Cadillac ELR event first impression

Cadillac ELR event first impression

Apologies for the long post but wanted to get it out there while experience is still fresh in my mind. This might sound like an attack on the ELR but it is really just my admittedly biased but honest observation. I actually want this vehicle and all PEV to do well to help raise awareness to the non early adopters and eventually bring them to fully BEV.

GM is hosting a Cadillac ELR launch party and weekend test drive at the local shopping mall in Corte Madera. I happened to walk into it en route to my morning coffee.

They have 10 cars waiting to be test driven. A stylish kiosk and lounge is set up on the sidewalk where customers can sign up for test drives and get questions answered (sounds familiar...)

That is about where the similarities to Tesla ends.

Out of sheer curiosity I spent some time at the kiosk in earnest to find out more about the ELR and gain knowledge from their sales people. At first I did not mention that I was a model S owner.

During the sign-up process we are asked to answer a few short survey like questions regarding the vehicles we currently drive and the likelihood of us purchasing a vehicle next time frame etc. I found it very interesting that the drop-down list for selecting the vehicle I currently drive did not include Tesla! Every other model of car is on the list. I doubt this was an oversight from GM. Especially when the final question on the survey is "what is your impression of Tesla Model S"!!

Here are my observations:

1. Their sales force consisted of 6 young attractive women and 1 young man (all less than 30 years old) dressed to impress, and quite friendly

2. Cadillac is offering free test drives all weekend and free charging stations with installation "($4000 value)"for the first 1000 customers to purchase the ELR

3. Starting price is $75,000 with additional free flow options for interior upgrades

4. The team there is quite eager to get you in to test drive the vehicle but somewhat limited in their knowledge base for answering important questions regarding the vehicle mechanics and technology.

5. Ironically they heavily emphasized the gas powered part of the vehicle over the battery electric feature. Keep in mind this shopping mall is in Northern California where most buyers are hungry for environmentally friendly technology. The overarching message that I got from the saleswoman was that this vehicle overcomes the inherent problems with Tesla and all other BEVs.

They mention range anxiety like 20 times in their first four opening sentences.

6. When I tried to ask questions about the charging technology, battery life, different options for charging the car at home or while traveling, what algorithms the vehicle uses to preferentially utilize BEV before gas, was met with blank expressions and of course more pep rally for the glorious gasoline engine

7. apparently the vehicle gives up to 320 rated miles (combining 40 battery miles with the remainder gas powered). Of course the sales people didn't mention YMMV.

8. Only seats 4 in a 2+2 distribution with very limited cargo space in the trunk. To me this overshadows some of the supposed merits of being a long range vehicle

9. On the plus side this vehicle is luxuriously appointed. Comfortable but cushy like a Cadillac leather, blind spot monitors adaptive cruise control etc. Perfect for the those who complain that a vehicle at this price point must include these features

10. I was the first to test drive the vehicle. Literally threw up in my mouth a little. Maybe someone who has never driven a model S wouldn't know the difference and might just might love this car. But there was no love from me. No torque response despite driving in EV mode. Sales guy says to me "hey what do you think of that 295lb-ft of torque?" I had no response. 0-60 in 7.8 seconds, no regenerative braking response, cushy smushy brake pedal (even on the so called "sport" mode). Of course the test drive route avoided the highway, hmm.

I would sum it up to say that the Cadillac ELR is a pretty much a very expensive luxury minded Chevy volt.

Really not a fair comparison BEV vs plug in hybrid, but other than price, ELR is the polar opposite of Tesla Model S.

Those poor kids trying to sell this car, especially in Bay Area, should take test drives of the Model S so they can at least recognize what customers who comparison shop will be asking them.

David Trushin | 25. Mai 2014

Insurance doesn't cover the drive train unless it's damaged in an accident. Also, aluminum body appears to be catching on in other cars, so expensive body work is the wave of the future.

Iowa92x | 25. Mai 2014

To GM's credit, batteries are expensive. If Tesla is able to build an 85 kWh pack for $25k or $30k, GM's lack of competence coupled with lazy inefficiency means a similar sized pack would cost them 35k to $40k. Not an excuse, but until batteries come down in price, why would auto manufactures build electric when they can spit out a 400 hp V8 for $2k? It's kind of a no duh thing from a bean counter's perspective.

Red Sage ca us | 25. Mai 2014

thranx wrote, "Perhaps Renault, whose Zoe is a decent vehicle."

Oh, yes! I forgot about that one. The Renault Zoe is mighty cute! Nice form factor, even though they squeezed in a set of rear doors. A lot better looking than the Chevrolet Spark. I just wonder if the Zoe would meet North American crash standards.

socalsam reasoned, "The better and faster part we already have- aka all the early adopters on this forum. When the cheaper part comes in a few years, most of America is going to jump on board."

Well thought out, and absolutely correct.

I like trees, I really do... Climbed them, played in them, ate from them, and slept under them... But I cut down my fair share when Granddad told me to on the farm. I fully intend to someday by a gozillion acres, and plant trees. Lots and lots of them. Not so much about ecology, but because I just personally want the privacy they afford on private grounds.

I feel much the same way about electric cars. I like them because of the technology. I like them because prefer the design philosophy. I like them because they work so well, for so very long. Oh... and I don't have to buy gas for them. The fact they don't have a tailpipe to spew pollutants is just an extra-special, super-added, hyper-mega bonus for the win!

socalsam | 25. Mai 2014

I'm with you red. I have noting against doing good things for the environment. But I don't wake up every day consciously trying to do good things for the environment. If I can be cleaner and greener and it's not inconvenient to do so, by all means let's go for it.

But till now, I wasn't about to buy an electric car just so I could spare the environment of tailpipe emissions. Now that' it's convenient to reduce pollution, count me in.

Most of America is that way. They will happily be greener, as long as it doesn't inconvenience them. Give it a few more years. More all electric cars are coming out. Charging stations are popping up all over the place. 3 people in my office are considering teslas. Auto companies will change soon enough.

shop | 25. Mai 2014

Once you start driving an electric car, you start to notice the toxic fumes that every car produces. And noise. I have little doubt Tesla will be very successful with their Gen III $35K car.

Red Sage ca us | 25. Mai 2014

NISSAN: What if everything ran on gas?

I always thought this LEAF commercial is a great advertisement for the Tesla Model S.

Brian H | 25. Mai 2014

An interesting issue about never being exposed to ICE driving. I wonder if a class of driver's licenses "Pure Electric Drive Only" will need to be created for such kids.

AmpedRealtor | 26. Mai 2014

I wonder if Nissan hired these guys who made almost the same exact spec commercial for Mitsubishi...

Red Sage ca us | 26. Mai 2014

AmpedRealtor: I'd say that is definitely the 'original' version of that commercial! Thanks for sharing it!

In case you haven't seen it before, here is the mythical GM/Saturn EV1 Commercial that only aired once in its entirety.

Pungoteague_Dave | 26. Mai 2014

The only reason that TM paid back the federal loan early was that they were about to announce abandonment of the 40. That car's price point was a specific loan covenant (because the Feds didn't want to be seen as subsidizing the rich), so TM either had to renegotiate the loan or pay it back. The political environment at the time was toxic, and it would have been a pr nightmare for TM. It could also have affected marketing. Because the S was on a roll in the news and among raters, and TSLA shares were in the stratosphere, the path of least resistance was to issue shares and pay off the loan. It was then spun publicly as another win for TM - public relations disconnected from reality, with enough facts that most accepted it at face value.

Mark2131@CA-US | 26. Mai 2014


True, but here's a case where optics BECAME reality.

Regardless the motivation, the end result was a public perception that TESLA was SOOO successful
that they didn't NEED the loan anymore. This pushed "fence sitters" to hit the "Buy" button, further
adding to sales and therefore success. Voila! Perception becomes reality.

If this was in fact the plan all along then they deserve even MORE credit for a brilliant, well played strategy.

AmpedRealtor | 26. Mai 2014

@ PD,

Why does it matter, ultimately, why Tesla did it? The fact is they did, and benefitted from doing so. Good for them!

Red Sage ca us | 26. Mai 2014

Pungoteague_Dave wrote, "The only reason that TM paid back the federal loan early was that they were about to announce abandonment of the 40."

Well, there is at least one other conspiracy laden theory, over at The SLATE, around this time last year.

blueberry | 24. August 2015

Not meaning to revive an old thread, but was reading up on the ELR on Road & Track's website (no idea why). Almost fell off my chair when I read this:

"With its full 217 ponies saddled up, the ELR gets to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds...putting in a dead heat with a $16,000 Honda Fit."

That's exactly what someone that pays $80K for a car wants--to be compared to one of the cheapest production cars on road. No wonder I never hear about this car. Interestingly enough, I did see some 2014's available in the low $40K range. I have to think that 50% depreciation in 1 year has to be some sort of record, so at least the car gets a #1 ranking in something! Have to wonder what GM was thinking when they released this thing...

Tropopause | 24. August 2015

I think it's a good looking car but that's all I have to say about that.

risquared | 24. August 2015

Ha, ha, ha ...
The Cadilac is actually dressed up Chevy Volt.
Good luck selling them Caddilacs with 40 miles EV range at $75K a piece.
Buying entry level Tesla for similar price is a no brainer.
GM like all the other car makers are confused and don't know what they are doing in regard to the EV revolution.

Roamer@AZ USA | 25. August 2015

@ blueberry. That quote is stone cold cruel.

Andrew_OH_70D | 25. August 2015

I attended an EV ride and drive event a few months ago. I let lots of people drive my Model S, including a state representative. All were blown away.

Cadillac had an ELR there, but it was on display only! They had brochures, but told people they would have to come to the dealership in order to take a test drive. The impression they left was worse than not being there at all.

GM should stick with the Volt. It's difficult to believe the ELR ever made it out of the first meeting on the subject, or that the person that came up with the idea ever worked another day for the company.

JAD | 25. August 2015

You can see how GM got there. Their committee decided if people are willing to spend $75k on some startup Tesla with limited electric range, they will certainly pay that for a 'Cadillac' with 'unlimited' hybrid range.

Soooo wrong for many reasons, but I can practically hear the discussion.

staze | 25. August 2015

@JAD, you forgot about the meeting to discuss who would attend the meeting about the meeting deciding on the failure which would become the ELR.

In all fairness, I used to work for General Motors. Like most companies - good or defunct - they have many good employees which work there, love what they do and are good intentioned. It's true, they are ruled by "design-by-committee" and the finance teams which tend to really water down the final product.

BONUS, my favorite quote about GM and meetings by Ross Perot:

An EDS employee who sees a snake kills it, Perot graphically said. At GM, they form a committee on snakes, hire a consultant who knows about snakes, talk about it for a year…

P.Dolby | 25. August 2015

This is obviously just a compliance car for them.. Nothing more.
TM wae taken to task in another thread for developing the battery swap mechanism as a "compliance" method to obtain increased funding for development of rapid charge vehicles.
The company who brought you the SuperCharger was open and honest about what came next..
They made it and Boone used it.. Because the MS has sufficient range and the SC is already the best in the business and getting faster as technology allows.

Why don't our lawmakers address these compliance vehicles as the fraud they are? Hard to say.
So long as the numbers mandated revolve around cars produced and not cars purchased.. The EV will continue to be simply written off by them.

staze | 25. August 2015

Great point P.Dolby. It's much like the EV1 all over again. I am curious though, if only for compliance, why do you suppose they released it under the Cadillac moniker and not just leave it under Chevy? One brand would be less tooling, manufacturing and over head from different brand teams.

AmpedRealtor | 25. August 2015

The Bolt will probably be just as sluggish...

P.Dolby | 25. August 2015

Hard to say. It may have something to do with how the various divisions capitalize loss.
If you have a company with several divisions.. It might be that they have to spread their compliance car write off over several product lines to keep any one of them from looking unprofitable.
Basically every division must feel the pain equally.

staze | 25. August 2015

Thanks for your thoughts P.Dolby. Sounds plausible though will never truly know.

AR, I agree with you re: the Bolt.

Unless a company radically shifts their support from ICE tech as their primary to alternatives I don't see any real threats on the horizon. The compliance would really need to be strict to force that sooner than later. Their habit has existed for over a century with no real threats. The only chance I am aware of today is the Nichols-Brown effort in California to eliminate new ICE vehicle sales in the state by 2030. That would be really amazing. My fam and I are glad to be a part of the effort to reach that goal.

Now to pay off my MS and replace my Odyssey with an MX!

jackklass | 25. August 2015

Got my 70D 6 weeks ago and love it. I traded a CTS for an ELR last year and kept it only 4 weeks. It's a sexed-up Chevy Volt and the only advantage it has over the Model S is that it had cup holders in the back seat.

Nantang | 25. August 2015

Cadillac and GM are quietly admitting that Tesla is now the gold standard for comparison. The last line in the survey confirmed that suspicion.

Any EV or partially electric vehicle priced over $70k has to face up to the inevitable, "for that price, I could get a Tesla instead."

For that matter, high performance gas vehicles are running into that as well. I've genuinely lost interest in so many other cars that used to be vehicles I'd love to have. Porsche Cayman or 911 Carrera, Corvette (C7) Stingray, Lexus RC-F... all look cool, but my P85D can outrun them, looks cool, too, and does it all without using gas. I've already got a dream car, so short of a huge lottery winning that might make a Porsche 918 Spyder or McLaren P1 affordable (both partially electric, by the way), I'm set, and I envy no one.

dvanlier | 25. August 2015

To be fair, the 2016 ELR has 26 more hp, 78 more pound-feet of torque, and the 0-60 time has been reduced from 8.1 to 6.4 seconds, and it's $10,000 cheaper on top of that.

I still would rather have my Tesla, but the ELR is much more palateable now.

-- David

Tropopause | 25. August 2015

I thought the ELR was discontinued???

Also, when the Volt is replaced by the BOLT what will become of the ELR if it is still in production?

Emobile | 25. August 2015

Unfortunately all too often, GM has to keep making the same mistakes. In this case the ELR is the modern day Cimmaron.

mjwellman | 25. August 2015

I came to the same conclusion not too long ago. I started looking for a new car a year ago. I wanted the MS but couldn't justify the cost. After looking at everything out there from the Volt to the Cadillac and the BMW i3 there is nothing that compares to the MS and some of these cars are as expensive as the Tesla. I ordered my car several weeks ago and now waiting on what I believe is the best car out there.

jordanrichard | 25. August 2015

The Bolt isn't designed to replace the Volt, though I strongly suspect it will hurt the limited sales it gets as is.

Per GM, the Bolt will be out in 2017 and they are about to release the new improved 2016 Volt. Perhaps they will market the Volt as the "road trip EV" with the range extender engine.

omega | 25. August 2015

Yeap thats all Caddy has these days: nice chicks with nice long legs. We can see them at the auto

rmitchum | 25. August 2015

I stand by my summation in this REALLY old thread from a little over two years ago. . . MORE Lipstick on a pig

Cadillac ELR
moorelin | July 13, 2013

"The Cadillac ELR isn’t likely to scare Tesla chief executive Elon Musk. The car shares the Model S’s fashion-forward design and high-tech cabin (barring the Model S’s 17-inch iPad-like video screen). But Cadillac has a major weakness: it only lasts for about 35 miles or so on battery charge before its small gasoline engine kicks in to recharge it. That compares to the Tesla’s 265 miles on battery charge."
rmitchum | July 13, 2013
"lipstick on a pig"

Eric | 26. August 2015

As a lifelong GM man, from a family of GM mechanics... I have to admit that I like the ELR... and the Vette C7. I'm not a model S owner [yet], because I'm working on being able to afford one. I almost bought one last year when I needed to buy a new car. I tried to justify the price by saying that I wouldn't be spending as much on gas or maintenance, but just couldn't do it (with a 10 mile round trip commute to work, I barely spend anything on gas anyway). I bought a used CTS instead, which brings me to my point. I spent 9k on my CTS. If I wanted to, right now, I could trade it in and get a used ELR for less than half the cost of a CPO Model S. Cadillacs (especially the CTS and ELR) depreciate like used chewing gum, but they still look good inside and out, have extremely plush, luxurious interiors and are a great buy (used). I'll drive my CTS until I buy my Model S. My fiancee never heard of Tesla, but is now planning on making the jump to the Model 3 as soon as it's released. We'll be an all-Tesla family!

Emobile | 26. August 2015

Huge difference in leadership between Tesla and GM. Elon Musk has a vision, GM execs are just interested in the short term stock price and their options and bonuses.

Plugged In | 26. August 2015

Best of all.... it's a Cadillac! It's got the touch! The 1984 Cimarron!