It seemed like a good idea at the time. Take a Chevrolet Volt, turn it into a stylish luxury coupe, slap some Cadillac badges on it, and charge a premium to rich, eco-conscious customers. But the Cadillac ELR turned into a major sales disappointment.
General Motors is preparing to roll out the second-generation Volt nationwide, but the ELR’s journey is nearing its end. Cadillac chief Johan de Nysschen has discussed killing the coupe before, and he confirmed those plans to Automotive News (subscription required) in a recent interview.
“I plan to continue admiring it as one of the most beautiful cars on four wheels,” de Nysschen said, “but we don’t plan any further investment.” While the ELR definitely won’t live to see a second generation, it may stick around a little longer, as de Nysschen said Cadillac will keep it on the market as long as people want to buy it.
That may not be very long, though. Cadillac sold just 1,024 ELRs last year, and now that the much-improved (and much cheaper) 2016 Volt is out, there’s less point in buying the coupe. ELR sales have been kept down by a high base price; the car started around $75,000 when it went on sale in late 2013, or around twice the price of a Volt at the time.
So for the 2016 model year, Cadillac cut the base price to $65,995, and made some improvements. Total output of the extended-range electric powertrain was increased from 207 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to 233 horsepower and 373 pound-feet. Cadillac also retuned the suspension and electric power steering for a sportier feel, and added an optional Performance Pack with grippier summer tires, upgraded brakes, and other hardware.
But it was too little, too late apparently. In addition to being a sales dud, the ELR runs afoul of boss de Nysschen’s plans to further differentiate Cadillac from the rest of GM and build it into a brand more directly comparable to the German establishment. An extended-range electric car based on the old Volt may just not fit into those plans. Cadillac’s green strategy will now shift to plug-in hybrids like the upcoming CT6 plug-in.