MEDIA REVIEWS is a compilation of reviews and write-ups of test drives of various e-drive vehicles by the different authors and media. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of EV World. Click the article title to expand the story.
Dan Tynan On Cadillac's 'Cost V. Carbon Conundrum'
For $90K you can own either a Cadillac ELR electric hybrid sport coupe or a Tesla Model S. Which you choose depends on how you feel about your carbon footprint.
Yahoo Tech 23 Jul 2014
We were driving a 2014 Cadillac ELR luxury coupe, about to enter the freeway, ZZ Top’s “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” booming through the speakers.
“Watch this,” my wife said. She tapped her foot ever so slightly on the accelerator. We zoomed from 40 to 85 mph in a heartbeat. I gripped the door handle tighter as she weaved around cars on Highway 13, laughing maniacally.
“Are electric motors awesome, or what?”
For years, my lovely wife has been giving me grief about my desire to own a sports car. After 172 years behind the wheel of a minivan, I think I deserve one. But just three days of driving a candy-apple-red ELR and she’d turned into Mario Andretti.
When she reluctantly relinquished the wheel, I understood why. This is not your daddy’s Caddy. As with most electric cars, the ELR’s acceleration was instantaneous — think the Millennium Falcon with wheels. It hugged the curves like it was never going to see them again. Driving the thing, I alternated between giddy exhilaration and sheer terror.
But while the ELR is indeed a Cadillac, it appears to be built for speed, not comfort. We could feel every bump in the road, and everything inside the cab felt cramped or in the wrong place. My 6-foot-3-inch son had to fold himself into origami to fit into the back seat. And with a base price of $75,000, the ELR was out of reach as a way to assuage my ongoing midlife crisis. It’s a fun ride, but these thrills ain’t cheap.
Vroom at the top
A few years ago, after we test drove a Chevy Volt for a week (the Volt shares a lot of tech with the ELR) and loved it, we vowed that our next car would not be a carbon-belching fossil-fuel-devouring beast. Even with the federal tax credit for purchasing an electric vehicle, though, the Volt was still just a bit too rich for our blood. And the Caddy is twice the price of the Volt.
There are essentially three kinds of electric car, and they all come with gotchas. Most plug-in electric hybrids like the Volt and the ELR can run for up to 40 miles on a single battery charge before they switch over to a gas-powered engine. There are duel-fuel hybrids like the standard Toyota Prius and the Infiniti Q50, which use batteries and a motor to augment the gas engine while starting and idling, increasing your mileage by roughly 25 percent, but they’re still primarily internal combustion vehicles (there’s a plug-in version of the Prius, too).
Then there are all-electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S, which need to be recharged every 80 to 260 miles. They’re emission free on your commute, but you’ll need to plan your road trips carefully.
Stuck on gas
In 2015, car makers will be introducing more than 20 electric vehicles of one type or another. Yet they’re unlikely to have much of an impact on the environment, or the car market, says Gary Gauthier, director of transportation at NextEnergy, a nonprofit consortium created to promote alternative energy technologies and policies in the state of Michigan.
The reason? The total cost of ownership for a gas guzzler is far less than for an electric vehicle, he says. Unless some dramatic new technology emerges — or the price of gas hits $10 a gallon — that’s how it will remain for the foreseeable future.
“If not for government regulations, electric vehicles would not even exist,” says Gauthier, who says after 48 years in the auto industry he’s seen every possible alternative to gasoline but has yet to find one that’s actually viable. (He may also be the most cynical person I’ve ever interviewed; Gauthier prefers the term "realistic.") The media has overhyped EVs, he adds, but people vote with their pocketbooks — one reason why fewer than 5 percent of all cars sold in 2013 run on anything other than fossil fuels.
However, Gauthier admits, if you’ve got $90K to drop on a car like the Tesla Model S, the cost advantages of internal combustion engines tend to evaporate. If you live in California, where high-occupancy vehicle lanes allow for single-passenger electric vehicles, you have additional reasons for going semi-electric (thus explaining why it seems like every third car on California freeways is a Prius).
If and when Tesla’s $35K Model E arrives, that might help persuade more people to convert from cars running on Texas tea to those powered by electrons, but probably not in mass numbers. Still, there are other alternatives on the horizon. Sometime over the next 12 months Toyota will begin selling a fuel cell vehicle that converts hydrogen into electricity and water vapor. Toyota says the $70,000 car will offer the power of a gas engine,
The problem? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are only 12 hydrogen fueling stations in all of the United States, and nine of them are in Southern California. The infrastructure build-out will be slow in coming, if it happens at all.
Will non-carbon-belching beasts ever dominate U.S. highways?
“Not going to happen,” says the slightly less cynical Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor at Cars.com. “Battery-electric cars have too many limitations to have a real presence. I do think fuel cells have a chance … to make up a tiny fraction of the overall market.”
We know our next car won’t be hydrogen powered. Whether we’ll go electric or opt for a tech-savvy but fuel-efficient combustion model has yet to be determined. (I call this the cost vs. carbon conundrum.) If I won the lottery, though, I’d probably buy a Tesla. Actually, I’d have to buy two Teslas — one for my lovely wife and the other for myself, so I could actually get a chance to drive it.
Can Cadillac's ELR Give Tesla A 'Run for [Your] Money'?
Styling impressive, the ELR offers around 35 miles of EV range, but the reassurance of driving hundreds of miles further on its gasoline engine generator.
Gizmag 06 Jul 2014
Cadillac swears its plug-in hybrid ELR isn't a bust and to help make the point, it recently let me cruise around in one for a weekend. It's a powerful and fun ride built on the guts of the Chevrolet Volt that could certainly give Tesla a run for its money, provided you've got plenty of your own to spend on one.
The Converj concept car was the predecessor to the ELR some years back. The ELR first debuted in January of 2013, and the US$76,000 price tag was announced the following fall. It's now been almost six months since the first pluggable Caddy hit the market, but the sales figures have yet to sparkle nearly as much as the vehicle itself did on my spin around the San Francisco Bay.
As I drove from Oakland to Silicon Valley, over the Golden Gate bridge, through wine country and back in the leathery embrace of the ELR's premium interior, I tried to consider why the vehicle was so much less prevalent than say, electric-only Teslas that are never too far away on the region's roads.
There is, after all, an awful lot to like about the ELR.
First, let's talk about power. When the ELR has juice in its battery and isn't relying on the gas-powered generator for a charge, you've got instant access to 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque without any of the lag between gas pedal and actual acceleration on the road that internal combustion has conditioned us to put up with. Sadly, the range for the ELR's battery is only about 35 miles (about 56 km), but those miles are the closest thing one can experience to having a telekinetic, mind-melded (or at least foot-melded) link with a machine.
Of course, once the battery's spent and the ELR turns to flipping on the gas generator to power its two 135-kW drive motors at the front wheels, it's still an enjoyable driving experience by conventional standards with plenty of power. Elaborate in-dash displays keep you informed on where the electrons are flowing in the system and you'll begin to master the subtle regenerative braking using the novel paddles on the steering column.
There's other software-based tweaks on the ELR that control freaks will love, like the driving modes such as sport mode, which adjusts the throttle map in the car's software to handle better and provide the feel of more power. There's also a mode for mountain driving that changes how the system stores energy to provide a little extra power kick from the battery.
This is also where General Motors begins to make its case that the ELR is more than just a prettied-up Chevrolet Volt. While the Cadillac shares the same battery and drive-train as its nearly half as expensive electric kin, GM's Shad Balch made the argument to me after my ELR weekend that its extended range electric vehicle (EREV) propulsion system is the most advanced available. While "the same operationally" as the Volt, Balch told me that the ELR has received a software upgrade of sorts to "fit the Cadillac brand."
One of the results is that the ELR can harness a little over 60 more horsepower than the Volt under ideal conditions. The ELR will still take 8 seconds to get up to 60 miles per hour, but that instantaneous torque sure makes it feel more nimble.
The ELR isn't the most beautiful car on the market for my particular tastes, but it is still attractive and retains a certain kind of characteristic Cadillac gravitas which isn't my style, but will resonate with a certain classic aesthetic.
Inside, it's all luxury and leather and little leg room in back. The ELR is the perfect cockpit for couples cruising through one of America's most beautiful cities, over its most striking bridge and up for some tastings in wine country.
In fact, nearly all of my complaints about the ELR can be confined to the cabin.
I simply could not get the hang of the ELR's built-in infotainment and navigation system, nor the odd touch controls with haptic feedback that are used throughout the interior. When I brought this up with GM, they claimed that I simply needed more than one weekend to get the hang of both. That could be true, but seems to back up the notion that some of the finishing touches on the ELR could have been a bit more intuitive.
While there's little to complain about in the ELR, it remains to be seen if there's a full $76,000 worth of awesome. So far, most consumers have yet to see it as well.
REVIEW: Cadillac ELR Is Stunning, Worth the Price
Auto Digest reviewers Barbara and Bill Schaffer find that despite criticisms of the luxury electric hybrid's price, the found it worth the money.
Murfreesboro Post/USA 07 Apr 2014
A few times a year, we’ll test a new car that reaches out and grabs one of us. It might be the styling, comfort, performance or some other feature, but the car makes an impression that makes us want one.
Generally, this happens to just one of us at a time, but the 2014 Cadillac ELR grabbed us both.
To start with, the 2014 Cadillac ELR is stunning, looking like one of the exotics cars that’s name ends with an “i”. The design is a near mirror image of the Cadillac Converj Concept that wowed audiences at the 2009 North American International Auto Show. And just like many of the concept cars, the ELR doesn’t have door handles; rather there is a pocket on the rear edge of the door that has an electric button in it which releases the door latch. It also has a push button to open the door from inside. But it’s the super bright vertically-mounted LED headlamps, enclosed grille and the dramatic Cadillac taillights that set the ELR apart from anything on the road.
The interior is equally impressive and opulent with beautiful lines, soft comfortable seats, French stitched fabrics and a unique blend of materials – leather, suede, wood, carbon fiber and chrome. Seating is for two, with two equally beautiful seats in the rear, however, as with many coupes, the ELR rear seats have limited legroom and headroom. The rear seat backs do fold down to make space for longer items or bags of golf clubs. We think of a configuration like this as being a very practical sports car because there’s room for things other than two people in the cabin.
The ELR is powered by a unique plug-in electric drivetrain using a 162 kW (217 hp) electric motor attached to a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which is located along the center of the vehicle. The motor produces 295-ft.lbs. of instant torque which propels the ELR from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. That’s not an overly impressive number, but it does a good job of getting the Cadillac up to the traffic speeds when entering the 101 Freeway at rush hour.
The Cadillac ELR has a range of about 35 miles after a full charge according to the display on the lower left corner of the instrument panel. On the lower right is there is a fuel range number. Combined the ELR had a range of about 340 miles. We noticed we actually drove more miles than the range indicated in some cases.
We charged the ELR overnight at Barbara’s brother’s house while we were visiting in California for a week using the cord from the special compartment in the trunk and plugging into a normal 120 volt outlet. It could also be charged in about five hours using a dedicated 240 volt charging station. Owners can also use a smartphone and the OnStar mobile app to schedule charge times.
We like the concept of electric vehicles, but every time we drive one, we develop a case of “range anxiety” – always watching to make sure we have enough battery power left to get to a charger. The new Cadillac ELR, and the Chevrolet Volt, eliminate that uncertainty by using an onboard gas-powered generator. When the initial charge runs out, the generator automatically starts, with no fanfare, and continues providing power to the electric motor through the battery until the gasoline engine runs out of gas or in this case, up to about 340 miles or around the world if you keep adding gas. The gasoline generator is a quiet and efficient 63-hp, 1.4-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine.
In EPA numbers the 2014 Cadillac ELR is rated at 82 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), or 33 mpg when run on gasoline only. There is an obvious advantage to plugging in and short trips, so we think of the ELR as a town and city car, rather than a road trip car – but it can do road trips.
No trip for us to Central California is complete without at least one traverse over Hecker Pass on Highway 152 between Watsonville and Gilroy. The road over the Santa Cruz Mountains is loaded with tight curves and is one of our favorite drives. To the rear of the console mounted shifter is a mode switch which allows the driver to toggle through four settings (Sport, Tour, Mountain and Hold) which adjust the accelerator response, suspension and steering settings to best handle the driving styles and conditions. The Mountain mode seemed to work nicely for Hecker Pass. While the ELR is no Corvette, it stays flat in the corners, grips well and we heard no tire squeal even when corning quite hard.
We both manually shift automatic transmissions when we drive; clicking the automatic transmission down a notch or two before entering corners it allows the engine braking to help slow the car for the corner and sets it up to accelerate smoothly out of the corner with better control. Most electric cars don’t have a good way to do that, however the Cadillac ELR has a unique system that works nearly as well. In the positions where many cars have transmission shift paddle behind the steering wheel, the Cadillac ELR has two Regen (Regeneration) on Demand (RoD) paddles. They activate the regenerative brake system to send more charge to the battery and in the process, it slows the car down, almost like downshifting. We nicknamed them “handbrakes.” They worked great on the winding mountain road slowing the car a little before entering a sharp corner. In town, we were able to actually bring the car to a complete stop using a RoD paddle, but they are obviously no substitute for the real brakes.
Cadillac’s CUE (Cadillac User Experience) with navigation system is part of the long list of standard features on the ELR. The system, which is mounted in the top of the ultramodern center stack, has a large display screen controlled by voice, hand gestures and the touch screen. The sophisticated system actually senses a command when the user’s hand approaches the LCD screen. It also pulses when an icon on the screen is touched indicating contact with the control was made.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR has a base price of $75,995, including the destination charge. That price includes an extensive list of standard luxury features. Available options include a Crystal Red Tintcoat paint ($995), 20-way adjustable Kona Brown and Jet black seats ($2,450), Full-Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control with auto collision prep and intelligent brake assist ($1,995) and the Luxury Package of 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, IntelliBeam headlights, rear cross traffic alert and side blind zone alert ($1,595).
The ELR has been criticized by some auto writers who equate it to an expensive version of the Chevrolet Volt. We like the Volt, but we consider the ELR to be much further advanced and a world more elegant.
At the high price, the Cadillac ELR will raise lots of eyebrows and conjure comments like “no way” or “that’s crazy.” Never-the-less, we loved the car and felt the price was justified. If we were looking for a high performance car or an economy car, there are 100 better options, but for an elegant, economical, personal coupe, that makes a statement and carries the owners in luxury, this is an amazing car, which we would consider if we were at a higher income level.
Review: Cadillac ELR Luxury Electric Hybrid
Detroit Free Press' Mark Phelan reviews Cadillac's high-end luxury electric hybrid sports coupe.
Detroit Free Press/USA 30 Jan 2014
Most of what you’ve probably heard about the three-star 2014 Cadillac ELR extended-range electric car is wrong. First and foremost, it’s not a Cadillac version of the four-door Chevrolet Volt. It’s a legitimate luxury coupe with unique styling, a lush interior, a new wheelbase and suspension and much more.
The ELR I tested also consistently outperformed EPA projections for how far it could go on battery power alone despite sub-zero temperatures. Its lithium-ion battery proved more than a match for the polar vortex, keeping the car moving and its occupants toasty.
The ELR uses a version of the Volt’s drivetrain, but the two cars are otherwise very different.
The ELR’s main competitors are alternate-power luxury cars such as the BMW i3 and i8, Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid and Tesla Model S and stylish high-end coupes such as the BMW 640i. The Volt competes with mainstream cars like the Nissan Leaf, Ford C-Max and Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids.
ELR prices start at $75,000. That gets you a striking, low, wide body; LED exterior lighting; adaptive suspension; Bose audio and active noise cancellation, and more. I tested a loaded ELR with options that included adaptive cruise control.
Disappointingly, blind spot and cross traffic alerts were among the options, despite the fact that they’re standard on vehicles costing one-third ELR’s sticker price.
My test car stickered at $81,140, excluding destination charges.
It’s hard to say what the market price for alternate power luxury cars will be. The decidedly unstylish BMW i3 EV will start at $45,200 with an ELR-style range extending gasoline engine. The base model of BMW’s i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will cost $135,700. A base Tesla S sedan costs $69,900. The Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid starts at $99,000, and rumor has it Porsche’s radical 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid will cost $845,000. In that company, the ELR could be a bargain, particularly since its range on battery power should exceed the i8, Panamera and 918.
ELRs are eligible for a variety of federal, state and local incentives that can knock $10,000 off the price and deliver such goodies as free public parking and single-rider access to fast-moving car pool lanes. As a further incentive, Cadillac is giving early ELR buyers a 240-volt home charger — worth $2,000 or more. A 240v charger is a must for any electric car owner. It reduces the time needed to fully charge the car to about five hours versus 12.5 hours at a conventional 120v outlet.
The wedgy ELR cuts an imposing figure on the road. Its interior is equally striking. My test car had rich brown optional Kona leather and black wood, carbon fiber and suede trim. The front seat has plenty of room, but rear leg and headroom are minimal. The trunk is small, with a narrow opening.
The instrument panel has big, crisp gauges. Cadillac’s fine combination of touch screen and spoken commands controls most features. Blue accent lighting adds to the interior’s appeal at night.
The battery provides plenty of power to accelerate. The suspension keeps the ELR poised in quick maneuvers and absorbs bumps for a comfortable ride. Extremely useful steering-wheel mounted paddles let the driver maximize regenerative braking to increase the battery’s range.
The EPA says the ELR should cover about 37 miles on a full charge before its engine turns on to generate more electricity. The market for luxury electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is so young that the EPA hasn’t certified the i3, i8, 918 Spyder and Panamera plug-in’s claims for range and fuel economy yet.
The ELR is a strong early player in that nascent market for alternate-power luxury cars.
Dave Kunz on Cadillac's ELR Luxury Electric Hybrid
KABC Channel 7 news reporter reviews Cadillac's Tesla Model S fighter, the ELR electric hybrid.
KABC Channel 7 20 Jan 2014
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- America's oldest luxury car brand is getting greener. The new Cadillac ELR combines electric and gasoline, and also has a striking sporty appeal.
The new 2014 Cadillac ELR is very sleek, a two-door that looks like a high-tech sports car. But it's also an electric vehicle, able to get around on a battery charge for about 35 miles.
After that, a gasoline engine kicks in, keeping the juice flowing and allowing you to drive it anywhere you'd like.
If this sounds familiar, it's because the new Cadillac ELR uses essentially the same power system as the Chevrolet Volt.
General Motors spent millions developing and refining the combination of electric motor, battery pack, and the engine-generator. So it makes sense to spread the technology and the fuel economy around.
"With CAFE standards, everyone has to worry about getting that overall EPA rating up, and this is one way to do it, and it's actually a great way to do it," said Mark Takahashi of Edmunds.com.
As a Cadillac, the luxury and equipment level go way up. From the massive 20 inch wheels and tires to an interior is full of premium materials.
But, there's a premium sticker price too: $75,000 before options. With them, it can top $80,000.
The ELR uses the same basic power train as the Chevy Volt, but GM has priced it twice as much as the Volt. Are they crazy? Well, maybe not. They're probably noticing all the people who are paying up to and above $100,000 for a Tesla Model S, and waiting in line to get them.
The editors at Edmunds.com have been long-term testing a Tesla model, and its total price was $110,000.
So can Cadillac ride on Tesla's eco-upscale coattails?
The ELR, like other electric vehicles, qualifies for government rebates, so the price is more like mid-60s by the time those are applied. Like other plug-ins, it also qualifies for a carpool lane sticker.
This could be a big hit for General Motors - if it turns out that American buyers ready for an electric Cadillac, a fairly expensive electric Cadillac.
Cadillac ELR's Value Proposition Is Its Uniqueness
Susan Carpenter considers the what makes the Cadillac ELR luxury electric hybrid sport coupe special, apart from its premium price tag.
Newsday 26 Dec 2013
The most attention that Cadillac has so far received for its first electric range-extended luxury vehicle is an uproar over its price. The 2014 ELR plug-in-hybrid sports coupe starts at $76,990 -- almost $4,000 more than an entry-level Tesla Model S, and more than double the price of the Chevrolet Volt, the groundbreaking car that proved General Motors' series hybrid powertrain.
The hullabaloo has only served to highlight the question every potential buyer asks of any car: Is it worth the money?
Yes and no. The ELR is the most premium Cadillac on the market, including far more upscale features as standard equipment than any other Cadillac to date, such as LED lights, an 8-inch full-color LCD infotainment screen and 20-inch wheels. The leather, carbon fiber and wood that make up the interior are hand-crafted. And the driving experience is performance-oriented, having the instant torque of an electric motor and direct drive that negates the need for shifting.
So if the buyer's intention is to have the most deluxe, easy-to-drive, fuel-efficient Cadillac on the market, the ELR would certainly be it.
But if the buyer is more eco-oriented and seeking any kind of return on investment for fuel savings, there are better options. The ELR's true value is its all-around uniqueness.
The ELR is a plug-in-electric hybrid that uses the same propulsion system as the Volt. That means it can run as a pure electric vehicle for about 35 miles using the electricity pulled from the grid and packed into its lithium-ion battery, or as a series hybrid that employs a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine as a generator to charge the batteries that drive the electric motor that powers the car. Combined, the ELR can travel 330 miles on a full tank of gas and a full charge.
My favorite feature of the ELR was its Regen on Demand. The patented system making its debut on Cadillac's latest uses steering-wheel-mounted paddles, similar in operation to paddle shifters, to brake and replenish power to the battery.
Clicking the paddle replicates the feel of engine braking and instantly decelerates the car, though for hard stops, the brake pedal is still needed.
Overall, the design mandate for the ELR seemed to be one of understated elegance. The ELR lets subtle design cues indicate its eco pedigree, such as a dramatic flush-mount grille topped with LED headlights shaped like princess-cut diamonds.
The question now is how many people will buy in to the ELR's alluring, if steeply priced, premise.
The ELR goes on sale in January.
Cadillac ELR Greeted with Mixed Reviews
Susan Carpenter reviews the recent spate of reviews on Cadillac's electric hybrid luxury car.
Nanaimo Daily News 25 Dec 2013
The most attention that Cadillac has so far received for its first electric range-extended luxury vehicle is an uproar over its price. The 2014 ELR plug-in hybrid sports coupe starts at $76,990 - almost $4,000 more than the entry-level Tesla Model S, and more than double the price of the Chevrolet Volt, the groundbreaking car that proved General Motors' series hybrid power train.
The hullabaloo has only served to highlight the question every potential buyer asks of any car: Is it worth the money?
Yes and no. The ELR is the most premium Cadillac on the market, including far more upscale features as standard equipment than any other Cadillac to date, including LED lights, an eight-inch full-color LCD infotainment screen and 20-inch wheels. The leather, carbon fiber and wood that make up the interior are hand-crafted. And the driving experience is performance-oriented, having the instant torque of an electric motor and direct drive that negates the need for shifting.
So if the buyer's intention is to have the most deluxe, easy-to-drive, fuel-efficient Cadillac on the market, the ELR would certainly be it. But if the buyer is more eco-oriented and seeking any kind of return on investment for fuel savings, there are better options. For the kind of money Cadillac is charging, a buyer could have two of GM's most esteemed vehicles - the $46,025 gas-powered CTS sport sedan and a fuel-sipping Volt for the kids. (The Volt costs $34,815, but its price is reduced after applying a $7,500 federal tax credit.)
The ELR's true value is its all around uniqueness. In development for 28 months, the ELR is the production version of the aggressively contoured Converj Concept Cadillac unveiled to endless oohs and aahs at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009. Indeed, the ELR was sculpted in clay right next to the come-hither Converj at GM HQ to ensure its similarity, with tweaks to its proportions.
The 22-inch wheels of the concept were downsized to still impressive 20s, like the XTS, to enable the use of a hyper-strut suspension and active damping for better driver control and less susceptibility to high-speed shakes, an imperative for a car with a higher top speed than most electrics - 106 mph.
The ELR is a plug-in-electric hybrid, or battery-range-extended vehicle, that uses the same propulsion system as the Volt. That means it can run as a pure electric vehicle for about 35 miles using the electricity pulled from the grid and packed into its lithium-ion battery, or as a series hybrid that employs a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine as a generator to charge the batteries that drive the electric motor that powers the car. Combined, the ELR can travel 330 miles on a full tank of gas and a full charge.
When I entered the car for a morning drive last month, it wasn't charged to capacity. My
dashboard said I had 200 miles of fuel range and 30 miles of projected EV range. Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway and into the serpentine curves of Malibu's prodigious canyons, I traveled slightly less than the car predicted in pure EV mode - 26.6 miles - before it seamlessly transitioned to the gas generator. The only indication that the car was powering its batteries with gasoline was the engine sound, which, because of its hybrid setup, doesn't change pitch with speed.
The ELR is equipped with four drive modes, the default being the most fuel-efficient "touring," which I found adequately responsive and smooth. "Mountain" maintains energy for long treks uphill; "hold" preserves battery charge by activating the gas-powered generator. "Sport" was most satisfying, ratcheting up the torque response and stiffening the steering and suspension.
Laterally, the suspension seemed more effective than vertically. Even with continuous damping control, the ride, at times, felt more bouncy than I would have expected for a car at this price point, even one that comes with a hefty price premium for being a luxury hybrid. Delightfully, the ELR lacked discernible slop in the corners, and the electric, variable-assist steering felt firm without requiring too much effort. But my favourite feature of the ELR was its Regen on Demand. The patented system making its debut on Cadillac's latest uses steering-wheel-mounted paddles to brake and replenish power to the battery. Similar in operation to paddle shifters, clicking the paddle replicates the feel of engine braking and instantly decelerates the car, though for hard stops, the brake pedal is still needed.
My average fuel economy for my 72.6-mile trip: 52 mpg. Of those miles, 31.4 were driven
as an EV; 41.2 were run on gas. According to the car, I had used 1.39 gallons of gas and 13.2 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That's impressive, especially since the Cadillac is swaddled in luxury instead of skimping to eke more miles from its fuel.
Overall, the design mandate for the ELR seemed to be one of understated elegance. Unlike many electric vehicles, which proudly declare their low-emissions cred with circuit-board graphics or clean-breathing blue badges or simply an "E" on the back bumper, the ELR lets subtler design cues indicate its eco pedigree, such as a dramatic flush-mount grille topped with LED headlights shaped like princess-cut diamonds. Instead of bragging it's a Cadillac with a name plate, the brand is written in characteristic cursive inside the headlamp housing. Lights ringing the mirror indicate when the car is plugged in and charging. Inside, the ELR's cockpit mimics the angled V of its posterior. The leather dashboard is sculpted to a point, as is the centre console that controls its CUE infotainment and navigation and Bose 10-speaker audio systems. The ELR is finished in soft, luxurious leather. Its seats are comfortable but will be most enjoyable for its front passengers. It seats four, but those seated in back who have even reasonably long torsos are likely to skim their hairdos on the microsuede headliner. The ELR's T-shaped battery runs the length of the car, and effectively splits the rear seat in two.
There is only one version of the ELR that can be had with two interior colors (ebony and cashmere) and four options - a $1,695 luxury package that gives the wheels a silver finish and adds half a dozen safety features, such as rear cross traffic alert; $1,995 adaptive cruise control that automatically maintains the car's following distance; $2,450 for semi-aniline leather seats; and $995 for a crystal red tint coat. That's it.
The question now is how many people will buy in to the ELR's alluring, if steeply priced, premise. The ELR goes on sale in January.
Cadillac ELR: It Isn't Chevy's Volt
Consumer Reports may be shocked by the ELR's sticker price, but KBB finds it 'delivers a driving experience that's on par with other high-end luxury coupes.'
Kelley Blue Book 09 Dec 2013
Based entirely on Cadillac's 2009 Converj Concept, the ELR is a plug-in hybrid sports coupe designed to compete with the likes of Tesla's all-electric Model S, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, and to a lesser extent, the conventionally-powered BMW 6 Series. From the 1.4-liter gasoline engine, to the 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, to the 154 kW electric motor, the ELR shares the bulk of its powertrain with GM's mainstream plug-in, the Chevrolet Volt, though major suspension and chassis components have been specially tuned for the luxury-oriented Cadillac.
Green charms aside, the true essence of the 2014 Cadillac ELR boils down to its interior and exterior design. In keeping with the theme established by the Converj Concept, the ELR incorporates Cadillac's signature vertical lighting elements into angular-yet-aerodynamically sound bodywork, where aggressively raked front and rear glass are complemented by numerous drag-reducing touches like a flush front grille with active shutters and concealed door handles. Together they yield a respectable 0.30 coefficient of drag. Inside, the ELR's contemporary 2+2 cabin can be had with alternative materials that range from ultra-premium Opus semi-aniline leather to carbon fiber. If the concept of a 2+2 interior escapes you, just know it takes the expertise of a skilled contortionist to climb into and out of the ELR's rear seats.
Does it drive like a Chevy Volt?
Despite the fact that Cadillac engineers managed to squeeze an additional 22 lb-ft of torque out of the Volt's EREV propulsion system, that power increase is largely negated by the ELR's extra weight. So straight-line performance is nearly identical between the Volt and ELR, but that's where the similarities end.
For starters, Cadillac developed a number of unique suspension components for the ELR, including a HiPer strut front suspension to help lessen the effects of torque steer (front-drive cars have a tendency to pull left or right under hard acceleration), a semi-independent rear suspension with a Watts Z-link for better stability in corners, and Continuous Damping Control that adjusts shock dampening every two seconds according to the current driving situation. Combined with proprietary Bridgestone low rolling resistance tires and a trio of active noise cancelling microphones, the ELR delivers a driving experience that's on par with other high-end luxury coupes.
Seeing as the EREV propulsion system employs a gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT), the ELR's steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters serve as the regenerative braking controls. Dubbed Regen On Demand, the system allows the driver to supplement (or in some instances, bypass) the brakes by converting vehicle momentum into stored energy. During a 23-mile drive down the California coast, we called the brakes into action a mere three times. This liberal use of Regen On Demand also enabled us to achieve an impressive 39 miles of pure electric driving range, exceeding GM's estimate by three miles. Recharge times range from 4.5 hours using a 240V charging station to 10.5 hours on a standard 120V outlet. With a charged battery and a full tank of gas, the ELR delivers a maximum driving range of around 300 miles.
So, how much?
Therein lies the potential deal breaker. If you don't think of the ELR as nothing more than an upscale Chevy Volt (we certainly don't), then its $75,995 starting price shouldn't send you running for hills. And, because the ELR is essentially the amalgamation of two niche vehicles, its exclusivity factor helps rationalize its sticker price.
Looking at the competitive set, the all-electric but more limiting Tesla Model S begins in the low-$70,000 range, but, along with the Cadillac, qualifies for up to $7,500 in Federal tax credits on top of state and local handouts. On the high end of the eco-minded spectrum, the $100,000-plus Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is eligible for up to $4,750 in federal rebates, plus any applicable state incentives.
Cadillac's ELR Gives Consumer Reports 'Sticker Shock'
While the ELR is a nicer car than the Volt, Consumer Reports test drivers concluded that for the money, they'd prefer driving the Tesla Model S
Consumer Reports 08 Dec 2013
Even after driving one for 10 days, it’s hard to define the Cadillac ELR. The rich brother of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, the ELR applies the same basic technology to a rakish luxury coupe. While the concept is compelling, the end result just doesn’t add up to the heady sticker price.
Like the Volt, the ELR recharges from the wall and will go up to 35 miles on battery power, and it has a small 84-hp gas engine to generate backup power for longer trips. The ELR also uses the Volt’s 16.5-kWh lithium battery pack.
In many ways, as a car, the ELR makes more sense than the Volt. With a cool-looking luxury coupe, it doesn’t matter as much that the rear seats are cramped. (They are a lot tighter than the rear accommodations in the Volt, already not suitable for adults.) And the buyers for luxury cars have a lot more in common with early adopters who buy cutting-edge powertrain technology, such as plug-in hybrids. To them, it is often worth the additional cost to make a styling statement or have the satisfaction of being a trend setter.
That brings us to the price. In theory, a head-turning Cadillac with all the trimmings should be worth more than a well-outfitted compact sedan, and thus help its maker cover the cost of the battery technology. That’s all well and good, but Cadillac set the base price of the ELR at $75,000, before adding in $900 for delivery, and deducting $7,500 for a federal tax credit. That’s $40,000 more than a Volt! And for that kind of scratch, you could buy a car in a whole different league, like an Audi A7 TDI or Tesla Model S. That leaves us wondering, who will buy this car?
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a lot nicer to drive than a Volt. You can barely hear the gas engine when it comes on. The steering is tight and responsive, although saying it’s as agile as the new CTS would be wrong. The interior is beautifully finished and sumptuous. Even Cadillac’s dreaded CUE infotainment system is less frustrating and more predictable than the sea of jumbled flat-surface touch buttons in the Volt, and the graphics are slick.
But, ultimately, driving the ELR feels rather ordinary. It lacks the zip one might expect from a high-priced coupe. Being a rolling sculpture, visibility is very limited.
Still, as nice as the ELR is, we couldn’t escape the feeling driving it around that for this kind of money, we’d a lot rather be piloting a Tesla, which is a lot quicker, sportier, and roomier, and gives you a whole lot more electric range. One staff member dismissed the ELR as a $75,000 version of the Chevrolet Cruze (on which the Volt and the ELR are, indeed, based). Ouch!
The time we spent in the ELR was with an example rented from Cadillac. We’ll see if the car leaves a better impression once we buy our own to test, after they officially go on sale in January.
Pacific Coasting In the Cadillac ELR
Automobile's Joe DeMatio reports on his test drive of Cadillac's ELR electric hybrid luxury sport coupe along the Pacific Ocean.
Automobile Magazine 28 Nov 2013
Santa Monica, California -- If General Motors cannot find an audience for the 2014 Cadillac ELR in Southern California, it cannot find one anywhere. As Cadillac’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, it has to succeed in the place where the Toyota Prius is as common as the palm tree and where the Tesla Model S has quickly become part of the streetscape. Although the ELR must seek favor in sun-kissed SoCal, it starts life back in Hamtramck, the gritty enclave on the east side of Detroit where it is built alongside the Chevrolet Volt sedan. The 2014 ELR’s powertrain is pretty much identical to the Volt — 435-pound, lithium-ion battery pack, two electric motors, and a 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. The ELR’s wheelbase also is virtually the same, although the Caddy is 9.0 inches longer overall. Yet as we’re driving the 2014 Cadillac ELR toward Malibu, we’re feeling sun-kissed and glamorous, which is something that is pretty surprising for a sibling of the practical Chevy Volt, let alone any plug-in hybrid.
A Concept Car Comes to Life
Happily, the 2014 Cadillac ELR retains the crisp lines and chiseled profile of the 2009 Converj concept from which it is derived. It’s a particularly tidy and evocative take on Cadillac’s ongoing Art & Science design philosophy, and as such the ELR looks great out in the real world of West Los Angeles. Cadillac will offer the 2014 ELR in only four exterior colors: red, black, gray, and silver. ELR marketing product manager Darin Gesse is riding along with us, and he predicts that black-on-black will be the most popular, but our red-on-cashmere (tan) tester looks pretty sweet, too. Cadillac’s designers have also done a nice job with the ELR’s interior. Asymmetrical slabs of leather-upholstered dash come together artfully under the windshield, the seats are comfortable and supportive without being overstuffed, and soft-touch microfiber accents the leather. The laurel-wood trim has barely been touched with the varnish brush, so it looks and feels like wood and is expected to gain a patina over time. Carbon-fiber trim is also available. In addition to black and tan, customers can choose special-grade leather seats in a black-and-brown scheme for an extra $2450. They include special side bolsters, thigh extenders, and 20-way electric operation rather than the standard 16-way operation.
Room for Two, Plus Two More if You Must
The 2014 Cadillac ELR coupe has plenty of front legroom and a decent amount of front headroom, and the individually folding rear seats are reasonably wide, even if they don’t provide much headroom. Cadillac officials point out that the Tesla Model S has only an additional inch of rear headroom, despite being a four-door. Regardless, the ELR’s rear seats are for occasional use only, although they’ll hold plenty of groceries. The 10.5-cubic-foot trunk is shallow but wide enough to hold two sets of golf clubs. Cadillac’s much-maligned CUE infotainment system is standard, and after spending a couple of days driving around L.A. in various Cadillacs, we have to say that the navigation function is superb, even if the haptic touch-screen interface can make you want to tear your hair out.
And on Your Left, the Pacific Ocean
We head north from Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway. For a 4050-pound, front-wheel-drive car, the ELR drives pretty well. It’s riding on an inherently rigid platform, and its active suspension features continuous damping control. Even though there’s a total of 295 lb-ft of torque rushing to the front wheels, torque steer is mitigated by GM’s HiPer-strut front suspension, as pioneered by the Buick LaCrosse. Acceleration out of corners is impressive, just as it is on city streets and freeways. Even so, you most notice the seamless gush of electric propulsion in the cut-and-thrust of urban driving when cars surround you, since you can effortlessly accelerate into open slots in the traffic pattern. Sport mode dials in higher throttle, damping, and steering responses, which are immediately discernible. The electric power steering is precise but, like so many systems, isn’t particularly communicative. (Other modes include Touring, which is the default setting; Mountain, which reserves energy for steep grades; and Hold, which allows drivers to use only the gasoline engine so that they can save the charge for pure electric driving for later, such as when they are in the city.)
Steering Wheel Paddles, but Not for Shifting
In the hills above Malibu, Gesse encourages us to use the steering-wheel-mounted paddles to engage the Regen On Demand system that recharges the battery pack. In essence, the paddles are auxiliary braking devices, because they use the electric traction motor to capture the kinetic energy of the ELR and slow it down.
You quickly learn to use the paddles to brake just the right amount as you’re diving into tight corners. Cadillac developed Regen On Demand after observing that many Chevrolet Volt owners routinely shifted their cars from D to L, which accomplishes the same thing as the ELR’s paddles but with a lot more footwork on the pedals. Cadillac figures the paddles will be less taxing on drivers and prove more intuitive.
One Trim Level, Few Options
“There is no base trim level for this car,” Gesse tells us. “You can only get the ELR as a premium car or an ultra premium car.” Even so, there are still a few options in addition to the $2450 seats previously mentioned. Adaptive cruise control is $1995; tint-coat paint is $995; and a luxury package including blind spot detection, rear cross-path detection, and automatic high-beam headlamps is $1695.
GM has done an admirable job here with the 2014 Cadillac ELR. It’s taken a practical package identified with a brand better known for mass-market commodity-style cars and taken it to finishing school. The result is a car that looks very special and drives in a way that delivers on the promise.
And it’s a very expensive fowl at that. At $75,995, the ELR has been boldly priced to compete not only with the Tesla Model S but also German coupes like the BMW 6-series and the Mercedes-Benz E- and CLS-classes. As stylish as the 2014 Cadillac ELR is both inside and out, it’s keeping very tough company.
Cadillac ELR: Beauty Electrified
The Cadillac ELR is a 2+2 sport coupe powered by the electric hybrid drive found in the Chevrolet Volt, but likely price at least $20,000 more.
Times Dispatch/USA 22 Sep 2013
Without a doubt the 2014 ELR is a beautiful automobile and is easily one of the most attractive vehicles in Cadillac's 111-year history. The fact that it's powered by an electric motor and assisted by a range-stretching gasoline generator simply adds to its uniqueness and its practicality.
The ELR that arrives in early 2014 is essentially the production version of the Converj concept car shown back in 2009.
At first blush, you might confuse it for a CTS coupe, only with the cabin moved forward. Although similar looking, the two cars are quite different. The ELR's flush-mounted grille has shutters that close up at highway speeds to keep unwanted air out of the engine compartment, which means improved aerodynamics. As well, for the distance between the front and rear wheels, the ELR comes up short (by slightly more than seven inches). It's also shy on trunk room compared to the CTS, but at least the rear seat-backs fold down for extra stowage space. And, of course, the CTS is rear-wheel-drive and can be had with a supercharged V8.
Comparing the ELR to the CTS on style is totally valid, but for many people the electric coupe will be viewed as the Chevrolet Volt's wealthy relation. Of course it's true that the Caddy and the Chevy share a common propulsion system, but ELR clearly goes way beyond simply providing an electric platform and everyday family transportation, which are the Volt's two main claims to fame.
The ELR was designed as a "halo" car that showcases Cadillac's design and technology capabilities. It even captured the coveted Eyes On Design award for the best new production car at Detroit, defeating the hot new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in the process. The judges for that award are active and retired design heads of auto companies, transportation design chairs from top art schools, and designers from other fields. In other words, it's a big deal to win.
Under its provocative skin, the ELR is powered by a 207-horsepower electric motor, which also puts out 295-pound-feet of torque, right from a standstill. That's up from the Volt's 149/273 numbers. The ELR will accelerate to 60 mph from zero in about 8.0 seconds,which is actually a full second quicker than the Volt.
Directing power is a single-speed transmission with both "Low" and "Drive" settings.
The ELR can run on electric-only power for about 35 miles, which is down from 38 for the Volt. As well, total range drops to somewhere north of 300 miles, compared with 380 for the Volt, when assisted by the 84-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. It acts as an electric generator when the lithium-ion batteries begin to run down.
The battery pack can be reenergized in about 4.5 hours using a 240-volt charging station, but when connected to a standard 120-volt plug-in the process takes about 12 hours.
Base ELRs feature an abundance of Cadillac-style luxury, including 20-inch wheels, a touch-screen infotainment and navigation system and "Regen on Demand" regenerative braking activated by steering-wheel-mounted paddles that, when pulled during deceleration, help replenish the batteries by capturing braking energy. Also standard is a four-mode powertrain selector that varies the powertrain and suspension settings, depending on road conditions and driver preferences.
Upgraded leather seats, carbon-fiber trim and various crash-avoiding electronic countermeasures head the list of available options. Interestingly, a power sunroof isn't on the menu as Cadillac deems it to adversely affect the ELR's aero design, which could hurt the vehicle's range.
Official pricing or fuel-economy-equivalent stats haven't been announced, but a $55,000 starting price (including destination charges but not including government tax credits) is expected, which is about $20,000 more than the cost of a Chevy Volt. And figure on about 90-mpg equivalent in electric mode, or 35 mpg when the gas generator is functioning.
At first blush, the ELR certainly looks like a home run for Cadillac, proving that a beautiful piece of automotive sculpture is as least as important as, if not more so, the technology bolted beneath it.
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