By on April 4, 2014

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The best comment on the ELR sales and inventory figures post didn’t even come from the comment section. Instead, it ended up in the TTAC reader feedback inbox.

One of our readers, who asked for his name to be withheld, had this to say about my ELR post

Not trying to excuse the elr….but you have to look at inventory on it with some sort of intelligence… not the usual approach. There are about 500 elr dealers…. do the frickin math.

Two units per store. Some have more….some have less. You act as if there are ELRs pouring onto the streets.

OEM has to supply the dealers who signed up to sell it right? Launches have to fill the channels…. you write like Cadillac is drunkenly building these without a clue.

Our reader certainly has a point, but I still think that there are too many examples on the lots, given how these cars are selling.  And the high price tag – even if most of these cars will be leased – makes it a hard sell, especially against a Tesla Model S.

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60 Comments on “Answer Of The Day: Reader Response To The ELR Sales Question...”


  • avatar

    I’m reminded a little bit about the Chevy SSR “sport truck”, widely derided as a sales failure but the SSR was never designed to be anything other than a vehicle to bring people into the showroom to see it. The Lansing Craft Center that assembled the SSR had an annual capacity of not much more than the 13,000 or so SSRs they planned on selling. At the time, Chevy had something like 4,500 stores. That works out to about one car in the showroom, a demo to drive and a car in inventory to for each of the dealers. The 2,000 to 3,000 ELRs a year that Cadillac says it will sell are barely enough to fill the pipeline.

    Getting back to the SSR, ASC, which was an important vendor and subcontractor for the SSR project, commissioned a market research study which claimed that having the SSR in their showrooms contributed to dealers selling about 70,000 full size SUVs or pickup trucks. If the SSR indeed helped sell that many of GM’s most profitable vehicles then I’d have to say that as a halo car it worked.

    I still don’t understand the pricing strategy. It should have been about what a loaded CTS coupe costs to give CTS coupe buyers a green alternative. They also should have given it greater battery capacity and a more powerful electric motor to give it a performance advantage over the Volt. I’m surprised that in designing the Voltec platform they didn’t give themselves the option of leaving room for more battery cells in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Of course ASC said that, just to keep the GM business. Of course marketing has a tea-leaves gimmick to quantify the unverifyable. How many more sales would they have had if they ashtray was on the left?

      What gets me in the showroom is a brand not having a bunch of black dots in Consumers Reports when the model is 5-10 years old. You can’t say THAT to the GM execs though, all you get is a baffled, blank stare.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      People loathe car dealers. Who would go to a Chevy dealer to see an SSR and then walk away with a Malibu? Malibu sales figures from that era say, “nobody.”

      GM has long believed in the halo effect and, so far as I can tell, it hasn’t work out well for them.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        True, but halo cars aren’t necessarily meant to drive showroom traffic. They’re about image, and Chevy was trying to recapture some performance cred in something not named “Corvette.” And the SSR was always a pretty legit performer. At least they didn’t stick a V-6 in it, like Plymouth did with the Prowler. Now, THAT car was a joke and did nothing for the brand.

        I think the SSR actually paved the way for the Camaro, another retro performance car, which has been successful for Chevy. Mission accomplished.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          If the ELR was intended to be a low-volume halo car that was intended to build the brand image (and I believe that it was), then they should have cut the roof off of it.

          As it stands, the overall package doesn’t work. Two doors with a fixed roof, small car, not much power, high price tag — even Mercedes would have trouble selling that.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          FreedMike: “And the SSR was always a pretty legit performer.”

          My understanding is that it was heavy and initially underpowered. I believe they added more engine later.

          FreedMike: “I think the SSR actually paved the way for the Camaro, another retro performance car, which has been successful for Chevy. Mission accomplished.”

          The continuing relative success of the Mustang and that two-door from Chrysler probably had more to do with justifying the Camaro. Low sales of the two-seat SSR could not possibly have helped.

          And when you say, “Mission accomplished,” you imply that proving the market for the Camaro was the real plan for the SSR. That’s crazy… It makes no sense to sink massive development dollars into a car to prove a market for different car exists.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Drove an 03 in 05, very heavy, moderate power.

            ““I think the SSR actually paved the way for the Camaro, another retro performance car, which has been successful for Chevy. Mission accomplished.””

            Possibly but I disagree. SSR was literally created to give the Reatta Craft Centre something to build (the existence of the craft center itself being a UAW plum).

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansing_Craft_Centre

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “And the SSR was always a pretty legit performer.”

          No it was not.

          The original version was outperformed by the likes of the PT Cruiser GT and the LS2 version was outperformed by every other LS powered vehicle that ever existed. I think it is one of the worst things GM ever created and belongs next to Cimarron and G3 in their hall of shame and no one should ever speak of it again.

          GM killed the F-body because they claimed the market was for that type of car was gone, then they immediately come out with with the SSR and GTO which both vastly sold worse than the F-body did in its worst years.

          The Camaro paved the way for itself.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            As Lutz said when the F-Body Camaro/Firebird were unceremoniously dropped in 2002. “Nobody buys coupes anymore” They waved the white flag in the ponycar wars yet they still produced the Trailblazer based SSR coupe/truck and imported Aussie Holden GTO. Ranks up there with other boneheaded GM decisions such as selling off 215 v8 tooling and not double dipping in rust preventative and not having front fenderwells on Vega’s.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The SSR may have actually kept people away from Chevy dealers. I know it tarnished my image of the brand. I may be in the minority, or not, but I think the SSR may be one of the most ill conceived vehicles ever built.

      The ELR may be poorly priced, poorly positioned and poorly selling, but I think it is serving the prupose it was intended to. Cadillac needed some skin in the Electric hybrid game and it has some. I do feel that the ELR may have been an afterthought based on available tech, platforms, etc. Perhaps the next gen, if there is one, will be more aspirational than a chrome addition Volt.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    So something in life is not simple? I am so shocked.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The dealers who signed up for this car are probably regretting it.

    Yes, I really do think Cadillac is mindlessly pumping these cars out, just like Chevy produces too much truck inventory every year only to heavily discount it later.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Difference is, I bet everyone of those trucks create profit, heavily discounted or not.
      Granted at 76k the ELR better create a massive profit, but selling 800 with say 30k profit vs 600,000 with minimum 3k profit.. Well.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    “Launches have to fill the channels…. you write like Cadillac is drunkenly building these without a clue.”

    I don’t think that’s fair. The article and most of the comments were about whether or not the ELR would sell well enough that GM would continue to build it, not whether or not GM was channel stuffing.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Not that I have any plans to buy a Cadillac, but if I were…I’d want a Cadillac that LOOKED like a Cadillac (the good ones). If I wanted an Acura coupe (do they even still make those?) I’d buy an Acura coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Unfortunately there are no Cadillacs that looks like the cars that made the brand name big.
      It’s an extension of BMW w/ ATS and CTS, which isn’t necessarily bad per say, but not in your face AMERICA, F$&@ YEA.

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        Whats truly unfortunate is the fact that ; 1) There are no true Cadillacs to be found . With each and every one being one badge engineered GM product or another [ overseas and domestic ] since the late 50s I might add !

        And perhaps even more importantly ; 2) That being the fact that GM’s ever so deluded marketing mavens keep trying in vain to compare Cadillacs to their German betters [ much better in fact ] rather than promote the brand as an AMERICAN car for AMERICAN drivers on AMERICAN roads

        Then add in ; 3) Which would be GM’s futile efforts to try and emulate and copy … never mind exceed the performance and handling capabilities of their German betters with those badge engineered OPELs Holdens and Chevys .. and then have the cojones to fake ‘ Ring Bling ‘ times and performance figures

        And finally ; 4) Cadillacs pathetic , arrogant and ludicrous ad campaigns across the mark e.g. Yeah Mr I’m so cool Yuppie wanna be .. nice little speech @$&hat … but you’ve got no substance in your lifestyle or the car you drive to back it up

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Number 2 is what really gets me, an American car company that has a rich past, that completely tries to hide it and even works to change who it is.

          What is American design? The majority of American manufacturers promote European design.

          • 0 avatar
            probert

            I have to disagree – they have carved out a distinctive design language that’s far more interesting than the soap bars/really ugly soap bars coming out of the fatherland.

            Technologically they’re second to none.

            The problem is that most luxury car buyers just want a comfy cup-holder with the right badge. It’s a tough market.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Here’s the problem: back in the day when Cadillac “made its name” (let’s say 1946-1966), “American” cars were distinctly different from “European” cars; and practically no Americans aspired to own any European cars. (The VW bug was not aspirational; it was highly utilitarian.) The values that the classic Cadillacs, Lincolns and Imperials represent have been firmly rejected by the Boomers and their progeny. American aspirational car tastes have been, by and large, Europeanized. So aspirational American manufacturers have to play that game, no matter how poorly.
          You really think there’s a big market for an updated 1967 Coupe de Ville? It would be fun to see: put in the 6.2 liter GM truck motor that gets 21 mpg pushing a 1/2 ton truck, an 8-speed automatic, big-ass dual caliper brakes and an independent rear suspension, with MHD shocks and, of course, BOF construction.
          Nah, they’d buy a Benz . . . or a Yukon Denali.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I just want a Mustang based Lincoln sedan. That’s all. Since the Mustang is being Euroized, is that too much to ask? It can have whale face for all I care.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            @DC Bruce – You response is a breath of fresh air. You would think none of these people have ever seen a Product LIfe Cycle curve. That’s Marketing 101. You can’t keep building the same old stuff. The market changes, you have to change with it.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            GM tried to compete with the Eurpoeans before.

            Remember the 8th generation Buick Riviera? Supercharger option, luxurious, and fast. I love the car, but it really only sold well during the first year of production (1995).

            Rembember how the Pontiac Bonneville was supposed to be the American BMW? That worked out well.

            To me, a new Cadillac just looks way to gaudy. A Buick is way more restrained in styling, and is still luxurious (Albeit not to the same Cadillac levels).

            The Cadillac brand needs to do what Lincoln is doing: a complete reboot. Who knows if it’ll work or not, but is this really working?

        • 0 avatar
          bryanska

          “There are no true Cadillacs to be found”

          No true Scotsmen either, then, eh?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The Escalade may not stir up memories of the Cadillacs of yore, but I view it as a “True Cadillac”. It is also in your face AMERICA, F$&@ YEA, as Hummer so eloquently stated.

  • avatar
    gtrslngr

    Oh dear … oh me … oh my ! Yet another deluded GM apologist . Couldn’t possibly work for GM in one cpacity or another now …. could he ?

    Here’s why GM can’t GIVE ELR’s away ;

    Its a $70,000 pretend EV PlugIn extended range hybrid – that in reality is the $40,000 VOLT that by the way GM can’t GIVE away either [ I’ve suggested a free VOLT with every new Silverado sold ] … that in fact is a $25,000 Chevy CRUZE that’ll not only try its best to kill you but …… is in fact a sub $20,000 DaeWoo Lasceti .. manufactured for the most part overseas and then assembled in the US under the pretense of being an American car

    Any questions ?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I see when you do the math the SS should hit its 3K to 5K annual sales target even without a good weather bump.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I saw a black ELR driving the other day and it was… Gorgeous. Out on the street, in real life, these things look great.

    I’m glad they are selling them, but I’m not buying one. The only way GM will get me interested is to drop the Voltec platform into something with a bit more utility. And yes, I know the Volt is a hatchback.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      Wasn’t the question how long will the ELR be around? He didn’t even answer that. If sales aren’t meeting forecast, well duh of course your gonna have excess inventory on dealer lots. You can shut down the line but you also have parts in your suppliers pipeline that you forecasted which your gonna get whether you need them or not to a point. Managing that is a little tougher. And then the question is do you warehouse all these ELR parts or turn them into finished goods(ELRs).

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        They aren’t going to just shut the line down without some advanced notice. Having planned around temporary line shut downs, it would reflect on the forecast.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I still think that there are too many examples on the lots, given how these cars are selling.”

    In the US, inventory almost always needs to be built before it can be sold. There isn’t much of a pre-order market here, so cars must be built on spec, then parked on lots, then flogged.

    This is not a problem of excessive inventories, but of there not being enough customers. There is a difference, and that is the takeaway from your reader’s comment above.

    That doesn’t mean that the car will sell well, but “days of inventory” isn’t the way to gauge that in this case, particularly when there isn’t much sales data to work with.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    I am in the target market for both the Volt and ELR. SF Bay Area, 9 mile each way commute to my store, lover of tech and so on. When my Sienna finally gives up the ghost I will probably replace it with something like the Volt, C-Max or ELR.

    So I went and built a Volt exactly to my wants and then the same ELR (as close as I could get anyway).

    The result:
    Volt w/ leather and all the goodies – $37,500
    ELR w/ roughly the same goodies – $85,600

    Now without a doubt the Caddy should be a much nicer car, materials, workmanship, etc. But I just can’t get past that nearly $50,000 premium. If that Caddy were $55,600 I might be able to talk myself into it after I drove both, but not at $85,000.

    The ELR’s troubles are all about Price, Price and finally, Price.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Spot on, and the only way I can see they’d solve the issue is to cut the price radically. That cheapens the whole buying proposition.

      The time to price it reasonably – $50,000 or maybe even $55-60,000, if they were trying to sell “price equals greatness” – would have been at launch.

      I really have no idea what they were thinking here.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        “Well, back in the day, the Cimarron cost twice as much as the Cavalier. If we drop below that 2:1 ratio, we’re devaluing the Cadillac brand!”

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          In GM-think, the Cimarron devalued the brand by only costing twice as much as the Chevy version. The Seville was a big success that was priced about four times as much as the Nova beneath the costume, so there’s probably at least one executive arguing that the ELR’s problem is that it isn’t $140K.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The Nova was the jumping off point for the first Seville – the frame, suspension and engine were all re-engineered specifically for the Seville. The engine was unique to the Seville, and it looked and drove nothing like a Nova – which, it could be said, was a pretty solid-driving car for its day. They could have done worse as a jumping-off point.

            I don’t have a problem with an expensive car based on humble parts as long as the more expensive one is sufficiently differentiated from the cheaper model, which the original Seville definitely was. Lord knows Honda and Toyota have been raiding the cheaper-car part bins for any number of Acuras and Lexuses for a long, long time now.

            If anything, this lesson of the Seville was lost on GM by the time the Cimarron came out. If they’d taken the time and money to restyle it, and give it some unique tech and other features, it might have been a nice product for Caddy, as the Seville was.

          • 0 avatar
            gottacook

            My uncle the orthodontist who bought a new first-generation Seville could not tell that it was based on a Nova sedan – heck, neither could I at the time – whereas anyone with minimal awareness could discern that a Cimarron was a Cavalier with nicer upholstery. Having a Seville-type price differential for the Cimarron would only have worked if GM had gone to the expense of a whole new body, different wheelbase, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The engine in the first-generation Seville was an Oldsmobile 350 V-8. I believe it had fuel injection as standard equipment, which wasn’t available on contemporary Oldsmobiles, but the engine was not unique to the Seville.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-readers-ride-the-noville-coupe-and-who-still-thinks-the-seville-wasnt-just-a-tarted-up-nova/

            As those guys on tv would say, this myth has been busted.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          I didn’t know they made a two door coupe Volt.

          Link please… (since you’re the one who drew the badge engineered Cimarron compare)

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> I am in the target market for both the Volt and ELR. SF Bay Area, 9 mile each way commute to my store, lover of tech and so on.

      The i3 with Start/Stop ACC is in that price range as well. In heavy traffic, all you have to do is steer the damned thing.

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        Do yourself a favor . Forget about the EV Wanna BE VOLT and its badge engineered cousin that are in fact PlugIn Extended Range Hybrids … and focus on the i3 . Which btw is well below the ELR price wise

        Seriously . I’ve driven them all . Having had an extended turn at the wheel with the i3 . To sum it up its the only EV / EV Wanna be – including the TESLA S ] that DOES NOT drive like a boat anchor on wheels . On another site I wrote an extended review of the i3 [ before getting the extended test drive ] with Two Thumbs up being my overall assessment of the car from Design – to Engineering – to Technology – to Driving Experience – to Comfort and Functionality . The i3 makes everything else in its class [ genuine EV’s ] look like an automotive dinosaur in comparison [ fun statistic .. the battery pack in a TESLA S weighs almost as much as the total weight of the i3 .. with similar numbers against the ELR/VOLT EV wanna bes as well ]

        So will I/we buy one you might ask ? No .. as a matter of fact we will not . Why ? Because all EV’s lose 65% of their charge at 30f and below .. as well as 35% or more at 80f and above . Both being commonplace here in the Mile High City ..

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          The Volt is not a PHEV. The engine does not charge the battery. You HAVE to plug it in.

          What site would publish your ridiculous ramblings, complete with factual mistakes and English composition from the “my mind is scrambled” school, pray tell?

          I was reading LJKS before you were born, son. You don’t compare.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “Because all EV’s lose 65% of their charge at 30f and below .. as well as 35% or more at 80f and above.

          Wrong. I’ve taken my Leaf through 2 Pittsburgh winters – and could tell you the actual numbers – but you’re not interested.

          You’re also wrong about the weight of the Model S battery pack; it’s about half the weight of an i3.

          One major shortcoming of the i3 is its small back seat and suicide doors. At least a Leaf works like most other cars when it comes to hauling people.

          Like clivesl, my commute is 9 miles each way, and the Leaf is a great fit for it. But if clivesl is thinking ELR prices, then I’d direct him to the Model S.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            I’m surpised you even bothered responding to that nonsense. I demo’d a Volt in 30 degree weather for just under 3 days, I know what i was getting for range.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As I said in a previous post, Cadillac should recall every ELR and crush them, just as Chrysler did in 2008 with its hybrids when it realized its hybrid sales were never going to increase.

    The indefinite support for this vehicle will be very expensive.

    C’mon GM, man up, stand up, and kill this car – all of them!

    Politically, the time is right while GM is in turmoil – to look like they’re doing something wise for a change.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Someone in a previous thread said the problem with the ELR was that it was Chevy technology hiding behind a Cadillac badge, I’d revise that to: the problem with the Volt was it was Cadillac technology hidden behind a Chevy badge. Tesla played it right, those with money will pay for the green tech cred, but those on a Chevy budget won’t.

    I love this car (and that infamous commercial). So it’s based on teh Volt, it sure as heck doesn’t look like one. After all what was the ’67 Eldorado but an Oldsmobile in a sharp suit?

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    You guys make me laugh when you say that Cadillac is chasing the Europeans such as BMW. BMW builds their cars primarily for the U.S. market. They are the true American cars. I owned an X5 which was 100% American and had to be exported from South Carolina to me in Brisbane. The Germans understand your market better than your home grown luxury brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “BMW builds their cars primarily for the U.S. market.”

      BMW builds its passenger cars for the German market, with some modifications and consideration made for the US.

      The crossovers, on the other hand, are made primarily with the US in mind.

      I suspect that Cadillac is attempting this renaissance too late in the game, and that the “Art and Science” design language is a liability. Ten years ago, it could have made sense, but now it’s just a waste of money.


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