Poor Cadillac, its extended-range electric ELR only introduced in 2014 was again reported this week as to-be-canceled and it’s only now just enjoying an early mid-cycle refresh.
The news this week nearly duplicating the gist a story run last April is that Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen “confirmed” on Monday the car will get the axe after its first and only generation runs its course.
“I plan to continue admiring it as one of the most beautiful cars on four wheels” de Nysschen told reporters during a media drive for Cadillac’s large CT6 large sedan in Los Angeles. “But we don’t plan further investment” [in the ELR].
This story that the car will not live to see a second generation full redesign is making the rounds as though revelatory, but de Nysschen had already confirmed as much over nine months ago and the quote is not substantially different from one given then.
“The ELR will continue through its lifecycle,” said de Nysschen to AutoGuide on the sidelines of the 2015 New York Auto Show on April 1. “I don’t’ think we will create a next-generation, compact, two-door, gorgeously styled alternative powertrain successor to ELR.”
At the time Cadillac’s boss also anticipated the pending CT6 revealed in Shanghai later that month which is now here, and the Chinese-built plug-in hybrid version will be imported to the U.S.
The ELR, based on the 2009 Converj concept show car using Chevy Volt powertrain had been green-lighted a couple years after the Volt was in production and the ELR came to market late 2013 as a 2014 model year.
It was tripped out of the gate by a sticker price of $75,995, about $4,000 more than a base 60-kilowatt-hour, larger, faster all-electric Tesla Model S cost in 2013. That pure EV was considered by many vocal critics as a superior design exercise to the compact fast-looking Caddy that might clock 0-60 in 7.8 seconds with gas assist, or just under 9 on battery power.
ELR sales for all of 2014 added to 1,310 units despite at-times deep discounting and free charging equipment, and the market spoke in favor of the Model S which saw 16,550 sales that year.
The 2014 model ELR quietly went through 2015 with no 2015 model year produced, instead awaiting a refreshed 2016 model revealed after the 2016 model year Volt which got 53 miles range as part of a full redesign.
The 2016 ELR, ostensibly a higher-level product, is still however based around an adaptation of the first-gen Volt’s powertrain. It has a smaller 17.1-kwh battery instead of revised 18.4, and as much as 17 miles less electric range than the 2016 Volt.
Last April when de Nysschen said the ELR would live out its lifecycle, Cadillac also trimmed the price to $64,995 for the 2016 model which saw some stylistic upgrades and a boost to its performance to try to mend the perception gap of all show, no go. Its 0-60 time with gas was shaved 1.5 seconds to a more-respectable 6.4 seconds.
And, despite the Rodney Dangerfield treatment some commenters bestowed upon it, the ELR is actually the second-highest all-electric-range plug-in gas-electric car sold with 36 EPA-rated EV miles for the Sport, and 40 miles for the base ELR. It’s also rated 30-32 mpg combined on premium gas.
As a niche product among niche products, the ELR was hoped to be accepted as a luxury expression that could still rank better than some in the green cred department. It is opulently appointed with wood and carbon fiber trim, leather, and it’s very comfortable – at least for front seat occupants. Also, it comes with extreme white glove customer service, and buyers have been known to snap them up for steep dollars off sticker price.
The ELR thus has those who do appreciate it for what it is, and some feel it got a bum rap, in part, some have said, for being a GM product, along with other comparisons.
Last year 1,024 were sold, which is much fewer than the Tesla or Volt, but this was not far away from the perceptibly more prestigious (and pricey) Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid’s 1,163, well above the Panamera S E-Hybrid’s 407, and only half as many as the BMW i8’s 2,265.
However long it lasts on the market now is not clear but adding to last year’s story, de Nysschen said it would be offered as long as people wanted to buy it.