Cadillac ELR Isn’t The Tesla Fighter GM Hoped For


Over the past few weeks Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development has been doing the rounds reinforcing that the Cadillac ELR is not GM’s answer to Tesla. He even told The Detroit News that the ELR “is really not” Cadillac’s answer to Tesla.

However back in September 2013 GM’s former CEO also said that GM planned to confront Tesla with its Cadillac brand. Smash cut to 2014, and the slick looking Cadillac ELR hybrid coupe rolled off the production line, but not into customer’s garages.

The Cadillac ELR is a plug-in hybrid luxury car based on the Chevy Volt, and offering a range of 37 miles electric drive and a total range of more than 345 miles after using the four-cylinder engine. Though more powerful than the Volt, the ELR is also priced around $76,000, more than twice the cost of its corporate cousin. Sales have been slow to say the least, and only after several rounds of generous incentives brought the price down by nearly $20,000 did the ELR start moving off of dealer lots.

A Tesla Model S sedan, meanwhile, starts around $71,000, is fully electric with a range of 208 miles, and inside and out is without a doubt not just a luxury vehicle, but a futuristic luxury vehicle with seating for up to seven (if you include the optional rear-facing jump seats). Compare that to the new Cadillac ELR, a 2+2 coupe that can only go about 1/5th as far as the Tesla on pure electric power, though its overall longer range could be considered a benefit to some.

What is agreed on is that sales of the ELR have been awful – perhaps this is why GM has been so vocal about the ELR not being Tesla’s competition. Overall sales of the ELR remain in the triple digits, while Tesla sales are expected to be approximately 35,000 for year 2014. At this point, Cadillac will be lucky to break the 1,000 unit threshold on ELR sales by the end of the year, though July was a record month for sales.

Even with the incentives the ELR seems to be a hard sell over a Tesla Model S, and now even GM brass is backpedaling over it being a challenger to Tesla. If not the ELR, what else can Cadillac come up with to compete with the all-electric Tesla Model S?

Andrew Meggison

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison