Published on May 18th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


GM Wants Cadillac ELR To Compete With Tesla Model S

May 18th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.


GM has said it wants Cadillac to compete with the Tesla, and recent spy photos seems to show what appears to be a hotter Cadillac ELR out on the test track. Supposedly, the plug-in Caddy was being bench-marked against the Tesla Model S, and could be a sign of faster things to come.

This certainly doesn’t mean a Cadillac ELR-V is a forgone conclusion, as GM’s Mark Reuss already shot down the idea of adding Magnetic Ride Control to the ELR to improve its handling. But spyshots obtained by Autoblog show an ELR with bigger brake calipers and rotors, likely sourced from the Buick Regal GS, and it could also indicate that more power is on the way as well. With 201 ponies on tap, the ELR is already more powerful than its corporate cousin, the Chevy Volt, but it’s still a big, heavy car, and buyers aren’t exactly impressed with its performance.

Five-spoke wheels and a hidden (likely sportier) grille also seem to be on tap, though that doesn’t mean this is necessarily an ELR-V, but rather as Autoblog points out, a Vsport. Sportier, but not a full-blown performance car, this could add some edge to the ELR that buyers might have found lacking initially. Sales of the Cadillac ELR haven’t been anything to write home about, and it seems like GM might be scrambling for a solution in the face of almost universal criticism over the ELR’s high price and lack of differentiation from the Volt.

If Cadillac really is benchmarking a new ELR against the Tesla Model S (something they probably should have done in the first place), it is further proof of how Elon Musk’s electric automaker is forcing the establishment to embrace innovation.

Source: Autoblog

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Britt

    The ELR is able to reach 106 mph, which for most folks is way more speed than needed. The range of the battery is 37 miles, however, with the generator that runs along the chassis of the car uses 9.3 gallons of gasoline to go an extra 303 miles, giving you a total of 340 miles on a tank and a charge. The back seats are 40/40 and fold down to give the trunk, which is also where all sorts of other fun things hide, more room (already 10.5 square feet of room, it’s a flipping coupe people). This car is basically silent when running, which is super cool. It does have some acceleration, and a fun little mode in the DIC that shows your acceleration. I’ve driven this vehicle and it is amazing. Because it’s drag coefficient is only .31 it is extra quiet in the interior when driving (the Bose speakers also help).

  • I love my Volt…still haven’t quite figured out the business case for the ELR.

  • Abner

    If I were a big company trying to compete with Tesla I would not try to beat the model S at its own game. There is no point trying to compete in a market dominated by Model S’s. What I would do is try to launch a “Model E” competitor before Tesla gets the chance to get it out of the door. Something that does everything the Tesla “Model E” will supposedly do before Tesla, and simply sweep the market from under Tesla’s feet.
    But of course that’s not going to happen, Big companies actually still believe that electric cars will only become the norm in the far future. They will only realize that the electric revolution started years ago when they are out of business. Until than they will keep building shitty hybrids and calling it the future.

  • Albert Bodenhamer

    The ELR might be interesting if it were about $20,000 cheaper.

    Limited electric range, low performance, and cramped space (all thanks to dragging around 2 drivetrains) make it pretty unattractive at $75k.

  • bfearn

    Cadillac competing with the Tesla?? You’re kidding right??

  • Ralph Wolf

    Putting bigger brake calipers on any type of Hybrid or EV has got to be *THE* dumbest move ever, by a pathologically unclear on the concept marketing crew…

    Hello? Regenerative braking? Is any one home….?

  • ThatsHowISeeIt

    There’s only so much lipstick GM can put on the Chevrolet Volt pig.

    We are about to buy a Model S and the ELR was not even in our list of vehicles to look at. It is a compromised BS hybrid. If GM ever builds a 250 mile range EV with a 0-60 <5 second, then we can talk about them competing with Tesla.

    There is a reason why Tesla is about to ramp up to 1000 vehicles a week and GM barely sells 14 ELRs in a week. No one wants to the ELR.

  • Matt

    You don’t get what you want, you get what you need.
    GM needs a big rethink on the making and selling of electric cars.

  • spec9

    Well . .. a great philosopher once said “You can’t always get what you want.”

    The ELR is not in Tesla’s league. They need to realize that and get on with cutting the price. The ELR is a 2 door, does not have the acceleration of the Tesla, lacks the styling of the Model S, can only go 35 miles on electricity, etc. It is a nice car and has the Caddy luxury . . . but I’m sorry . . . the electric car folks are generally not the people who like Caddy land-yachts.

    • Ricky

      How far is your commute to work every day?

  • Alan Dean Foster

    If GM wants to compete with Tesla, it’s going to have to create a battery pack that’s properly computer temperature and power controlled and build a car around it. It will never, never be able to compete by taking an existing frame and slapping a battery pack into it.

    • TedKidd

      If GM wants to compete with Tesla they’re going to need to create serious INCENTIVE for dealers and sales to SELL the thing.

      If I were a Caddy salesman, why would I invest any time into learning about this car? So I could sell 4 a year? So I could starve?

      If nobody wants to SELL the thing, not many people are likely to buy it. Leaf has this same problem. Dealers have plenty of other cars to sell. Cars that make them money now AND in the future. Electric, for them, requires a big shift for small opportunity, and playing russian roulette with their future service revenue.

      Pretty obnoxious how these companies ignore and disregard placing their salespeople in crappy positions.

      • Alan Dean Foster


    • Dan Hue

      What do you mean? The ELR is designed from the ground up as an EV, around GM’s Voltec powertrain (shared with the Volt, which incidentally, I own). The battery design is different (T-pack vs. Tesla’s skateboard). GM’s design is arguably safer (less prone to piercing and fire). It is also properly temperature controlled, so absolutely no issue there.

      IMO, the ELR is disappointing, but not for the reasons that you mention.

      • Alan Dean Foster

        The Volt is a fine car: might’ve bought one myself if not for the Tesla. But…it is not an EV. It is a hybrid. As opposed to, say, the Chevy Spark or the Nissan Leaf.

        • Dan Hue

          Stating that the Volt is a hybrid (even a plug-in hybrid, like the Ford C-Max Energy) suggests a lack of knowledge about the way the Volt powertrain works. Put it in a special category if you will, but for all intended purposes, it’s an EV, with a backup gas generator (“generator” being the key word).

          • Alan Dean Foster

            From Business Week (plenty of other similar articles around).

            “When the Volt is driving hard, say, over 70 miles per hour or it’s climbing hills, the gasoline engine will directly power the car’s second electric motor, which then turns the wheels. This came as a surprise because GM has billed the car as an electric vehicle that uses the gasoline engine to charge the battery. The company has said that the car’s electric motors draw power straight from the battery. That gasoline engine is only there to charge the battery. GM’s engineers didn’t reveal until recently that the engine can power a secondary electric motor that turns the wheels. Critics say this new revelation makes the Volt a hybrid, because the Prius does drive in a similar way. GM counters that there is no direct mechanical linkage from the gasoline engine to the wheels. So it’s an electric vehicle.”

            And so the argument rages on.

          • Dan Hue

            Alan, I can assure you that these people are wrong. They don’t understand the Volt’s drivetrain, which is very sophisticated. The bottom line is that you can (and typically do) get full performance from the car just by running on the battery, that is for about 40 miles per charge (on average). Driving fast or climbing steep hills “pedal to the metal” will not affect that. Once the battery is depleted, then the gas engine fires up and acts as a generator. That is the basic philosophy or the car, but admittedly, there are a few wrinkles. The gas engine can be manually controlled (via Hold and Mountain modes). It can also be fired automatically to get rid of stale gas or because it’s very cold. There is some validity to the linkage of the gas engine to the wheels, but not in the way that most people understand. It’s only there in very specific circumstances, and only for efficiency reasons. I’ll refer you to the and Motor Trends for the details, if you are interested:

          • Alan Dean Foster

            That’s pretty much how I understood it; the Business Week article (and others) notwithstanding.
            I suppose it all comes down to how you want to define the term “hybrid” in relation to vehicles. When I hear the words “gas engine”, it automatically says “hybrid” to me.

          • Dan Hue

            Fair enough. For me, “hybrid” suggests a relatively seamless blending of electricity and gas modes for optimal performance (or curtailed performance in EV only mode), which does not fairly characterize the Volt (but does fit otherwise fine automobiles like the Prius PHEV or C-Max/Fusion Energy). But as you say, it’s a matter of definition.

          • VulpineMac

            By your definition, Dan, the only hybrids use electric to support mechanical–which isn’t a bad definition, just limited. I agree with Alan that any fuel-powered engine at all qualifies the vehicle as ‘hybrid’. This means that even a fuel-cell vehicle would be a hybrid because it still needs some sort of fuel (typically hydrogen) to generate the electricity.

          • sranger

            The volt CAN directly couple the ICE to the wheels…Period…

          • Dan Hue

            That is correct, between 35 and 70 miles per hour (cruising), and that is a good thing because it yields a 10 to 15% efficiency improvement over a pure series set up. The cost is responsiveness, as the car, in that mode, will hesitate for an instant when mashing the accelerator.

          • sranger

            And that is why I call it a plug in Hybrid. It is a very good one though…

          • VulpineMac

            Hmmm… So the Volt DOES fall back on the same basic technology that powers railroad locomotives. I’d read that the transmission had a direct, physical link to the drivetrain–not an electric one.

  • Sam

    GM wants to compete with Tesla but so far there is no comparison. Short electric range, cramped interior, “unusual” styling, angular lines, cluttered dash, barely room for 4, minimal storage.

    Other than wishing, how in the world is the Cadillac ELR comparable to Tesla.

    Certainly not in sales. Definitely not in looks, space, and style. Not even in competition when it comes to technology.

    • J_JamesM

      Don’t forget how slow it is by comparison.

    • Ricky

      I don’t agree with you. I’ve driven both and I find the Cadillac superior in every way.

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