General Motors Gets Serious About Plug-In Hybrids

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As if you needed more proof that automakers are serious this time around with electric cars, General Motors (NYS: GM) has officially confirmed that its concept Cadillac Converj has been approved for production. GM will drop the silly name that looks like a bad typo and call it the ELR, to be consistent with brand's three-letter naming practice.

There's not a lot of detail available yet on the ELR as far as performance, pricing, or availability, but we do know that the ELR will be built with the same drivetrain as the Chevy Volt before it and will similarly be a plug-in hybrid -- a fundamental difference from pure electric cars such as Ford's (NYS: F) upcoming Focus Electric or the Nissan Leaf.

But as excited as I am about the prospect of electric cars, I can't say I'm a huge fan of GM's offering, since it still uses gas, albeit to power a generator rather than the wheels. Understandably, the company wants to address the justifiable range anxiety that most drivers have by eliminating the dependence on an outlet. But isn't the whole goal to eliminate our dependence on oil? Besides, charging stations will spread and become as ubiquitous as your local gas station eventually. Once the infrastructure is there, what will it matter if you're sticking a gas nozzle into your ride or an electrical plug?

I like Tesla Motors (NAS: TSLA) because it will sell exclusively electric cars, and the Roadster already has a healthy range sufficient for most drivers. Meanwhile, the Focus Electric will be a step in the right direction for Ford. My hunch is that eventually GM will switch over to all-electric models as battery technology advances, alleviating range concerns. The ELR and Volt may just be stepping stones to get to the end game, but those are some pretty expensive stones.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Ford and Tesla Motors, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of General Motors and Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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