The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a new kind of car for the brand, but will it bring in new buyers?

U.S. luxury brands have been struggling in California, WardsAuto reports, but the ELR's plug-in powertrain and attractive packaging could make a difference.

According to the report, Cadillac accounted for only 0.8 percent of new registrations in California in June, up from 0.68 percent at the same time last year.

Despite improved models like the ATS and CTS, Californians still tend to think of Cadillacs as crude land yachts, Wards says.

Can the ELR change their minds?

Cadillac's first plug-in car is based on the Chevrolet Volt; it's powered by the same 16.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, electric motor, and 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline range extender. It also has the same electric motor as the Volt, but the motor has been re-calibrated to deliver more power.

However -- with a total powertrain output of 207 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque -- the ELR is a little more powerful than the Volt. It also features "Regen on Demand" variable regeneration, controlled by paddle shifters.

Electric-only range should be around 35 miles; Cadillac says a full charge at 240 volts takes about 4.5 hours.

2014 Cadillac ELR

2014 Cadillac ELR

The two-door Cadillac's Volt-based powertrain is a plus in California, where plug-in cars are exceedingly popular, but the way it's packaged may be just as important.

"No one is even going to think Volt," Karl Brauer, senior director-insights at Kelly Blue Book told Wards. The ELR's styling not only differentiates the car from the Volt, it also advertises the car's uniqueness.

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid also appeals to California luxury buyers' love of green cars, but its lack of unique styling has been a hindrance, Wards says.

The ELR goes on sale in early 2014. Stay tuned to see what it does for Cadillac's reputation in California.


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