Cadillac offers a sexy electric in Detroit
But will the upscale, Volt-based ELR boost sales of EVs?
In 2012, sales of the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, reached 23,461, more than triple the 2011 figure but still nowhere near the 60,000 units Chevrolet had forecast. The Volt simply hasn't caught on like the last technological game-changer, the Toyota Prius hybrid, due in part to its $40,000 price tag, which is driven by the cost of the EV's advanced engineering.
So if price is a problem, why not build a sexier version of the Volt that people won't mind paying for? With the ELR, unveiled at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, Cadillac is doing just that. To be built in limited quantities, the Cadillac ELR probably won't boost the sales of GM's electric vehicles significantly, but it will help defer the cost of building cars that use the latest technology.
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2014 Cadillac ELR
What is it? A luxury coupe based on the Chevrolet Volt.
What's hot? Instead of power, the ELR delivers excellent fuel economy, thanks to its extended-range electric powertrain. Cadillac says the car runs on electricity alone for up to 35 miles and has an overall range of at least 300 miles. A selectable Hold mode allows drivers to use the electric propulsion in city driving, where it helps the most. Similarly, Regen on Demand (an energy-regeneration function activated by steering-wheel paddles) enables the vehicle's momentum to generate electricity.
The ELR's design is similar to the Cadillac Converj concept from 2009, an extension of the brand's Art and Science design language, with a forward-leaning profile, large wheels pushed to the ends of the car and a fairly slippery 0.305 drag coefficient. Inside, it features what Cadillac says will be the direction of future interiors for the brand. The ELR interior has cut-and-sewn leather upholstery and trim accented with chrome, wood, Alcantara leather and optional carbon fiber. The Cadillac Cue interface is standard, with an 8-inch configurable instrument panel and center-stack displays.
What's not? Straight-line performance likely won't match the price, at least if the ELR is compared with other luxury coupes such as the BMW 6-Series or Mercedes E-Class coupe. However, the ELR will have more power than the Volt by using more of the battery's energy. Cadillac says its extended-range electric drivetrain has 207 total horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque versus 149 horsepower and 273 lb-ft in the Volt.
Ride may also be compromised due to standard 20-inch wheels and a solid rear axle. To be fair, the Watt's linkage suspension works well in the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick Verano, and standard Continuous Damping Control should soften the ride on rough roads. Handling should be fairly capable, thanks to GM's HiPer Strut front suspension and a wide track, but it will also likely be limited by the low-rolling-resistance tires.
How much and when? Starting at more than $50,000. On sale in early 2014.
MSN Autos' verdict: Cadillac probably won't sell many ELRs, but we are curious to see if the idea of an extended-range luxury coupe will find a big-enough audience to make the ELR worthwhile. It should appeal to early adopters who want to be "green" and look good while doing it. It's worth a shot.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.
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Once again you car designers think that we are as gullible as "Charley Brown" trusting "Lucy" to let us kick the football only to be fooled and fall on our butts. I wrote to Detroit years ago that I was not impressed by their design and this late attempt to make it over to boost sales proves that the management are "BLOCK HEADS".
I sent in my sketched concept for a car to Ford in the mid 1980's and I am sure that Dodge used it to design their Viper. I will ask them if they would accept and pay for my concepts for a percentage of sales.
With the amount of driving i do, i would love to be able to not have to worry about gas. I had to buy a car recently and was considering a nissan leaf or chevy volt, but one look at the price tag and i ran away. I couldn't afford it, insurance was going to be more than the car payment and maintenance was going to be a nightmare.
If they really want to sell those 60k units, they need to make one that starts out at around 12-15k and can get over 400 miles on a charge (about what i get on mileage now). I don't know why they don't use solar panels on the top of the car and trunk to charge it when its parked. Toyota had a car like that but got rid of it.
No way in hell i'd pay 50 grand for anything in this economy, hell, i can't even afford health insurance. What makes them think i'm going to shell out $400 a month for a car and aother 200-300 a month for insurance? Maybe if i a crooked senator and made a million + a year, but with my jobs, HELL NO!
ELR shown above, SUCKS!!! Dark Grey wIth Brown Interior! GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND LEARN DESIGN!!!
The ELR Design Director should be fired!
SHI X TY choices!!!
Lame stuff. A rebadged Chevy Volt with some new coachwork. GM is reduced to chasing phantasmagoric markets that exist only in the fevered imagination of its sales department (who appear to be the best and brightest of a dull lot). See also, the Buick Encore.
The Volt isn't selling. The new Malibu is third or fourth best in its class - and that is the opinion of my friend Rosy Scenario. Might you focus on just making good vehicles, or is it too late?