Over half of Cadillac’s dealer network will sell the new ELR range-extended electric car after it begins arriving in showrooms next month.
The show of faith is especially telling given the fact that dealers are required to shell out for special high-voltage tools that won’t apply to any other Cadillac vehicles being sold in those stores. Sales and service staff need to undergo training sessions as well, but that is true with any product new to a showroom.
Cadillac currently has about 900 dealers in the U.S. and 500 have signed up to sell the electric luxury coupe, ELR marketing manager Sabin Blake said in a telephone interview.
At the beginning of the year, some Chevrolet dealers opted out of selling the Volt because General Motors reportedly required dealers spend an additional $5,100 on tools to service the vehicles. Before the increase, reports suggest stores paid $2,800. Company spokesman Donny Nordlicht declined to say what dealers are required to spend on training and new tools in order to sell the ELR, but insisted that it was “on par” with other industry products.
Through November, the Volt had sold just over 20,700 units. In 2012, Chevrolet sold almost 23,500 by the end of the year; small sales compared to the brand’s top-dog products that sell in the hundreds of thousands. Still, General Motors expects Volt sales to dwarf those of the upcoming ELR.
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The company hasn’t specified expected sales volumes, but says production will be very limited and predicts the expensive coupe will be cross-shopped against the Tesla Model S and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, among others.
Currently, the plan is to keep expectations hushed while offering as many ELRs as stores can sell. Blake says the company won’t cap production, but that volume coming from GM’s Hamtramck, Mich. plant will be very flexible.
Barring buyers checking any of the upgrade boxes and before the $7,500 federal tax incentive, the ELR costs $76,000 (with delivery). Available premium features ratchet that number up to about $83,000. It’s quite the sticker for a car that many see as a premium coupe version of the Volt, which costs less than half. The ELR has 295 lb-ft of torque, which is a mild increase over the Volt. Cadillac says it can drive up to 35 miles purely on electricity or up to 300 with help from its on-board gasoline engine to generate electricity. That figure is slightly worse than the Volt’s 38 mile all-electric range.
Nevertheless, signs keep pointing in favor of the ELR. Blake says all of its “tier one” and most of its “tier two” markets will be supplied. The car will be compliant with California regulations for single-occupant HOV exemption; a problem GM already solved with the Volt.
With a low sales volume in mind, you shouldn’t expect to see very many – if any – television ad campaigns for the ELR either. “Virtually all of it is digital,” Blake said. As the two key markets, California and New York will be primarily targeted.
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