Cadillac teases Volt-based ELR before Detroit debut

2014 Cadillac ELR teaserCadillac is offering a tantalizing glimpse at its ELR, a plug-in hybrid based on the Chevrolet Volt, before the car’s Detroit Auto Show debut in January. The ELR was first shown in 2009 as the Converj concept, and is expected go on sale during the 2014 model year.

Judging from Cadillac’s teaser image, the production ELR will be almost identical to the Converj. The CTS Coupe-like profile is still there, down to the character line running through the door handles, which seems to have been taken from the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The ELR has side view mirrors and more substantial door handles, though.

Cadillac also kept the elongated headlights and vertical taillights, a brand trademark. Overall, the car looks like a CTS Coupe with a shorter hood, owing to its front-wheel drive platform.

The ELR will use a Voltec powertrain, including a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, electric motor, and four-cylinder gasoline engine-generator, but the specifics are still up in the air. Befitting a more luxurious car, Cadillac may offer a larger engine or battery pack to increase performance. We’ll have to wait for the ELR’s Detroit unveiling to find out.

The Volt’s interior has been a major point of criticism, but the ELR will likely get a major upgrade. The Caddy’s interior will get leather and the brand’s new CUE (Cadillac User Entertainment) infotainment system.

Cadillac ELRThe ELR will be the first luxury plug-in hybrid, other than the exotic Fisker Karma, and, like its Chevy sibling, it will probably be cross-shopped with all-electric cars. It’s hard to see how Cadillac could squeeze Tesla Model S-rivaling performance out of the Volt powertrain, and this two-door coupe will definitely be less practical than either the Model S or Karma.

However, the ELR will still have the trump card of nearly unlimited range, courtesy of its onboard generator. It will also be easier to obtain than a Tesla: Model S production began in June, but there are still thousands of people waiting for their cars. The ELR could also undercut the Model S’ $57,400 base price.

A slightly less daunting opponent is the Infiniti LE, which will be based on the Nissan Leaf. Picture the same Leaf-versus-Volt rivalry, but with more wood trim.

For now, it’s hard to know exactly how the ELR will stack up against other green luxury cars. Cadillac will release all of the details in Detroit, and that will hopefully include the ELR’s on sale date. Cadillac will only say that it will be a 2014 model, which means this snazzy plug-in could start production in late 2013.