General Motors has apparently reversed course and now plans to add a second plug-in hybrid to its U.S. product line-up, this one targeting the luxury market where pricing could be less of a concern than it has become for the more mainstream Chevrolet Volt.
The new model, dubbed Cadillac ELR, is based on the wildly popular Caddy Converj, perhaps the biggest hit of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Details including price and timing have not been released, though industry sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that the new model would likely be launched well before mid-decade and carry a sticker price pushing towards the high $40,000 mark – reflecting significant added content beyond what’s now offered in the plebian Chevy plug-in.
It’s not clear whether the ELR will add significantly to GM’s overall sales goals for its so-called Voltec plug-in hybrid technology or will simply take up some of the already-planned capacity that had until now been assigned to the Volt and a second gas-electric model, the Opel Ampera. Together, they’re expected to generate 16,000 sales in 2011, with production rising to 40,000 next year.
According to a GM release, the Cadillac ELR will share the same extended-range electric vehicle driveline as Volt and Ampera. That means that under all but the most demanding circumstances the wheels are turned solely by an electric motor. Power initially comes from a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, but after the batteries are discharged the vehicle automatically switches to an onboard 4-cylinder gas engine.