After testing the waters in 2009 with the Converj concept, Cadillac went on and revealed a hybrid luxury coupe, named the ELR, which will enter production at the end of this year and hit the market in early 2014.
Although the striking design remains faithful to the concept, the underpinnings were more humble as they were borrowed from the Chevrolet Volt. It’s a move that makes perfect sense, though it begs the question why the Volt was rolled out before the ELR since the Cadillac could easily justify a premium price – something the extended-range hybrid Chevy has struggled with.
“I won’t throw stones”, ELR chief engineer Chris Tomason told WardsAuto on the sidelines of the Chicago Auto Show, “but the mentality of management at the time was focused on fuel-free technology on a global basis, considering the cost of fuel. We had one global brand at the time, Chevrolet. Now we have two with Cadillac.”
Tomason wouldn’t comment on pricing nor production rates concerning the ELR, saying only that “we’ll build on demand”. What he did say was that any improvements made on the Voltec drivetrain won’t be shared with the Volt: “Part of being a luxury brand is exclusivity, so that means advances aren’t going to the Volt.”
He also dismissed any comparisons between the all-electric Tesla Model S and the extended-range hybrid ELR, pointing out the former’s limitations.
“When you get into a Tesla in California to ride to Arizona, you first get on the Tesla website to find out how many stops you are going to have to make to plug in and recharge”, he said. “With the ELR, you won’t have that worry.”
The ELR, he added, will also be available in all states (not only in select markets), and that the brand intends its new hybrid coupe to bring in conquest sales from rivals and not just appeal to its existing customer base.
By Andrew Tsaousis