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Detroit takes on Tesla Motors with an electric Cadillac

Since Tesla Motors began production of its Model S sports sedan last year, the Silicon Valley automaker has dominated the luxury electric market, basically because the market consists of one car—the Model S. (There were two until investors pulled the plug on Fisker Automotive.)

Now Detroit is jumping into the game with the Cadillac ELR, a stylish plug-in electric hybrid sports coupe that goes on sale in January. General Motors has essentially taken the electric drive train that powers the more proletarian Chevrolet Volt and transplanted it into the higher-performance ELR, adding myriad high tech gizmos like adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert and LED headlights.

Not surprisingly, Cadillac’s marketing for the car isn’t focused on saving the planet.

“The electric drive is the ultimate luxury attribute—the absolute smoothness of the driving experience, the quietness of the driving experience, the acceleration,” Pamela Fletcher, General Motors’ executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, told Quartz when she was in San Francisco this week to unveil the ELR. “Some people won’t care about the green thing but will really like the driving experience. Later they’ll start to notice they’re not having to go to the gas station anymore.”


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