Cadillac wants to give electric auto enthusiasts a tree-hugger-free alternative to market dominator Tesla Motors — and they’re not shy about saying so.
“Tesla teaches us a message: If you offer cars with an electric drive-train that have superb driving characteristics and a beautiful [interior], they find customers,” Cadillac marketing chief Uwe Ellinghaus told AdAge in a Monday profile.
“What doesn’t work is to position a car for people who are tree-huggers and green-wash an entire brand.”
Ellinghaus said the storied American luxury auto manufacturer wants to advertise the Cadillac ELR plug-in electric hybrid as an electric vehicle that won’t hurt parent company General Motors’ sales of traditional vehicles.
The marketing chief views electric vehicles as luxury status symbols for the affluent, as opposed to sustainable energy solutions for environmentalists.
“These are not cars for tree-huggers,” Ellinghaus repeated in April. “As tree-huggers do not buy new luxury cars.”
Ellinghaus’ unapologetic attitude compliments the ELR’s wildly popular and equally controversial commercial that run during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year, in which a cocky Neal McDonough endorses the Caddy hybrid by touting western innovation, drive and business ethics.
Despite Ellinghaus’ brazen confidence, Cadillac has a long way to go before catching up to the tree-hugging market. Despite similar base pricing of $75,000 for the ELR and $71,000 for Tesla, Cadillac only sold 52 ELRs last month according to the Huffington Post, and 293 total in 2014 so far. Tesla sold 1,000 of its center-stage Model S in May alone.