By on August 17, 2011

Nearly three years ago, I penned an entry to TTAC’s Volt Birth Watch entitled “You Should Have Been Born A Cadillac.” True to its name, the piece argued that,

the Volt’s bailout-fodder status requires some kind of volks wagen appeal; while a $40k Chevy is a tough pill to swallow, a taxpayer-funded [Volt-based] Cadillac could create a nasty backlash.

Now that the taxpayers are off of GM’s radar, the plan is going through: GM has announced that it will build a production version of the Converj concept, to be called the “ELR” per Caddy’s alphanumeric naming scheme. Rollout, pricing and performance targets haven’t yet been released, but a production-intent concept will be shown at the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. And though more profit out of an already-developed drivetrain makes worlds of sense, GM now has to explain why its luxury brand is getting Chevy’s leftovers with a freshly tailored suit. Hopefully GM will pull off this relatively minor PR hurdle with more aplomb than, say, Lincoln’s attempts to explain that features available in most Fords, like EcoBoost and SYNC/MyTouch, are what makes its cars so luxurious. After all, shouldn’t luxury brands be at the technological forefront, with features trickling down into the mass-market brands?

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29 Comments on “GM Approves “CadiVolt” ELR For Production...”


  • avatar

    in the retail car biz ELR stands for Early Lessee Return. they should rethink that one.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Not that this doesn’t look sleek and sporty and all that jazz, but was under the impression that compact crossovers is where it’s at right now. So why aren’t we getting a SRX-ish vehicle that could offer a bit more utility than the four passenger volt. As it is, this Cadillac will end up being a more attractive, more expensive less useful volt. Besides history seems to bear out that expensive front wheel drive cars don’t sell to well.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Voltec probably can’t be used on a crossover yet for the same reason the Volt’s swoopy design changed completely from concept to reality – aerodynamics.

      Just look at the Prius V – only marginally more versatile than the regular Prius, but far less efficient due to its higher coefficient of drag.

      Few crossovers get 30mpg (the Equinox’s 32mpg has proven to be gross overestimation), and a boxy, spacious wagon with the Voltec powertrain probably couldn’t even reach that in gas-only mode.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    After all, shouldn’t luxury brands be at the technological forefront, with features trickling down into the mass-market brands?

    Not really, just give them shit tons of power and luxury. Enough to make enviro’s angry if it was an offering of the mainline brand.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Change that last letter to an “O” and GM will have great music to make ads to.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Who knows maybe there will be updates to the Voltec drivetrain so it won’t really be Chevy’s leftovers. The electric motors and gas engine in the Volt for example were all “off the shelf” parts which leaves plenty of opportunity to make the 2nd gen Volt or Caddy better from an efficiency standpoint.

  • avatar
    kowsnofskia

    This seems super pointless. The current Volt is still selling sub-1k units per month, right?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This is exceptionally foolish.

    1. The 1980s Cimarron was a dressed-up Cavalier, and everyone knew it.

    2. GM cancelled the Converj earlier stating that the 20-mile projected range in EV mode – combined with a $60k price tag – made it untenable.

    3. Cadillac’s brand image will be harmed. Recent statements by Ferrari that they will “never have an EV” indicate that Ferrari understands the notion of brand image. Cadillac buyers don’t purchase based upon MPG, and a Converj/ELR car is out of step with the brand’s recent success offering luxury/sport vehicles.

    4. Battery technology won’t improve sufficiently to make this a viable EV/hybrid, particularly with the super-low sales volumes it will have.

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      What does the Cimarron have to do with anything? Yeesh.

      Also, is that the same Ferrari that wants to launch a JGC-underpinned crossover. Yup. Real cred there.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        What does the Cimmaron have to do with this? To quote that president feller, fool me once, shame on you, won’t get fooled again.

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        The Cimarron was a blatant rebadge job, so it’s not really comparable. Lexus has proven that as long as you do a decent enough restyling job, nobody will know or care that their “luxury car” is based on a Camry or Prius or whatever.

      • 0 avatar
        GarbageMotorsCo.

        Prepare to be fooled again

        /url?sa=t&source=web&cd=10&sqi=2&ved=0CGIQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftwitpic.com%2F4onst7&ei=2CpNTo3vH63q0QGd7c2XBw&usg=AFQjCNEN4qWdZeBWBGnqKo2IY87N_u2jbQ

        “Cimarranno”

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        Please post the link again Garbage, it didn’t come through.

        Either way, the Converj looks NOTHING like the Volt. I don’t know if they plan on green lighting that design or something more similar to the Volt. If it looks like the Converj concept, the Cimmaron comparison means nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        @Steven02: Here’s the relevant part of the link: http://twitpic.com/4onst7 or just twitpic.com/4onst7 .

        Copy and paste into the address text box of your browser.

        HTH!

    • 0 avatar
      TheHammer

      1) What does a car from 30 years ago have to do with anything today?
      2) Do you think that maybe technology may have advanced a little since that statement?
      3) Ferrari? You mean to tell me they are similar to Cadillac in any way, shape or form?
      4) See #2

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Regarding “3. Cadillac’s brand image will be harmed.”

      Perhaps, but likely not. The hapless folks who have been buying Pri’i and Volts are generally the >six-figure folk that American luxury brands try to cultivate.

      This is exactly the type of product brand-conscious and eco-conscious folks in southern CA AND Florida would covet.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “GM now has to explain why its luxury brand is getting Chevy’s leftovers with a freshly tailored suit.”

    GM has shared technology and components between the various brands forever. The original Oldsmobile Tornado and its sister Eldorado share plenty, and it didn’t stop anyone from buying Eldorados.

    The VW group shares technology and components across a broad range of everyday and luxury brands.

    Lexus is built with Toyota parts. Does Toyota explain that the LS is a highly trimmed out Land Cruiser or that and ES is a high zoot Camry platform vehicle. Does anyone in the target market care?

    As long as the ELR looks and feels like a Cadillac, GM will have exactly nothing to explain.

    And so on.

  • avatar
    tanooki2003

    Well it once again looks like GM is up to its old tricks again and yet stepping out of touch with consumers. I have a feeling this will backfire on them.

    Why not instead of wasting billions of dollars on something that will not yield a good return, just improve the existing lineup and better enhance their designs to dissuade consumer from foreign brands. This will never be a big hit because in the price range they will ask for this, most will rather put their money in a Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Infinity..etc

  • avatar
    wmba

    Fiatsler has Sergio, Ford has Mullaly, Renault/Nissan has Carlos, VW has Ferdy, Mercedes has the Mustache man, Toyota has Akio, Peugeot has Someone or other.

    GM has Dan the Man. Ex financial deal broker and world’s greatest car designer, marketer and segment exploiter. A legend in his own mind.

    “Yessir, and don’t you forget it if you want to keep working round here! We’re going to change the world with another 4 cylinder Caddy featuring the distinct luxury of electric motors beefing low end waftability, all based on another Out Of This World class front wheel drive platform from Korea. This car, fully trimmed in denim and satin finish knotty pine for that rugged outdoorsy feel, will appeal to wealthy, well-informed opinion leaders intent on owning a low carbon footprint vehicle. The ELR-V model features an additional 443 horsepower hipo six phase electric prime mover, and a rugged all independent suspension 4 wheel trailer capable of hauling the extra 3790 lb battery.

    “We’re redefining the meaning of American luxury,” Dan opined, “and hence, the meaning of luxury in the global auto industry. In keeping with our position of world leader, this GM assault on the current pecking order will be a turning point in thoughful luxury design. Plus, I designed it myself, standing over those dull stylists and engineers, until they saw things my way. It was a good exercise for them, and has raised morale in their departments.” He continued, “Make no mistake. The Cadillac ELR is a game changer, and a reminder that America is still in the lead.”

    A GM spokesman added that the big selling model variant will be a version of the Cadillac known as the Buick Buffalo to be excusively made and sold in China in joint partnership with the Long Chin Heavy Industrial Forgings and Natural Rubber Balloon Company, currently a Tier One supplier to Wal*Mart. The Buick will have a sado-masochistic rubber interior and extra-flexible removable whip Wifi antenna for the adventurous motorist. “We’re not expecting Max Mosley to purchase one,” the spokesman went on. “That incident was Murdoch’s boys at work, hacking the phones. However, Bernie Ecclestone has chosen the Buffalo as Safety Car for the Grand Prix of China, finally ousting the Mercedes SLS AMG from that role. It’s a bit of a coup.”

    Cadillac ELR pricing will start at $192,600 for a base model. “Not cheap,” Dan quipped, “but still a lot less than a Ferrari 458. And all our retail incentives will of course apply.”

    GM is retooling three pickup truck plants to build the new Cadillac in the expectation of volume sales. “After all,” Dan concluded, mixing his past product marketing metaphors, “Wouldn’t you really prefer a Caddy?”

  • avatar
    shaker

    Unless this car in some way significantly advances EV technology, it’s probably a mistake at this time. It has to be a “gotta have it” vehicle, not an overdressed Volt. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Get your head out of the clouds, GM, and build nice cars that people can afford.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Lexus sells not one, but *two* Prius-platform hybrids. The ELR is just Cadillac’s HS250h.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “GM now has to explain why its luxury brand is getting Chevy’s leftovers with a freshly tailored suit”

    I don’t think they’ll have to. You already made a pretty good explanation – a taxpayer-funded Cadillac would have been unpalatable at the time the Volt was unveiled – and I doubt potential buyers will care.

    The ELR will hopefully fix a lot of the Volt’s flaws – with its Chevy bowtie and high price it’s a poor value proposition, and unfinished interior. I cannot imagine the ELR will have better efficiency numbers, but it will probably be better to drive, and it no one will call it’s styling dowdy.

    The Volt never should have been a Chevy. The tech isn’t there yet. If they could get it down to under $30K (without tax rebates), then you’re talkin’. If GM had stayed solvent, the Converj would ideally already be on roads, as a halo car of sorts. It isn’t the Converj’s engineers or designers’ fault their company hit a economic and political speed bump.

    One must soldier on. The ELR was a good idea before bankruptcy, and it’s a good idea now. One wonders if it will be any match for BMW’s upcoming i8 in anything other than futuristic looks, but you have to start somewhere, and the more Voltec powertrains out there, the cheaper the tech will become. GM is playing the cards its been dealt. Yes, it went backwards this time (Chevy to Cadillac), but I don’t think it will hurt them that bad.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    XLR anyone?

  • avatar
    carve

    Well, at least it looks more like the Volt concept car.

    Still…Volt Drivetrain…in a Cadiallac? They should’ve made this more of a Tesla Model S and Fiskr Karma fighter. Perhaps add a 2nd electric motor at the back wheels, or a more powerful engine at the very least. This is all show, no go.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    I still think they should have rolled the Volt out as the Buick Electra instead. GM could have cashed-in on the historic name on a car that is fitting. In the brand hierarchy, Buick is supposed to be more upscale than a Chevy, somewhat justifying the price, yet not as upscale as a Cadillac so critics wouldn’t balk at the government rebates. Plus, Buick needs a halo car much more than either Chevy or Cadillac.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    It wouldn’t make sense for GM to not use one of it’s premier technologies in it’s highest-tier brand. Although the Volt probably had to be a Chevrolet for the reasons the writer mentioned, there’s no reason why they can’t apply that technology to Cadillac. Anyone calling this a badge job or comparing it to the Cimarron is missing the point entirely- this will not be a blatant rebadge, even if it shares the same platform. None of the sheet metal will be the same.


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