After months of teasing a luxury EV, Cadillac has finally revealed its first fully electric vehicle to the world.
Cadillac finally pulled the curtains back on it EV and it’s called the Lyriq. If you happened to miss the unveiling, you can watch it here. The Lyriq is an all-electric SUV that will be part of a growing lineup of EV’s from the American luxury brand. GM execs have touted an extensive multiyear plan to roll out close to 23 new EV’s (of which the Lyriq is one) by the year 2023, all with “proper” names. GM will continue to use the alpha numeric model names for vehicles already in their lineup, but as new electric cars are added, all those cars will end with the letters “iq”. This move to electric cars marks Cadillac’s enormous effort to give meaning back to the famed brand and reinvigorating its image as the quintessential luxury automaker. A task Cadillac has had huge struggles with. While this is Cadillac’s latest move for its luxury arm, GM is using the playbook for its non-luxury brands such with GMC with the reintroducing of the Hummer name as a powerful electric pickup truck. This all sounds good for GM, but for now let us take a closer look at the Lyriq.
The Lyriq is no doubt a handsome looking vehicle. Cadillac designers were quick to point out that large proportions were part of the luxury car aesthetic and that the car was built on a totally new chassis which gave them a lot of room to play with these said proportions. It allowed for tremendous creative liberties as they were not constrained to the typical requirements of petrol cars with their engines and transmission tunnels, etc. They were trying to say we do not really need to stick to the typical looks of a SUV or car, and they can continue to pen designs that are not the typical shapes you and I are familiar with.
The interior is an amazing space also. All the real metal touches and the exposed lighting behind the speaker grills give it an upscale look, not to mention the main attraction: the huge curved OLED screen. It’s a piece that has been used in the Elmiraj concept and recently seen in the Escalade, and it is a sight to behold. I can’t help but wonder if they took this cue from Mercedes, but Cadillac can confidently say they're the only manufacturer to do an uninterrupted OLED screen. Other amazing styling cues include what looks to be a glass central dial control which is used to manipulate the screen, which Cadillac says is designed as inspiration from watch makers. The car has also been fitted with an augmented reality HUD (head up display) to make navigation easy. I can't help but notice that this could this be another Mercedes copy. The new S-Class slated to come out later this year also has this, but its baked into the screens of the car rather than in the HUD.
The UI of the car will get a much-needed upgrade to a more clean and sophisticated design which will further add to the elegance of the brand. The graphics look to be sharp and clean with the demo we have seen, and it should take things to next level, visually. The seats look super futuristic with a 2+2 layout with each rear passenger having their own multimedia and controls screen in the center. This truly is a luxurious space to spend some time in, but it's important to note that the final design will only carry 80% of these updates. Cadillac said that while most of the features will make it to final production, there will be changes along the way. My hope is corners won't get cut in a massive way.
While I was going to name this section mechanicals or power, I decided to stick with technology as it more clearly defines what powers this car and that is the batteries and electric motors. Cadillac says the car will be offered in a RWD and AWD configurations with one motor for the RWD and 2 motors for the AWD. The AWD version should be the more powerful version while the RWD should be able to eke out more mileage. This isn’t confirmed by Cadillac, however. The star of the show is the battery pack.
GM and LG Chemical entered a joint venture to create the Ultium Battery pack. The benefits of the battery pack are 70% less cobalt usage than typically required, and an advanced nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum chemistry. GM touts that this design overall reduced the wiring required by 90%! The battery packed installed in the Lyriq will be the equivalent of 100 Kilowatt hours, the max capacity of a Tesla battery pack, and will have an estimated range of 300 miles. It’s important to note that Chief Engineer for Lyriq, Jamie Brewer, said the Lyriq can be charged by AC and DC charging, with the latter being a fast charge option at up to 150 kW. While Cadillac did not announce this, we can estimate the Lyriq can charge to 80% in under 30 mins. Not bad, but it can be improved upon.
While Cadillac has not officially revealed the pricing of the Lyriq, the rumor mill is touting the car could start around $75,000 and possibly reach $90,000. This would put it square up against the Audi e-Tron, the Jaguar I-Pace, and the Mercedes EQS. While I would like it to be on the lesser end of that spectrum, I fully expect the car to be worth that much assuming major cutbacks aren’t made to the quality or materials of the car. This is important as Cadillac has been known to have inferior build quality and materials for their interiors. One item that Cadillac continues to improve upon however, is their Super Cruise system. It's the best version of their hands free driver assistance feature and will add items like an automated lane change function and remote parking ability which will use all its sensors onboard to park the car when the driver is not in the vehicle.
Make no mistake, this car will be huge for Cadillac but to be fair there are some issues. The first problem I see is the timing. It seems to be a trend for GM to be consistently behind the curve and if I’m honest, release way too much data. I’m not saying that data is bad, but at some point, you need to be able to make decisions from the heart too. The Lyriq is a great car but the problem is we won't see it till late 2022. That is a long time. By that point, GM’s competitors have already rolled out their respective SUVs and are going into their 2nd and even 3rd iterations. So, when the Lyriq hits showroom floors the Audi e-Tron may get even better. Tesla may even set the new benchmark on range with 400+ mile range, dwarfing the 300-mile range Cadillac says it will get. Secondly, the charging capabilities, while great, won’t mean anything without the proper infrastructure. Tesla is the manufacturer to beat in this aspect and even VW, the largest manufacturer out there, isn’t even close to the amount of super chargers Tesla has and will continue to build. Companies like Cadillac and VW will need to continue to rely on other companies to build out the infrastructure like EVgo or Electrify America and while they will “work” on this jointly, the car companies are at the mercy of EVgo or Electrify America and how fast they can execute. They really don’t have the control that Tesla does. And finally, I'm stumped on why it will take Cadillac 2 years to release this car? Why isn’t it already done? Cadillac said a new plant will be built in Ohio to manufacture this car but why didn’t they set this in motion 2 years ago and have the plant ready to pump out this car now? Seems strange to me as they tout their long experience and exposure to building electric cars like the Volt and Bolt.
While I am really glad to see Cadillac is headed in the right direction, I’ll be more curious to see how Cadillac executes on this endeavor. I do hope the design remains unchanged as I really like it and its able to deliver on its 300+ mile range. Who knows, Cadillac might take a page out of Tesla’s playbook and sent OTA updates to keep making their cars better and be able to drive further on a full charge. For now, good job Cadillac and here is me hoping you can somehow release this as a 2022 in late 2021 rather than late 2022 as a 2023.