A journey that began in 2009 with the Converj concept will reach its peak this upcoming January. That's when Cadillac plans to launch the ELR plug-in hybrid in major cities around the US. The luxury Volt will cost well more than expected, with a base price just under US$76,000.

The Cadillac ELR, which was introduced at NAIAS 2013, is essentially a luxury body built atop the Chevy Volt plug-in platform. It has a few notable upgrades in performance, including a more powerful drive motor with 295 lb-ft of torque, but essentially this is a reskinned, retuned Volt.

It's rather surprising, therefore, that GM chose to price the 2014 ELR at $75,995, including destination, more than double the base price of the 2014 Volt and about $30K more than another recently introduced green luxury car: the BMW i3 (with optional range extending engine). The ELR's base price is also higher than any 2013 Cadillac model, with the $74,425 Escalade Hybrid coming the closest.

Prior to last week's announcement, media reports had predicted pricing between $50,000 to $60,000. Chevy recently dropped the price of the 2014 Volt by $5,000, making the ELR's price even more surprising. Cadillac clearly believes that the ELR has enough juice to take on the likes of the four-door Tesla Model S, which starts at just under $70,000.

"The ELR is a very unique, luxury car," Brian Corbett, Cadillac Communications, explains in response to our email inquiry about the pricing. "It’s a 2+2 coupe with provocative design, progressive technology and pure electric drive and extended range for unlimited driving. So there’s really nothing like it. There are only five options, so there is not a de-contented or “base” ELR. This is a fully contented vehicle.

"Our CTS Vsport starts at $70,000 and Escalade Platinum starts at $68,000, so there are other Cadillacs in this range. We’ve talked about the Cadillac luxury brand expanding and elevating, and ELR is another example of that. The ELR will deliver the performance and ride and handling requirements expected of a Cadillac in a very unique, uber luxury electrified coupe.”

In the end, customers will decide whether or not the ELR elevates things enough to justify its $76,000 price tag.

Though its powertrain is based on the Volt, the ELR does add upgraded equipment from there. Enhancements such as HiPer Strut front suspension, 20-inch wheels and a Watts Z-link in the rear suspension are claimed to deliver a tight, quiet, comfortable ride. The driver can manage battery and engine-generator output through four driving modes and activate a paddle-shift Regen On Demand feature that slows the vehicle and captures energy for battery charging.

The ELR interior wraps its four occupants in elegance with materials like Opus semi-aniline leather, wood and chrome. An 8-inch touchscreen-based CUE infotainment system comes standard.

Of course, all those luxury amenities don't come without their costs – and not just in terms of doubling the base price. Due in part to the added weight, the Cadillac's range and fuel economy is down from the Volt's. The EPA has yet to test the ELR, but Cadillac estimates that it will travel about 35 miles (56 km) on electric power, averaging around 82 mpg-e, and 300 miles (483 km) on a tank of gas + full charge. The Volt, on the other hand, travels 38 all-electric miles (61 km) while averaging around 98 mpg-e and drives for 380 total miles (612 km). The ELR's gas fuel economy will certainly drop from the Volt's 37 mpg combined, as well.

The ELR's price could drop as low as $68,495 with the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit. Cadillac is putting dealers through special ELR training and certification and offering every buyer his or her own ELR Concierge Representative. ELR owners will be able to contact the concierge to ask questions and receive updates. As is the case with all Cadillacs, the ELR also comes standard with the Cadillac Shield program, which includes Remote Vehicle Diagnostics, a Premium Care Maintenance program and 24/7 roadside assistance.

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