These days, you’re likely to think of Cadillac as something of a high-line commodity brand, but there was a time when it was one of the market’s most exclusive marques – a perception it hopes to regain with new, all-electric products like the hand-built, limited-edition Celestiq.
- Cadillac will be one of the first General Motors brands to get a new, long-range battery-electric vehicle.
- It aims to go fully electric by 2030.
- The list of battery cars includes an ultra-premium, hand-built exotic sedan, the Celestiq.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra says the automaker is “on a path to an all-electric future,” and nowhere is that more apparent than at Cadillac, whose own president, Steve Carlisle, has outlined plans to offer nothing but battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2030.
At a media background event on March 4, GM offered a broad look at its $20 billion effort to bring electric and autonomous vehicles to market, and Cadillac was one of the event’s highlights, with three different vehicles on display, and broad hints of more to follow.
An earlier tease of the Cadillac Lyriq shows the brand’s new face, including strong vertical lighting. (Photo: General Motors)
Caddy plans to publicly pull the wraps off the first of these on April 2. Dubbed Lyriq, this midsized two-row crossover has more svelte proportions than the brand’s current models, such as the XT5. Though long-range EVs technically no longer need engine compartments, with most powertrain components going into their skateboard-like platforms, Lyriq – and other Caddy EVs – will retain classic luxury-car proportions. But it will get a roomy “frunk,” or front trunk.
Lyriq introduces the new and more expressive face of Cadillac, which regains classic, vertical headlamps. There’s also a lit version of the familiar Caddy crest log framed by diagonal stripes. There’s no actual grille, EVs needing relatively little cooling air. But there will be large “air curtains” alongside the vertical lamps to improve aerodynamics in the wheel wells. Another intriguing detail: a double lip at the front of the hood, which conceals the frunk.
Inside, Lyriq features a lavishly high-tech cabin anchored by a curved, 34-inch display combining gauge cluster and infotainment system. Rear occupants get their own touch screen mounted in the plush center console. Overall, GM design chief Michael Simcoe said the concept is 95 percent of the final version.
Moving up the ladder, Cadillac also revealed a full-size SUV. Compared to the nearly production-ready Lyriq the yet-unnamed, three-row model is a work in progress. But it immediately brings to mind the Escalade. Will it replace the flagship ute? “Not yet,” said GM President Mark Reuss – but if this massive EV turns buyers on, Reuss left unsaid, that is the long-term goal.
Caddy revealed a work-in-progress full-size electric SUV that could eventually replace the Escalade, the 2021 remake shown here. (Photo: General Motors)
As with Lyriq, the big crossover will feature the new Cadillac front end. Intriguingly, the ute rides on the same, truck-like architecture used for the new GMC Hummer models, but its hood stretches an extra 300 millimeters, or roughly 12 inches, to retain Escalade-like proportions. That flexibility is unique to EV platforms.
During the background session, GM officials saved the best – at least the most exotic – for last. Long, low and sleek, the Cadillac Celestiq will come as close as possible to the classic coach-built Caddys of the 1930s and ‘40s. Visually, it vaguely resembles the Porsche Panamera, especially from its silhouette, but there are distinctly Cadillac details, starting with the new front end. And Celestiq is expected to ride on massive, 23-inch wheels and tires.
Inside, Celestique will be a technical tour-de-force, said GM President Mark Reuss. “I’m looking to offer technology Tesla can’t offer, and craftsmanship Tesla can’t match.” That is expected to go far beyond the current trend of adopting ever larger display screens, Reuss hinted, declining to offer details.
Like the other upcoming Caddy EVs, Celestique likely will offer up to 400 miles range and power will be substantial, though not necessarily the 1,000 hp of the upcoming GMC Hummer, Reuss told Ride.
Relatively few of the handmade Cadillac Celestiq EVs will be made and, though officials wouldn’t comment, pricing is expected to push well into six figures.
WHY THIS MATTERS
“Cadillac once defined luxury and innovation,” said Reuss, admitting that the brand isn’t living up to expectations today. But GM’s plan is to use a wave of new battery-electric vehicles to raise Caddy back up to the level where it can once again declare itself “the standard of the world.”