General Motors will soon start preparing its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to build the Cadillac ELR, a luxury coupe featuring extended-range electric technology, the automaker’s North America president Mark Reuss said. 

“The ELR will be in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology,” Reuss told the SAE Convergence conference in Detroit. “People will instantly recognise it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design.”

Production is scheduled to begin in late 2013.

The addition of the ELR to Detroit-Hamtramck – which makes GM’s extended range Volt with Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Opel and, soon, Holden badges, will cost US$35m. It is the first two-door car built at the plant since the 1999 Cadillac Eldorado.

The ELR is the production version of Cadillac’s Converj, a concept vehicle revealed at the North American International auto show in 2009. The ELR will advance the design theme of the Converj while featuring the Volt’s electric propulsion system made up of a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, an electric drive unit, and a four-cylinder engine-generator. It will use electricity as its primary power source to drive the car without using petrol or producing tailpipe emissions. When the battery’s energy is low, the ELR seamlessly switches to a petrol-powered electric generator to allow hundreds of additional driving miles. The lithium-ion battery will be built at GM’s Brownstown battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Mich.

Detroit-Hamtramck is the only US automotive manufacturing plant that mass produces extended-range electric vehicles and now exports to 21 countries.