Cadillac ELR Flop Flopped Even Harder In Floppy August

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
cadillac elr flop flopped even harder in floppy august

As the U.S. auto industry technically lost a small amount of new vehicle sales volume in August 2015, sales of the unappealing Cadillac ELR plunged 77 percent to the car’s lowest monthly total yet.

In fact, August 2015’s collapse of the Volt-based ELR’s sales comes precisely one year after the ELR reached its best-ever monthly volume.

196 ELRs were sold in America in August 2014, a figure which decreased by 85 units the very next month and by 151 units a year later.

Over the course of the last nine months in which Cadillac has reported year-over-year change for the ELR — the range-extended electric went on sale at the end of December 2013 — sales have never fallen this sharply. Indeed, over the first five months of 2015, ELR sales were far healthier, relatively speaking, than during the same period one year earlier. ELR volume more than doubled in January, February, and May and jumped 81 percent through the end of May.

Over the last three months, however, U.S. sales of the ELR tumbled 64 percent, a loss of 308 units. August’s plunge to 45 units comes after Cadillac reported 62 ELR sales in June; 66 in July. Cadillac averaged more than 100 ELR sales per month in the first five months of this year; 153 per month in the second-half of last year.

ELR inventory certainly isn’t as healthy now as it was a number of months ago. At the beginning of May, for example, Automotive News reported that Cadillac had a 75-day supply of ELRs. At the beginning of August, that figure had fallen to just 39 days in an industry that had approximately two months worth of stock.

The ELR’s worst full month — only six were sold in December 2013, but the car only began falling into customer hands at the tail end of the month — comes as Cadillac’s 2016 ELR makes great gains in terms of performance.

Yet based on the ELR’s first two years of marketplace performance, we can’t truly suggest that consumers didn’t buy ELRs in August 2015 because they’re waiting on the eagerly anticipated 2016 model. The ELR simply doesn’t have the cachet to be eagerly anticipated, and the size of the ELR’s potential clientele is barely large enough to refer to “buyers” in the plural.

Taken purely from an inventory perspective, a buyer who truly did want an ELR could find an ELR on sale. Fewer in number on dealer lots though they were, ELRs were there for the taking.

Nevertheless, the performance credentials of the MY2016 ELR are greatly enhanced. Horsepower rises by 7 percent, torque increases by 26 percent, and the nought to 60 time drops by more than a second. Suspension changes are intended to make the ELR stiffer. Brakes, GM says, are new, with “improved application feel.” There’s even a new Performance Package with 20-inch summer tires, Brembo brakes, uniquely calibrated Continuous Damping Control, and a sport steering wheel. Which sport the steering wheel plays, I can’t tell you. It simply is sport.

Yet the change that attracts attention in the automotive flop-judging world is the 2016 ELR’s $10,000 price cut. The ELR is no longer a $75,000 car. It costs $10,000 less than that now. Which is $65,000.

The ELR, of course, was never really a $75,000 car, not in the minds of Cadillac dealership sales managers who are currently displaying 19 different ELRs on with prices below $50,000.

Unfortunately, the ELR isn’t simply an anomaly within the Cadillac realm, little more than a flop in a lineup full of home-run-hitting cars. Despite an increase in Escalade, Escalade ESV, and SRX sales — the SUV line is up 18 percent this year and rose 24 percent in August — Cadillac’s car quartet is down 23 percent this year and tumbled 33 percent in August.

ATS volume tumbled 18.5 percent, or 3,752 units, through the first eight months of 2015. CTS volume is down 37 percent, a loss of 7,705 sales already this year. Sales of the XTS declined 12 percent through the end of August, a loss of 1,984 sales. The ELR’s 9-percent, 70-unit decline is, while embarrassing, statistically meaningless in Cadillac’s grand scheme.

Although stylish in the eyes of many, the ELR is far more reminiscent of the GM which attempted to turn a Chevrolet Cavalier into a Cadillac Cimarron than the GM which, in August, successfully sold 26,511 copies of the company’s three easily distinguishable, nine-year-old, full-size crossovers: Enclave, Traverse, Acadia. Just as buyers spurned the Cimarron, buyers are now snubbing the ELR. Hopefully, for Cadillac’s sake, the ELR’s link to the Chevrolet Volt won’t be nearly as harmful to Cadillac’s image as the Cimarron was, and continues to be.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • SamS SamS on Sep 09, 2015

    If the folks at Cadillac were "marketing smart", they should have had testimonials from ELR owners and or an ELR spokesman discussing the enormous attributes of the car. II especially enjoy the "hold" feature, saving the electric mode for traffic and city use and also the regen paddles.

  • Yellowstang Yellowstang on Apr 29, 2016

    I hadn't driven a GM for many years when I went to visit my father and used his CTS for a week. I was blown away at what a nice car it was. My sister also owns one and loves hers. When it came time to buy a car I tested many. BMW, Lexus and because of the time spent in my dads I went and test drove the Caddy. They made me an awesome deal and I drove home with it. I am a car guy and always have been. I can tell you that this is a great car. And it doesn’t hurt that is gorgeous. This car has been trouble free and with the free service I always leave mine for a day and my dealer always puts me in any new caddy I want to drive. Doing a local search no new none currents sitting on lots. Haters hate but sorry if you can't afford a caddy so you bash what you can't have

  • Doc423 Well said, Jeff.
  • Urlik My online research seems to indicate it’s an issue with the retaining clips failing and allowing the valve spring retainers to come out. This results in the valve dropping into the cylinder.
  • EBFlex Typical Ford. For those keeping track, Ford is up to 44 recalls for the year. Number one recalled manufacturer (yet again) by a wide margin.
  • Lorie Did they completely forget the damn 2.0 ecoboosts that have the class action lawsuit? Guess those of us that had to pay out of pocket for an engine replacement for a fail at 76k miles are out of luck? I will never buy a Ford again.
  • Mncarguy I remember when the Golf came out and all the car magazines raved about it. I bought an early one in the mid level trim, brown with a beige vinyl interior and a stick. I must have blocked out a lot about that car, because the only thing I remember is one day with my wife and infant in the car, the brakes went out! I could use the parking brake and made it home. There must have been other issues (beside an awful dealer who felt like they were doing you a favor even letting you come in for service) because I swore I'd never buy a VW again. I did get a new Beetle and later a Passat. That's another story!