• New plug-in hybrid luxury coupe from Cadillac
  • Includes 240-volt home charging station
  • Full charge in five hours

Cadillac will sweeten the deal on its first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) by offering a complimentary home charging station to early buyers. For the first 1,000 retail customers, the new 2014 Cadillac ELR will include a 240-volt Bosch charging station, including installation. The unit can provide a full charge -- good for about 37 all-electric miles -- in about five hours.

The popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids is on the rise. More drivers are discovering advantages such as low fuel costs and zero-emissions driving. Faster chargers are now available, too, helping drivers top off batteries in less time. DC fast chargers, available at commercial charging stations, are the fastest. The next best option is a 240-volt unit such as the one Cadillac is providing with the ELR. Unlike DC units, these are practical and relatively affordable for home use.

It would be a stretch to call a 240-volt charging station inexpensive, though. Units typically cost about $700 to $1,000. Installation can be pricey, too, especially when new electrical service is necessary. For the debut of the 2014 Cadillac ELR, the automaker covers not only the cost of the charger but also up to $3,000 for installation by a licensed electrician and any necessary permits.

Fully charging the ELR in about five hours, depending on outside temperature, the 240-volt is much quicker than the basic, 120-volt charger provided with most EVs and PHEVs. A 120-volt charger is also included with the ELR, and is small enough to carry in the trunk; however, it takes 12.5 to 18 hours to achieve a full charge.

Along with the free charger incentive for early customers, Cadillac also offers a special lease deal on the $75,995 luxury coupe. For as little as $4,999 down and $699 per month, drivers can lease the 2014 Cadillac ELR for 39 months. The only drawback is tight mileage restrictions of 10,000 miles per year. That limits the potential fuel cost savings of driving a plug-in or electric such as the ELR.

What it means to you: As traditional high-end brands such as Cadillac and Porsche challenge upstart Tesla in the luxury EV market, shoppers have more choices that offer rich appointments, lower fuel costs and zero-emissions motoring. Cadillac is now the only automaker that also provides buyers with a 240-volt home charging station.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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