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Auto blogTue, 22 Oct 2013
Ever since the latest presidential limousine, also known as The Beast, debuted in 2009, we've wondered what's underneath that black Cadillac body. We already know a few details, like the fact it isn't a Cadillac at all, but a very heavy duty truck chassis from General Motors with a body that resembles a super-sized Caddy. Autoweek, however, has managed to extract new details from veteran Secret Service agents about the closely guarded presidential limo. Their methods, of course, are classified.
Designed to be a rolling office, bunker and escape pod all in one, the current presidential limo is far different from previous presidential state cars, which were heavily modified production vehicles. As we would expect, The Beast uses thick, military-grade body armor (eight inches on the doors), an armored fuel tank, special run-flat tires with Kevlar lining, an encrypted satellite phone, a fully sealed cabin with its own oxygen supply and a trunk full of weapons and medical equipment that includes a supply of the President's blood type (in case the car gets cut off from the ambulance that's always present in the President's motorcade).
The Beast also comes with a Halon fire-suppression system, night vision and is powered by a V8 engine, which we already knew runs on gas and not diesel, that returns an EPA-unfriendly estimated 3.7 miles per gallon. The Secret Service operates a fleet of 12 limos and each Beast costs $1.5 million. Lastly, AW estimates that the 18-foot-long state car weighs 15,000 pounds, and each Secret Service agent that drives the car must be specially trained to maneuver such a massive vehicle.
The 530 Cadillac dealers - out of 940 total dealers - that signed on to sell the brand's ELR for $75,000 or lease it for $699 per month have managed to move 247 of them in the last five months. That's a little less than two cars for each dealer more than two dealers for each car if you need help with the math. With inventories of the luxury plug-in hybrid building up - Automotive News reports a 725-day supply - General Motors has created the Demonstrator Allowance Program to billow the sails on that slow moving ship, giving dealers $5,000 to promote ELR test drives.
A dealer with one ELR in its test fleet that racks up 750 test driven miles between May 1 and June 2 earns the fifty Benjamins, a dealer with two ELRs in the test fleet will get one hundred Benjamins. That will be added to summer incentives for dealers that pay $2,000 for units sold in July and $1,000 for units sold in August, while on the customer side, Cadillac has put "customer discount certificates" worth $3,000 on the hood for buyers and lessees.
Cadillac suggests this is about raising awareness of the ELR, but the question is how much dealers will be able to do for a car that observers - and buyers, apparently - still consider highly overpriced.
Cadillac's electrification isn't likely to stop at the $76,000 ELR coupe, according a report from TheDetroitBureau.com. Speaking to Cadillac's global sales boss, Bob Ferguson, a successful ELR will likely lead to a larger, even more upscale offering than the Volt-based two-door. "I could certainly see a larger vehicle, something even more luxurious," Ferguson said of a potential second, battery-powered Caddy.
That car would likely boast a more potent version of the Voltec powertrain that motivates the Volt and ELR. This next-generation system is still sometime off, though, and won't likely arrive until the second-generation Volt hits the market.
Besides hinting at future plug-in hybrids, Ferguson spoke to TDB about the improving business case for the Elmiraj Concept, shown at the Pebble Beach Concours in Monterey in August. "I'm very excited about the reception for the Elmiraj," Ferguson said. "I'd like to see it in showrooms as soon as possible," he added, before saying that a business case for the production version of the big coupe still needed to be presented to the brass. "It was made to be operationalized," Ferguson added, which is just what we want to hear when it comes to big, flashy concept cars.