Cadillac ELR To Be Unveiled At Detroit Auto Show

Cadillac_2014ELR_silhouette General Motors will unveil the Cadillac ELR at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

In a little less than a month the world will get to see the first production Cadillac with an extended-range electric powertrain. General Motors announced yesterday it would take the wraps off the Cadillac ELR at the Detroit Auto Show on Jan. 15, 2013.

In October of this year the company confirmed that production for the ELR would start in late 2013 at the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

GM reiterated in a statement Tuesday that the ELR is the production version of the Cadillac Converj, a concept car first unveiled in 2009 at North American International Auto Show. The company said the ELR will build on Converj design themes, which likely means the new Cadillac’s appearance won’t stray far from the concept car’s sweeping lines.

The company hasn’t announced pricing for the ELR.

Cadillac_Converj_ELR-1219

According to GM, the forthcoming ELR will advance design themes from the Converj concept car seen here.

For more than a year speculation and rumors about the ELR’s powertrain have been that the Cadillac will use an updated iteration of the Voltec extended-range electric powertrain used in the Chevy Volt – a sensible guess since the Volt is produced in the Detroit-Hamtramck facility.

Finer details about the ELR, like its all-electric range, and other performance parameters will probably remain unknown until next month – if not longer. GM did say yesterday the car’s electric propulsion system consists of a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator, using electricity as the primary power source to drive the car without using gasoline.

And like the Volt, when the ELR’s battery has low power reserves, a gasoline-powered electric generator will switch on to allow additional miles. Chevy says the 2013 Volt is capable of 38 all-electric miles, a total range of 380 miles, and has a base price of $39,145.

If the new Cadillac’s powertrain has all-electric miles significantly increased from the Volt, it could, as the only large-scale production luxury car from a major U.S. automaker, turn heads of those mulling the notion of investing in a Tesla Model S or Fisker Karma.

Of the two cars, the extended-range electric Karma’s powertrain more closely resembles that of the GM product, and unless GM has a surprise up its sleeve, it may not outgun the Karma in acceleration, handling, braking – or even design detail – though of course this latter measure is entirely subjective, and beauty is in the eye of he beholder.

GM has said the Cadillac will share drivetrains with the to-be-updated Volt. The Karma has 403 horsepower, 959 pound-feet of torque, and does 0-60 in 5.9 seconds in gas-assisted sport mode, and 7.9 seconds in all-electric mode. Its braking, for a 5,300 pound car is phenomenal thanks to sticky Goodyear sport tires and 6-pot Brembo monobloc calipers up front and 4-piston ones out back pinching over 14-inch rotors. Motor Trend saw 60-0 stopping in 110 feet. Lateral acceleration averages 0.92g.

But then, General Motors has the engineering and much deeper pockets, and Fisker – headed now by former Volt line director Tony Posawatz – is still finding its way through the A123 bankruptcy and working to outlive a list of prior issues not least of which is being under-capitalized.

So, GM may deliver a beautiful product, but will it really be all around superior? And then, you have the all-electric competition from that other California startup which has managed to keep its reputation far cleaner, and has avoided product quality questions thus far also.

Tesla’s 40-kilowatt-hour battery version of the Model S has a range of 160 miles, and base MSRP of $57,400 before a $7,500 federal tax credit. The 85-kwh battery powered Model S, which Tesla says has a range of 300 miles – and easily tops 220 under normal to mixed driving – has a starting price of $77,400 before the tax credit. When fully loaded, the big Teslas can tip the fiscal scales approaching $120,000 out the door.

With GM’s volume production power it could offer the ELR at a price competitive with one or all three versions of the Model S and the $103,000-$116,000 Karma.