Cadillac Wants Plug-in ELR to Enliven Brand, Especially in California

By · August 19, 2013

In January, Cadillac will begin selling the ELR extended-range electric vehicle—which utilizes the same drive system used in the Chevy Volt. It will be launched “virtually nationwide,” said David Campbell, a General Motors spokesperson, but California will figure prominently in the marketing plans for the Cadillac ELR.

“We see the ELR as part of our strategy for coming back to ascendancy in California,” Melody Lee, director of brand reputation and strategy at Cadillac told “We know the electric vehicle is maybe more important here than anywhere in the U.S.”

In recent years, Cadillac started to shed its image as your grandmother’s car—by building smaller sportier models and using an angular design language. In California, where export luxury brands hold the lion’s share of the market, Cadillac is hoping the ELR will play a key role in remaking the brand’s identity.
GM said the plug-in ELR will have an electric-only range of 35 miles and a combined total range of 300 miles. The ELR shares the Volt’s 1.4 liter gas engine and 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It has a total horsepower rating of 207 and torque is listed at 295 pound-ft.—versus the Volt’s rating of 149 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. Curb weight is 4,070 pounds, around 300 more than the Volt.

Official pricing has not been announced, but is expected somewhere between about $55,000 and $75,000.

Aside from the powertrain, the ELR bears little resemblance to the Volt. The two-door four-seat ELR has LED head and taillights and 20-inch wheels. Inside, Cadillac’s CUE with navigation is standard, as is the “cut-and-accented leather.” The 2014 ELR comes with a long list of high-tech safety features, including: a safety alert seat; forward collision alert; lane departure warning; side blind zone alert with rear cross-traffic alert; and adaptive cruise control.

Happens to be Electric

The ability to run mostly on electricity sets the ELR apart from other luxury automobiles from established manufacturers, but Cadillac’s marketing for the ELR won’t focus on the fact that the ELR is a plug-in electric vehicle, said Lee.
From the time General Motors first introduced its range-extending EV technology in the Volt, the company emphasized a “no compromises” message: if your battery runs out of electricity, you can rely on the gas engine to drive as far as you like.

2014 Cadillac ELR

2014 Cadillac ELR

That message will persist, but Cadillac will put even greater emphasis on another selling point: fun. The vehicle “not only feels good to sit in, it is more fun to drive,” said Lee. “It is an all encompassing vehicle.”

The ELR is nearly a half-year away from hitting dealerships, but a handful of people have already come in to ask about the plug-in Caddy at the Martin Automotive Group Cadillac dealership in West Los Angeles, according to Jeff Parr, a sales and leasing consultant. He told that he expects the ELR’s impact to be big. “It will change the brand image,” said Parr.


· · 1 year ago

The platform fits better as a sports coupe than a family sedan...

· · 1 year ago

Rather nice looking vehicle. My second favorite contemporary Cadillac design and of vehicles actually manufactured, my favorite.

Now if they would come back with a stretched version of this, I might actually buy one.

So lets take a vote: Who's planning on buying this as is? No doubt it will be a very nice vehicle.

· · 1 year ago

I think the Tesla Model S will continue to dominate. Cadillac is just not viewed as hip in California although this car may help.

· · 1 year ago

This really is beautiful, and I hope it does well. More than I'm willing to spend on a ride, but it seems a more understandable "value" proposition than the $40k Volt did when it launched.

That's why I can't help thinking that the whole Voltec story would have worked out much better if they'd started with the ELR. Much better margins on a Cadillac, and they could have moved down market as economies of scale made a lower price feasible. The Voltec design's space-killing battery pack is also far less of an issue in a prestigious luxury sports coupe.

Beyond that, from a marketing perspective, bringing Cadillac technology to the Chevy showroom just works a lot better than the other way around. The ELR now has the "Caddy version of the Volt" sign hung around its neck, after the Volt's been taking anti-EV arrows and brickbats for a couple of years. The Volt, even with its pedestrian styling, would have been far more attractive if it were perceived as Chevy's more practical version of an established and well-regarded ELR that had spent a little time pulling up to red carpets in front of the TV cameras.

· · 1 year ago

If the price point is really 55K - 75K, then I think the ELR has a chance. That still undercuts the price of the Model S by a significant margin. I do wish they would have given it a more powerful electric motor (I would expect a sporty Cadillac to have a sub 6 second 0-60), and I hope they made an effort to make the 1.4 4-cyl feel a little less cheap when it's running during in town driving. In the Volt, the 1.4 L revs up with the same unsexy strained-feeling noise you would expect from a typical econo-box when taking off briskly from a stop in charge sustaining mode, and there is really no need for it given the electric drive and buffer the battery provides.

· · 1 year ago

@Skotty - $55k, yes - 75k no, at least anywhere where Superchargers are in service. That's too close to the Model S, a far more spacious and practical car that alleviates range anxiety in a very different way. To the idea that the ELR's ICE generator makes it more suitable for road trips, I'd have to say "only for two."

· · 1 year ago

I agree with virtually all of the above, particularly with vike1108. I considered the Volt, but bought a Ford C-Max Energi (which I am very happy with). I have considered the ELR, but placed a reservation on a Tesla Model X.

· · 1 year ago

Expensive items here. The Volt may be suffering from the same model year anticipation sales delay that had plagued the LEAF recently.

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