GM Building Plug-In Cadillac ELR Similar to Chevrolet Volt

General Motors Co. said it will make a plug-in hybrid Cadillac ELR that uses technology similar to its Chevrolet Volt that went on sale last year.

GM plans to price the ELR less than the $57,400 Model S by Tesla Motor Inc.’s, said a person familiar with the plans. It will be at least as fast as the Volt and will probably drive farther on battery power alone, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said in January that he wants a car using the Chevrolet’s Voltec electric-drive technology for each of GM’s four U.S. brands. GM said today the ELR is based on its Cadillac Converj concept car, which the Detroit-based automaker stopped work on last year, two people familiar with the move said at the time.

“This is premium technology, Cadillac is a premium brand, and buyers of Cadillacs will expect to pay premium prices, said Eric Noble, president of The Car Lab, an automotive consulting firm in Orange, California. ‘‘That resolves one of the problems that General Motors has had with Volt, which is that it’s a $40,000 small Chevrolet sedan.’’

The ‘‘one big negative’’ for GM will be selling buyers on a smaller Cadillac and making sure components like suspension and interior parts are superior to Volt, Noble said in a phone interview.

‘‘That’s always the problem when you have an architecture that originates in a mainstream brand that you try to take up market,’’ he said.

ELR Size

GM is still developing the ELR coupe and didn’t give details on price or when the car will be sold while announcing production of the vehicle today on its website.

The ELR will be about the same size as the Volt, said the person familiar with the ELR plans. The new model will be built in the same Detroit plant as the Volt, the person said.

About 16,000 Volts will be built this year and 60,000 in 2012, GM said in a May 18 statement. The automaker previously targeted output of 15,000 this year and 45,000 in 2012.

GM’s Volt goes 25 to 50 miles using power from a T-shaped lithium-ion battery. A gas engine extends the range to more than 340 miles when battery power is depleted.

Tesla’s base-level Model S, which goes 160 miles per charge, is about $57,400, and a version able to go about 230 miles will be about $67,400, the company said. The prices for all the Tesla models are before a $7,500 federal tax credit.

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