It’s official: Cadillac’s first extended-range electric vehicle—the Cadillac ELR—will enter production before the end of 2013.
As sharp-eyed observers will note, it’s the retail version of the well-received Cadillac Converj concept vehicle that debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. That car, of course, was named the Most Significant Concept at the Detroit event, and it also took home the Best Concept Vehicle title at the 2009 Eyes on Design Awards, which are a fairly big deal in the auto-design community.
In terms of the Cadillac ELR, well, it’s essentially the Cadillac version of the Chevy Volt. Thus, although no exact specs have been revealed for the ELR, Cadillac confirms that: “It will use electricity as its primary power source to drive the car without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the battery’s energy is low, the ELR seamlessly switches to a gasoline-powered electric generator to allow hundreds of additional driving miles.”
However, given the fact that Cadillac customers are likely to be more comfortable at higher price points, the brand will have an opportunity to deploy more premium weight-saving materials like carbon fiber. To be clear, this is mere speculation on my part, but a lighter ELR, with a healthy dash of carbon fiber, could provide an all-electric driving range that exceeds the Volt’s highly effective 38 miles—while also showing off a material that’s now used as much for its high-tech look as its low mass.
The party line from Mark Reuss, president of GM North America: “The ELR will be in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology. People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design.”
Cadillac ELR: At Home in Hamtramck
It’s also worth pointing out that the Cadillac ELR will be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Michigan, where it will join the Chevy Volt—and the global Opel Ampera and Holden Volt—at the only U.S. manufacturing facility currently making extended-range EVs. Thanks to an additional $35 million GM investment to support ELR production, the company’s total investments in the plant have topped $560 million over the past three years. (And the cars’ lithium-ion battery packs are built at a nearby GM facility in Brownstown, Mich.)
“This investment reflects the corporation’s confidence that the highly skilled members of UAW Local 22 can successfully build one of the most technologically advanced vehicles in the world,” said Joe Ashton, the UAW vice president who directs the union's GM Department. “The hard work and dedication of our members demonstrates that we can competitively manufacture products for the future right here in Detroit.”
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