Cadillac ELR Priced At $75,995

After much speculation and waiting for General Motors to let everyone know, the automaker has announced the suggested retail price of its extended-range electric 2014 Cadillac ELR at $75,995, including a $995 destination charge.

“The ELR is a unique blend of dramatic design with electric vehicle technology capable of total range in excess of 300 miles,” said Bob Ferguson, senior vice president Global Cadillac of the car due in January 2014. “ELR is also unique in that it will be offered nationwide within a luxury customer experience, with proven benefits and care extending from the shopping process all the way through the ownership experience.”

Cadillac’s price is within range of guesses periodically made by such informed industry watchers as long-time members of the GM-Volt.com forum, but hopes and desires had been the Cadillac based on a Volt might be in the 60-thousand range if it was not to be upstaged by the Tesla Model S – even if it is an apple-to-orange comparison.

Tesla’s Model S starts at just around $72,000 on the same price-plus-delivery charge basis, and can ascend to $134,000.

Otherwise, all-electric Teslas constitute an entirely different technology, and the only thing in common is both cars are made in the U.S., both put on a sporty luxury presentation, and both recharge a lithium-ion battery from grid power.

Because there are so few plug-in cars yet made, the mere fact that the Cadillac is positioned as a sporty looking luxury car immediately prompts many an observer to make comparisons.

In fact, GM’s marketers know this, but the Cadillac ELR is being positioned as an alternative from a company with global R&D and engineering experience far deeper than Tesla, that has developed the very reliable and effective Volt.

While ostensibly some overlap is there, the ELR’s “unique selling proposition” is a shade different, thus for a different kind of customer, or so it is hoped.

Another advantage GM is promising for its “technological halo” – as the ELR has at other times been described as being – is outstanding service for the car sold through specially trained participating dealers.

“Backing up the dealership experience, prospective customers and buyers of the ELR can take advantage of their own ELR Concierge Representative,” says Cadillac in a statement. “Trained in white-glove customer care, the Concierge Representative is an additional point of contact for information on battery care, home charging, service scheduling, news and updates by calling 855 4 CAD ELR (855-422-3357).”

And the ELR gets the standard Cadillac program of Cadillac Shield, a suite including Remote Vehicle Diagnostics, Premium Care Maintenance and 24/7 roadside assistance.

This may all sound wonderful to some, but questions remain as to how many units GM intends to sell of a car that’s really just a Volt given the Cadillac treatment.

As a complete maverick of a company, with unique pure-electric car, Tesla is selling close to or in excess of 2,000 per month – on par with the half-the-price Chevy Volt and electric Nissan Leaf and the Cadillac does not offer a whole lot more performance than the Volt, though its system has been turned up a little.

It will come loaded with luxury touches and fine materials to be sure, and a Cadillac carries perceived prestige in its own right.

At this echelon, people buy the “experience” as $76,000 is well into discretionary purchase territory.

For twice the money of decent mid-sized new car, people buy based on the sum of their feelings.

The question then becomes, will the “feelings” – the buzzword du jour is “experience” – offered by Tesla be challenged?

CadillacELRDrive017-medium

And, for that matter, Porsche’s $100,000 Panamera S E-Hybrid plug-in car also offers a positive experience to add complexity to the decision process for buyers attempting to satisfy their unique tastes.

Cross shopping will inevitably occur, so where will more people sign on the line at the end of their search for the ultimate in plug-in car experiences?

That remains to be seen, but GM does get points for being absolutely crystal clear on the much bandied about $7,500 federal tax credit.

Tesla liberally lops it off in its advertised price quotes to make its cars appear as much as 10-percent cheaper on first blush. In contrast GM’s latest commentary sounds like the corporate lawyers sent an e-mail or had a face-to-face talk with the General Motors’ communications department.

“Upon IRS certification of an anticipated federal tax credit, purchasers may be eligible for a tax credit from $0 to $7,500 depending on individual tax liability,” said GM picking its words with extra care. “Net pricing after tax credits could be as low as $68,495, including $995 destination.”

So what do you think? Does GM have a winner in the making?