A Record of important things…

Cadillac ELR

UPDATE: 10-21-15:
It has been just over a year since I purchased the ELR and I can say that this has truly been a pleasurable experience. I have had no problems with the car and no reason to go back to the dealership even a single time.

The published electric mileage is 37 miles before it depletes the batteries and switches to gas. This is true in the winter only. In the summer when I don’t run the heat, A/C or many lights I get between 45 and 50 miles electric range before the batteries are depleted. Here you can see the range (which attempts to predict based on the current load) shown as 51 miles.

PANEL SHOT WHILE DRIVING (not recommended) I usually drive around with only a gallon or two in the gas tank to keep the weight down when I am staying local. You can see the gas range at 35 miles here - about a gallon.

In September, 2014 I sold my Mitsubishi EVO X. That was a fun car. It was truly a boy-racer item; fast, serious handling, and the best performance for the buck on the planet in my opinion. Of course that economical performance came at the price of creature comforts, and it was LOUD inside, all the time. I would almost always drive with ear plugs.

I only sold it because the warranty had expired and it did not have the “feel” of a 100K mile transportation appliance. I drove that thing so hard all the time that something was either bound to break, or I was going to lose my license. That being said, I never, ever had a single problem that required a trip to the dealer the entire time I owned it (37K miles). I did run through three sets of tires in that time just to give an indication that it was not babied.

The other motivation is that I had become interested in the state of electric car technology. They have actually gotten usable. It’s still early for electrics, but they are now mostly practical items.
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So in the place of the EVO I picked up a Cadillac ELR; perhaps the least popular electric car in America.

This is basically a hopped up Chevy Volt platform, so it’s not pure electric. It runs the first 40-45 miles on electric power, then it is a gas-powered serial hybrid after the juice runs out. It’s really a plug in hybrid.

Now before you write me off as some dollar-squandering nutcase I should explain the rationale.

I saw these first in a car rag when they came out in late 2013 and thought they were good-looking, but GM was insane asking their MSRP (high $70K’s) and immediately dismissed them. A couple of months ago I read where GM had built almost 2000 of them and had only sold 350 by July. That, to me, smells like opportunity.

I looked at all the dealer web sites in the area and noticed that many of the pictures of the ones on the lots were in snowy conditions. It was September, so they had obviously been around a while. I went through all the websites and from the VIN numbers figured out which dealers had been sitting on inventory for the longest.

To make a long story short, I set a target price and drove around to 6 different dealers. Since this was a target of opportunity for me I was fully prepared to walk away and did so from the first three dealers who were not willing to play. I was offering $25K below invoice and required top dollar for the EVO in trade. I was encouraged that most were willing to try to get close, so I did not waver from my position unless we were in striking distance. There are also $10K worth of tax credits for buying electric cars, so that cuts it down even further.

At the very end of the day I figure it is costing me $8K-$10K over what I would have paid for a Chevy Volt after dealing (my benchmark) to drive a Cadillac version. The Volt has an MSRP of $38K and the Cadillac has an MSRP of $77K, so you can see that the dealers were desperate to move these things and I am convinced were dumping them at a loss.

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Now, it’s too bad Cadillac priced these things stupidly, causing folks to dismiss them, because it turns out that it is a really, really nice car. Cadillac has a great interior, nice electronics, and the experience is otherworldly in its silence and smoothness.

I am enjoying the vehicle immensely. It does not handle or GO anywhere near my old EVO, but that’s probably not a bad thing. I tend to oscillate between responsible and irresponsible cars. This is the responsible side of the cycle.

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There are some challenges to owning an unpopular car. The stock wheels are 20” rims and low-profile tires. Since I intend to drive this daily, including in the winter, I need snow tires. Tire Rack, or anywhere else for that matter, does not have a snow tire package for the ELR, and you certainly would not put snow tires on 20” rims.

So that means I had to do some engineering and research to figure out what would work.

Once I settled on a rim size, I ordered a single rim from Tire Rack, got it, mounted it, and checked the clearance before returning it and ordering 4 others with the tires mounted. Kind of a pain, but I didn’t want to gamble since once they mount the tires, they’re much harder to return and I wasn’t 100% sure.

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Click on the invoice to see what I got. Basically 17” rims with 225/60 R17 tires. The bolt pattern and offset match a 2010 Cadillac DTS and the TPMS senders match a 2013 Cadillac ATS.

I had to buy the silly $74 (Amazon) TPMS reset tool since there is no longer a manual procedure to mate the new TPMS senders to the car computer.

Now they don’t look nearly as good as the 20” rims, but I have actually had them out in the snow and they don’t do too badly. A smaller rim and taller profile tire are very important in the snow. I can’t imagine the stock all-seasons would be very good at all in the clag.

I think they actually have the electric thing pretty well refined at this point. I have about 2800 miles on the car, 2000 of which is pure electric. Cadillac paid to have a charge station installed in my house, so I just plug in every night and my commute to and from work is all electric. A few times when I have exceeded the pure EV range I have exceeded it my a lot (like by 200 miles), so a pure electric, like a Tesla would’t have worked for me. Having the gas as a backup is the only practical thing for my needs. I haven’t even noticed a measurable bump in my electric bill. So far I give this a thumbs up.