At GM, The Plug-In Car Is Here To Stay

Category: Auto / Jan 16, 2013 12:36PM EDT
Luxury cars with green hearts. At the Detroit auto show carmakers show off the newest generation of electric cars, confirming that battery power is here to stay. Cadillac enters the game with the new ELR. It features an all-electric driving range before a gasoline engine kicks in. With a total of 207 horsepower, the ELR will travel up to 35 miles on electric power only, and a total range of more than 300 miles. This is the third electric car produced by GM and Global Vice President Bob Ferguson says it symbolizes the company's commitment to the plug-in vehicle. "We believe in this technology. I think it's technology for today and tomorrow so we'll continue down this path with lots of enthusiasm." The ELR relies on the same propulsion system as the path breaking Chevy Volt. But where the lower market Volt has been losing money because production costs are too high, Ferguson is confident that the Cadillac will be priced to be profitable. No official numbers have been released, but insiders estimate it will run between $60-70 thousand (USD). "While some car makers are clearly putting their bets on battery electric and hybrid cars, soon the conversation may turn to vehicles like this one powered by hydrogen." It's still a ways off from mass marketing, but the Mercedes F Cell is already on the road in some markets. One of the challenges electric cars have is that some consumers are put off by big price tags and the long time it takes to charge batteries. Via Motors is a company that electrifies versions of popular trucks and SUVs . They have teamed up with the makers of PlugShare, a smart phone app that connects electric car owners and allows them to share plug-in station information. GM's Kevin Kelly concedes that they too are hoping to find solutions to help drivers power up. "We are working with utility partners as we can to help them understand where most of our owners are, where they're charging most of the time, where we're seeing our vehicles ending up in the population. So we're working to let them know that information so that we can get infrastructure put smartly in deployment," Kelly said. Philip Gott is a senior director at IHS Automotive. He says when it comes to the next generation of green vehicles, car makers are at a crossroads. "Industry is really challenged to meet consumer expectations for value and meet government regulations for low emissions of CO2 and low fuel consumption. What we see for the first time in the industry is that no one combination is going to do it," said Gott. The bottom line is when it comes to the next generation of green cars, one size does not fit all.