GM Confirms Production Date for Volt-Like Cadillac ELR
General Motors is preparing its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly site for production of the Cadillac ELR, a luxury coupe that features the Chevy Volt's extended-range electric technology, General Motors North America President Mark Reuss confirmed on Tuesday.
GM will invest $35 million to prep the site for production of the low-volume ELR, and set a target production date of late 2013. Like the Volt, the ELR will feature an electric propulsion system made up of a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator. GM claims the ELR will use electricity as its "primary power source," but will seamlessly engage a gasoline-powered electric generator when battery energy is low. The lithium-ion battery will be built at GM’s battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Mich.
Production volume for the two-door, four-seat Cadillac ELR is expected to be relatively low, but as Reuss claimed, "ELR will contribute mightily to the brand momentum of Cadillac." As Reuss stated, "The ELR will be in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology. People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design."
GM executives and outside observers have repeatedly second-guessed the company's decision to offer its first extended-range EV as a Chevy (in the form of the Volt), rather a Cadillac. It's believed that the Cadillac luxury brand would have more readily allowed a premium price. As Reuss's statement indicated, the Cadillac ELR will be a low-volume vehicle. When the Volt and its extended-range electric architecture was first unveiled, the company suggested that it would roll out to a range of products, in an effort to reach scale and reduce cost. The choice of a low-volume Cadillac as a follow-up to the Volt reveals the difficulty of ramping up production on a relatively expensive and complex electric drive system—especially considering that GM does not have a robust program for conventional hybrids (with or without a plug).
The production version of the ELR is expected to be unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. GM has yet to reveal pricing, but observers expect it to substantially higher than the Volt—perhaps in the range of $70,000.
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