Published on February 24th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


On ELR Pricing Criticism, GM Product Chief Has A Different View

February 24th, 2014 by  

Jay Leno Reviews The Cadillac ELR – Video

General Motors has gotten a bit of heat for the high price of its Cadillac ELR, a plug-in hybrid electric car. The biggest issue for a lot of people is that it isn’t seen as comparable to the Tesla Model S, yet it’s practically the same price. Well, frankly, no other car seems to compare with the Model S… and at a certain point, your car preference is based on very subjective factors. Personally, I see the Model S and Cadillac ELR as very different cars. In any case, coming back to that ELR pricing criticism, GM’s product chief, Mark Reuss, was recently questioned by Automobile Magazine New York Bureau Chief Jamie Kitman about just this topic.

JK: There’s been some criticism of the high price of the new Cadillac ELR [$75,995].

MR: I don’t care, I really don’t care. Because it’s a really uninformed point of view. The ELR’s about $1400 bucks less than a Tesla on a comparable equipment basis, it’s got two doors, it’s a beautiful car. It’s not limited by range and it’s got the $7500 tax credit, which takes it to $67-ish, and it’s got a good lease rate. No read on [sales] yet. But we’re not looking for big volume. It’s a beautiful car. My wife wants one. That’s the kind of person we want to sell it to —we’ve got three kids but two of them are going. Someone fiftyish. You don’t need an SUV anymore. The ELR is a beautiful thing, the interior is handcrafted, it’s a beautiful car. So, I feel good about it.

Later on in the interview, the topic of energy policy and oil also came up. Perhaps also worth a share:

JK: Do you see the oil companies taking over the manufacture and distribution of hydrogen fuel?

MR: In the sense that it’s a by-product of making gasoline, can be. I don’t know. If we had an energy policy…

JK: We do.

MR: What’s that?

JK: It’s the ExxonMobil policy.

MR: You’re right. (Laughs) You’re absolutely right.

JK: The system is not broken, it’s fixed.

MR: It is fixed. (Laughs harder.) It is very fixed.

JK: Everything ExxonMobil wants done gets done. Everything they don’t want done doesn’t.

(More laughter.)

MR: I should take out my iPhone and record you.

Cadillac ELR Winter Olympics Ad Is Sharp (VIDEO)

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Shawn Hyman

    The ELR is not a Volt knockoff. The ELR wil not fail. It’s a profitable car. They will build what they can sell. Cadillac thinks they will sell 2250 this year and upwards of 3000 a year thereafter. That may be optimistic. We need to see what they report for February’s sales now that they have some inventory out there. The ELR is gorgeous, and with a different look than the Model S. Both are beautiful. The Tesla is a great car, no doubt about it. I will own one one day once they fill in the Supercharger network. (I drive a Rav4 EV for work, which has the Tesla drivetrain and battery pack.) In the meantime, our Volt and our ELR serve us very well. Mark Ruess knows his demographic very well. “But we’re not looking for big volume. It’s a beautiful car. My wife wants one. That’s the kind of person we want to sell it to —we’ve got three kids but two of them are going. Someone fiftyish. You don’t need an SUV anymore. The ELR is a beautiful thing, the interior is handcrafted, it’s a beautiful car. So, I feel good about it.”Read more at

  • jose nieves

    $50,000 is a more realistic price for this Cadillac ELR. And $30,000 for the GM Volt. I know that rich people can buy the Cadillac, but considering the Tesla S at about the same price range, it doesn’t make much sense to go with GM. If the price of this ELR doesn’t go down soon, it might become the biggest and most expensive mistake for GM in 2014.

  • bobbleheadguru

    As I Volt driver, I think the ELR is overpriced.

    However, perhaps the target market for the ELR uses the word AND, not OR when making purchases…

    As in a Volt AND and ELR… or a Telsa AND and ELR…. or an Escalade AND ELR.

    There is a segment of buyers that literally collect cars. It may be big enough for the ELR to sell enough to act as a halo car.

    It may also help some Volts as well.

    • Albertico

      Essentially the same target market of the 135 thousand base price BMW i8. I guess is a good thing in a way, if people that threw away money like that did not exist, the technology would never trickle down to the masses.

  • His wife doesn’t want one. She’s just saying that to be nice. It’s a ridiculous car.

  • Albertico

    His argument comparing the ELR to the Tesla does not make sense.

    How do you have less than 1/2 the luggage capacity, less sitting room and are 3 seconds slower 0-60 than the Model S, and still price yourself next to it? Why would you buy the ELR over the Model S?

    Why, because the ELR is beautiful and not an SUV? The Model S is beautiful and not an SUV either. The whole thing doesn’t make any sense.

    Just as much as the excuse of not trying to sell high volumes of the vehicle doesn’t make any sense. Then why did they make the ELR in the first place? Nearly half of all Cadillac dealerships around the country don’t want to sell the car, they know people won’t buy it at that price. The price is not justified, end of discussion.

    People are struggling for money now days, they are not going to throw away their money at the Cadillac badge. This short interview just shows a bit of arrogance. The comments about ExxonMobil don’t help either.

    • TedKidd

      I think this car simply does not compete with the Tesla on any level but price. It’s an absurd comparison. It’s a 5 bedroom apartment to a weekend cabin. The Tesla is huge (try hand washing one some time, the car is HUGE!), this is tiny.

      Maybe Bob Wallace put it best: “There are parts of the world where people value Cadillacs. If they find it more comfortable to move from gas to electricity by driving a familiar brand, then let them take that route.”

      I think it’s a cool car, too bad it’s not all electric.

      It’s Cadillac’s “compliance” car, their “we’ve got one too” toe in the water. I don’t think anybody considering a Tesla buys this instead. But the guy who buys this may buy a Tesla next, if it’s not too big.

      • 100%. The comment that “it’s not limited by range” also just goes to show how laughably out of touch Mark Reuss is with … to use his words, “anyone under fiftyish”.

        • bobbleheadguru

          The range of an ELR is MORE than a Tesla and the time to get back on the road is 25% of the Telsa and requires no planning for a pit stop.

          Not seeing how that is laughable.

          • Because the ELR (like the Volt) is a gas-powered hybrid, while the Tesla is an EV. It’s not an “apples to apples” comparison- it’s more like “apples to people who are morally opposed to apples”.

            The laughable part, then, is that the comparison is being made. GM knows its buyers, though- since I get a ton of nasty comments from the Volt faithful who vehemently deny that they own a hybrid, not an EV. Fun fact no. 2: apparently only 25% of Americans know that the Earth revolves around the sun.

          • bobbleheadguru

            This “elitism”, for lack of a better word, does not change the facts.

            There are Chevy Volt drivers that literally only use gas because it is getting stale. They get 1000, or even 5000 MPG.

            To call a Chevy Volt “gas powered” has NOTHING to do with practical reality of Chevy Volt drivers.

            The Chevy Volt is powered by an electric motor. The gasoline engine is used as a generator to power the electric motor. There is no transmission, no gears to handle an Internal Combustion Engine powering the car directly.

            These are facts.

            Interesting that you use the Earth Sun metaphor inside your post. Perhaps it might be helpful to actually understand the Volt by googling it for 5 minutes before posting embarrassing inaccuracies?

          • Uh-oh. Another one who thinks a car with a gas engine in it is electric … LOL

          • bobbleheadguru

            The Chevy Volt is properly named “Extended Range Electric Vehicle”.

            You did not counterpoise any of my facts. So this obviously not a debate using facts…. and therefore a boring waste time.

            It is nothing more than a religious argument that ignores facts at this point and one I am not going to waste my time with that.

            The world is not flat. The earth goes around the sun. The Chevy Volt is an extended range electric car.

          • Dollars to donuts you own a Volt, or have (at least) tried to buy one.

          • bobbleheadguru

            Are you going to give me dollars or donuts?

            I lease a Volt…therefore you are factually incorrect again. Bad Karma if you do not pay up… don’t you think?

            Q: Still notice that you did not bother to counterpoise any of my facts. Why?

          • Oh, man. I have something for you that you will greatly enjoy, methinks.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Jo, there’s a differnce between hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

            Hybrids, your only option is gas.

            Plug-in hybrids, plug them in, and if the all electric range is longer then your commute, you don’t need gas for the average day.

            Hybrids have a battery to extend their gas range.

            Plug-in hybrids have an engine to extend their electric range.

            The important part is fucking up Big Oil, and as fast chargers proliferate and batteries improve and people learn about EVs, the training wheels won’t be needed anymore.

          • I agree with that assessment, 100%.

    • bobbleheadguru

      They are different cars.

      1. 0-60 is not as important as it used to be. The ELR will do just fine with instant torque at traffic lights which is much more of an everyday acceleration. It will also drive cross country with no need to plan like with a Telsa…. a stat that has much more practical use.

      2. You could turn around your statement to read “An amazing 55% of Cadillac Dealers are so eager to sell the car, they are willing to pay $10s of thousands of dollars to do so!” Of course, that headline will not get as many page views.

      3. The people who are “struggling for money” represent 0% of the “sell to rich first” Elon Musk’s target market. His car is double what an average car buyer can afford.

      GM on the other hand, now has a full ecosystem of cars at the low (Spark EV), Medium (Chevy Volt) and High (ELR) price ranges. It also has eAssist which uses Volt technology to effectively boost MPG in large, high volume, high margin Buicks and Chevys without boosting their cost.

      • Albertico

        I wonder though. If the goal is to sell to the rich first, then what does the ELR have to offer that wealthy buyers would pick the ELR over the Tesla Model S?

        I mean I love the look of the car and think the technology is adequate. It was one of the first cars I looked for at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. I just don’t think even wealthy buyers will see a need for it when it makes more sense to price it 15,000 dollars cheaper.

        The BMW i8 in my opinion lands in the same category. It starts at a staggering 135,000 thousand dollars; it is essentially the same as the ELR in many ways. The redeeming factors being it’s 0-60 (which I think many people care about in cars priced that high) is near the same as the Model S P85 and it’s sports car handling. The carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and laser headlights are nice bonuses too.

        But then you have to ask yourself, would even wealthy buyers pay an additional 40k+ dollars for a more sporty handling vehicle?

        I guess I can’t comment on that since all 3 of these cars are outside my price range, but I think even wealthy people don’t throw away money like that.

        • There are some dedicated GM & Cadillac lovers who are not attracted to the Model S for some reason. They are out there, really. That’s who the ELR appeals to.

          There are different segments of society, and as EVs grow in the marketplace, going to be plenty of room for different preferences.

  • Brandon

    Im sure they laugh at every moron that wastes their money on purchasing this overpriced Volt knock off. 2 great looking Volts for the price of this non proportional looking thing.

    If you are going to shell out that much money you might as well just get the f*ckin Tesla rofl. You are a certified idiot if you buy this over a Tesla.

    It’s not even that good looking either. And the Tesla is not limited, it has Unlimited range for daily commutes and driving around town and medium distances. My Smart ED gets 80 miles per charge and thats Unlimited for my daily driving so 260 miles is very UNLIMITED. And then superchargers for long distance trips. You plan where you go in an EV so worrying about range is not an issue and all EV owners know this but you dumb gas heads know nothing about it. And the Volt is the best overall car besides the Model S.

    The Tesla Model S is the greatest car ever made, so why would anyone choose this fail of a car over it?

    • I agree that the Model S is much better, and I’d never consider the ELR over it. However, I do think that people have different tastes & priorities and for some people (with a crazy amount of money) the ELR is a good buy.

      • Albertico

        Pretty much, the ELR is for people with more than enough money to throw around. I wonder what their target sales for the ELR is. Seeing as nearly half of Cadillac dealerships don’t want to sell the vehicle, are they going to just move that stock to the other dealerships that will?

        I predict the ELR will just be a failure. People no longer throw around money like they used to; specially with better deals like the Model S around.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Where I live (PNW) Cadillacs are pretty much novelty cars. Someone may own an old boat that they take out for a Sunday drive, that’s about it. But I’ve just spent a couple of weeks in the SE and Cadillacs are common. It really dawned on me when stopped at a light I found Caddies in both lanes in front of me and one along side.

          There are parts of the world where people value Cadillacs.

          If they find it more comfortable to move from gas to electricity by driving a familiar brand, then let them take that route. Personally, I’d buy a Tesla. But I’ve never considered a Caddie at any time for any reason.
          Different folks, different strokes.

          (BTW, the guy in the ad is a jerk in my book. I don’t care what he drives as long as he gets off gas and stays out of my neighborhood.)

          • Haha, love that line at the end. 😀

            But think it demonstrates your 1st point very well — is a “positive” ad to a different segment of people, and we need all segments to switch to plug-ins.

          • And I’ll add that it’s interesting hanging out on the forum where many people love the ELR and would buy it over the Model S. Some also loved that ad. Of course, it is not a homogenous community over there, and some are in the same boat as us.

          • The Volt forum is a strange, strange place. Similar vibe to the Presbyterian church I used to go to as a kid.

      • danwat1234

        It’s not a good buy. No hatch, 2 doors, cramped rear seats I’ve heard.

        • It’s not a good buy. No hatch (true), 2 doors (true), cramped rear seats that are hard to get in and out of, in my opinion. I agree, totally.

    • Guys, I just figured it out: this car is for GM execs who want to look “green” but want a nicer car than a Volt.

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