Nearly five years since its introduction as a concept car at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, the 2014 Cadillac ELR is finally slated to hit the streets at a starting price of $75,995.
The ELR will use the same lithium-ion battery and 1.4-liter engine as its cousin, the Chevy Volt, in bringing a plug-in powertrain to the luxury end of the auto market. It offers about 35 miles of all-electric driving and approximately 300 miles of total range when burning gasoline. Cadillac is emphasizing, however, that the higher-priced ELR is not an upscale Volt. “It has the battery and the engine in common, but that’s it,” Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell told Design News. “There’s not a single shared exterior panel and not a single shared interior (element).”
Click on the image below for an up-close and inside look at the Cadillac ELR
Cadillac’s ELR will hit the streets in January, starting at $75,995. A federal tax credit of $7,500 could bring the price as low as $68,495. (Source: Cadillac)
Scheduled to hit the road in January, the ELR is based on the highly publicized Cadillac Converj concept car, introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009. Its aerodynamics, forward-leaning profile and sweeping body line are virtually identical to those of the Converj.
In breathing life into the vehicle, GM engineers maintained the Converj’s original performance-oriented concept. Torque tops out at 295 lb-ft and horsepower at 207 hp. Both of those numbers are higher than those of the Volt, despite their use of the same powertrain.
Like the Volt, the ELR employs a series hybrid drive configuration. In all-electric electric mode, its wheels are powered by a 135-kW electric drive motor, using energy from the lithium-ion battery. When the battery is depleted, the ELR employs the 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine to spin a generator-motor that recharges the battery. Owners can also recharge the car by plugging it in when it’s parked.
“Cadillac is definitely going after the technologist,” Thilo Koslowski, vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner Inc., told Design News. “But they’re also aiming at the technologist who has a green conscience.”
The pricetag -- approximately twice that of the Volt’s -- could be a problem for Cadillac, Koslowski added. “To introduce it at more than $70,000 is difficult,” he told us. “The problem is that it looks too much like the kind of rebadging that Detroit became known for.”
To some degree, Cadillac sees the ELR coupe as a competitor of Tesla’s Model S sedan. One of the big differences, however, is its use of an internal combustion engine. “You don’t have to worry about, ‘Oh, I forgot to plug it in,’ ” Caldwell said. “You always have the convenience of the extended range.”
Over-priced and under performing! Compete with a Tesla, what? I can get a hybrid Fusion for half the price, though it lacks the same fuel economy. But the price difference I can buy A LOT OF GASOLINE! I can even get a CTS with 3.6L twin turbo decked for 70k and use the 5k to buy a bunch of gasoline.
So taxpayers bailout GM and this is how they rebuild their brand. Design a vehicle that they may sell 100 to 150 units. Good luck with that!
GTOlover, you nailed it. In recent articles about how well the Tesla S was selling in California it was noted that the taxxpayers were subsudizing rich drivers. This is always the case with EVs. Except for a small number of people electric vehicles have to be second (or third) vehicles. The specs on this car are not that impressive, and if it being sold as a sporty car, then I think people will be dissiapointed. It looks nice, though.
I think it's a good attempt to get an ignored consumer interested in the EV market. This doesn't compete with the Model S. Those are two completely different consumers.
Cadillac's base is older and aging. Although many have embraced SMART cars, EV's are too "odd" for most of them. This is a good compromise and a great introduction to get what would have been a lost market. The grandkids will be slightly impressed.
Luxury SUV owners never cared that they're just driving pickup trucks with different body styling. Calling this a "snazzy Volt" won't deter the target market. It's a smart move but just a first step.
This will have a nitch. But in 5 years take photo # 3 with the "frame " of the batteries, the engine, and suspension, send it to California in the '50s. Watch it come back with a bucket T body and performance and range that would challenge the best. We've got to put automobiles on a diet. It looks like an over weight middle aged guy.
TJ makes an important point that this is the Volt with a snappier body. In another comment thread we discussed the difference in engineering teams between luxury models and standard models at car makers. It seems that the engineering difference here is only with the body.
Caldwell of Cadillac is correct when he says the battery and engine are the same as the Volt's. Because the ELR is a plug-in hybrid, it uses a 1.4-liter, inline 4-cylinder engine, along with the battery, electric drive motor and motor-generator. It's essentially a series hybrid, so the engine spins a motor-generator that charges the battery.
Rich, you and many of the readers have put their fingers on a problem that's likely to dog Cadillac. This car is virtually twice the price of the Volt, which already has a pretty high pricetag. Cadillac explained to me that the chassis, body structure, body panels, interior touches, seating, instrument panel, infotainment system and on and on are all exclusive to Cadillac. It really is a different car than the Volt. But the powertrain is the Volt's, and consumers are likely to keep asking the question you did. As our distinguished analyst, Thilo Koslowski, pointed out, it smacks of Detroit's old re-badging practices.
Cadillac is dipping their toe in the waters of EV's, no doubt. Their hope is that their typical customers are already used to paying too much for a car calling it luxury. Green does appeal to some, no doubt. Some of that premium price is in the name, Cadillac. As a car, the ELR may do well (at least for their sake I hope they don't have problems), but this high sticker price is more indicative of Cadillac being realistic with how many they think they'll sell. I think Cadillac wants to get as much profit as they can from each unit sold. This isn't the car for the mass market.
Charles, here is the quizzical point of this: Cadillac made the rest of the car "exclusive to Cadillac". That means the body panels had to be designed and the tooling purchased. The electronics of the infotainment system designed and purchased. The interior appointments designed and tooling purchased. As I recall, the Chevy Volt had to design body, interior, and controls that also required tooling and manufactureing. I understand leather seat coverings are more expensive than cloth and the 6-way surround sound with satellite Chinese TV is more complex, but $40k difference. It seems the purchasers for Cadillac are being ripped off by suppliers.
However, perhaps the real answer is that the Cadillac is not getting the government subsidy that the Volt is rumored to get?
Yes, the R and D. The Chevy Volt had money to help develop the tooling for the production vehicle.
But another commenter already answered what I believe the real reason for the price. Profit. Cadillac knows that the volume will be low and wants to make money on these. I do not have the ability to see Chevy Volt's manufactureing costs, but it seems they are either losing money, or barely breaking even on each Volt sold. Irregardless of the Volt's financial status, the Cadillac is using the look, their reputation, and the EV green angle to make sure that each one sold moves their division to profitability.
What is funny, looking at the specifications for the ELR, the Volt appears to be a better car!
Yes, the Chevy Volt will have better fuel efficiency numbers, but Cadillac has acknowledged that it traded fuel efficiency for power in the ELR. I believe the Volt only has 149 HP. And the ELR offers 295 lb-ft of torque, compared to 273 for the Volt. Cadillac's belief is that their buyers aren't as interested in fuel efficiency, and I think that's a pretty fair bet.
Valid points, GTOlover. They've carried over the powertrain, which saves them some money. But as for the rest of it...we're seeing here what often happens in the luxury end of the market. In the rest of the vehicle (not the powertrain) Cadillac is bearing costs that aren't shared with the other divisions of GM. This is why many consumers like to wait for technology to trickle down -- trickledown means less cost.
GM has been known throughout its existence for using common components, even chassis (sp?) between models. It does make some business sense, but leads to uninspired engineering.
The worst case I can think of is what they did with HUMMER. They took a Chevy Tahoe/ GMC Yukon chassis, put a blocky, ugly body on it, and called it a HUMMER H2. The military HMMWV (HUMVEE) was not popular because of its aesthetics. It was popular because of its performance. The unique drivetrain gave it high payload, superior ground clearance, while keeping an overall lower height/CG. Since GM used the standard chassis, many of us simply referred to the H2 as the "Ugly Suburban".
Clearly a Volt is a better choice (range, MPG, interior room) than the ELR with a straight up cost comparison. But, the fact that more and more PHEVs are hitting the market is a clear indication that the public is ready to step into the shallow end of the EV pool. I saw an ad for the Porsche Panamera Plug-In just last night!
How can anyone bash Caddy for this luxury EV when Tesla took DOE loans too and came up with an $80-$110k vehicle!?
Lipstick on a Pig is right! This is an elitist car, a Chevy Volt for the well-heeled that wouldn't be caught dead in one. It's an attractive car, but in no way will it stand-up to a Tesla S. If you've ever drove one you'll understand. But, given that the magic "lipstick" did such an amazing job on GMC trucks (read Escalades) this marketing gimmick just might work for Cadillac, but it won't be easy. I don't plan to be a customer.
Same old weak-minded GM attempts at marketing. So you're going to use the same battery and motor as the Volt, hang a bunch of different sheetmetal and gadgets on it and then charge me how much more? No wonder we had to bail you idiots out.
What this really highlights to me, is the sheer folly and irrationality of the whole notion that PHEV's have any practical application on a mass scale at this point in time or in the near future. Regardless of the impressive performance numbers, the astronomical price tags of ANY of these vehicles (including the massive GOVERNMENT subsidies) place these products out of reach of anyone where daily operating costs are a concern.
Folks that can afford these vehicles generally have no worries whether gas is $3.00/gallon or $7.00 . It is another ego boost for the well-heeled elites.
What everyone should realize is that these technologies are part of an evolutionary process. I also know that the progressively stringent CAFE standards are an attempt to force the technology along, with some apparent success. However, until costs can become truly competitive with the tried-and-true ICE, it's all still going to be primarily a luxury novelty.
I have nothing against car companies trying out new and bold ideas, but this Cadillac puzzles me.
What exactly is new about it as far as cars go? It can't be that it's a hybrid. Been there, done that.
Is it the suspension, innovative steering or stability control? What?
As far as I can tell it is an exercise in aesthetics. But like with all "art" some will love it and some will hate it, but the majority will stand back and wonder what makes this vehicle worth $75K.
Even people with money to burn will shrug at the prospect of spending 50% more on a Volt with designer sheet-metal. But it's not even that. There is no fashion designer or famous coach builder associated with it.
Way back when, Volkswagen realized that the Beetle, as popular as it was, didn't appeal to all, so they came out with the Karmann Ghia. It was a WV Beetle in "real" designer clothing. It looked fantastic. Everyone knew what was underneath, it was expensive to build, but it didn't sell for twice what the Beetle did.
There are many more examples of car makers, especially GM, re-skinning the same chassis/platform and marketing it as a totally different vehicle, but even then, the chassis were size specific. The more expensive cars were all built on C-platform, for instance. You did not see a Vega frame with a Corvette body.
Here, however, Cadillac is clearly trying to make as much profit with as little effort as possible.
For this to succeed Cadillac needs to make a compelling case for the existence of this car.
With that said, it does stand a great chance to become a collector's item. There won't be many of them around.
One of my first thoughts is "would this project get the go ahead today?"
Keep in mind, like any new car, the go-ahead was several years ago.
IIRC, last month saw lower year-over-year sales for the Volt inspite of the $5k lower price. I have posted before that I suspect that the EV market is already saturating the demand for the current offerings price/range/capability combinations.
With Volt interest possibly flagging, I think the ELR will probably fail hard.
I don't know about the ELR project, Bunter, but a lot of automotive engineers are now talking about the optimistic times of 2008 and 2009, when electric car projects were viewed in a very different light. I suspect many of those projects would be curtailed or even dropped if automakers could do it over again.
It's hard to say how the Volt is doing these days, Dennis. It set a record of 3,351 in August, then dropped sharply to 1,766 in September. Year-to-date sales are 17,760. Sounds to me like Chevy's looking at about 25,000 this year.
I realize this thread is dead but I thought I'd throw you a note.
Volt sales for October-2,022 down 32% from 2012. The industry was up 10% overall.
Little early to call a trend but I wonder if the August sales were a bubble with the lower price and reality is that demand is flagging.
I suspect that if the "pause" in global warming continues (17 years and counting) we will see EV's and wind/solar enthusiasm retreat a great deal. Double that if the planet enters a cooling cycle (solar & oceanic cycles indicate that this is a possibility).
We will see.
Take care my friend. Have a great, and thankful, Thanksgiving.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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