GM ends production of Cadillac ELR plug-in

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is no longer building the Detroit-made Cadillac ELR, a pricy plug-in electric hybrid that never got sales traction.

The automaker has sold just 2,800 or so of the luxury coupes in the U.S. and Canada since the stylish electric vehicle went on sale in early 2014 as a 2014 model.

The luxury coupe with a $76,000 price tag was built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Production stopped in February, GM confirmed.

“Cadillac ELR production recently concluded. A very small quantity of ELR units remain available at dealers today,” Cadillac said in a statement. “The beautifully designed electrified coupe marked an important step in Cadillac’s ongoing expansion. Cadillac remains committed to delivering new technology, including advanced propulsion. Cadillac will soon launch a new plug-in hybrid edition of the remarkable new CT6 sedan.”

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen previously told media outlets that the ELR wouldn’t have a second generation, but it wasn’t clear when the vehicle would cease production. Cadillac’s Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus in a December Automobile magazine article called the ELR a “big disappointment.”

Through April, GM had sold just 357 ELRs in 2016, down 14 percent from the same months a year ago. Last year, Cadillac sold 1,024 ELRs, down from 1,310 in 2014.

While Cadillac never intended to sell big numbers of its first electric offering, the carmaker hoped the ELR would serve as a halo offering for the brand. It expected to build 2,000 to 4,000 in its first year.

The ELR’s high price point and same similarities to the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric didn’t help sales, nor did declining gas prices, said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific. The ELR competed with the Tesla Model S and BMW i3 electric.

“It started off with the performance and fuel economy of a Volt at double the price – and also was in a coupe body style, and they’re already a challenge to sell,” Sullivan said.

The ELR featured the same electric propulsion system and backup engine as the Volt, but 80 percent of the car was different, GM said. The ELR has a driving range of 340 miles and once the estimated 40 miles of battery range is depleted, a range-extending 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine kicks on to power the vehicle.

The company shaved $10,000 off the ELR for the 2016 model year, saying the car after a federal tax credit of $7,500 would start at $58,495.

Detroit-Hamtramck builds the Volt, Cadillac CT6 luxury vehicle, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Malibu; this summer it will add production of the new 2017 Buick LaCrosse. The 2017 Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid, expected to begin production late this year, will be built in China.

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