Cadillac announced Monday it will offer a free 240-volt charger — otherwise called Level 2 charging — on the new 2014 ELR, a pricey two-door coupe based on the Chevrolet Volt from parent automaker GM. The company says that depending on outside temperature, the ELR can get a full Level 2 charge in just 4.5 hours. That should enable 35 miles of all-electric range before a gasoline engine generator kicks in for another 300 or so miles.
The ELR starts at $75,995 including the destination charge but before any tax credits. That's more than double the Volt's price of entry ($34,995, same conditions), on which the Level 2 charger is optional. (A household-outlet charger, called Level 1, comes standard.) How much does GM's charging freebie close the gap? It's hard to say. GM's supplier, Bosch, offers wired 240-volt (Level 2) charging stations from $490 to $1,195 plus installation — which can add hundreds or even thousands more, depending on complexity — but the federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit refunds a chunk of that in tax credits. The AFITC for electric vehicle stations expired on Dec. 31, 2013, but additional incentives exist in certain states.