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Detroit show: Cadillac powers up ELR

Not just a re-Volt: The stylish Cadillac ELR produces more power and torque than the GM Volt on which it is based.

Australia still on Cadillac’s radar as production-ready Volt-based ELR is revealed

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16 Jan 2013

By DAVID HASSALL

CADILLAC finally presented a production-ready ELR – the luxury brand’s version of GM’s Volt range-extender hybrid – at the Detroit motor show overnight, some four years after presenting the car in concept form.

It will be produced “in limited numbers” and go on sale in the US in early 2014, followed by China and Europe, but it will not come to Australia as GM Holden abandoned plans to introduce the brand here in early 2009.

Despite the cost and embarrassment of having to dump Cadillac just two weeks before the brand was due to launch in Australia, GM Holden managing director Mike Devereux this week was quoted by Fairfax Media as saying talks were taking place with the global Cadillac group aimed at reassessing the franchise.

In Detroit for the annual motor show, Mr Devereux said Cadillac could be launched in Australia before the end of the decade, but only if the conditions were absolutely right, including a full range of models in right-hand drive and in specifications to suit the Australian market.

Unveiling the ELR range-extender electric vehicle at the show, Cadillac global vice-president Bob Ferguson said the car offered “an unprecedented combination of luxury, advanced engineering and progressive design in a coupe that is both sporty and environmentally friendly”.

“This is a pivotal moment in Cadillac’s history, as we continue our product-driven expansion,” he said.

“ELR marks a fresh, even surprising new dimension of Cadillac.”

The ELR appeared faithful to the sleek Converj Concept on which it is based, which was shown at the Detroit show in January 2009 as Cadillac’s version of the Chevrolet Volt (sold here as the Holden Volt).

But Cadillac almost killed off the project two years ago due to the additional weight and load on the batteries demanded by the extra luxury features required for the brand, so it was given the green light only in mid-2011, when it was renamed ELR.

ELR chief engineer Chris Thomason said the vehicle employs the Volt’s powertrain and battery pack, but uses it slightly differently to get an acceptable range while providing improved performance and dealing with the burden of extra luxury amenities.

For example, total system output has been boosted, from 111kW of power and 370Nm of torque in the Volt to 154kW and 400Nm in the ELR, reducing the time to accelerate from zero to 100km/h by almost one second to about 8.3 seconds.

To restore the car’s range to more than 300 miles (480km), the ELR will use about 70 per cent of its battery life before switching to range-extended mode – when the 1.4-litre petrol generator engine kicks in to recharge the battery – whereas the Volt uses much less than that before making the switch.

“We exercise the battery a little more and do a little more with the (electric) motor controls for more output,” Mr Thomason told journalists last week.

Cadillac design director Mark Adams said the ELR set a new style for GM’s flagship brand with “an aggressive, forward-leaning profile that introduces a new, progressive theme and proportion in Cadillac’s design evolution”.

“The ELR represents a new dimension of Art & Science, the guiding philosophy of Cadillac,” he said.

“Cadillac’s DNA is innovation, with dramatic and provocative design. ELR delivers this in a luxury coupe that stands alone among major luxury brands globally.

“The exterior establishes a new, progressive proportion for the brand while the interior introduces a new design theme that will define future Cadillac models, emphasizing modern elegance, technology and precisely crafted details.”

Mr Adams said the vertical headlight and tail-light elements create Cadillac’s signature that dates back to 1948.

Other design features include an aerodynamic flush front fascia and grille – with active shutters behind the grille opening – LED headlights, an aggressive rake on the windshield and rear glass, a subtle rear spoiler and massive 20-inch wheels.

The 2+2 interior – with rear seats suitable mainly for children – is trimmed in leather, chrome and wood as standard, with carbon-fibre and “sueded microfibre” also available.

Front 18-way powered seats are standard, with 20-way power adjustment also available, a Bose 10-channel audio system, eight-inch touchscreen and fold-down seat backs are standard, as are a raft of active safety systems.

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