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2013 Detroit Auto Show: Cadillac unveils the Volt-based ELR plug-in

The Cadillac Cimarron was possibly the lowest point in the entire 111 year history of Cadillac. Their decision to sloppily rebadge a Chevy Cavalier and then double the price was the supreme example of everything that was wrong with the American automotive industry for years to come. Cadillac has, in recent years, done a much better job of distinguishing its brand from the rest of GM, but those of us who remember the Cimarron still got nervous when Cadillac announced it would be building a plug-in vehicle based on the Chevy Volt. The Converj concept, which the new plug-in was based on, looked promising, but it wasn’t until the debut of the ELR production model at the Detroit Auto Show that fears of a plug-in Cimarron could be laid to rest.

To start with, the ELR doesn’t just have a different body, it has a different body style altogether; it’s a coupe, not a sedan. And although we certainly wouldn’t call the Volt ugly, the ELR is definitely more attractive. The drivetrain is the same as the Volt’s, with an electric motor and battery pack that can carry the car for 35 miles on a single charge, and then there is a 1.4-liter range extender. With a 240V charger, the battery can be fully charged in about 4.5 hours. Cadillac hasn’t set a price for the car yet, but with the huge void in the market between the $39,000 Volt and the $100,000+ plug-in vehicles like the Fisker Karma, the business case for a more luxurious and pricier car to slot in above the Volt is pretty clear. The ELR is a solid contender, and it’s not difficult to imagine that it could be one of the more popular plug-ins around.