General Motors Compares Cadillac ELR To Tesla Model S


Cadillac ELR Compared To Tesla Model S

Cadillac ELR Compared To Tesla Model S

It’s advertising 101…make a product appear superior by selectively choosing and then listing features that the competitive product lacks (or offers only as optional).

General Motors put out this Cadillac ELR – Tesla Model S comparison PDF in which the ELR clearly seems superior.

We won’t argue for one plug-in over the other.  Instead, we’ll point out a flaw and some essential safety features that the Model S lacks.

First off, the Model S comes standard with keyless entry, so we’re not sure why GM says that this feature is “optional” on the Model S.

However, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that the Model S lacks both forward collision alert and lane departure warning.  We believe these features should be standard and that you’d be hard pressed to find another $70,000-plus vehicle without these features (not even available optionally on the Model S).  Tesla does admit that these features are necessary and expects to make both available soon, but honestly soon can’t come soon enough.

Of note is that Cadillac ELRs are now selling for up to $20,000 off MSRP.  A raging deal ($55,000-ish) on an exceptionally well-equipped plug in?  Yes…we think so.

But to us, these cars couldn’t be much more different – so why compare them?  Also pitting one plug-in against another to a consumer who (for the most part) is already sensitive to promoting the segment as a whole as opposed to knocking others down, is probably not a great idea.

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73 Comments on "General Motors Compares Cadillac ELR To Tesla Model S"

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55K is still too much for a badge engineered Volt. 45k is more like it

yeah, 45k and I’m buyin one….75k and I’ll take the tesla…

No, you should not buy ELR. You should wait until 2017 and buy 300 mile ranged version of Tesla Model III. With supercharging access and AWD, this car will be superior to ELR by every aspects.

I think that in 2017 you will indeed be able to place a deposit on a Tesla Model 3 — for delivery closer to 2020. And at some price, depending on equipment.

If it takes til 2020 to get it out, then Tesla will likely be out of business.

Your predication is closer to reality than the mainstream media are reporting. Certainly not $35,000 by 2016 with Supercharging. I’m sure they’ll show a concept sometime next year to keep the buzz going. Deposits by 2016, yes.

I think that what Anton meant, that if you go to Tesla store in 2017 and put deposit for Model 3, then the queue will be about three years when you actually get the car delivered. The approximate demand for Model 3 will be around one to two million cars per year and Tesla is prepared to manufacture one tenth of that demand on early years.

The Model 3 will have AWD? I doubt it. I hope not actually. That would be an unnecessary expense for a car that needs to be as inexpensive as possible. And I certainly hope it has the ability to access a supercharger but I hope it is not for free. I’d rather pay for the few times I use it. Charge me $20 to $30 for an hour. Have a $2000 option for free lifetime usage.

Heck . . . even $40 for an hour of supercharging might be OK. I’d rarely ever use it but when I do, the convenience makes it well worth paying that price.

I think he was talking about a theoretical high end Model III (given that the ELR is $55k), and probably introduced later when initial demand subsides.

I understand your sentiment about supercharging, but I don’t think Tesla will have any shortage of takers for the option for a while.

Like most automakers, they want to advertise a low base price, and then have most buyers opt for must-have features like this. As a comparison, I think only 6% of new cars have manual transmission, yet that’s generally what you get in the base price.

Exactly (on the superchargers). Have access to base model buyers but they have to pay a high amount per use . . . on par with gasoline would be good. But allow people to pay ~$2K more for free lifetime access.

The $2k is supposed to be paying for the hardware on the car that allows the DC bypass. That is why you can activate the SC capability later on the 60 kWh. They already took the loss on the hardware figuring it will get activated later.

This is great news for Tesla Motors, to be directly compared to GM’s flop of a Luxury Vehicle, that’s just not selling very well…

The fact that Cadillac feels compelled to point out this comparison really says something about Tesla’s impact on the competition.

GM should compare monthly sales

As per “GM should compare monthly sales” – It could compare Quarterly sales more directly’ or annual sales, but what would be the point. They Pretty much know the psychology of their target ELR buyer: “If it ain’t a Cadillac, it’s nit for me!”

However, when did GM, Cadillac, or anyone else, upgrade customers car automatically at home or during a service appointment, without request? If Tesla is ready to add features to their S, they can set them up in software delivered directly or for physical updates, at a service call, where you get a great loaner and no rental cost for it!

I wonder what took GM so long. Scott200 did the same comparison right here over a year ago. I see nothing wrong in this..Automakers have done direct comparisons for decades, this particular advertisement reminding me of one from 1959 doing a direct comparison between the New Plymouth Valiant and the New Chevrolet Corvair. Except in that case, the GM product was the more dangerous car. Besides, Supermarkets compare prices all the time. A bit of friendly competition doesn’t hurt anyone. I’m a fan of old fashioned HARD SELL advertising. Just tell me why I should buy your product by giving me facts and figures and leave the sex appeal stuff out. I can use my own eyes to see whether the car is attractive. In this case both cars are attractive. The Soft Sell approach muddies the water and therefore I dislike this type of advertising. I figure it is used by companies when they can’t come up with any hard benefits for their overpriced products, such as when CLOSEUP used red food dye and sells sex for their overpriced toothpaste. The fact that such advertising is wildly successful does not still cut the mustard with me. I’m in the… Read more »

The ELR is a hybrid with fancy interior. Take a 16k Chevy Cruze, add a battery to give it 38 mile range, fancy interior for the cost of another Volt.

The Tesla Model S is a revolutionary 260 mile range electric vehicle with spectacular performance and handling. Its a large car with cavernous storage.

There is no comparison between a Model S and an ELR. Like comparing a Mercedes Sedan to my bicycle… but a very fancy bicycle.

The Translogic test drive shows the ELR is Much More then a Volt or Cruze in drag. Let’s stop with the hyperbola.

I’m not happy with the pricing target, but let’s not deny the content and engineering of the vehicle.

Sorry, I disagree. The ELR is very much a competitor to the Model-S. In fact, I’d say the BMW i3 and the ELR are probably the only two cars that could stand a chance of competing.

Now, just because I say it is a competitor does not mean it is a serious competitor. Much like Windows Phones are competitor to the iPhone. But not a serious competitor. Hahah.

The Model-S is really in a segment of its own right now. I don’t think Tesla will have any serious competition until their Gen-3 car comes to market, at which point it will compete with the next gen Leaf and Volt.

There is definitely a comparison . . . they both are luxury sedans. But that said, they are very different. Different styling, completely different drivetrains, different features, etc. I’d go with the Tesla . . . but you gotta admit, the ELR does have some very nice optional features that the Model S lacks like the frontal collision warning, standard leather, better standard audio, etc.

In your comparison, don’t forget:

2 door vs. 4 door – not sure if this is important to you
Infotainment – better system and future free upgrades from Tesla, future 3rd party apps, etc.
Running costs – tires alone might make the Model S more expensive
“Free Long Distance” – not sure if you make road trips often or have access to SuperChargers
Interior quality – I haven’t been inside the ELR, but from what I have heard it is a level above the Model S
Performance – IIRC you have a Roadster, so if this isn’t replacing that, you might not care

I my mind these are two totally different types of vehicles in two different price classes. It seems like GM is trying to get potential Model S buyers to cross-shop the ELR. That may not be a good strategy for them…

Or just wait for the flood of used Model Ss once AWD comes out (like I am) 🙂

+10. Good Point.

Flood of used Model S cars once AWD comes out? Really? I really doubt that. I struggle to understand why I would care about AWD. I grew up in Minnesota and did just fine with front wheel drive. But I hope you are right, I’d love to pick up a used Model S for cheap . . . but I really don’t see that happening.

An AWD Model S P85 could likely hit a ~3.5 second 0 – 60 and increase the range. I think it would trigger the first round of happy (wealthy) owners that want to upgrade. I am not saying you will get a $40k Model S, but the used inventory should finally climb from the 30s to the 100s. Expect to see some loaded Model Ss for 60% – 70% of their MSRP.

Obvious that GM still has no clue.

They think putting lipstick on a Volt makes it the same as a Tesla Model S.

I have complete confidence that GM will figure out a way to mess up the redesigned Volt.

This actually makes more sense to me than comparing the Volt to the Leaf. Right now, the luxury car to beat is the Model S, so GM is going after them. Whether you agree their car is better or not is a moot point. They are going where the customers are.

On the flip side, the “affordable green” car to beat is the PRIUS, not the LEAF. Go after the Prius, GM. The Leaf audience is small pickings by comparison.

Its a hard market to peg for comparison shopping. People looking for a BEV outside of california can only choose between the LEAF and Model S. And they will, and have comparison shopped between the two. I’ve debated between the two. I’m not looking for a luxury car. I’m looking for a practical battery electric vehicle with acceptable range.

The main article wondered about remote start being optional. As I read the GM chart, that is accurate since checking the Tesla website the remote heating and cooling from a distance to precondition the car will only happen with an optional interior package, whereas the computer/smartphone feature is standard with the ELR.

Is that Tech? I understand the Tesla can actually set temperature, from a smart phone. The Volt can only turn on where you last left the temperature setting in the cabin.

The Model S doesn’t even have a key, so that bullet point should just be taken off. Keyless entry was originally meant as you had a button on the fob to unlock. They both obviously have that.

I think they are trying to compare the optional “auto-presenting door handles” as keyless entry. There is no difference between the vehicles on this front.

Bill: Since you already drive a Volt and a Roadster, you _can_ make an informed opinion on the merits of the Model S and the Caddy ELR. The issue of the smaller size of the Caddy and then the fact that it is not likely to feel as roomy as a Model S is interesting, that you are fine with that. I will never have to deal with those questions, both cars are out of my price range(I am considering a low mileage off lease Volt to replace my Mitsubishi I-MiEV though) but I love reading about them. BTW, the Caddy is a very attractive car, in my eyes.


Well Lou, I’m not sure my opinion is more informed than yours since you seem like a pretty smart cookie. One of the criticisms of the ELR is that there is little rear seat room, but that means front seat comfort has been optimized, and as far as plain ‘comfortable seats’ goes, since I have driven an S, i’d put the Check Mark on the ELR’s side. The $2500 Leather 20 way or whatever adjustable seats look like to me i’d fall asleep in them, but the standard ELR seats are still great, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the way “Cadillac Cashmere” seats look but it takes a bit extra effort to keep them clean and spotless. The seats in an ELR are a grade up from Caddy DeVille seating. The biggest surprise to me sitting in an ELR is GM’s attention to front seat comfort. I’m usually not a big fan of bells and whistles, so others would be attracted to the ELR’s admittedly strong points there. Minuses to the ELR are they still have 4 cyl engine noise when your battery goes dead, (the Bose noise cancellation can only go so far), but admittedly, in… Read more »

Sounds like the ELR is a perfect fit for you. Go pick one up and give us your review!!!

Happy car shopping.

Electric Car Guest Drive

Bill it’s good to see you posting again, I always learn something.

I just finished writing a review of the ELR, and couldn’t help comparing it o the S at least a little bit.

You hit all the high points, very good insights. I’ll be interested to hear more as you get ready to purchase, and then after you buy.

The biggest difference I experience between the two is that the Model S simply feels so responsive it’s just unreal. So much different than any other car. Not just performance, responsiveness to input. Musk has talked about this a bit but it’s really hard to understand until you experience it.

When I let people drive my S they almost always exclaim “whoa” or something within the few seconds.

The ELR felt good, and the seats are undeniably more comfortable, but I didn’t go “whoa!”

Anyone who wants to drive my S, please see the web site, we’ll have more events soon.

Ask him about Chemtrails. No wait, please don’t. 😉

Geoengineering is more of a concern on the west coast than the east. So go ahead, laugh it up.

what web site for events?

All of the blue user handles are links. His URL is

Thanks for the kind words. I’m truly on the fence about the S vs ELR. Now that the warranty just got much better for the S, that’s a strong plus in its favor and it shows a seriousness to get these problems fixed which seemed lacking in the past.

Woo hoo!

Today, GM announces a Volt Owner Testimonial ad approach to upcoming Volt V.2 in 2016 – and puts out this comparison of ELR vs. Model S when the Tesla makes the Caddy look like a filet mignon next to a McSteak Deluxe from McDonalds.

Hey GM – You tried the owner testimonial angle with Volt v.1 and it didn’t set the market on fire – and you still haven’t done the above type compare with Volt vs. Prius. Perhaps you’ll get a clue by 2017, 2018…

Compare Volt v.2 with Prius on every level.

Electric travel


Drive Feel

Show MPG numbers and comparative MSRP.

Volt vs. Prius could move the needle towards EV/PHEV mass adoption. ELR vs. Tesla = pathetic.

So, what if we would do a comparison on Model S features that are not found on ELR? Such as four doors, to begin with.

Too bad this comparison started in Marketing rather than Engineering.

I could see myself buying the ELR over the Model S, if it had more kWhs in the battery. I like everything about the ELR better than the Model S. The styling, the interior, the quality, backed by an established company. My only holdup is, for that kind of money, I want more electric range.

Tesla is still learning to build cars. Hopefully their quality/styling increases by the time the Model III arrives. I will be a more serious shopper then. GM better pay attention too.

Indeed.. The ELR needs either more electric range or a lower price tag. Either one would solve the problem.

Kdawg: “I like everything about the ELR better than the Model S”

– You’re not serious, right?

102 year-old company cannot build a skateboard after inventing the form-factor, and plants a wedgy, impractical body with seating for 2 toddlers in back, FRONT WHEEL DRIVE and a Volt drivetrain on a Chevy Cruze platform and lines it with Alcantara, leather and a power cupholder that’s glitch….and you say you like THAT better than a 0-60 in 4 second, sleek, Jaguar/Aston Marton-esque beauty that seats 5-7 with loads of cargo room + a frunk. The Tesla is a world-changer, and the ELR is a poser that does 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, oversteers like the heavy Cruze it is – has been discounted over 35% of it’s MSRP AND STILL SITS ON LOTS COLLECTINHG DUST, DAY IN and DAY OUT!

And you like it for it’s body!

I oft compare cars to women since men use similar parts of their minds it seems to quantify their value. So this means you prefer Jessica Simpson to Catherine Zeta Jones, eh?

* Catherine Zeta Jones IN HER PRIME! LOL!

Try going to and read the posts from guys who are mad as one can be over buying an ELR for $83,000 and now owning one of the biggest duds of our time! Read their thoughts about how you can nearly buy an ELR for what early Volts sold for in 2011. Read about their issues with sticky electric cupholders and funky Cadillac CUE infotainment systems. Now go to YouTube and watch dozens of videos of guys driving a Model S and squealing like little girls with delight when they punch the go pedal. Watch Csaba Csere, editor in chief of hybrid-hating Car & Driver magazine gush over Model S’s delights. Listen to Consumer Reports one more time – elaborate upon why Model S got their highest score ever. Adam Carolla, an oil-head to the core, cannot stop piling giddy exclamations on how Tesla people “get it” and do things no other car company ever thought of. Now play with that 17″ iPad on the dash that works flawlessly. ELR will go down in history as a bigger flop than Pontiac Aztec. Some showcars need to stay showcars. GM needs it’s head examined for building ELR —- it has… Read more »

The epitome of buyer’s remorse!

E = Early Adopters

L = Lamenting

R = Ridiculously Expensive Mistake



Both cars have their merits. Model S has to be optioned up to get the equivalent features of the ELR; however, Model S is larger, faster, and has longer electric range.

Model S quality control is questionable at this point, but the ELR doesn’t have enough cars on the road to reach a conclusion either.

The nice thing is that consumers have a choice, and all that matters is that it’s their choice.


I am cross-shopping Tesla, B-class, used Volt or waiting for summer ’15 ;), not ELR. It is happening, despite what Tesla professes. Their short-comings are as real as the Volt’s, which I won’t list. The sheer space, and single-segment solution, are big sells for the Tesla. As a complement to the family who already has one PHEV/BEV, it becomes even more compelling. But the Caddy list is very real, options are too expensive and other things like no rear grid-lines, sound small, but add up. Its odd, but a threat to them is simply concluding in favor of shorter range PHEV/BEV no. 2, plus a third long-range ICE’r.

Too bad we can’t stick Telsa’s drive-train into the Caddy’s body. Best of both worlds! (for me anyway)

I’d rather have GM’s Voltec drivetrain in the Tesla Model S body . . . as an option for those that want ICE ability.

Regardless of which EV someone prefers(now) I cannot wait to see what is on the horizon 5 years from now. Battery prices have dropped and will continue to do so, albeit at a slower rate than we had hoped. Nevertheless, EV’s will probably get bigger, have longer range and be more afordable than they are now. I am looking forward to it. I am rooting for all the EV companies…


Christ! I always defended the ELR (and the i3 too) when people went out to say that it was useless compared to the Model S, but this is just… It does far worse than good.

This kinda goes in the other way of what Mark Ruess thinks.

Marketing 101 is actually to not help the competition build brand-awareness. Outside of select niches, Tesla still has abysmal brand awareness (I still get the “what is that”, “who makes is”, “who?” sequence at least once a week). Depending on how widely this runs, there are going to be a whole host of folks hitting the Tesla website to find out who this upstart is that has Cadillac ruffled.

Wish they had given the money to the Volt marketing team instead.


There are things I think are outstanding about the Model S, but some aspects of the interior do seem disappointing for a car approaching 100k. Tesla also looks like they are behind when it comes to active safety features at this point. Would I still love to have one — of course — but the car is not perfect. GM, BMW and others ought to point these things out in their adds.

Ah, to old marketing trick of, see it comes standard so it’s free. All Cadillac has achieved here is to show us that Tesla gives their customers more options. They are trying the ploy of distracting the customer from noticing the inferior size and performance of their car by loading it with “standard” equipment and then pointing out that the other car will cost more if you get the same upgrades.

Maybe if Cadillac followed Tesla’s lead they might have moved a few more by having a base model that cost 15K less. Probably not.

I’m going to come right out and say it . . . the Cadillac ELR was a really REALLY stupid idea. Just imagine the pitch meeting:

Marketing Idiot 1 (MI1): We need to build another Voltec car . . . what should we build?

Marketing Idiot 2 (MI2): Well . . . what is Voltec?

MI1: Well, it is a brand new advanced technology that efficiently blends electric drive with conventional internal combustion engine drive. It has a large plug-in battery that will allow the car to go 40 miles on electricity before switching back to conventional gasoline.

MI2: So what we need is a group of people who are early adopters of the latest high technology products.

MI1: And environmentally conscious people who want to reduce their carbon footprint! The kind of people that get solar PV.

MI2: So who is that?

MI1: OLD PEOPLE! Old grumpy grandpa that watches Fox News all day!


*MI1 and MI2 look at each other*

MI1 & MI2 shouting in unison: “CADILLAC!! We need a Voltec Caddy!”

And hence, one of the dumbest car models ever build was created.

I don’t think it started as “We need to build another Voltec car”.

The Converj concept existed as a non-functioning display. Drive-train TBD. Everyone liked the looks, it won awards. So it eventually got green-lighted, and later became the ELR.

The only snafu I see (only because it peeves people) was the pricing. GM is maximizing their profits, but it made people angry, and it made the ELR GM’s 2nd punching bag for the haters. GM should have stuck to their original price of “Less than $57K”, and the angst would not have been as bad.

Reducing the price will help but I still think it will be a dog even after they cut the price. Honestly now, who do you know that buys Cadillacs? Maybe it is just where I have lived but in my experience it is old retired people . . . and they are not the new technology people nor the environmentally focused people.

Again, Tesla aimed squarely at the right market . . . the younger tech-savvy crowd that would buy BMW M5s, Audis, Porsches, etc. but also have a Prius. They like the new technology and are more likely to care about the environment.

That is the market GM is desperately trying to get to.

IMO the should have launched the ELR before the Volt at ~60k. Then came back with the Volt at $35k with a few less features. Then returned with an ELR 2nd Gen a year or two after with the upgraded Voltec, then a year later down into the Volt.

My Chevy/Caddy dealer allow me to test drive an ELR for 3 days when I took my Volt in for its 25,000 mile maintenance (oil change). It is a very sharp looking car in my opinion but I found a lot of the “bells and whistles” to be more annoying than useful. For example, the seat would vibrate when I was backing out of the garage to warn me that I was coming close to the edge of the garage door. Well, duh, I know that and need a buzzer to go off in my chair to tell me to watch out for something that is there every day. I will say, however, that the sound system is the best I’ve ever experience in a car, and I have the Bose option in my Volt.

How did you like the regen paddles?

Are you surprised?

Who is the “new hire” at Cadillac?

The famous guy that called Volt owners “idiots”…

Yeah, let’s see here:

ELR: 3.3 kW charging
Model S: 135 kW charging

What am I missing?

In EREV mode, it continues to ” charge” at hwy speed where the Model S has to be at 0mph. =)

That is the best thing I can come up with for the ELR.

ELR only has to charge up 10.5KWH or so of battery, so that really doesn’t matter much.

Remember The Cadillac Cimarron?… a Chevy with Leather seats! “He who forgets History is destined to repeat the mistakes it identifies.”
Cadillacs have always been an oversized, overpriced tank of a car that an owner was proud to drive; mine was a 1953 convertible with an automatic light dimmer, auto seeking radio, tan top and wine leather, kind of a cheaper version of a Bentley. GM has grossly damaged their Cadillac brand and must invent something unique to bring it back…something other than slick PR. How about an all battery electric drive train so that can go head to head with the “S.”

The ELR does have a few features the Model S does not but should:

Very comfortable seats
Adaptive cruise control / collision avoidance
Blind spot warning
Parking sensors (now avail on S)
Backup parking guide lines

Although most EV purists, myself included, want 250+ mi all electric range with Superchargers strategically located, if you need a gas hybrid because you travel to the boondocks (vacation home, etc) then the ELR would be a comfortable way to get there. As long as your kids are small, and you don’t have much luggage.