Cadillac Unveils CT6 Plug-in Hybrid With All-New Rear-Wheel Drivetrain in Shanghai

Following hot on the heels of the announcement of the performance-enhanced, price-reduced 2016 Cadillac ELR, General Motors has unveiled a plug-in hybrid version of the Cadillac CT6 luxury performance sedan at the Shanghai Auto Show.

Cadillac has confirmed the 2016 Cadillac CT6 Plug-in Hybrid

Cadillac has confirmed the 2016 Cadillac CT6 Plug-in Hybrid

Based on the gasoline Cadillac CT6, the 2016 CT6 Plug-in Hybrid is a rear-wheel drive plug-in hybrid that combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with a twin motor setup and an 18.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack capable of providing around 37 miles of range per charge.

Unlike the 2016 Cadillac ELR we told you about last week however, the 2016 Cadillac CT6 doesn’t lift its technology straight from the Chevrolet Volt range extended electric car.

Instead, it uses an all-new twin motor rear-wheel drivetrain and EVT (electronic variable transmission) which Donny Nordlicht from Cadillac Communications says “leverages [GM’s] extensive leadership and knowledge” in plug-in hybrid technology but which is unique to the CT6 PHEV.  The battery pack too — which uses the same battery chemistry and 18.4 kilowatt-hour total capacity found in the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car — has been designed specifically for use in the CT6.

The CT6 Plug-in Hybrid will cross-shop against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Plug-in Hybrid

The CT6 Plug-in Hybrid will cross-shop against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Plug-in Hybrid

Combined, the 2.0-litre gasoline engine and twin motor setup is capable of producing 335 horsepower and 432 pound-feet of torque. While performance figures haven’t yet been released, we expect the CT6 PHEV to put in a sub 6-second 0-60 time in keeping with a promise from GM president of global product development Mark Reuss last fall that the CT6 would do the stoplight sprint in “under 6 seconds.”

But while the all-new 2016 Cadillac CT6 PHEV is certainly going to be a little sportier than the 2016 Cadillac ELR, it’s important to note one differentiation between both vehicles.

The Cadillac ELR is and always has been sold as a luxury range-extended electric car. The Cadillac CT6 PHEV will be sold as a luxury plug-in hybrid, in which electric only range is intended primarily for use around town and on short-distance trips, while the 2.0-litre engine will come into its own for long-distance touring.

Inside, the CT6 PHEV is as you'd expect from a premium luxury car.

Inside, the CT6 PHEV is as you’d expect from a premium luxury car.

That said, we note that the electric motor should operate at speeds of up to 75 mph without assistance from the gasoline engine, meaning those with a light foot could find a daily zero-emission commute possible.

“The new PHEV system is expected to more than double the fuel economy of the conventional powertrain offerings,” GM says in its official press release announcing the CT6 PHEV.  While there are no official figures as yet, we’d guess a combined fuel economy figure of around 70 mpg, which would put the CT6 PHEV squarely into direct competition with the Mercedes-Benz S-500 Plug-in Hybrid.

As with other plug-in hybrids of similar ilk, the CT6 PHEV offers three main operating modes: Normal, Sport and Hold. As the name suggests, Normal mode — the default for day-to-day driving — prioritises the car’s battery pack over its gasoline tank, maximising range and efficiency.

In Sport mode, the CT6 PHEV uses a more aggressive pedal mapping, which also includes a stiffer steering map for sportier handling. In this mode, both gasoline and electric powertrains work together to produce the maximum power and fastest acceleration.

In Hold mode, the driver can reserve the charge in the battery pack for use later on in the trip, ideal for long-distance travel between two cities.

Despite having less of an emphasis on all-electric mode than the ELR, the Cadillac CT6 PHEV does benefit from the same regnerateive braking on demand system found in both the Cadillac ELR and the upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Using steering-wheel paddles, drivers can dynamically adjust the amount of regenerative braking applied on accelerator liftoff, recapturing any excess energy into the lithium-ion battery pack for later use and reserving friction brake use for emergencies and harder braking.

Official fuel economy figures and pricing have yet to be announced, but with the CT6 PHEV confirmed for both China and the U.S., expect official figures to follow shortly.


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