New Caddy a Holden Volt in a new suit

Last updated 09:07 17/01/2013

Car makers roll out new luxury models of electric cars at the Detroit auto show, emphasising that in the future the plug-in will come in all shapes and sizes, even though the financials have yet to connect.

The Cadillac ELR was unveiled at the 2013 Detroit motor show.
The Cadillac ELR was unveiled at the 2013 Detroit motor show.

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The Cadillac ELR is a Holden Volt with a sharp new suit.

The General Motors-owned luxury brand's new two-door ELR model is focused less on the practicality of a family car and more on the luxuries of a sporty, high-end coupe.

Click photo at left for more views of the Cadillac ELR at its Detroit auto show unveiling.

It uses the same plug-in hybrid powertrain as the Holden Volt – a 1.4-litre petrol engine acts as a range-extending generator for the car's 16.5kWh bank of batteries.

However, despite having the same drivetrain, the Cadillac is less economical than the Volt.

It manages approximately 56 kilometres on electric power alone, while the Volt's range is 80km. The Cadillac's overall range is rated at around 480km, but the Volt can manage closer to 600km.

Part of the reason it is less efficient is because of a slightly less aerodynamic body, but also because of the amount of luxury equipment on board. It features a 10-speaker Bose stereo, 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, wood-on-leather and part-suede trim and a host of safety goodies, such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and blind-zone alert.

US vice president for Cadillac marketing Don Butler says the ELR is going to be both exclusive and expensive.

"It's going to be a luxury vehicle," he says. "So I think you can expect those types of grounds in terms of pricing."

Butler wouldn't comment on what that means, but did say that Cadillac can "absolutely" command a high price for a car like the ELR

"We're very comfortable in terms of what the vehicle means. There's nothing like this on the road."

Cadillac isn't expecting the ELR coupe to be a volume model. Butler says it will be a niche car.

"It's not in the realms of Volt – that's not where we're trying to play. [The ELR] is exclusive, it's in luxury territory and I think those are the kinds of volumes and those are the kind of ranges that we're talking."

While Butler was excited to proclaim the ELR's exclusivity in the global market, he admits that in the future there will be some competition to consider.

"We're talking about competition from Tesla; competition from Fisker; the new [BMW] i8 and i3 when they come out; those are the competitors if you will," he says. "Although, we've got quite a distinctive car here – there is no other electric luxury coupe."

The ELR's battery is covered by an eight-year/160,000km warranty, and recharging is estimated to take 4.5 hours via a dedicated 240 volt charging station.


-Fairfax News Australia

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