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A Look at Cadillac's ELR, GM's Response to Tesla

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 28 comments

Cadillac makes the case for the ELR electric luxury coupe - and wants to compete with Tesla.

It would be reasonable to state that the Chicago Auto Show (CAS) is not generally known for its showstoppers since many manufacturers choose to focus their attention on the Geneva Auto Show instead and only showcase a small portion of their lineup and often omit their new prototypes. Despite it's somewhat disappointing reputation, this year's Chicago Auto Show held at the city's McCormick Place displayed something quite special, Cadillac's breathtaking ELR Coupe.

Though the Cadillac ELR shares the same propulsion system as the Chevrolet Volt, it develops 201 hp (61 hp more than the Volt) and whilst this isn't an abundance of power, Cadillac's Global Marketing Director Jim Vurpillat believes that there's enough to "enjoy the hell out of it". The car also features "regen on demand" shifter paddles that drivers can apply as a breaking mechanism and recharge their battery. Other luxury features are generous amounts of wood, suede and carbon fiber trimmings that are well above both the Volt and Cadillac CTS coupe. The driver display is based on the software that we first saw in the XTS sedan, but features some updated graphics and there is, of course, Cadillac's CUE entertainment system that could use some improvements especially in the performance department.

The ELR will also integrate GM's flexible app framework, which will allow drivers and passengers to download apps to the car's entertainment system and its proprietary Linux OS version. GM currently provides an SDK and encourages developers to create HTML5 apps that can only read APIs at this time and will be offered through a curated GM app store. The manufacturer told us that the technology will become available in 2014 model year cars and may offer apps that, for example, encourage effective driving or allow drivers to select between private and business trips that may provide a detailed expense report.

According to Vurpillat, there is confidence at Cadillac that the ELR will be profitable and attract a different kind of attention than the Volt, which has so far sold well below expectations and results in a rumored $2,500 loss per unit sold. Vurpillat told us that the ELR will find male and female buyers among "well-educated, wealthy individuals" and will be cross-shopped with Tesla's cars. Though competing with Tesla is new territory for GM, Vurpillat believes that the fact that the company has manufactured cars for "100 years", has a known dealer network and a credible service history may bring buyers to Cadillac showrooms. He also noted that the electric vehicle market "will dramatically change over the next three years" and that the company will be able to leverage the ELR as a flagship and "halo car" in this transition. Rather than creating a new brand and building cars that have their own design language such as BMW's i cars, Vurpillat believes that a vehicle that seamlessly integrates with an existing lineup will be key to success.

As a "luxury offering", Vurpillat mentioned price points in the range of the BMW 6-series, Mercedes E-class coupe, as well as the Tesla Model S but has remained tight-lipped on an exact price and only state that their would be a $5,000 difference between a base and fully-loaded ELR. Given the car's stated competitors, it appears that the starting price will be between $50,000 to $75,000 and is likely closer to the latter price in order to differentiate it from the aforementioned CTS coupe.

 

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  • 0 Hide
    bak0n , February 12, 2013 5:17 PM
    Does nothing for me or my wife. We are shopping the Tesla Model X right now.
  • -4 Hide
    warezme , February 12, 2013 5:41 PM
    This is kinda old news and we don't care Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell III.
  • 2 Hide
    blakbird24 , February 12, 2013 5:42 PM
    This thing is beautiful. The model S is a beautiful car on it's own, but it would look downright plain parked next to an ELR. I'd take an ELR over a model S in a half second. It's better looking, and you don't have to worry about running out of juice.
  • 2 Hide
    ibjeepr , February 12, 2013 5:51 PM
    I saw my first Tesla on the road 2 days ago. It's a very good looking vehicle and rather large. The ELR is also very attractive but the two vehicles are very different. Not only in looks and size but in powertrain. I find it unlikely that anyone will cross shop the two or frankly, cross shop the Tesla with any vehicle that still has a gas engine. While the Tesla's all electric range is impressive there still isn't the infrastructure to support it for long trips. Especially if that trip is off the most traveled paths. Until then, I think the ELR will have the advantage.
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , February 12, 2013 5:51 PM
    "201 hp (61 hp more than the Volt)" -- Don't have time to look it up but there are discussions on the internet that the drivetrain is no more powerful than the Volt. That 201HP figure may only be available at certain conditions,;; only when in range extended mode (the engine helping to propel along with the motor(s)).
    111KW/147HP is available at all times on both cars.

    WHo knows for sure. Look at the detailed press release specs.

    It's unfortunate that this expensive Cadillac doesn't have an Atkinson cycle engine like hybrids. So extended range MPG isn't that good.

    I'll keep my '99 Civic until a fast AWD electric car is cheap
  • 1 Hide
    g-unit1111 , February 12, 2013 6:11 PM
    Quote:
    This thing is beautiful. The model S is a beautiful car on it's own, but it would look downright plain parked next to an ELR. I'd take an ELR over a model S in a half second. It's better looking, and you don't have to worry about running out of juice.


    I saw a Model S the other day for the first time - it is a sweet car I will admit but it does look like an ordinary sedan rather than a $90K luxury car.

    The bad thing is I was in the market for a hybrid but I was told by multiple dealers including Volkswagen and Hyundai that if you do a lot of highway driving (like I do) then a hybrid or electric vehicle isn't for you. You're better off going with a Diesel or a regular gas engine.
  • 3 Hide
    ibjeepr , February 12, 2013 6:25 PM
    Quote:
    I saw a Model S the other day for the first time - it is a sweet car I will admit but it does look like an ordinary sedan rather than a $90K luxury car.

    The bad thing is I was in the market for a hybrid but I was told by multiple dealers including Volkswagen and Hyundai that if you do a lot of highway driving (like I do) then a hybrid or electric vehicle isn't for you. You're better off going with a Diesel or a regular gas engine.


    The benefit of electric/ hybrid is pretty much in short trips. Mostly because you want to stay within the range of the battery for electric only vehicles and because the gas engine does pretty much all the work in hybrids at highway speeds so the battery is of little benefit. The VOLT / ELR is somewhere in the middle, leaning more towards electric than hybrid.

    For a lot of long highway driving I would recommend diesel. Even in town diesel will give you good mileage but more importantly it doesn't feel like you are driving an economy car power wise. TORQUE BABY! You want to experience blissful highway cruising you have to try diesel.
  • 1 Hide
    robochump , February 12, 2013 6:28 PM
    g-unit1111I saw a Model S the other day for the first time - it is a sweet car I will admit but it does look like an ordinary sedan rather than a $90K luxury car. The bad thing is I was in the market for a hybrid but I was told by multiple dealers including Volkswagen and Hyundai that if you do a lot of highway driving (like I do) then a hybrid or electric vehicle isn't for you. You're better off going with a Diesel or a regular gas engine.


    Shocking to hear since VW and Hyundai both dont sell Hybrids...lol. They are full of BS though Diesel is a good alternative if priced right.
  • 1 Hide
    Irrenhaus , February 12, 2013 6:49 PM
    Quote:
    Shocking to hear since VW and Hyundai both dont sell Hybrids...lol. They are full of BS though Diesel is a good alternative if priced right.


    Hyundai does have a hybrid. the 2012 Sonata. But diesel will be a good choice.


    Cheers
  • 1 Hide
    AndrewMD , February 12, 2013 6:52 PM
    robochumpShocking to hear since VW and Hyundai both dont sell Hybrids...lol. They are full of BS though Diesel is a good alternative if priced right.


    Hyundai makes a Hybrid.
  • -1 Hide
    blazorthon , February 12, 2013 7:05 PM
    My issue with the Volt was mostly of range. It's my understanding that it didn't have enough battery life to go more than several dozen miles whereas a fully loaded Tesla can go several hundred miles. Maybe I missed it somewhere in the huge walls of text in the article, but I didn't see this addressed. Am I wrong about the range of the volt and if not, has it been improved in this newer car?
  • 1 Hide
    samwelaye , February 12, 2013 7:18 PM
    g-unit1111The bad thing is I was in the market for a hybrid but I was told by multiple dealers including Volkswagen and Hyundai that if you do a lot of highway driving (like I do) then a hybrid or electric vehicle isn't for you. You're better off going with a Diesel or a regular gas engine.


    This is true. Many compacts get very high 30's or low 40's on the freeway, while hybrids only get about 45. Where hybrids truly shine is in mixed driving conditions, heavy traffic, city driving, etc. Standard gas engines are efficient when it comes to coasting, but stop and go kills it while hybrids stay strong.
  • 1 Hide
    ibjeepr , February 12, 2013 7:22 PM
    Quote:
    My issue with the Volt was mostly of range. It's my understanding that it didn't have enough battery life to go more than several dozen miles whereas a fully loaded Tesla can go several hundred miles. Maybe I missed it somewhere in the huge walls of text in the article, but I didn't see this addressed. Am I wrong about the range of the volt and if not, has it been improved in this newer car?


    You aren't wrong about the range but you are missing the point.

    The Volt goes about 40 miles on electric only then basicly runs for as long as you have gas for the engine just like a regular car.
    This allows the Volt to go on as far a trip as you like.

    The Tesla goes about 280 miles if i remember correctly but has no engine. Thus, once you are out of range, you're dead in the water.

    It's two different approaches to the compromises necessary.
    1) less battery but with an engine back up. Unlimited range and lower cost.
    2) a lot of battery no engine. A lot more battery only range allowing for longer trips but at much higher cost and no "backup."
  • 0 Hide
    bak0n , February 12, 2013 7:29 PM
    blakbird24This thing is beautiful. The model S is a beautiful car on it's own, but it would look downright plain parked next to an ELR. I'd take an ELR over a model S in a half second. It's better looking, and you don't have to worry about running out of juice.


    I won't have to worry about running out of juice either. Being a 2nd car that will be used for commuting, not cross country trips. I'm sure many others of us that are looking to throw 80k toward a car are in the same boat, not looking at an electric as a lone car. Plus having a 10KW solar system in California means our "fueling" cost will be nearly non existent on a running yearly average.
  • -1 Hide
    svdb , February 12, 2013 7:29 PM
    I don't like Cadillac design. To me they look like cars from old sci-fi movies where everything had to be angular to look "cool". Dated.
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , February 12, 2013 8:01 PM
    ibjeeprYou aren't wrong about the range but you are missing the point.The Volt goes about 40 miles on electric only then basicly runs for as long as you have gas for the engine just like a regular car.This allows the Volt to go on as far a trip as you like.The Tesla goes about 280 miles if i remember correctly but has no engine. Thus, once you are out of range, you're dead in the water.It's two different approaches to the compromises necessary.1) less battery but with an engine back up. Unlimited range and lower cost. 2) a lot of battery no engine. A lot more battery only range allowing for longer trips but at much higher cost and no "backup."


    Tesla can have two batteries, one stacked on the other (Even if not in all models, IDK if they all have the capability) for more like five hundred something miles of range IIRC. Also, even with one battery, running out of range seems unlikely unless you aren't careful. 280 miles or even just 200 miles between charges if you want to be more careful seems like a good range for the average person. I think that one battery (and especially two) would be plenty for most travel by car.

    I'm not missing the point of anything in this AFAIK; I'm just saying that if you're not looking to use gas in the car, Tesla seems like the only option that has decent range unless I've missed some other electric cars that have good range without needing to burn fuel on their own.
  • 1 Hide
    ibjeepr , February 12, 2013 8:49 PM
    Quote:
    Tesla can have two batteries, one stacked on the other (Even if not in all models, IDK if they all have the capability) for more like five hundred something miles of range IIRC. Also, even with one battery, running out of range seems unlikely unless you aren't careful. 280 miles or even just 200 miles between charges if you want to be more careful seems like a good range for the average person. I think that one battery (and especially two) would be plenty for most travel by car.

    I'm not missing the point of anything in this AFAIK; I'm just saying that if you're not looking to use gas in the car, Tesla seems like the only option that has decent range unless I've missed some other electric cars that have good range without needing to burn fuel on their own.



    Actually, statistically, 40 miles on electric only has been determined to be plenty what most people do daily.

    Regardless of a second battery or not, the Tesla wouldn't get me to Grandma's house so it is insufficient for long distance travel.
    The ELR's not strapped with that restriction. So even if you don't need that benefit countless others would so your first post ignores that.
    You're complaint was that it didn't go more than several dozen miles. You clearly didn't understand why it was set up that way or didn't specify that for your needs it wasn't enough. That's why I said you were missing the point of why the two different approaches.

    If you don't wish to own two cars and want to do long distance travel by car, or simply don't want range anxiety for longer drives, the Tesla won't do it.
  • -1 Hide
    blazorthon , February 12, 2013 9:56 PM
    ibjeeprActually, statistically, 40 miles on electric only has been determined to be plenty what most people do daily.Regardless of a second battery or not, the Tesla wouldn't get me to Grandma's house so it is insufficient for long distance travel.The ELR's not strapped with that restriction. So even if you don't need that benefit countless others would so your first post ignores that.You're complaint was that it didn't go more than several dozen miles. You clearly didn't understand why it was set up that way or didn't specify that for your needs it wasn't enough. That's why I said you were missing the point of why the two different approaches.If you don't wish to own two cars and want to do long distance travel by car, or simply don't want range anxiety for longer drives, the Tesla won't do it.


    I disagree with that determination and I have ever since I first read about it.

    I didn't know that the Volt was a hybrid, that was my mistake, not a misunderstanding of the concept of a hybrid. My point was the range of car without the need of gas and yes, looking back on it, I admit that my post did have insufficient clarification to that point. My bad there.

    It's my understanding that long distance travel is more commonly done by plane than by car these days.

    My point was this: If you want an electric car with decent range without needing gas/diesel, Tesla seems to be the only option. Over 500 miles with both batteries isn't incredible, but it's most certainly enough to call decent.

    For the record, a more than 500 mile range would be enough to get to my grandmother's house, granted I couldn't make the return trip without recharging.
  • -1 Hide
    SGTgimpy , February 12, 2013 10:22 PM
    danwat1234"201 hp (61 hp more than the Volt)" -- Don't have time to look it up but there are discussions on the internet that the drivetrain is no more powerful than the Volt. That 201HP figure may only be available at certain conditions,;; only when in range extended mode (the engine helping to propel along with the motor(s)).111KW/147HP is available at all times on both cars.WHo knows for sure. Look at the detailed press release specs.It's unfortunate that this expensive Cadillac doesn't have an Atkinson cycle engine like hybrids. So extended range MPG isn't that good.I'll keep my '99 Civic until a fast AWD electric car is cheap



    Just FYI the Volt/ELR does not use the gas motor to drive the wheels. It's like the Tesla and is only powered by the electric engine. In Volt/ELR the gas Engine is nothing more than an electric generator. It is never used nor is it physical connected to the drive wheels. Only Hybrids like the Prius use an Electric/gas power train hence the name Hybrid. In the ELR, GM just increased the Electric motors current output and most likely used higher end batteries than the Volt.

    I looked at getting a Volt and would have if I had a place to plug it in at my Apartment. If you drive less than 40 miles a day, they are well worth the money. My friend has one now and has successfully driven to work every day for a month and is still sitting half-full on the gas tank.
  • -1 Hide
    ibjeepr , February 12, 2013 10:35 PM
    Quote:
    I totally disagree with that determination and I have ever since I first read about it.

    I didn't know that the Volt was a hybrid, that was my mistake, not a misunderstanding of the concept of a hybrid. My point was the range of car without the need of gas and yes, looking back on it, I admit that my post did have insufficient clarification to that point. My bad there.

    It's my understanding that long distance travel is more commonly done by plane than by car these days.

    My point was this: If you want an electric car with decent range without needing gas/diesel, Tesla seems to be the only option. Over 500 miles with both batteries isn't incredible, but it's most certainly enough to call decent.

    For the record, a more than 500 mile range would be enough to get to my grandmother's house, granted I couldn't make the return trip without recharging.


    Technically the Volt / ELR is an extended range electric. It will run electric only for 40 miles. A hybrid will rely on it's engine in certain conditions regardless of miles.

    It's and average and I don't like averages either. They aren't real numbers. Essentially 50% of the people could go over 40 and 50% under and the average, while technically correct, would still be a useless number in my opinion. The only thing that lends credence to the 40 mile average in my opinion is that insurance companies have known for a long time that most accidents happen within 10 miles of the home because most people stay within that radius, or close, for most errands and such.

    Ya, if you want to go more than 40 on electric only, you don't have many choices. More seem to be coming though; albeit in small cars.
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