Luke Ottaway's picture

Cadillac will follow Chevrolet with 200-mile EV, could actually compete with Tesla

General Motors will have a respectable lineup of electric cars by the end of the decade, as the Cadillac product plan has recently been revealed to include three electrified models to join the Chevrolet EVs.

Though Cadillac’s new CEO and former Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen is not known to be overly fond of electric vehicles, he has yet to put the brakes on the electrified plans of GM’s luxury brand.

ELR, CT6, and TBD

De Nysschen told Reuters at the 2014 Paris Auto Show that, as Cadillac prepares to expand its lineup from five to as many as 10 models by 2020, electric propulsion will figure prominently in the company’s plans.

Despite the slow sales of the Cadillac ELR, the stylish Volt-derived coupe will be getting a refresh for the 2016 model year and will live on through a second generation that may or may not have two doors but will still use the Voltec powertrain.

The boss also confirmed that there will be a plug-in hybrid version of the CT6 slated for the end of 2015, though details on that car are still scarce. Check out what we know so far.

An all-electric model is also in the works for Cadillac, but even less is known of this mysterious vehicle. It will almost certainly come on the heels of the 200-mile Chevrolet EV that was recently confirmed by GM product chief Mark Reuss.

Chevrolet’s 200-mile EV: will it be a Sonic?

Of course, nobody has official specs on the Chevy yet. But it is well known that GM has hoped to introduce a 200-mile EV with a price tag in the $30,000 range, and it will likely arrive sometime in late 2016 or 2017.

Two separate sources close to the company’s plans have informed Automotive News that the rumored 200-mile Chevrolet will be based on the Sonic subcompact.

Though some EV enthusiasts may lament this particular choice, the Sonic is scheduled for a redesign sometime in 2016 and will likely be substantially differentiated from the current model. It also isn't yet clear to what extent the EV will be "based on" the Sonic.

There is also the rather unfortunate possibility that the first iteration of the much-anticipated vehicle would be produced in low volumes as a compliance car, but we certainly hope not.

Will Cadillac compete with Tesla?

Since the Chevrolet EV is expected around 2017, we probably won’t see the all-electric Cadillac until at least a year later. The Caddy could be a variation of the Chevrolet, which would make a lot of sense from a cost savings standpoint. However, GM took this approach with the ELR and that has not worked out too well so far.

The all-electric Cadillac model could be either a crossover or a larger sedan to compete with either the Tesla Model S or X. The current ELR range-extended electric vehicle is priced like a Tesla and shouldn’t be, but a legitimate all-electric competitor from Cadillac could take a bite out of Tesla’s flagship sales. And if Chevrolet can coax 200 miles out of their offering, you can bet Cadillac will up the ante with even more range.

However, we will speculate that the Cadillac EV will be a more direct competitor of the smaller Tesla Model 3. It would likely be priced somewhat higher than the base Model 3, which is expected to start around $35,000, but with options the price of the Tesla will climb quickly. If Cadillac could bring more than 200 miles of range for a competitive MSRP (think BMW i3 - Mercedes B-Class territory), we think it would do well.

It will be interesting to see how this next generation of battery electric vehicles plays out. The scene won’t be clear until we have a better idea of pricing – for example, if Chevrolet can introduce its 200-mile EV for $30,000 it will compete directly with the next-generation LEAF (the largest battery of which will offer closer to 150 miles of range) but not necessarily with Tesla’s Model 3, which will be more of a BMW 3-series competitor.

Sometime after these three vehicles are introduced, Cadillac will step in with their vehicle that should be a more direct competitor of the Palo Alto disruptors, whether it goes up against Model 3, Model S or Model X. We look forward to seeing how this particular fight plays out.


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