The new Cadillac ELR will offer more power and torque than its cousin, the Chevy Volt, but it may have to trade some efficiency to get it.
Preliminary numbers released by General Motors indicate that the ELR will top out at 295 lb-ft of torque, versus the Volt's 273 lb-ft. It will also offer peak power ranging from 160 HP to 180 HP, whereas the Chevy Volt checks in at 149 HP. The result might be a slight drop in all-electric range, Cadillac engineers said at the vehicle's unveiling at the recent North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
"This is one of the tough decisions -- how much do we balance toward performance versus efficiency?" Darin Gesse, marketing product manager for electrified vehicles at General Motors, told Design News. "In the end, we will probably give up a little efficiency to get the performance."
Click on the image below to check out the Cadillac ELR
Cadillac's ELR, based on the Converj concept car, will be the only electric vehicle offered by a full-line luxury automaker when it reaches production in 2013. (Source: Cadillac)
Cadillac introduced the Volt's upscale cousin to huge crowds at NAIAS, calling it a blend of "art and science -- the artistic expression of innovative technology." The new vehicle will look racier than the Volt and will offer more luxurious touches, such carbon fiber elements in the decorative trim, as well as authentic wood and suede in the interior. The ELR will also feature the well-known Cadillac CUE infotainment system, which uses natural voice recognition, capacitive touch, and hand gesture communication.
The ELR will employ the same powertrain as the Volt, with the familiar 16.6kWh, T-shaped lithium-ion battery serving as a power source. Despite using the identical battery, however, the ELR's all-electric range is expected to be a few miles less than that of the 2013 Volt, which features a 38-mile range. Cadillac engineers wouldn't say what the final figure will be, however. "We will probably withhold any EV range announcements until we get an EPA estimate," Gesse told Design News. "We want to be able to deliver whatever we promise."
GM engineers reportedly considered changing the battery pack for the ELR, but ultimately decided that the 16.5kWh unit was the right size. "We found that most Americans drive between 35 to 40 miles each day," Gesse said. "And the ELR is meant to be charged overnight. So this size will meet the needs of most Americans to drive gas-free on their average commute. Giving them a bigger battery would just mean they'll be carrying around more mass."
Gesse said the ELR's higher performance will be reached through "software tweaks," since all of the powertrain hardware will essentially be identical to that of the Volt.
Higher horsepower and torque is consistent with the Cadillac theme, Gesse added. Cadillac customers expect to buy high-tech vehicles that provide enthusiast-type performance. "People are going to stop them on the side of the road and say, 'What kind of car is that?' " Gesse told us. "Our customers love that."
Cadillac ELR Specs:
EPA vehicle class: Compact car
Cells: 288 prismatic
IC engine: 1.4L DOHC I4
Electric motors: drive motor 117-135 kW; generator motor, 55 kW
Torque: 295 lb-ft
Charging times: 120V, about 12 hours; 240V, about 4.5 hours
Cap'n, the trading of a few miles range for performance seems to be going in the wrong direction. I would think that people would realize that this is not something they are really going to use. Really, how many people street race these days? It is really the relative skill and agressiveness of the driver that counts.
On the other hand, if this helps sell more cars, so be it. A Cadillac owner will not be as price sensitive as a Chevrolet owner, so much of the discussion around the Volt will not be relevant.
I do wonder at the weight, though. You list the car as a compact with a weight of two tons. Wow!!
I'm with you, naperlou. I would think ELR owners wouldn't worry so much about power and instead are focused on efficiency. But maybe because of Cadillac's brand identity, power is a selling point. I guess time will tell.
I think it's a good step. Most consumers still believe that more hp is good. Even if it's wasted in their driving habits. It will take time to get people to realise that more power doesn't equal a better car.
By highlighting this now, GM may have an open window to introduce an update that is more efficient but with less "performance" as we define it today.
It takes time to change consumers' habits and desires.
I had the same thought, naperlou - why trade range for performance? But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the people buying Cadillac over Volt are probably looking for the performance factor. Another reader called the ELR a wolf in Volt's clothing. Maybe they are simply paying for the nameplate/prestige of owning a "Cadi." Chuck, has the list price on this car been made public yet?
It's not yet known how much range will be traded for performance, but whatever it is, I don't think that GM engineers consider it critical in comparison to the performance that Cadillac buyers want. Remember, the ELR is actually a plug-in hybrid, not a pure electric car. So even if the all-electric range drops by four or five miles (that's my hypothetical figure, not a GM figure), it's still backed by 300 miles of gasoline-based range. When you drive the ELR's cousin, the Volt, the changeover between all-electric and gasoline is almost unnoticeable because the drive mechanism remains the same. The same will go for the ELR. Given that, I can understand why Cadillac is doing this. If Cadillac owners have to dish out a few extra cents to pay for gasoline, most of them won't fret. But performance is a big issue to them.
That is exactly what I thought, Jennifer--that people who typically buy a Cadillac would look for a certain type of performance from an ELR from that manufacturer. But if it's not so much different than a Volt, it seems silly to sacrifice efficiency, which sort of defeats the purpose, I would think.
In the end I think the market place is currently showing that the consumer wants to have something that might be called green but doesn't want to give up power and performance. There are still a lot of people still buying SUVs instead of hybrids.
With four drivers in our household (1 off at college, 1 driving to varsity practice, and Mom & Dad driving to 2 different employers) we currently own 3 Toyota Corollas and 1 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We own the SUV for the "U". Even if we won the lottery and upgraded to three new Prius Hybrids, we would still keep the "U". We need a vehicle to tow 7500 pounds, to carry those big boxes from the big box store, and to haul odds and ends for my wife's school because all of the 24-year old teachers are still driving their college hatchbacks. I just don't see many young families financing 65K for a hybrid SUV. I also don't know why folks would purchase an electric Cadillac so that the first 30 miles can run on electricity generated by the local coal-burning power plant. At least in my extended family, most Cadillacs are owned by retirees that use them for long road trips, not 15-mile commutes into the city to their desk jobs... I'm not sure why the technology appears to be driving customer demand rather than customer demand driving the technology...
Good point, Bill, regarding why "technology appears to be driving customer demand," rather than vice versa. I do wonder if GM would have reached this point yet without all the external pressure (government/environmental/public opinion) that has bubbled up since the demise of the ill-fated EV1. In a study by KPMG two week ago, one sentence jumped out at me: "By investing in alternative, fuel-efficient technology, automotive brands have managed to improve both performance and perception." The italics in that sentence are mine.
I think you kind of hit it on the head. It's the government that has been nudging the industry along in this direction. And I just don't see the market really driving the industry this way. I hope it works because I can see the advantages. But I just don't know if you can tell customers what they want. I know it worked for Ford for a while (You can have any color car you want as long as its black) but sooner or later people want to give the customer what they want and not what might be best for some external party.
Baby steps...remember the days when everyone thought you SHOULD have a landline. It took a few years but perception changed.
The larger trend, in the true definition of the word trend, is toward "less is more". Less things and waste; More experience and sustainability. Early adopters are really looking at their lifestyles and buying to match THAT over collecting status symbols.
I like that correlation. I don't know that I agree but it does bring up a good point. In the case of cell phones people were getting more and more. In the case of cars I don't know if I see what people are getting yet. It might be more green but if it's not much of a financial benefit, I don't know if it's enough motivation.
One of the things that Consumer Reports always says is that most consumers won't go green until the fuel cost numbers work out in their favor, jmiller. In other words, many people want to be green as long as they don't have to pay extra across the life of the vehicle.
I hear what you are saying but I wonder if it's not more of a I'll go green when I save money. I can honestly say from my stand point I won't go green unless it gives me an advantage. I don't believe a lot in the whole green house gases, global warming, so to me if it's a wash, I want the extra power.
I often wonder when I hear about consumer reports and surveys how much they are driven by the government trying to drive going green. Some of the new government regulations on water usage are really starting to be ridiculous. I'd rather have my dishes get clean with a little more water than have to run the dishwasher twice because the dishes didn't get cleaned on the first run.
My impression of the Cadillac owners that I have known is that they seldom ask "how much" in reference to something that they want. So for those self-imdulgent individuals it may be just the right choice.
There is a whole large segment of the population to whom style means far more than substance, and I would certainly hate for the economic situation to worsen enough to change their attitude. Not that I think it is smart or good in any way, but that if things were bad enough to change it, we would all be suffering a lot.
So the Cadillac ELR is probably one good attempt to show that an electric or hybrid vehicle does not need to include any compromise in creature comforts, which would probably advance the cause of electric vehicles somewhat. Besides that, it should be one more thing that GM has been doing right recently, which would improve the economy a bit and therefore benefit us alll, at least a little bit.
I repeat my self for efficiancy of vehicles the design mus be taken away from car companys. They continue to insist on weight unbecoming of a highly effficiant people mover. They will end up with a hybird auto that get 15 mpg and think its perfect. The electric of the future will go 100 miles per charge and exchange the battery in the time it takes to fill a tank with gas or less. The entire car including the suspension will be carbon fiber. The operator may stand the car on its back side when parking to save space. It seems so simple. Henery Ford where are you?
If you take the design away from the car companies, who does the work? I sure don't want the government to design my car. Until consumers are willing to pay more and get less, it will take some step improvmenet in functionality before electric cars take off.
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