As an increasing number of upscale automakers look to plug-in hybrid tech, and as General Motors wants equal footing with top-shelf German cars, it has said its new CT6 flagship will be made with an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Actual photos of the large-class CT6 are spy shots, but a comparison of the four-door rear-wheel-drive car has been made to the 2013 Elmiraj two-door concept (pictured), which highlights some of Cadillac’s forward-looking design language.

GM’s plug-in revelation came during its Global Business Conference last week, and the Detroit News reported GM wants a car that will lead the industry with efficiency of upwards of “70 mpg.”

With grid energy, this maybe possible for limited durations and it’s a formula already being used by BMW’s i8 sports car, Mercedes-Benz’s S-Series plug-in, and Cadillac’s own ELR.

Without getting into details about the plug-in option, Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development said the CT6 would have stop-start technology and a 3.0-liter twin turbo engine with an eight-speed transmission. It will be, he said, the most “powerful six-cylinder gas engine in the segment.”

Reuss said also the plug-in wold be capable of 0-60 in under six seconds, and up to 75 mph on electric power. One can surmise that once grid energy runs out, this will not be any “70 mpg” car, but this is the direction elite automakers are taking to keep pushing with more of everything, including ability to pass government regulations.

But the CT6 is more than about passing government tests. It must pass scrutiny in a market where the Europeans and to a lesser extent Lexus, Acura and Infiniti enjoy greater prestige, but Reuss said General Motors aims to rectify that.

“We will create with the CT6, the world’s most advanced body structure,” said Reuss to an audience of over 200 investors and analysts at GM’s Proving Ground during a Global Business Conference. “And it’s not aluminum. It’s a stronger, smarter, safer premium luxury vehicle.”

“So rather than try to copy someone, or do something that has already been done, we have created, we think the vehicle, in this timeframe, that will stand apart and make Cadillac again the standard of the world.”

As GM streamlines all its operations, Reuss also spoke of simplified manufacturing techniques to eliminate components for the new Cadillac. These are to enhance safety, ride, handling, and potential quality issues. One example reported was the front body pillar being made of one casting instead of 20 parts.

The car will be lighter than an 8-inch shorter CTS by 53 pounds. Another technology will be combining rear camera views and streaming them into a “thru-view” mirror.

To gain conquest sales over the likes of Mercedes S-Class which along with other Europeans would be quite a feat. Cadillac is also moving its marketing department of about 100 people to New York where such cars rule, as its new boss, Johan de Nysschen, says he hopes this will be inspirational.

How this stacks up for the plug-in market is anyone’s guess. To date, several elite Japanese and European regular hybrids sell in the single digits during a given month, and the high-end plug-ins are an open question.

It’s all taking the market somewhere, but undoubtedly plug-in advocates wanting to see a paradigm shift are still looking for more down-market plug-ins that can sell in enough volume to make a bigger difference.

The Detroit News