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A Look at Cadillac's ELR, GM's Response to 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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  • bak0n
    Does nothing for me or my wife. We are shopping the Tesla Model X right now.
    Reply
  • warezme
    This is kinda old news and we don't care Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell III.
    Reply
  • blakbird24
    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.
    Reply
  • ibjeepr
    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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    10435406 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • ibjeepr
    10435421 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • robochump
    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.
    Reply
  • Irrenhaus
    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
    Reply
  • AndrewMD
    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.
    Reply