Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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

2014 Cadillac ELR
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 PluginCars.com. “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.
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 PluginCars.com that he expects the ELR’s impact to be big. “It will change the brand image,” said Parr.