Photos by Sebastian Steenstra, text by Cor Steenstra.
When GM brought out it’s touted EV-1 replacement in the shape of the Chevrolet Volt, it clearly had difficulty conveying the message what it was, and why it was better than other offers like the Prius from Toyota. Sales were logically down from expectations, so Government and State as well as local incentives helped get the price down, and a lot of advertising helped the people believe this was as good as, if not better than a fully electric vehicle.
GM would not be GM if they subsequently wouldn’t try to use the same platform for other products. Wisely they strayed away from completely badge engineering the Volt into a Buick in the US with some of the EU Opel styling cues attached, so the only other option would be a Cadillac. Admittedly, the idea for a fun to drive, good looking small 2 door Cadillac coupe was a good one, and if it was as ‘green’ as the Volt it would be even better. And so they did put out the concept for the ELR 3 years ago, and here it is, slightly weakened down in production version.
When we took delivery of our media vehicle it was “THE thing to have. It has the good looks, the excellent stance, to low and wide proportions, the taut Cadillac house style lines and surfacing.. All in all a very nice product. Getting into the car it shows the known Cadillac opulence, nice leather treatments, interesting combinations with wood and carbon textures, good driving position also for long distances, and an IP that is very familiar to Cadillac drivers, so nobody would doubt that this was an actual Cadillac product.
As with the Volt, there is a recharging cable unit nice packed away in the trunk, so we set out for Yosemite from just below LA. Logically, the 40 miles full charge EV mode was used up quickly, so the smallish combustion engine had to do the brunt of the work all the way North. Sadly, we noticed, neither at most hotels, restaurants, not even Costco, are there stations where you can easily charge up the batteries to satisfy your thirst to be green. You would still really need to plan your drive around this if you want to be.
Yosemite, as many people know, aside from the fires that caused our trip to be devoid of clean air and blue skies, is a National Park so you have to pay $20 to enter, and the park personal does not bother to inform you that the air is not breathable, the clouds of smoke are everywhere, so you better come back another day.. No.. their need for MONEY surpasses every common decency, so loads of families forked out all that dosh to be severely disappointing, but what the heck..
Well, Yosemite also features mountains, and the main roads all go over these mountains. Some steep inclines and some less steep, but mountains they are.. The tiny little puny engine that was thrown in this Cadillac does not handle that very well.. In fact it handles it about as badly as my first VW Beettle 1300 handled mountains back in 1978!! I had to go down to second gear to get any kind of traction!!!!! Seriously..?? In this day and age..??
I was very much not impressed with that..
And then back to the title.. I had expected the Cadillac version of the Volt to cost around $10,000 more than the Volt, maybe $15,000 since it was a coupe…. At just under $85,000 this is a laughable offer.. Who made up this pricing strategy..?? I can get a Tesla and a half for that to quench my ‘green’ thirst, and even Cadillac themselves have loads more interesting non green offerings for that price tag…