In January of 2009, Cadillac hit us with the Converj Concept. Based on the upcoming Volt platform, it promised to focus on beauty before all else and be the stylish option for the Eco-minded. Some of us may remember that part of the inspiration for the Fisker Karma was allegedly seeing Leonardo DiCaprio walk out of a Prius for an event. There was a fashion forward, high profile market that wanted “eco-friendly” vehicles during that whole late 2000s economic collapse or whatever. (Anyone else craving a new Ford Excursion all of a sudden?) The Converj was a beacon of hope, as Ill emphasize below:
There’s no word on production, but we can’t help but think this concept will become a reality sometime after the Volt goes on sale, which is scheduled to occur by the end of 2010. The Chevrolet has been promised to come in at a price in the mid-$30,000 range, but rumor has it that pricing may be higher by as much as $10,000—and that GM would still lose money on each one. (The Volt would be eligible for a hefty tax credit, though.) A production Converj could command a lot more, however, and going solely on looks alone—as GM wants us to do—it would be worth it.
After great acclaim, GM decided to produce the vehicle and left us all agaped in splendor when we found that it looked like this:
That’s right, damn near identical to the concept! How often have we pined for Caddy to just build its concepts like the Ciel or Elmiraj? We say, “Who cares about price or performance?! We want sexy cyborg toasters, today!” Well guess what, Cadillac delivered and produced what they promised in only four years. Should it have come out in 2011 or 2012 rather than 2013? Oh yeah! GM was going to cancel the project since they knew they couldn’t get enough range and luxury into the vehicle while turning a profit and hitting the price point the market required. Luckily the Model S came on the scene lIke a fax machine.
Now, considering the Tesla Model S was supposed to be $50,000 sedan but found itself listing at over $70k and still being wildly successful, plus the positive reviews and wide appeal of the Volt, GM said, “F*ck it! Leonard, gon’ git da wrench, ASAP Rocky!” Thus they made a coupe that was about the same price as the Tesla sedan, but with a known badge, dealer network, and no range anxiety. It was the luxury electric vehicle that didn’t require you to change your lifestyle.
*I know you are going to mention how the Model S was a more practical vehicle, but I’m going to remind you that the less practical a vehicle is, the more we are willing to pay for it. “Who the hell spends $60k on a luxury truck?! *drives away in $70k Mustang without A/C or rear seats.”
Well unfortunately it turned out that lifestyle change was actually what people wanted at that price point. In the same way people purchase brand new Range Rovers and don’t mind getting to know everyone in the service area, when you decide to change your lifestyle you purchase products in order to mark that change. If Ferrari ownership were the same as Honda ownership, why would anyone want the Ferrari over a Honda? Why would you buy the Cadillac if the experience is the same as the Chevrolet? Either you buy the Volt to keep your same lifestyle, or you buy the Tesla in order to ellicit the change you’re seeking. Afterall, quality of life is commonly measured in experiences, therefore we are always craving something new.
Allow me to point out one very similar parallel to the ELR. Later on in 2009, BMW showed off the Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept.
Then, in 2014, we all freaked out that an automaker actually built their concept car!
Was it quicker and more sporty than the ELR? You bet your sweet bippy it was! Of course at nearly double the price, I would say quickness and concept car styling are hardly a better value over the ELR. Isnt $140k for a 3-cyl, 7.1 kWh Borg with a permanent reenactment of the Rhino Birthing scene from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls even more silly than that gag? Of course not! Didn’t you see those doors? My life has changed just knowing they exist!
I’ll also point out that the ELR uses the “LR” designation. Now my memory is poor due to age and misuse of assorted toiletries in college, but isn’t there some other flagship luxury 2-door from Cadillac that had an “LR” in its nomenclature. I mean if the first letter gets higher has the price goes up, wouldn’t CTS to XTS be similar to ELR and that one corvette-y model?
What I’m getting at here is that the ELR isn’t a disappointment due to price, design, tech, or engineering. The only disappointment is because it’s still just a concept car and needs a second shot. When you consider this a consumer puchasable concept car, the sales are robust! However, I say use the new Volt underpinnings and really make that XLR callback in the name apparent and line the vehicle up with the new Cadillac ethos. Throw in some razzle dazzle Cadillac! Something besides LEDs and optional chrome cupholder surrounds. Hmmm, Im thinking the answer rhymes with orange? What do you mean “door hinge” doesn’t rhyme with “orange?!” It’s pronounced like “orangutan” without the “utan,” said with a light Irish head cold. Duh!