Heads are still turning months after the 2014 Cadillac ELR’s debut at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. However, what causes pedestrian whiplash isn’t the fact that the ELR is an electric vehicle; it’s because the ELR is a beautiful electric vehicle that is able to respond to the vehicle performance demands expected by Cadillac owners.
The ELR has two modes for the extended-range electric-vehicle powertrain: charge depletion and charge sustaining. There is also a special Mountain drive mode on the ELR that’s meant to pre-charge the battery in response to upcoming hilly terrain such as the Eisenhower tunnel on I-70 in the Colorado Rockies. Switching into this mode ensures there’s enough charge to achieve the best efficiency of the extended-range electric powertrain in these challenging environments.
But the problem is, how do drivers know when to put their Cadillac ELR into Mountain mode? Our mission for ELR owners was to equip them with a tool to answer that question and because of my experience writing apps for EVs, I was tapped on the shoulder to help find that solution.
Using the connectivity of OnStar, the Cadillac ELR team was able to take advantage of the newly launched CUE Collection suite of in-vehicle applications to deliver an app that essentially detects when Mountain mode should be used. This app, Mountain Advisor, is exclusive to Cadillac ELR drivers.
The Mountain Advisor application works by comparing the vehicle’s location to nearby mountain peaks. If there are no mountains in driving range, the application closes itself. If there are mountains in driving range, the application monitors the vehicle’s charge level and the vehicle’s location to determine whether to alert the driver to switch into Mountain mode. Should the application determine the vehicle should be put into Mountain mode, it utilizes the audio and display alerts through CUE so that the driver doesn’t have to take their eyes off of the road to take advantage of this mode.
Currently, the Mountain Advisor application detects mountains in the continental United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii, and is available in U.S. English, U.S. Spanish, and Canadian French.
It’s always fun to play a key role in the development of something as forward thinking as the Mountain Advisor app, but to me, the best part is helping ELR customers get the most from their vehicles and continuing Cadillac’s leadership in progressive technology.
Rebecca Roth is an application developer with OnStar specializing in developing in-vehicle and native Android applications serving GM’s extended range EV owners.