Cadillac Boss: ELR Won’t Live On

APR 3 2015 BY JAY COLE 93

Apparently The World On Wants 640hp CTS-V or as Johan de Nysschen Would Say, " the very best of the Cadillac brand"

Apparently The Well-Heeled World Only Wants 640hp CTS-Vs or as Johan de Nysschen Would Say, “the very best of the Cadillac brand”

Tell us that the day Cadillac brought on notoriously anti-EV boss Johan de Nysschen from Infiniti (ex-Audi), that this wasn’t expected at some point?

The Cadillac CT6 Debuted This Week In New York, But Will The Plug-In Option Survive The Cadillac Boss? (Picture: InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

The Cadillac CT6 Debuted This Week In New York, But Will The Plug-In Option Survive The Cadillac Boss? (Picture: InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

According to de Nysschen in an interview with AutoGuide, the Cadillac ELR is dead.  Mostly.

When de Nysschen arrived at Cadillac, one of the first announcements we heard was that there would be no 2015 model year of the luxury plug-in.

Then the 2016 Caddy was scheduled to appear at the Los Angeles auto show in November.  Didn’t happen. (apparentlydue to system integration difficulties“)

NAIAS in Detroit?  Nope.

How about the scheduled appearance last month at the Geneva Motor Show?  Cancelled again – no word as to why.

Now we have this quote confirmed what we all assumed was going on.

“The ELR will continue through its lifecycle,” de Nysschen said, “I don’t’ think we will create a next-generation, compact, two-door, gorgeously styled alternative powertrain successor to ELR.”

Loosely translated, GM has the existing assembly line tooled up and paid for, so they will run out a 2016/2017 model year – and then its gone.  The 2016 version of the ELR will indeed get some as earlier planned tweaks, but it now looks like it won’t be moving up to the platform found in the next generation Volt.

Just last November there had been slight hope for the ELR’s future as de Nysschen gave this not too committed statement:

“I absolutely believe that we need not only a successor to ELR but more vehicles of that caliber and they will be part of our future. We must not give up on the car. I cannot have 50 priorities at the same time. The team and I will get around to working on ELR, but it is clearly going to be a niche car.”

Guess Not.  Now instead of touting plug-ins, the Cadillac boss’ verbage has changed to:

“(Cadillac) will continue to offer alternative powertrain technologies in our cars”

The Refreshed 2016 Cadillac ELR Was Scheduled To Debut (Again) Last Month In Geneva. Only The 2014 Made The Platform

The Refreshed 2016 Cadillac ELR Was Scheduled To Debut (Again) Last Month In Geneva. Only The 2014 Made The Platform

Truth be told, and taking our dislike of Johan out of the equation, the Cadillac ELR didn’t win “Blunder of the Year” for no reason.  The car was priced way too high and a serious re-thinking of the brand was needed.  It appears Mr. De Nysschen really didn’t want to do that, or saw it as an opportunity to just eject the car from the brand’s lineup.

We Went To The LA Show Expecting The 2016 ELR...And Got The 2014 Instead (Photo: InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

We Went To The LA Show In November of 2014 Expecting The 2016 ELR…And Got The 2014 Instead (Photo: InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

Still, we think if the Cadillac boss was really on board with plug-ins, he would have seen there was/is a market for an upscale version of the Chevrolet Volt  with some extra oompf…only this time, make it $10,000 more expensive, not $40,000.

There is certainly savings in the short term specific to axing the Cadillac ELR, no question.

However, the damage to the brand overall by not offering an alternative to the ELR is significant.  Especially while the BMWs, Mercedes and Audis of the world are actually selling multiple EV offerings, while at them same time showing numerous production-intent vehicles on just about every model in their lineups already.

For his part De Nysschen says plug-ins will be a part of the future of Cadillac – not no news as to what products, or when they would arrive:

“We will roll out plug-in hybrids across our portfolio,” de Nysschen said in an interview with Bloomberg, “It’s part of confirming the progressive nature of the brand.”

Other than the plug-in CT6, which has apparently been relegated to a Shanghai reveal this month (away from the word debut in New York in March), there is no tangible evidence of plug-in technology at Cadillac.  And what do we know of it ahead of the reveal?  Absolutely nothing.

Performance and luxury comes with a plug these days…not a 600 hp V8.

Autoguide, Bloomberg


Categories: Cadillac

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93 Comments on "Cadillac Boss: ELR Won’t Live On"

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this guy looks like he should be sitting at the round table with the kochs and cheney and whatnot

Sure beats sitting around the table with Ru Paul and Borak Obama…

I think that’s probably a wise idea.

To clarify: they need a hotter version.

Easily accomplished. They have all the tools and all the parts. It is just a matter of what form it takes.

But I don’t see the CT6 as that platform.

With the new voltec transmission, look for a variant of that offered in all forthcoming Cadillac Models.

Not with the current yokel at the helm. Even though Caddy announced that a plug-in CT6 is on the way, the details weren’t included with the rest of the CT6 offerings, so I’d take to mean pure lip service.

CT6 Hybrid debuts April 21. So it’s not lip service.

With a 4-cylinder and V6 engine, not with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain or V8.

It would have been a wise idea to cancel the 2016 and focus on a next gen. Or just fix the pricing for 2016.

Welcome the era of 10 – 20 AER mile PHEV optional ($10k+) power trains on Cadillacs. No more dedicated platforms.

right. They need full electric luxury sedans and SUVs with fast charging at least 120-150KWh and work on charging infrastruction and range 250-300 miles. Hope that is one of his priorities and ELR makes no sense in that case.

So GM starts a task force to study Tesla (according to some news a while back), and they figured out that no high end buyer wants a plug in. All the while the Germans go all PHEV and the richest ZIP codes in the US stock up on Model S’s.
Well, if one wants to relaunch a brand what better opportunity than 100 year old ICE tech more leather and, gasp, monitors that hide in the back of the seats. That’s true innovation I guess.
I wonder where this guy is going to jump ship next, sounds like he would be at home at Lexus or FIAT.

From my first post I’ve stated, ” WHy or why did they hire this clown?”. He’s either lying, or, he’s like a little kid who cannot make up his mind. I test drove the ELR 3 times, and wanted very much to like it. Dealers also offered me $25,000 off the list price. But to make a car with 2 leather rear seats that you can just look at but not actually use is BS. Beyond Stupidity. They try to make a car that appeals to younger people. Ok, but what about your traditional buyer. Most EV drivers around here are over 60 years old, myself included. Their typical customer wants to pull out their favorite CD and put it in the radio, the same thing theyve done with cassettes and later CD’s for around 20 years now. Not fumble around trying to get the thing to work in the diminutive Glove box which must now remain empty to fiddle with the CD in there. I guess most like the ‘regen on demand’. I hate it. When you go around a curve you instantly lose it since there is no way to latch the control. The rest of the car… Read more »

Wait . . . you still use CDs?

I’m in my 30s, and I use CDs all the time. Of course, I also use iPods and USB sticks, FM and sometimes *gasp* AM radio too! Whatever gets the job done. I haven’t messed with the ELR’s CD player. In fact, I haven’t even sat in one. But with the Leaf, the CD slot is behind the nav screen. Accessing it while driving is annoying, unless I have a passenger to do it for me. But it’s a clean design so I don’t really mind that much.

What are CDs? Investment vehicles of some sort? 😉

I’m in my 30’s too and I use cassette tapes. I also heard on TV once that stereotyping people is bad.


Why not simply rip the CD onto a USB sick and use that? Much more convenient.

Sadly, I’m just too lazy. I wish I was kidding.

I am too lazy for both, so I ponied up and got Beats.

Plus most all of the CDs I really loved got stolen from my car years ago.

I still hate streaming quality. Beats is better than most, but hopefully Ponos will scare quality back into music.

Also in my 30s and occasionally use CDs (mostly to play the kiddie tunes for the kids). I have a bunch of CDs that I’ve owned for over a decade and never seem to find the time to rip them. I loved that I could just get into the Leaf and my music started playing (most of the time).

That CD load button was a pain though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally pressed it, much to my wife’s amusement.

Radio? What’s that? I use music streaming (iTunes Radio and Spotify) and the ONLY radio station I stream anymore is KCRW in Santa Monica. I can’t stand commercials.

As do I. If I want to hear something with no compression, CD are it. Many MP3 files are horrible; I can clearly hear the compression artifacts in the high frequencies. AAC is a little better, but all lossy formats at usual bitrates have noticeable problems if you have a decent audio system.

Having said that, a CD is probably not needed on a car unless you spend a lot of time driving slowly, perhaps stuck in traffic. At highway speeds road noise is a bigger problem than compression.

Four letters: AIFF. Or there’s always FLAC or whatever, but I find the simple uncompressed format to be the most universally-supported.

Storage is almost free these days, I see no need for lossy formats for home use and I’ll never have to re-rip anything when I get sick of whatever bit rate seemed “good enough” last time. (Can you tell I went through that exercise once?) For walk-around or in the car, as you say a lossy format is generally fine so you can fit a near-infinite amount onto a USB stick.

But if you like CDs, great. To each their own. Some people pine for the warm sound of vinyl, or the homey hiss and crackle of their grandfather’s wire recorder.

I use records and a-tracks to play my music in my car, you guys use USB’s?

The new head of Cadillac was not responsible for the ELR.

He was hired to separate Cadillac from GM corp think (which resulted in the ELR).

So look for Cadillac to blaze its own path using Voltec but not using Chevy engines, or Chevy platforms.

The word is that Cadillac is rolling out multiple crossovers, each with a voltec plugin option.

So sit back and enjoy the ride.

What “word” are you referring to? I’ve heard nothing about plug-in plans of any type from Caddy, certainly not adding Voltec power-trains to Cadillac crossovers. Everything about this dude says he will run Cadillac as far as way from plug-ins as he possibly can.

Google it.

Never mind. I just saw Anton’s Bloomberg post. I’m still skeptical, however, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and reserve final judgement once I see some action from them. I’ll call shenanigans if, after a few years, they still have no plug-in to show for their “effort.”

I have the ELR and I love it. I can’t find a reason to dislike it.
Interesting that people make comments on the ELR because it has two usable seats. But the 911 makes sense(I had one of those to)? 4 seats and only two usable. Comparing the ELR to a tesla is comparing Oranges to Apples (5-7 passenger sedan to a coupe’).
Does the chevy Camaro have usable back seats? NO, two un-usable. The six cylinder Camaro is dog slow where the ELR will out run the RS.
Cadillac did over price the car and they would have sold more at a lower price point and the recent discounts prove that the will sell and yes I bought mine discounted as well.
I love it and will enjoy it.


A Chevy Volt with leather seats and wood interior priced at Tesla Model S pricing. It never had a chance.

For the record, I was there at he event talking to Johan and the story is a bit more complex than what’s described. His right hand man Uwe Ellinghaus talked about it in this article:

“Next, Cadillac plans to offer a version of the Chevy Volt’s plug-in hybrid system in many of its cars, Ellinghaus said. The brand already has the ELR, which uses the Volt’s drive system, but there’s much more to come, he said.”

Plug-ins coming soon, just like when he was at Audi and Infiniti.

de Nysschen has never actually seen a plug-in onto the showroom floor, ever…

He shelved those projects because the batteries weren’t developed enough. They finally have reached the point of viability for Audi.

Audi has sold about 1400 plug-ins worldwide, ever.

Talking about selling plug-ins and doing it are two vastly different things.

Audi also built the first modern plug-in hybrid, the Audi Duo, several years before the Prius was introduced in Japan (without a plug).

I agree they haven’t done much for us lately.


No problem, Tesla & BMW eager to sell to upscale plug-in market.

RIP Cadillac ELR.

As someone who lives in an area where I can’t swing a dead cat without seeing Tesla Model S, I can tell you that pretty much no one around here even considered the ELR. I’ve only once seen an ELR and I see Fiat 500es, Model Ss, LEAFs, i3s, Volts, etc. all day long. The Caddy is just not really popular in Silicon Valley.

I think what you meant to say is RIP Cadillac… why is it that the companies he worked for do better after he departs.
Having looked at the smoke and mirrors tech demo videos that he did for Audi… I see no substance here. Listening to his total lack of vision shows me that he is a typical, hand waving, 5 year plan, pack of puffery, that I spent many years in Silicon Valley watching with great sadness as they embrace interesting, up and coming, tech… badly implement and kill it and then blame it on market forces.
Clearly the ELR came before him, and was priced by a numb skull, but it had potential. If Chevy takes its bones and releases a 2 door version of the new VOLT… maybe leaving out the back seat in favor of a large flat load floor with enough batteries under it to make the Volt 2 door an 80 EV miles car. That would be progress. Or maybe Buick will jump at the chance to release a more moderately priced luxo version of the Volt aimed squarely at the Chinese market.
Either way… I fear for Cadillac at a time when it had been improving.

The ELR is one of the hottest looking cars on the market. I would own one were it not for being over priced.

I think they could have a lot of success with the ELR? Give it a more appropriate, but still luxury, price, and put the new quieter EREV drivetrain in from Volt 2.0

Those two things would do a lot for sales IMHO.

Ahem… PHEV.

Give it a rest Aaron.

You two crack me up!

I agree with both of you… It is a hot looker… and a PHEV. ;-p

I wouldn’t prescribe the term “hot looking car” to anything in the Cadillac lineup, but to each his (or her as the case may be) own. To me, the Volt 1.0 looks much better than the ELR. And the Volt 2.0 looks better still.

I agree completely. Never did understand the excitement with the CTS and the Escalade. I always thought they were butt ugly myself.

Agreed. Make it e85 capable and incorporate Bolt 200 mile range battery pack and supercharge ICE. This will make it a Tesla Killer. I love my ELR; luxurious, on-demand power choice, quiet, built like a tank and gorgeous. Screw the bloggers who have never driven one.

Whether you like the ELR or not . . . it did completely bomb.

If GM wants to make a high-end plug-in, they should really create a new brand. A plug-in version of that new Malibu hybrid could make a nice competitor for the Ford Fusion Energi.

Cadillac R Troublesome Enough With 1 Powertrain …Imagine 2 Powertrains….A Living Night Mare waiting To Happen…..Good move ! GM

The CT6 is 204″ long and with the 4 cylinder and RWD it tips the scales at just under 3700 lbs.

An E350 from Mercedes comes in at just over 4K lbs. Other than a midsize SUV, this is the perfect candidate for a plug.

We need more options than small sedans.

The ELR is great. It can’t match a Model S in speed but the Model S can’t match it in terms of luxury or range. From someone who owns both, anyone who thinks an ELR is a Volt with leather seats needs to put the crack pipe down.

Is it worth $81K. Nope. Not to me. In my mind no car is worth that. But the ELR does compare very favorably with a MB E series or a BMW 5 series, both of which carry an MSRP of over $71K comparably equipped. Assuming of course that you like smaller cars, don’t care about four doors or a back seat, and have some place to plug in.

I think the main problem (besides the price), was the fact the ELR’s performance numbers were no better (or even inferior) compared to the Volt. Less range, less ICE MPG, 0-60 times were only marginally better.

If people are gonna drop $80k on a luxury coupe, they would expect some pretty gaudy performance numbers. Because there wasn’t much difference between the ELR and Volt’s numbers, the ELR couldn’t shake the “It’s a reskinned Volt with power seats for double the price” image.

Why on earth are you comparing it to a MB E or BMW 5? Those are way bigger, way more powerful cars. The ELR is a subcompact.

The ELR is competition to an optioned out CLA250 or C250, BMW 2 series, or Audi A3 (all with base engines).

MSRP should have been no more than $50k, and even then I’d pick an i3 REx.

This just means it will come back as a ATS sized 4-door sedan. But with a 200+ mile battery pack(shared with the Bolt) to compete directly with the new Tesla and new Ford EVs coming.

The ELR was just a bad business model, bad design, bad pricing……just bad.

Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming.

Just as I thought.

I think the ELR was already doomed. Too expensive and not enough improvement over a much more affordable Volt.

That being said, Cadillac is definitely going to need some plug-ins in their lineup to compete with every other luxury brand out there. But the plug-ins need to be adapted for performance, not for the treehugger. For example, I think they need to be eyeballing the Volkswagen GTE. That’s the sort of integration they should be looking for in a luxury brand. They should be shooting for 6 seconds 0-60 times or LESS with both the gas and electric together.

He likely saw that it was introduced at too high a price point and been the continual butt of every joke and decided nothing would get it past that image.

With high end automobiles, image is almost everything. I thought it was gorgeous, but way out of my price range.

10 years from now GM will be begging for another government bailout.

I wonder if this means that I can pick up a low mileage ELR in a year or so for $20k or so?

I am hoping for the same thing.

GM should have worked on a Volt SUV with the development money they spent on this fiasco. They would be flying out of the showrooms now.


+(i can’t find the infinity button)


+1. I’ve said that 100 times. An EREV Equinox would be very well received. Look at how good the Mitsu Outlander PHEV has done in the markets its been released in.

Why an Equinox, why not an SRX?

Probably because you could get more sales of a Voltec Equinox. Hell, I’d bet it could surpass even Volt sales.

I would prefer the SRX, but hell I would take anything at this point.

If they made an EREV SUV, people like Aaron would just try to demean it by calling it a PHEV for (insert biased reasoning and “logic” here).


I wouldn’t waste my time waiting for the Outlander PHEV if GM developed a Voltec crossover or SUV.

I think they went the wrong direction by going with a two door. Along with the crazy price. I’d put the value of the ELR about $10k over the Volt.
They should have stretched the four door and made the back seats livable for actual adults. I’d value a stretched Cadillac Voltec at $15k to 20k over the Volt.

The reality is that the ELR did not add much to the Cadillac lineup. It can do better and will do better.

Cadillac will build on its own platform (which is now separate from other GM brands). Gone will be the constant comparisons to the Volt, enabling Cadillac to distinguish its forthcoming hybrids.

If they copy every German lux brand and just offer a 10 – 20 mile AER PHEV option on a bunch of their cars, that will not be distinguishing.

I think German [Ctrl]+[c] -> Cadillac [Ctrl]+[v] is about all de Nysschen knows.

I think it’s ignoring reality pretty firmly to suggest that the reason the ELR is being cancelled is because Cadillac hired someone who has an anti-EV attitude. The question we should be asking is, why did something as badly designed and overpriced as the ELR go into production in the first place?

Yeah, it looks nice on the outside. So what? That’s the -only- good thing you can say about this car: That it looks good sitting in your driveway. Most people would rather have a car that is actually worth the price; and if it has a back seat, most people expect you could actually seat adults there.

Canceling this turkey was inevitable, regardless of how much Cadillac execs love or hate EVs. The only reason this isn’t as big a debacle as the Edsel is because Cadillac didn’t produce or promote it as heavily.


Oh… and don’t forget that snotty, haughty, horrible ad they created that alienated all but the last few people who had even considered buying one.

How can we forget? That ad was so disgusting I think I will bear the mental scars for life.


The ELR’s problem was NOT – I repeat – NOT price. Tesla customers pay ELR money every day.

The problem with the ELR was its lousy performance. The Volt drivetrain made it into the Cadillac Cimarron. Dropping the price, or putting $25k on the hood, only verifies what a dud it is.

Losing money on 100 ELRs a month is not what Johan is interested in doing. I’m glad he killed this embarrassment.

It is about value. People will pay $80k – $100k for a Model S because they see the value in 250+ mile AER with performance and tech.

If Cadillac sold the ELR for $35k, it would sell in numbers close to the Volt. A price of $50k would have probably been the sensible move for Cadillac, but they were just trying to squeeze profit out of the Voltec drivetrain. Cadillac arrogantly said it was “limited” and “expensive” from the beginning. Very few bit, so they quietly lowered the prices.

The ELR was a major hit while in concept mode, so I don’t think the vehicle itself was the real problem. Just the execution of it.

“‘We will roll out plug-in hybrids across our portfolio,’ de Nysschen said in an interview with Bloomberg, ‘It’s part of confirming the progressive nature of the brand.'”

Call me naive, but this is the most important thing I take from this article. The ELR was a big commercial failure. GM has a much improved electric powertrain. *If* Cadillac is to have plug-in hybrids or EVs in its future, it needs to distance itself from this failure.

Perhaps if you can see into this guy’s mind, you’ll find cynicism. Perhaps. The cancellation of the ELR makes sense regardless.

Except for one guy I know of, everyone who has an ELR loves it. Most if not all of the people complaining about the ELR are the ones who don’t own one.

Of course, the problem for GM/Cadillac isn’t the few people that did buy an ELR and loves it, but rather, all the various people that did not buy an ELR.

Is anyone surprised by this?

Only an idiot would be surprised by this…

The sales number and the guy in charge already doomed the ELR…

To be fair the current ats and cts will also not live on because they are launching new cars ct3, ct5 etc and they are not a name change and are new cars, also he has said and supports plug ins across all future models or at least most of them, he has also said before that he would like a Cadillac electric car

This guy came from Japanese and german companies …. He knows GM Is VAT taxed out of Japan and Germany and every other major market…. A chevy volt sells after unfair taxes for $80000 in China and Japan …. I’m sure the ELR is twice that …. So he has to cater to the only open market the US

Can you get the electric seats of the Cadillac inside the Volt???..

Can you transfer the electric seats of the Cadillac inside the Volt???..

If your not old gasoline fogies – Tesla full EV is more fun and performance with Style than a future Cadillac.
Seem the new head honcho has already given up…………….
So much for a leader with any vision except rear view.

You want the truth? Read this to get the ELR story straight. The ELR is destined to become a classic once the BS gets out of the way.

You want the truth?

Consumer Reports has called the Tesla Model S “The best car we ever reviewed”… and said that more than once. CR also says that Tesla Model S owners have the highest customer satisfaction rating of -any- car currently made.

The Cadillac ELR? Not so much.

Sure, you can find people who love their ELR. One size does -not- fit all; diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. There were people who loved their Edsel back in the day, too.

But you won’t find very -many- people who love their ELR… because rather few bought one. That doesn’t make ELR lovers wrong; it just means that not enough buyers share their opinion for it to be worthwhile for Cadillac to continue producing the car.

Went to the ny auto show and the Cadillac exhibit was a big disappointment. The ELR was swarmed by onlookers with awe and the “v” cars were largely ignored. The CT6 was a bomb, especially after seeing the new Lincoln. The Mercedes exhibit was incredible btw as was McLaren.

Admittedly, the ELR is a nice looking car. Its just very impractical, and they surely did not think about their target buyer, if they even had one. Its doubly bad that Lincoln was so appealing by comparison since those things can’t hold a candle to the big Mercurys and Lincolns of years ago. Both Ford and GM need to hire some decent stylists, or at least contract out the job to Ghia Studios in Italy (Turin?). Although, the 2016 volt doesn’t look too shabby. Interior is nice, too. Not bad for a Chevy. Will have to test drive one when it comes out to fully appreciate all the positives and negatives. The positives look to win on that car. But this CT6 is mildly interesting, but only interesting to me if it comes in a decent plug-in hybrid. And if they come out with something like a whopping 14 mile All Electric Range, then I’m not interested. Batteries are cheaper and higher density than they used to be so why don’t they exploit this? I don’t need 1000 horsepower either, and any ‘underpowered’ plug-in won’t be rejected by me solely for that reason. All Electric Range is the most important… Read more »

Just a note on N.America vehicle market share … the trend is those selling more PEVs are gaining share, while those selling less (or no PEVs) are loosing market share.

In recent months Nissan has passed Honda, and is closing in on Chrysler. Also, Ford passed Toyota, and closing in on GM.

FYI: Tesla needs to sell over 15,000 vehicles a month to reach 1% market share. (~180,000 vehicles per year)

I am one of the few that bough the the over priced ELR. I feel like Cadillac has used me as a fool. I even bough a SRX too. You ever felt burned playing full price for something that you can never get parts for? Their mistakes ended up being my mistake.