Cadillac Marketing Boss: Automaker Needs To Back Away From Dedicated Plug-In Electric Cars

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 51

 Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac's Uwe Ellinghaus

Cadillac’s Uwe Ellinghaus

On numerous occasions now, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, had made it clear that the automaker has no further interest in making dedicated plug-in electric cars (such as the Cadillac ELR).

Instead, Cadillac will focus its electrification efforts of making plug-in hybrid versions of existing cars.

Car and Driver asked Ellinghaus if Cadillac would have a dedicated plug-in electric car in the near future. Ellinghaus responded:

“No. The very opposite. We need to walk away from a dedicated model. It needs to be a standard, in our regular lineup. The CT6 is the first Cadillac that has a plug-in-hybrid electric version, and this is the way forward.”

A similar strategy is in place over at Mercedes-Benz, where the automaker has begun and will continue to offer PHEV versions of most all of its conventional cars.

Electric car purists hate this strategy, as the end result is usually a compromised PHEV, but it does get more plug-ins on the road, so we sort of back this effort for now.

However, in the long term, automakers will have to move towards full electrification and dedicated models. That’s really the only way to get to an end result car that’s as capable as, say, a Tesla Model S.

Source: Car & Driver

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51 responses to "Cadillac Marketing Boss: Automaker Needs To Back Away From Dedicated Plug-In Electric Cars"

  1. jerryd says:

    How stupid GM was not to bring the Volt, Bolt out as Cadillac’s first as a high tech leader?
    Then drop it down to Chevy to raise Chevy’s value.
    Instead of the other way then trying to make a Chevy a Cadillac, lowering Cadillac’s value.
    You’d have thought they would have learned from the engine, other similar fiascos they have had in the past.
    Too bad for a while Cadillac had the big Mo but seems to have lost it the last 5 yrs and it seems to be this guy’s fault.

    1. evcarnut says:

      GM has always Cut Corners & used A “BAND AID” When they should have Started on a Clean Sheet Of Paper & Provide Full Disclosure, if they Cared about their Customers & Product Quality, GM Has Been Known To Conceal Facts & Information for Profit & Gain Thinking That They Can Fool People & never get Caught. They May fool the “LOYALS” Because The Loyals are trusting people, that Have had the Wool pulled Over their Eyes & Cant see much further than GM…All the 0thers see through GM like a Clear Pane Of Glass! That Is The Reason ,I would Have Much Difficulty Purchasing A GM Product…

    2. Jacked says:

      Totally agree, but this is how GM has always done it. Remember the Cadillac Cimarron? It was a Chevy Cavalier with a new grill and lots of interior bling, and it was pox on the Cadillac brand. But GM learned nothing.

      Around 10 years ago it seemed like Cadillac wanted to compete with real luxury sports sedans like BMW and Infinity. Now they seem to introduce only road barges and predictable flops like the ELR. It’s got to be a management issue and Ellinghaus is likely a symptom but not the cause. Find out who the lunkhead is who hired and fails to fire Ellinghaus and you may have the culprit who seeks to destroy Cadillac’s image.

      1. kdawg says:

        You think the current Cadillac lineup is “land barges”? You may want to google a bit.

  2. Ocean Railroader says:

    I really could have told GM that as long as they were swimming around in Tesla’s fish tank the Cadillac ER was going to be a turkey.

    And reacting by sticking their head in the sand like a Ostrich is going to make things worse.

  3. pk says:

    This is all I have to say to this schmuck.

  4. DonC says:

    A lot depends on the range of the PHEV. We know a Chevy Volt with 35 miles of range will give the same number of EV miles as a BEV Nissan Leaf. But would you get the same result with a 20 mile PHEV? Likely not.

    But from a policy standpoint the difference between say a 50 mile PHEV and any BEV will be vanishingly small. On the score of cutting emissions and pollution and national security it doesn’t make any difference which one people buy. Those who get all worked up about “the gas engine” are really voicing non-rational religious beliefs.

    Performance is also not an issue. A smaller pack allows for less power but you can add the power generated by the engine. Not a big deal.

    The bigger problems are (1) people like to show their environmental creed and an PHEV that looks like every other ICE versions of the same vehicle doesn’t let you do that; (2) a large part of the cost of a vehicle is wrapped up in the powertrain and a PHEV has two — so more cost; and (3) packaging is an issue since you have two powertrains you have to fit in somewhere.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      DonC said:

      “…the difference between say a 50 mile PHEV and any BEV will be vanishingly small… Those who get all worked up about ‘the gas engine’ are really voicing non-rational religious beliefs.”

      I’d say anyone who actually believes “a Chevy Volt with 35 miles of range will give the same number of EV miles as a BEV Nissan Leaf” is also expressing a non-rational (semi-)religious belief.

      You may have found some cherry-picked figure to help you justify a preconceived notion about the EV ranges of the Leaf 1.0 vs the Volt 1.0, DonC, but that notion certainly fails a reality check.

      I don’t care for arguments from “EV purists” who argue that the Volt isn’t a “real” EV, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and two fallacies don’t make a truth.

      Here’s an inconvenient truth, DonC: If the Volt gave drivers as much all-electric range as the Leaf, then Volt drivers wouldn’t need to stop to recharge en-route more often than Leaf drivers.

      http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1079936_forget-range-anxiety-chevy-volt-owners-have-gas-anxiety

      1. Spider-Dan says:

        But he’s right: Volt drivers do get as-much-or-more EV miles than Leaf drivers. The propensity of Volt owners to charger more often has more to do with the availability of free chargers, in my experience; if you compared who spends more time at commercial non-free chargers, I’m certain that number would be heavily skewed towards the Leaf.

        At the end of the day, it’s a perfectly fair and accurate point to mention that a PHEV can use its entire electric range no matter what the distance of the trip is, whereas a BEV may end up logging 0 electric miles on any trips that are larger than its electric range (because the owner chooses to take/rent an ICE instead).

  5. Lindsay Patten says:

    In the UK the price of the Outlander PHEV less the 5000 pound government incentive is the same as the price of the diesel Outlander. If they can manage to bring the after-incentive price of the PHEV models down to near the regular models in the same trim then PHEV models of regular cars could work out, but as long as there is a significant price difference I suspect it will be difficult to sell large numbers of more expensive PHEV versions of otherwise identical gas versions.

  6. Anon says:

    Uwe Suck.

    1. Big Solar says:

      +10

    2. evcarnut says:

      WHERE DO THEY FIND ? These So called Leaders 0r department heads That make all these INSANE 0ff the wall decisions…A Child Could do a better Job!

      1. Stuart22 says:

        Uwe came over from BMW, I think.

        1. kdawg says:

          I Th1nk h3 typ3d HIS Resum3 l1ke THis s0 th3y H1red h1m.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            But he had a really nice photo on his resume…

      2. evcarnut says:

        To Answer my own Question…I think* Just Like Government Heads That Make ,What APPEAR To Us As Insane Moves 0r Decisions ….,There Has to be some Agenda |Beyond 0ur Knowledge| ..Because N0 0NE Can Be This F00lISH With N0 G00D Reason At All..THERE MUST BE METHOD TO ALL THIS..THEIR MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. ffbj says:

          As Polonius said, but sometimes madness has no method, and that is really the point, since madness has no method, by definition.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          evcarnut said:

          “N0 0NE Can Be This F00lISH With N0 G00D Reason At All..”

          I’m guessing you’re young, and have no exposure to how stupid business executives can be in the real world.

          “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” –Robert J. Hanlon

    3. Rick Danger says:

      A grin and a +1 🙂

  7. ct200h says:

    GM has a huge advantage with their existing tech from the Volt. they have already shown how they can use the volt electric motor in the Malibu hybrid. Next when we see the CT6 i think it will be impressive. The Volt powertrain can have many iterations. I think it makes sense to offer gas and also a PHEV version of some models. EV should be a dedicated design to prevent compromises.

  8. David says:

    ELR already is a hybrid.

    The silly experiment trying to rebadge a Cruz as a Tesla competitor didn’t work so obviously no one wants electric cars…. which is why Tesla is outselling everyone.

  9. larry4pyrto says:

    This is great news! A major manufacturer saying every model they make will have a plugin variant. This signals a major move towards ekectrification in mainstream cars.

  10. ampzilla says:

    listen an ev has to be designed n enginered with the most up to date technology to extract maximum mileage from the batteries
    under all conditions. EXTREME COLD N HOT WEATHER !!!! while being similiar to an ice vehicle CABIN COMFORT. PHEV CHEAT THE ICE COMPENSATES FOR THE LACK OF UPDATES IN BATTERY TECH. look at the volt 50 miles on battery only. BULL ____ ! not in upstate NEW YORK WINTERS. with the cabin interior at a toasty 72 degrees. im an EV PURIST WITH MY CODA AS A DAILY DRIVER, however i use my ice vehicle if i need no range anxiety. THATS VERY SELDOM though. the coda loses quite a bit of range in the cold yet its doable

  11. Terry says:

    This is a typical reply because gas prices have gone so low. This individual does not have the smarts to see why gas is so low compared to 2012. In 2012 EVs were selling and oil prices were 100.00 dollars or more. Everyone says that low gas prices was because of fracking. Well fracking has really slowed and oil is not going back up. OPEC controls the prices of oil and oil is all they have and they do not want to see EVs become the major auto on the road.

    1. Jacked says:

      Another factor could be that the West has leaned on OPEC to lower the price of oil as part of the economic war against Russia. Since OPEC already wants lower oil prices to kneecap EVs, they are more willing to bend to the West’s will.

      Just a hunch on my part, but the timing is very suggestive since oil prices plummeted right around the time that economic sanctions against Russia were tightened.

  12. Jacked says:

    WTF?

    “Ellinghaus, had made it clear that the automaker has no further interest in making dedicated plug-in electric cars (such as the Cadillac ELR). Instead, Cadillac will focus its electrification efforts of making plug-in hybrid versions of existing cars.”

    The ELR is a range extended EV, or a PHEV, based on the Volt, which is based on the Delta II platform, which makes the ELR a PHEV version of an existing car! Does Ellinghaus not even know his own company’s lineup? What a tool!

  13. Marc says:

    I agree with people who say the Volt shouldn’t have been with Chevy.

    However, I’m not sure making it a Cadillac would have been good either.

    I know many other Volt owners who, like me, wouldn’t have bought a Volt had it be a Caddy. Because of our jobs, it wouldn’t have been socially acceptable (at least in French-Canadian culture.)

    I’m a high school teacher whose salary is paid by the people… driving a Caddy would invite a few scratches.

    Same with my parish priest, who preaches help to the poor and becoming good stewards of the environment. A luxurious Caddy Volt would be a no-no.

    Of all 4 remaining GM brands, I think the Volt, due to its special status, should have worn the neutral GM badge like my GM Sierra. Neither Buick nor Cadillac would have cut it.

    1. Chip says:

      I agree with your logic except that Buick might be the best fit.
      Chevrolet is GM’s value brand but the first Volt had to be priced at a premium.
      The Gen 2 Volt with its premium materials does not fit with a value brand.
      Is Buick the happy medium between Chevrolet & Cadillac?

      1. Marc says:

        Just like you, I’ve thought seriously about Buick. IMHO the problem with Buick is that it seems marketed towards my grandpa or my mother-in-law.

        Like you say, Buick is somewhere between a Chevy and a Caddy. But I’m afraid it’s more like it has the suspension and the steering of a Caddy mixed with the thriftness of a Chevy.

        A Volt is quite different; it is much sportier than that. Its targeted market is younger than Buick (or Caddy). Yet, it’s clearly not as cheap as a Chevy. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me that 10 years ago, it would have been a Pontiac Volt. Which is why I do believe that going with the generic GM label would have been preferable.

        The only reason I believe GM went with Chevy was because they might have wanted to shore up Chevrolet’s brand image. If so, that ended up creating lots of confusion like what I see in previous posts.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the argument that the Volt should have been badged Buick, not Chevy.

        There is certainly some merit to the argument, as Chevy suggests “cheap” but the Volt isn’t. However, the Buick badge, altho more upscale, appeals mainly to senior citizens… and EVs are more likely to appeal to younger drivers.

        Packard Electric became part of General Motors in 1932… maybe it’s time to revive the badge! 😉

        1. Marc says:

          +1 Love the idea! It’d remind people automobiles were once mostly electric.

        2. Spider-Dan says:

          The Volt is badged as a Chevy for exactly the same reason that a Corvette is.

  14. David Murray says:

    I actually endorse their plan. I know a ground-up EV (or PHEV) is always going to be superior. But right now the demand is just not there to justify it. It is more logical to sell the same car as a plug-in or regular gas car. This helps bring the cost down of both versions since they can share more parts. With batteries getting smaller I think they can make a reasonable PHEV these days without sacrificing too much interior space.

  15. Chip says:

    “It needs to be a standard, in our regular lineup.”

    I agree with that.

    GM & Ford were famous for the offering a range of engine size options in their cars. Options are a key element of their business model.

    HEV, PHEV, EREV, gasoline, lpg & CNG should just be engine choice options on every car, minivan & pickup in the showroom.

    GM has created a huge marketing opportunity with the second generation Voltec system which is modular. We can already see how versatile the modular components are with the Volt EREV, Malibu hybrid and the CT6 PHEV.

    If GM focuses on making Voltec an option in their regular line-up, they can sell large volumes of cars with electric motors.

    1. Bloggin says:

      Exactly. What GM was saying is that offering a low volume vehicle like the ELR based on another low volume vehicle Volt is a bad idea.

      But put that PHEV tech in the ATS or XT5, etc and consumers can get the car they want, plus the PHEV they want in the same package.

      1. Bloggin says:

        I bet if instead of knowingly building the low volume ELR, GM put the PHEV drivetrain in the ATS, it would have been much more successful as a luxury PHEV, along with boosting ATS market share.

        1. Vin says:

          Agreed! To the consumer, PEV should be a drivetrain choice, not a platform choice.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          You can make a motorcar by bolting a gas engine on the back of a buggy, adding a drive chain attached to the rear axle, and exchanging the tongue for a steering tiller. But you can’t make a good motorcar that way.

          You can make an EV by shoehorning an EV drivetrain into a gasmobile, but you can’t make a good EV that way.

          Compelling EVs are designed from the ground up. They are neither conversion vehicles nor compromise vehicles.

          1. Spider-Dan says:

            It’s a lot easier (or, more accurately, necessary) to design an EV that has nothing in common with any other car you make when your car company [i]doesn’t actually make any other cars.[/i]

            For GM, Nissan, BMW, etc., it makes more sense to design your platforms to work with multiple kinds of drivetrains.

  16. Bill Howland says:

    This guy and Johann would be better back at BMW where they came from. EVERYONE without exception from all walks of life love my ELR whenever they see the exterior, interior, or go for a ride.

    I thought it was the job of marketing types to try and sell cars.

    The car seems to sell itself – so their big idea is to discontinue it?

    If Fields at Ford loves to sell 20 mile range add on models, you’d think that GM would have an easier time with more (38-53) mileage, and more space-efficient vehicles than FORD. And no Lincolns of any kind.

    But not with these “German Import” dudes in charge.

  17. Pete Bauer says:

    ELR is just a plugin version of CTS Coupe which at $40,000 is already a overpriced car compared to the similar sized luxury car of its size.

    On top of CTS-V, Cadillac charged $75,000 (extra $35,000) for ELR and that’s why it flopped.

    Model-S, Volt, Leaf and i3 are dedicated Electric vehicles and they have sold very well for their class.

    Gas vehicles can never match the smooth ride of electric vehicles and expect more luxury vehicle buyers to move to electric vehicles.

    Check the new electric models for 2016
    http://ev-sales.blogspot.com/

    There is a whole lot from BMW, BYD and so on.

  18. Speculawyer says:

    Make both. Let the consumers decide. Duh.

    There is a market for both.

  19. JimGord says:

    The demand for PEVs is not there because the auto companies ads convince consumers that they need over powered land barges.
    How many ads point out the advantages and biosphere imperatives of electrification?

    1. Djoni says:

      Exactly!
      Strange how people tend to think that they drive the demand for luxury or overprice things that only exist because the continuously exacerbate the desire to acquire that good.

      Without publicity they wouldn’t sell any, if not they would be just a bunch of idiot dumping billions in ads.
      I guess they know how to “create” a market more than filling one that is already there waiting.

  20. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    How long is Cadillac going to continue ignoring the reality of the EV revolution?

    Reality check: The top three best-selling plug-in EVs are cars which are not, repeat not, merely gasmobiles with an electric drivetrain shoehorned into it. The Leaf, the Volt, and the Model S have no gasmobile versions. The BMW i3 doesn’t, either. None of these are compromise cars like the ones that Cadillac says it wants to build.

    The Outlander PHEV is an exception to that rule, but my guess is that Outlander sales will drop off when other auto makers start offering SUVs and CUVs that are properly designed… as in, designed from the ground up to be a BEV or PHEV.

    1. Jacked says:

      The Volt is based on the Cruze platform and aside from the grill and some minor details it is difficult to tell them apart at a glance. So yes, the Volt has a gasmobile version, or rather, Chevy took a gas-powered car and worked in a Voltec drivetrain.

      1. Djoni says:

        And this explain the T-shape battery and the absence of a fifth seat.
        They did well in a way with this compromise set up but left some unsolved feature.

        Designing from the scratch is a lot more convenient, although more expensive up front.

      2. Spider-Dan says:

        You could make this argument for the Delta II Volt (2011-2015), but the D2XX platform took the Volt into account at the design phase. So it is no more accurate to say that the 2016 Volt is “based on” the Cruze than it is to say that the Cruze is “based on” the Volt.

  21. Sunpowered says:

    And in 5 years GM will be seeking another bailout based on his leadership.