Cadillac Pulls The Plug On ELR Plug-in Hybrid

Note: Yeah, I know Jo got his story in ahead of me, but I was in the air flying home from a conference in Sweden when this post was scheduled for publication. It didn’t happen for some reason, probably because I screwed up some time zones when I told the server when I wanted it to go live. Things like that happen when you are 6 time zones away from home. Anyway, here’s my take on this whole Cadillac ELR silliness.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The Cadillac ELR is proof that the people leading the parade at GM’s premium division are all a little nuts. Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen has confirmed that there will be no successor to the ELR, the uberluxe coupe version of the Chevy Volt. Before transferring his allegiance to GM, DeNysschen made himself famous by saying the Chevy Volt was “stupid.” Now he gets to kill off a close relative of the Volt. He must feel very proud.

Cadillac ELR

This isn’t the first time Cadillac has tried to build a world class super coupe and wound up shooting itself in the foot. It tried once to build a competitor to the popular Mercedes 450 SL with the ill fated and slow selling Allante. That car was designed and built by Pininfarina in Italy, then shipped to the US in a specially modified 747 to be fitted with its engine, transmission, interior and electronics.

The Allante had a soft top that was partly manual and partly power operated. The electronics and braking systems were insanely complex. The V-8 engines in the early cars kept blowing head gaskets. By the time Cadillac got around to fitting a Northstar engine, sales were down to a meager trickle and the car was axed.

A generation later, Caddy tried again with the XLR version of the C5 Corvette. The car never caught on with customers and was quietly dropped. Then some brainiac at Cadillac decided it should take the all new Chevy Volt, load it up with boatloads of bumpf, and increase the price by 50%. What could possibly go wrong?

Pretty much everything went wrong. Loaded down with every power option and electronic geegaw known to man, the ELR had lackluster performance at an outrageous price. Buyers stayed away in droves, even after Cadillac gave dealers a $20,000 incentive to sell the cars and buyers a $10,000 discount. In 2015, Cadillac sold just 1.029 of these overloaded, overpriced beasts.

DeNysschen tells Forbes the car will not be renewed after its current lease on  life ends in 2018. It is doubtful it will last even that long. How long can Cadillac afford to keep this embarrassment on its showroom floors? If you have always wanted an ELR (there aren’t many who do) you had better hurry on down to your nearest Caddy store and snap one up before they are withdrawn from the market.

One can only wonder what ultra fancy automotive excrescence Cadillac will think of next?

 

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.