Wanted: Cadillac ELR Owners. Tree-Huggers Need Not Apply

If you’re prone to a little arbore amplectendo you’re not the kind of person General Motors had in mind when it designed the Cadillac ELR extended-range electric luxury coupe.

2014 Cadillac ELR

Based on the Chevrolet Volt, the ELR retails for $75,000 before incentives.

That’s because tree-huggers can’t — or don’t — buy new luxury cars, says Cadillac’s Chief of marketing Uwe Ellinghaus.

Talking with The Detroit News, at the recent New York International Auto Show, Ellinghaus confirmed that General Motors’ luxury brand plans to expand its electric car range beyond the ELR in future years, but that the cars themselves wouldn’t be sold as green cars.

Like the ELR, future plug-in Cadillacs would be sold based on the same qualities the rest of the brand uses: performance, luxury, and power.

It’s a sales strategy which has already got Cadillac in hot water with EV fans, thanks to its now infamous poolside commercial. In the sixty-second ad starring actor Neil McDonough, ELR owners are portrayed as hard-nosed, demanding, privileged buisness owners who work too hard and like things ‘just-so.’ McDonough’s character almost suggests the ELR’s plug-in capabilities is simply just an additional feature, not a reason to buy int he first place.

In fact, the poolside ad was met with such hostility by EV fans that GM even found itself defensively clarifying some of the ideas portrayed in the spot, stating that the ELR was designed for those who wanted to reward their self-made fortune. Those with “a little bit of grit under their fingernails” and an annual income of around $200,000 a year were the ELR’s target audience, GM’s ad team said.

Hard work is rewarded, but check your nails for tree dirt first.

Hard work is rewarded, but check your nails for tree dirt first.

But Ellinghaus seems to disagree. “These are not cars for tree-huggers, as tree-huggers do not buy new luxury cars,” he said.

Admittedly, the act of tree-hugging — or rather acting in an environmentally responsible way — doesn’t necessarily promote the purchase of an opulent, luxury $75,000 car. But it doesn’t exclude it either, and we know plenty of folks who manage to combine the owning of an expensive, luxury electric car — in most cases a Tesla Model S — with leading an environmentally-responsible life.

With more than 725 days’ supply of Cadillac ELR extended range luxury electric cars in its inventory — more than twelve times the ‘healthy’ automotive industry norm — General Motors is having a pretty hard time selling its first luxury plug-in coupe.  Sales are so poor in fact that GM recently launched both dealer and buyer incentives to try and get more people behind the wheel of an ELR.

With this in mind, you’d expect Cadillac to be working hard to promote the ELR’s green credentials and zero-emissions round-town capabilities, perhaps with a view to even win over would-be Tesla Model S owners.

If you’re considering an ELR however, there is one thing you need to bear in mind. You should check your fingernails before heading to the dealership.

Having a little bit of dirt under your fingernails is good. Just as long as it’s good, honest sod. Not any of that ne’er do well tree stuff.


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