A Cadillac executive has finally said what everyone has been thinking all along: the ELR is just a big disappointment on wheels. It has an uninspiring design, an astronomically large price and a layout that severely limits is practicality.
Automobile magazine was interviewing Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, during the XT5’s debut in Dubai. For those who don’t know, he’s been in the post for only two years, and was a vocal supporter of the range-extended EV.
While it’s true that Ellinghaus said the ELR is “a big disappointment,” in the same sentence he emphasized the importance of the car for Cadillac as a brand. Sure, sales for the vehicle have been horrendous, but he believes that the statement it makes, the image it gives off, has a value many underestimate.
Other luxury automakers are diving into electrification in some bold ways, like Porsche moving forward on the Mission E project or Audi saying that a quarter of its sales will come from electric vehicles within ten years. Cadillac must keep up with the trends and evolving demands of luxury shoppers.
Ellinghaus also views the ELR as an exercise in learning from mistakes. During the interview, it came out that he thought the vehicle had become far too niche to ever drum up enough interest for sales success. This was one of the main reasons he cited for the ELR’s horrendous sales flop.
Coming off the utter failure of the ELR, Cadillac is taking a different and safer approach to electrification. It’s moving forward with a plan to release plug-in electric versions of each vehicle in its lineup. Up first is the hybrid CT6, which comes out a year after the car launches. From a marketing standpoint, Ellinghaus thinks that plug-in hybrids are a better offering than a range-extended hybrid because they promise a broader appeal.
Electric car supporters were angered by Ellinghaus pointing out that unless owners are getting their electricity from truly clean sources (not coal) the technology actually pollutes more than alternatives. Ellinghaus does believe that hybrid powertrains soon will be available for virtually all luxury vehicles, similar to how common all-wheel drive is today.