Cautionary tale: Cadillac's Volt-based ELR finally gets deep-sixed

2016 Cadillac ELR
Cadillac has finally pulled the plug on the Chevrolet Volt-based ELR after years of dismal sales.

Executives initially had high hopes for the ELR, which was hailed as the company’s first full-production plug-in model when it was introduced at the 2013 edition of the Detroit Auto Show.

“We’re only going to make so many. I actually think you’re going to see a scramble for that vehicle,” predicted Bob Ferguson, the former boss of Cadillac, in an August 2013 interview with Automotive News.

Ferguson’s foresight seemingly failed to take into account the coupe’s jaw-dropping base price of $79,995. To put that figure into perspective, the ELR was over twice as expensive as the original Volt that it shared most of its mechanical components with, and it was positioned in the same price bracket as the markedly more advanced Tesla Model S. It consequently failed to meet its sales target as soon as it hit the market.

Cadillac slashed the ELR’s base price to $65,996 for the 2016 model year as a last-ditch effort to lure buyers into showrooms. It also made an array of improvements, including tweaking the drivetrain to increase both torque and horsepower, and tuning the steering system and the suspension to make the coupe more dynamic. However, the updates were too little, too late.

Read more: Cadillac will take on BMW M and AMG with more V-Series models

It goes without saying that the ELR won’t be replaced, but its demise doesn’t mark the end of alternative powertrains for Cadillac. The company remains firmly committed to taking on the Germans, so it will shift its green car strategy to building plug-in hybrid models like the gasoline-electric variant of the CT6, its current flagship.

Déjà vu

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Cadillac has tried to sell a dressed-up Chevrolet and failed in a spectacular manner. The firm tried to break into the booming compact luxury car segment in 1981 with the Cimarron, a sedan that was little more than a re-badged first-generation Chevrolet Cavalier.

Designers didn’t do enough to mask the Cimarron’s economy car roots, and it went down as one of the least successful models in the automaker’s illustrious history. John Howell, one of Cadillac’s former product directors, even kept a photo of the Cimarron on his office wall captioned “lest we forget.”

We’re willing to wager that phrase will make a comeback at Cadillac headquarters in the coming years, under a picture of the ELR.

Product Review

Motorola's sexy Moto G7 will change the way you look at budget phones

With glass curves, a large display, and an eye-catching price tag the Moto G7 will turn plenty of heads in the budget smartphone market. We tested it out to see if Motorola has done enough to top the value charts.

Bentley’s 542-horsepower Continental GT V8 is the best kind of downsizing

The Bentley Continental GT V8 has fewer cylinders than its W12 sibling, but Bentley expects it to offer better gas mileage and more agile handling. The V8's top speed of 198 mph is also pretty darn fast.

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.

The mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette is so powerful it mangles its own body

Chevrolet has major changes in store for the eighth-generation Corvette. The coupe will arrive in 2019 with a mid-mounted engine. We won't see it at the Detroit auto show, but spy shots and rumors give us a good idea of what to expect.

Nuro’s awesome robot delivery pods are tootling into Texas

Robo-delivery startup Nuro is taking its cool-looking autonomous delivery pods to Texas. The pods will deliver Kroger groceries to customers' doors in Houston following a successful pilot program in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.

Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!