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Sneak Peek: 2014 Cadillac ELR Plug-In Hybrid

An upscale take on the Chevrolet Volt.

by on Dec.18, 2012

Cadillac teases the production version of the ELR.

Officially scheduled to debut on January 15 at the North American International Auto Show, Cadillac is offering a sneak peek at the new ELR plug-in hybrid, its upscale take on the Chevrolet Volt.

More accurately know as an “extended-range electric vehicle,” or E-REV, the Caddy ELR is expected to not only feature a more luxurious interior but also an upgrade to its battery-based driveline that will deliver improved performance and possibly enhanced range.

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Though the maker is holding details for its Detroit Auto Show news conference, Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, recently suggested, “The ELR will be in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology. People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design.”

Cadillac showed a concept version of the ELR in Beijing earlier this year.

Unlike the Volt and Ampera, the new Cadillac ELR will go with a 2-door body that clearly carries some of the edgy Art & Science design cues also seen on the conventionally powered Caddy CTS Coupe.  It will also become the first 2-door produced at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, colloquially known as Poletown, since assembly of the old Cadillac Eldorado was halted in 1999.

Under most circumstances, the ELR’s wheels will be driven by the vehicle’s electric motor.  That, in turn, will draw power from a lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged from a conventional 110-volt line or a higher-speed charging system.

The EPA has rated the Volt’s 16-kilowatt-hour pack as capable of delivering 35 mpg per charge. Once that runs down, the vehicle can continue operating indefinitely using its backup gasoline engine.  The Chevy version is rated at 93 MPG. So though, it has a longer range than competitors such as the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Ford Fusion Energi it has a lower overall fuel economy.

GM officials were conservative when designing the electric driveline of the Volt, allowing the system to actually draw down only about 60% of the total energy actually stored in the T-shaped battery pack.  Inside sources tell that as they have become more confident about the long-term durability of the LIon pack the Caddy plug-in will likely be able to draw more of that power.

It is not clear if the Cadillac plug-in’s pack will also be larger than the roughly 16 kWh battery found in the Volt – though they suggest the ELR will all but certainly top the performance, and possibly the range of its Chevrolet sibling, as well.

The original Cadillac Converj concept.

Simply increasing the amount of stored energy the ELR’s driveline taps to 80% would achieve both goals. Notably, makers like Tesla, Toyota and Fisker use as much as 90% or more of their batteries’ total energy.

The addition of the Cadillac ELR follows extensive debate within GM – the new model taking its shape from a popular concept called the Caddy Converj. The maker briefly scuttled the program but decided to revive it when it saw a potential market for luxury “green” cars.

GM is betting heavily on the underlying “Voltic” driveline used for the ELR, Volt, and Ampera and likely will have future variants, company officials have hinted.  But they’re also working up pure battery-electric vehicles that include a version of the new Chevrolet Spark minicar.

(Click Herefor a review of the new Chevy Spark.)




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