The new Cadillac ELR will combine electric car driving with elegant styling and a luxury interior. GM is moving ahead with the dramatic luxury coupe, shown two years ago as the Cadillac Converj Concept.
The Cadillac ELR will use the electric drive system of the popular Chevrolet Volt. Cadillac drivers will now be able to drive 40 miles on an electric charge from home, work, or charge stations, then go hundreds of added miles when the gasoline engine is engaged. Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR is a plug-in hybrid with an efficient gasoline engine that normally acts as an electric generator, but at some speeds blends power with the electric motor.
When I took the Volt on a long drive down California’s Pacific Coast Highway, the handling was smooth. The Volt hugged the road through sharp turns. In the hills, the 150-hp electric motor easily climbed steep grades. The existing Volt electric motor and 1.4L gasoline engine could handle the added weight expected for the Cadillac ELR, but GM may decide on a slightly larger engine and/or motor. Stay tuned as the Cadillac is a concept car that is likely to go on sale as a 2013 or 2014 production car.
GM also admits to working on 32 different vehicles with electric drive systems. Not all will be commercialized. Some models will be selected over others. GM will build on the success of the Volt and Ampera, which share its Voltec drive system and lithium batteries. The Volt and Ampera use GM battery packs containing the LG Chem manganese spinel lithium polymer prismatic battery cells. The new Cadillac, right down to its advanced batteries, is made in America.
Easy to Drive, Easy to Charge
The Cadillac 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. It uses electricity as its primary source to drive the car without using gasoline or producing emissions. When the battery’s energy is low, the ELR seamlessly switches to extended-range mode to enable driving for hundreds of additional miles.
The Cadillac ELR can be charged through the standard 110 volt outlet found in most garages. It can also be charged at thousands of employer and public J1772 Level 2 chargers. Volt and ELR customers can also use the new GM Voltec Level 2 Charger, sold for only $499. GM has achieved the low price by eliminating redundant smart charging electronics in the EVSE and letting the vehicle manage charging. The ELR will have on-board smart charging which can be managed through the vehicle display, the internet, or with smart phones using a GM OnStar Mobile App.
I was quite impressed with the OnStar App which gives Volt owners the ability to remotely check the battery charge level, available range, tire pressure, remote lock and unlock, and even activate the remote start to heat or cool the interior to your preferred temperature. Navigate the interactive screens of the app, and you can change how and when you want your Volt to charge. You can even set up alerts via text or email to remind you to plug in your Volt, when charging is complete or if charging has been interrupted. The app also provides a single button to access a Volt Customer Advisor who can answer vehicle-specific questions.
Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR may offer three unique driving modes to accommodate different driving styles. Normal mode is the most efficient setting that takes the electricity and focuses it on operating the electric drive. Sport mode sacrifices a small amount of efficiency for more responsive acceleration, and Mountain mode makes sure the battery has a bigger energy reserve for driving up long, steep inclines.
Chevrolet Volt owners love their new cars. Jackson Browne told me that he has only used 8 gallons of gasoline during the 2,000 miles that he has driven his Chevrolet Volt. Jackson is famous as a singer, songwriter, and inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Felix Kramer and his wife own both a Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF. They are delighted with both. During their ten trips to Lake Tahoe, they took the Volt for under 4-hour drives. The trips would have been overnight in their LEAF whose electric range would have required long stops for recharging. Their Volt has handled the snow. Cadillac, with extensive AWD experience, has not made any AWD announcement for the Cadillac ELR. Another Volt owner, Tom, is averaging 44 miles in electric mode, during his long commute to work.
Next year, you may get the chance to test drive the Cadillac of electric cars. Many won’t wait. The Volt is stylish, well appointed, and has the best OnStar app ever offered. The new Tesla Model S will offer luxury electric car buyers beautiful styling, roomy interior, and up to 300 miles of electric range. Fisker offers a dazzling sports coupe. The Cadillac ELR is likely to gain the enthusiastic following now enjoyed by the Volt and build on GM’s proven electric car success.