GM Unveils Volt-Based 2014 Cadillac ELR

Today General Motors’ Cadillac division unveiled its much-anticipated extended-range electric ELR based on the Chevy Volt’s powertrain.

With styling and interior appointments befitting the new sportier image of the brand, the ELR is very true to the 2009 Converj show car.

“ELR is an unprecedented combination of luxury, advanced engineering and progressive design in a coupe that is both sporty and environmentally friendly,” said Bob Ferguson, Cadillac global vice president. “This is a pivotal moment in Cadillac’s history, as we continue our product-driven expansion.”

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The photos should speak volumes on that subject, but underneath the panache of what is expected to be a corporate tech halo, the vehicle’s spec sheet is close to the Volt’s.

All-electric range is estimated at 35 miles, and total range exceeds 300, says Cadillac.

Power comes via a traction motor backed up by a 1.4-liter generator and 16.5-kilowatt-hour T-shaped lithium-ion battery. GM has turned up system power over the Volt’s nominal outputs by a bit to yield 207-horsepower (154 kw) from the dual electric motor drive. Torque is rated at 295 pound-feet (400 Nm).

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The ELR also weighs around 300 pounds more at 4070 pounds (1846 kg) so the extra power is there to compensate.

Recharge times are estimated at about 12 hours on house current (120 volts), and 4.5 hours using a level 2 charger (240 volts). Faster charging is not mentioned and is not being deemed necessary given anticipated usage patterns for a car like this. The purpose of the gas generator is to bypass the need to hurry up and charge.

Speaking of the gas generator, contrary to the rumor mill that had cooked up stories purportedly from those close to the ELR’s development that it would use a 2.0-liter generator, such is not the case.

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The inline-4 DOHC is a carryover with cast iron block, aluminum heads, 10.5:1 compression ratio. It’s rated at 84 horsepower at a sedate 4,800 rpm. This is a low rpm comparatively speaking for a small four cylinder gas engine, but is all that’s needed as a genset. It should therefore see relatively easy duty and this should lend to a long life in theory. Like the Volt’s same unit, it requires premium gasoline.

That said, Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma owners will have no need to worry about losing a stoplight drag race to the Cadillac ELR unless they are caught slow off the line. Cadillac says the performance is to be announced, but – unless GM has a trick up its sleeve – the numbers do not add up to much better than possibly 0-60 times in the neighborhood of 8 seconds or so. We shall see on this question.

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In all, the ELR is a stylized compact class car meant to showcase Voltec technology in a premium package. Among high-line features are light-emitting diode (LED) headlamps to go with the styling. Inside is Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system and plenty of cut-and-sew accented leather with sueded microfiber, chrome, wood and available carbon fiber finishes throughout.

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Stylized alloy wheel sizes are a sporty 20 inch and all-season tires are low aspect ratio 40-series by 245 mm wide to complement the appearance of performance.

We’d expect also a smooth and controlled ride and handling with help from wide front and rear tracks – 62.1 inches (1,578 mm) in front and 62.4 inches (1,585 mm) in the rear – along with a long wheelbase (106.1 inches / 2,695 mm) and a low center of gravity

Up front, the suspension relies on GM’s HiPer Strut with continuously variable real-time damping and driver-selectable modes. Cadillac says it employs specially tuned coil springs with side load compensation, direct-acting hollow stabilizer bar, hydraulic ride bushings.

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In the rear is a “specially adapted” torsion beam with Watts link. This, Cadillac says, has a double-walled, U-shaped profile at the rear; specifically tuned coil springs, hydraulic bushings; shocks with continuously variable real-time damping and driver-selectable modes.

Front brakes are 12.6 inches (321 mm) vented, and in back are 12-inch (292 mm) solid rotors.

The ELR will be built alongside the Volt at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, and will have a high level of domestic content including its battery pack assembled in Brownstown, Mich. and comprised of 288 LG Chem prismatic cells.

The battery carries the same warranty as the Volt at eight years/100,000 miles.

The ELR is also certified with AT-PZEV emissions to meet requirements for California’s single-occupancy access to high occupancy vehicle lanes.

Pricing and when it will be launched has not been announced. To date, this and the Volt are GM’s only announced commitment to car models utilizing its advanced plug-in Voltec extended-range electric technology.