Cadillac has just taken the wraps off of the 2014 ELR coupe, its first modern vehicle to take advantage of electric propulsion technology.
Based on the Chevrolet Volt, the ELR is nearly identical to the Converj concept that bowed at the 2009 Detroit Motor Show. In spite of its low roofline, the car's angular silhouette retains some Volt proportions which makes it look like a cab-forward version of the CTS coupe.
The front end is adorned by Cadillac's signature grille and sweeping LED headlights that are reminiscent of the ones found on the new ATS sedan. Out back, the ELR is fitted with vertical taillights that also use LED technology.
Pieces of chrome trim around the windows and above both rocker panels paired with 20-inch alloy wheels give the coupe an upscale look that significantly differentiates it from the more family-oriented Volt.
Business class seating for four
The ELR's interior is opulently appointed with real wood trim on the dashboard and on the door panels, as well as a generous amount of suede and leather. Designers paid a great deal of attention to even the most minute details; For example, the ELR's center console features a power-assisted cup-holder cover.
A color eight-inch touchscreen integrated into the center stack lets the front passengers control Cadillac's latest CUE infotainment system and gives vital information about the car's drivetrain. The screen electronically tilts back to reveal a USB port that can be used to charge cell phones and other mobile devices.
The rear seat backs can fold down flat when extra cargo space is needed.
Premium plug-in hybrid
The 4,070-pound ELR is powered by a Voltec plug-in hybrid drivetrain that consists of an electric motor and a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that Cadillac bills as a gasoline-powered electric generator. Working together, the two send 207 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of instant torque to the front set of wheels via an automatic transmission.
The motor gets electricity from a T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack that weighs 435 pounds. It can be fully charged in 12 hours by plugging the car into a 120-volt household outlet or in 4.5 hours by using a 240-volt outlet at a charging station.
Cadillac's eco-friendly coupe can travel on electricity alone for up to 35 miles in the right conditions. An electro-hydraulic regenerative braking system helps recharge the battery while driving while a "Hold" function allows the driver to save the energy in stored in the battery pack for later use.
Performance specifications are not available but the ELR is expected to be noticeably quicker than the Volt.
The ELR will be built in Hamtramck, Michigan, on the same assembly line as the Volt and the Europe-only Opel Ampera. After landing in U.S. showrooms in early 2014, the coupe will be exported to China and a number of European countries.
Getting one might prove to be a little difficult as Cadillac has hinted that the four-seater will not be a regular-production model.
"An additional aspect of ELR's appeal to will be exclusivity," said Bob Ferguson, Cadillac's global vice president. "It will be a specialized offering produced in limited numbers."
Pricing information and availability will be released closer to the car's launch.
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