General Motors CEO Dan Akerson says Cadillac is preparing to take on electric car maker Tesla Motors, a newspaper reported.
Akerson told The Detroit News that GM plans "to compete head-to-head" with Tesla, and that GM has set up a small team to study Telsa, which sells the Model S electric sedan.
Akerson said Tesla has established itself as a high-end electric brand, but GM will "sell more [Chevrolet] Volts and lose less money on the Volts than they'll lose on the Model S."
The 2014 Volt has a sticker price of $34,995, including shipping, before federal tax credits, while the Model S carries a base price of $71,070, including shipping, before incentives.
Akerson said he remains unconvinced that pure electric vehicles are the "panacea" that the American public wants, but understands that the future can change. He cited Fisker Automotive, a struggling green-car startup, in contrast to Tesla's accomplishments: "Does anybody even remember Fisker? I mean, there were a number of them; they are all gone," he said in the interview of such startups.
Doug Parks, GM's vice president for global product programs, said last week that the automaker is working on a $30,000 electric car with a 200-mile range.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted last week: "Am happy to hear that GM plans to develop an affordable 200-mile range electric car. Right target. Hope others do same."
GM plans to sell the next version of the Volt for $7,000 to $10,000 less. The next generation is likely to arrive in late 2015 or early 2016, industry sources have said.
"But I do think when the [Cadillac] ELR comes out late this year, early next -- it's certainly in the same postal code as Tesla, but now we're going to move up," Akerson told the newspaper. "It's not going to be a mass-produced car."
The new ELR, scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter, has a small, gasoline-powered engine that can charge the battery when it goes beyond its electric-only range.
A spokesman for GM wouldn't comment further about Akerson's statements, but did say "I wouldn't limit [Akerson's] comments only to the ELR."
The Cadillac's interior will be more luxurious than the Volt's and will include leather seats, carbon fiber and burled wood.
Mike Colias contributed to this report.