corners in regard to luxury to bring a car to market would put the brand they've worked so hard to rebuild at risk.
A quick run to market with the Converj had seemed a given, in a way--just build a luxury car on the Volt platform and bam! Instant Converj. But the reality of pulling that off in a package that represents Cadillac inside and out isn't quite so easy.
The Volt itself doesn't even enter production until late this year, with the first year of sales a gradual ramp-up period. Bringing the Converj to market in 2012 would give little time to overcome the hurdles likely to be encountered in the project--and a lack of time isn't conducive to staying within a budget, something that GM is acutely aware of these days. And that brings us back to the business case for the Converj--if it's expensive to build, it will have to be expensive to sell, and that will limit units sold, which in turns limits the ability to recoup the investment to build the car in the first place.
The Converj isn't necessarily on the shelf, however. As of now it appears to be awaiting further development and a market situation that favors its release. Whether that will come in 2012 or later is anyone's guess.