GO
Loading...

Cadillac Needs More Than EV to Get Charged Up

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 | 10:17 AM ET

Now that General Motors has confirmed the worst kept secret in Detroit about plans to build an electric model, the question is whether this EV can give the luxury brand a jolt. Here's hoping it does.

GM
Getty Images
GM

If Cadillac's new ELR model can become more than a token offering in the overall Cadillac line-up then perhaps the Cadillac will have a true leg up on its competitors.

But before we look at that, some perspective on the ELR.

It will be an electric plug-in model based on the same technology used for the Chevy Volt. It won't simply be an upscale Volt, it will have it's own distinct look and feel. What that look will be is anyone's guess right now. But if GM is smart, it will not roll out an ELR that is watered down in the name of fuel efficiency.

GM is also not hinting at what the price will be for the ELR. But make no mistake, GM is watching the Tesla Model S and will want to price the ELR at or below the Model S price of $57,400. Caddy executives know the Model S has the potential to become the early benchmark for electric luxury sedans. If the ELR can come out and be as competitive on price while also offering great styling, then Cadillac has a chance to beat Tesla (and other) luxury automakers in building the must have a luxury EV model. But that's still a couple of years out.

More important than all of these discussions is whether the ELR will be a true halo car for the Cadillac brand, or simply the EV offering. Remember when the Volt was in development? GM executives were adamant about getting the Volt out before the Nissan LEAF. In their eyes, the Volt would not only be the first mass market electric car but it would also become a halo car for Chevy. Well, the Volt beat the LEAF, but I'm not sure it's had the impact on Chevy sales that was hoped for. Don't get me wrong, the Volt has been a solid car for GM and it's brought the Chevy brand a lot of attention and goodwill, but I'm not sure you can call it a true halo car.

Here's hoping Caddy designers push the envelope with the ELR. If they do, Cadillac does have a chance to truly stand out among luxury automakers. If they don't, then the ELR will simply be Cadillac's electric car. No doubt a nice one.

But still, just an electric car.

__________________________

Click on Ticker to Track Corporate News:

- General Motors

- Ford Motor

- Toyota Motor

- Nissan

- Honda Motor

___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

  Price   Change %Change
F
---
GM
---
HLIT
---
7201.T
---
7203.T
---

Featured

  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

Autos