By Jeff Gilbert

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LOS ANGELES (WWJ) – Is green the key to cracking the California market? General Motors is hoping that it’s new Cadillac ELR extended range electric vehicle will turn heads the way that other alternative vehicles have done in this very unique market.

“We’ve done some research on a technology level that shows this type of technology is interesting for people who are in the creative arts, or they are an architect or an entrepreneur,” said Cadillac communications director David Caldwell.

(credit: Jeff Gilbert/WWJ)

(credit: Jeff Gilbert/WWJ)

While the ELR uses the same electric system as the Chevrolet Volt, Caldwell says the vehicle is not just a Cadillac version of the Volt. He says they start with a unique Cadillac style, and use a system to drive it that the company has already proven in the Volt.

We had the opportunity to drive the ELR up and down the Pacific Coast Highway. The electric motor gave it smooth acceleration. It was quieter than the Volt, and the transition to the gasoline powered range extender was more seamless.

California has become a big market for the Tesla Model S. But, Dan Edmunds, who heads the auto testing team at doesn’t see the ELR as the Tesla’s main competition.

“I think it’s a different audience.”

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The Model S, Edmunds says, has attracted people who are committed to pure electric vehicles. Those enthusiasts, he says, will not want a vehicle that uses gasoline, even as a range extender.

“The ELR is at a lower price point. Like the Volt, it’s a car that has elements of an electric vehicle.”

Edmunds took us in a ride in the Model S that Edmunds purchased as a long-term test vehicle. It has acceleration, a very high-tech interior, and a large focus on many ways to recharge the car.

Edmunds says you do notice a few minor issues, like the lack of storage space inside the passenger compartment, and the abundance of functions performed by a large center computer screen. That screen, which doesn’t lock out internet information while you drive, could also be a distraction.

With regulators requiring more electric and zero emission vehicles in California, car companies will be unveiling more products including three hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles at this year’s LA Auto Show.

WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert will be at the LA Auto Show during next week’s press preview days, you can follow his Twitter updates (@jefferygilbert) or like his Facebook page ( for instant updates.

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