Cadillac Converj

One of the Detroit show's shocks: Electric Cadillac Converj coupe

Nigh on all the manufacturers at Detroit have introduced an electric or hybrid car, or talked about their plans to introduce one soon. Most have been far from a shock - the current climate and crashing car market call for innovative and clean cars. This Cadillac Converj, however, was a real electric shock, with no one predicting its arrival at the show.

It was introduced during GM's press conference, a half hour talk that aimed to boost a flagging company that was recently bailed out by the US government. And cars like this should do a lot to kick confident levels into touch.

It uses the Voltec electric system from the more mass-market Chevrolet Volt, a car that will make it to the UK in a Vauxhall-packaged car similar in size to an Astra. Voltec can be adapted throughout the GM model range though, this luxury coupe the next recipient. The system means the car defaults to all-electric power, which provides the car with a 40-mile range. That may not sound much, but 75 per cent of American commutes are less than 40 miles meaning a simple plug-in charge either side of the journey will see drivers kept on the move.

There's a four-cylinder petrol engine as well, which keeps the battery power topped up and lends a hand when journeys pass the electric-only threshold. The wheels are always battery powered, too, which cuts down on running costs and the environmental impact. The aerodynamically designed glass roof also incorporates solar panels to help keep the power topped up.

Total output is 120kw (equivalent to 161bhp) with 273lb ft of torque on offer. Top speed is 100mph. As well as throwing style and climate-conscious technology together, the Converj proves Cadillac has moved on from big, soft limos and can produce a cracking medium-sized coupe with style and forward-facing ideas. Fingers crossed GM has the investment to put it into production.

Come this way for the rest of the reports from the Detroit motor show.

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