Cadillac ELR Plug-In Cost: Less Than Tesla Model S, More Than Volt

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Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

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When the Cadillac ELR extended-range plug-in car goes on sale, probably in 2013 as a 2014 model, it's a given that it will cost more than the 2012 Chevy Volt.

But how much more?

In the spate of reports late yesterday covering GM's announcement yesterday that its 2009 Cadillac Converj concept would be built as the Cadillac ELR, one sentence from a Bloomberg story stood out.

That story said, "GM plans to price the ELR less than the $57,400 Model S by Tesla Motor Inc.’s, said a person familiar with the plans."

In other words, the base price of a 2014 Cadillac ELR will be less than the $57,400 base price of the lowest-range 2012 Tesla Model S all-electric sports sedan, whose battery will provide a 160-mile range. Versions of the Model S with 230- and 300-mile range will cost more.

2011 Chevrolet Volt test drive, Michigan, October 2010

2011 Chevrolet Volt test drive, Michigan, October 2010

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The 2012 Chevrolet Volt, GM's sole extended-range electric car now in production, has a base price of $39,995. While that's lower than the 2011 base price of $41,000, it includes less standard equipment and represents a price increase if the new Volt is comparably equipped to the prior-year model.

If we had to bet, we'd look for an ELR base price around $49,900 ... with luxury options potentially adding as much as $8,000 more.

That's how GM [NYSE:GM] will work toward making its Voltec powertrain profitable, which is one of the reasons the Cadillac Converj concept from 2009 was approved for production, as this site reported last week.

GM CEO Dan Akerson is "all about profit," said our source at the time, and as a premium brand, the Cadillac ELR can justify far higher sticker prices--for what is still a premium-priced technology--than can a compact Chevy hatchback.

Will the Cadillac ELR really compete with the Model S from Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA]? Or will they appeal to two completely different audiences?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.



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Comments (19)
  1. Fundamentally, an EREV can always be THE car, even in a single car family, as it can do it all. Even the Tesla S has some handicaps in terms of real extended distance travel, so for most of the market, it would still be mostly the (indulgent, of course) second car or city car. I see the ELR and the Tesla S then as in TWO DIFFERENT functions/markets and not really competitive with one another at all.

  2. Just how many families ONLY have one car? But, seriously though. I can count on one hand the number of times a year that I need to drive more than 100 miles in a single day. I could easily afford to RENT a car the few times I need to drive farther than the range of the Model S (160 miles). Even when it is 7 or 8 years old at 70% (112 miles), that would STILL be fine for me!

  3. Not real competitors since sporty 2+2 coupés are obviously aimed at a different clientèle than 7(!) person sedans. And than there is the difference in drivetrain technology (pure vs hybrid)that will appeal to different groups. The way I see it the 300 mile version of the model S is up against the Fisker Karma, the 160 miles version has no real rivals yet.

  4. Apparently GM has decided that since the overpriced underperforming and quite ugly Chevy Volt isn't selling, they should produce a Caddillac rip off that costs even more, and is just as slow and has less driving range. Good move, GM. Now we know why you go bankrupt and need $100 billion of taxpayer money
    every so often. The great American corporation : a welfare case.

  5. Kent: This car shares no technology with the Chevy Volt you detest so much.

    Also, the $100 billion figure is incorrect. Recent estimates from OMB are that the Feds will have spent a net $11 billion on the GM restructuring, if I recall correctly.

    But, hey, why let facts stand in your way? :)

  6. Eh...isn't the whole point of this Converj that it shares the Voltec drivetrain with the Volt?

  7. Just how much GM stock do WE (i.e. the Government) still hold?! What do you really think the long-term ROI will be?

    I think you are WAY off on the 11 Billion figure.

  8. The U.S. government still owns 27 percent of GM. And the $11 billion figure is not mine; it comes from the Office of Management & Budget, as of the April 2011 stock price. That number would be somewhat higher now (GM stock has fallen), so some are advocating that the government hold its stock until the price recovers.

  9. @John, think they can make a V version with a fuel cell instead of the gasoline engine range extender? I am still trying to recall where we may have met...

  10. Eric: Think you and I chatted on the phone about your Project Driveway car, no?

  11. @John, I think you are right. I sometimes play hookie from work to visit with the fuel cell guys.

  12. Why is it that not ONE car manufacturer has even mentioned a fuel cell yet? Everyone is either on the hybrid or pure ev wagon. While I prefer the pure ev, adding a fuel cell to a pure ev seems almost like a no-brainer to remove the range limitation or, at the very least, extend it quite a bit to the point that the range is no longer an issue.

  13. A bunch are actively working on fuel cells; particularly, Toyota, GM, Honda and Hyundai. My understanding from talking with the fuel cell team at GM is that the R&D is complete. They are working now on reducing the manufacturing cost (which they describe as an engineering issue rather than am R&D issue). The next step is to coordinate roll-out of vehicles with deployment of infrastructure (stations).

  14. This maps to what GM engineers have said for 5+ years now. However ... as GM itself has noted, a minimum of 15,000 hydrogen fueling stations will be needed at carefully spaced intervals to provide coverage in the 48 states. Each of those stations is likely to run $2 million (the White Plains NY station cost more, I'm told). That's a $30 billion pricetag even before you start to address the question of creating mass hydrogen production facilities, since it's highly unlikely those stations will refine onsite. I remain skeptical (as you know by this point).

  15. @John, The chicken/egg issue is not unique to alt energy. For example, when Microsoft announced the original Xbox, many third-party game publishers did not want to stick their necks out without proven console sales, but there cannot be sales without a decent game library. The solution was that Microsoft had to provide a decent library of first-party games at launch. I think a similar solution will have to happen with infrastructure- the manufacturers will have to target regions (likely major metro areas to start with) and coordinate the rollout of vehicles in those regions with the deployment of stations (a cluster model rather than a coverage model). And then build out from there. So the $30B pricetage is not all at once.

  16. If that's the case, I think it's smarter and cheaper to build the Better Place swap stations. We already have the electrical infrastructure and V2G has serious benefit for the grid

  17. Morin, I am skeptical of the Better Place business plan. For a country like the US, it seems to me that it would need a massive structure to house sufficient batteries for thousands of cars (all accessible robotically), along with a huge electrical service to recharge all those batteries.

  18. Quite the striking design, that ELR is.

  19. Does this mean a 40 mile electric only range? Tesla does in its minimum form 160 miles. Here is some interesting numbers 75% of the population drives 40 or less miles per day. The Tesla will save a lot more money in the fact that you can go 160 miles without recharging and with the ELR (Electric limited range) if you exceed 40 miles then you will consume gasoline in the Cadillac. The only advantage the Cadillac has over the Tesla is making a long road trip since It will run in gas mode when range exceeds 40 miles. The $67,000 Tesla Model S will go 230 miles and the $77,000 will go 300 miles on a single charge.

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