It has been three years since General Motors first announced that it would launch 20 new electric vehicles by 2023 in order to be committed to a “fully electric future”. The first vehicle would be an SUV from Cadillac, a brand that has been trying – and failing – for years to improve its image, despite being positioned by GM to lead the automaker's march into this high-tech future.
If you look back to today, we finally get a first glimpse of what Cadillac is preparing: the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, an EV with a range of more than 300 miles and an absolutely massive 33-inch infotainment screen. It took us three years to get here, and it'll be almost another three years before it reaches the showroom. (More on that later.)
It took us three years to get here, and it'll be almost another three years before it goes on sale
The vehicle was due to be unveiled on April 2, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. And since the pandemic showed no signs of waning, the automaker decided to unveil the car during a virtual event on Thursday evening.
It would be an understatement to say that the Lyriq is vital for the future of GM. The SUV is based on the recently announced scalable battery architecture from the automaker Ultium, which is designed to power a variety of vehicle types and sizes. Together with the electric Hummer pickup, the Lyriq will serve as the launch pad for Ultium.
Courtesy of Cadillac
Therefore, the Lyriq is rated for its range and performance, as well as its ability to attract new customers to the Cadillac brand. It must also convince those on Wall Street who were nervous about GM's ability to catch up with Tesla. And when it hits the stores at some point, it will have to do with the Audi E-Tron, the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X, as well as a variety of upcoming BMW and Mercedes-Benz electric SUVs.
"The Lyriq is a challenging introduction for Cadillac," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds & # 39; Executive Director of Insights. She noted that no automaker other than Tesla cost "the joy of success" in terms of sales and demand. However, a vehicle's success often involves more than just selling it, Caldwell added.
"It marks a fulcrum"
GM certainly sees the potential. In a briefing this week with reporters, Steve Carlisle, GM President for North America, emphasized the importance of the Lyriq for the automaker's overall portfolio. "It marks a pivotal point at a time that is very important to all of us, an enormous opportunity for the brand," said Carlisle, "to what extent we have lost some of our momentum here in recent months to regain this and." Position yourself for the next chapter of Cadillac. "
Battery and range
The vehicle presented on Thursday is a showroom version of the Lyriq, so it only contains 80 to 85 percent of what will eventually go into production, GM said. Some of the specifications are still in flux; For example, Cadillac said that the Lyriq would have a range of "over 300 miles" when fully charged when it was finally certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. But GM managers have said that they expect the middle of 300 miles to be the lower end of the spectrum and that a range in the low 400 miles is a realistic goal.
The Lyriq's Ultium battery provides “about 100 kilowatt hours of energy,” says Cadillac. GM has announced that it will be able to offer up to 200 kWh of energy for its Ultium vehicles, which would be a first of its kind in the automotive industry. Tesla's largest battery is 100 kWh, available in Model S and Model X, one of the largest batteries currently available. (The upcoming second-generation Tesla Roadster is expected to have a 200 kWh battery in 2021.) The latest version of the Tesla Model S now has a range of 402 miles.
GM increases its ability to charge at home (level 2) with the Lyriq to 19 kW (the Chevy Bolt could only take up 7.7 kW while being charged with a level 2 charger). And with DC fast charge, the Lyriq can be charged at rates above 150 kW. Cadillac wouldn't say how long it would take to charge the Lyriq at the different stations, but level 2 charging usually gives you between 15 and 40 miles an hour, while DC fast charging charges 80 percent in less than 30 minutes can be.
GM changed the chemistry of its battery cells in one step, which is different from most EV batteries in production today. Most batteries are made of NCM – nickel, cobalt and magnesium. Ultium batteries add aluminum – NCMA – and reduce the cobalt content by 70 percent. In addition, the battery electronics of the Lyriq are integrated directly into the modules, which means that almost 90 percent of the battery cabling is eliminated in comparison to other GM electric vehicles.
Performance and price
The Lyriq will be available in two configurations: single engine, rear wheel drive; and dual engine, all-wheel drive performance. Cadillac is not currently announcing the sticker price, but as a luxury brand, you can expect the various panels to range between $ 75,000 and $ 90,000.
An incentive that is not available to potential customers is the federal government's $ 7,500 tax credit for buying new electric vehicles. GM was the second automaker after Tesla to hit the 200,000 milestone that triggered the slow exit from credit.
According to Cadillac, the rear-wheel drive configuration allows the system to "deliver more torque to the road without spinning the wheel to increase acceleration and improve cornering" – although the automaker would not reveal how fast the Lyriq could travel 100 km / h can jump. Thanks to the direct nature of the power output of an electric motor, acceleration is certainly quick, at least at lower speeds.
The Lyriq appears to be about the size of the Cadillac XT5. It has a long wheelbase and runs on 22-inch wheels. The lack of a transmission tunnel means there is more space for a cantilever center console that extends forward between the front seats and is outdoors.
Courtesy of Cadillac
This screen however
One of the most striking features of the Lyriq is the curved 33-inch LED infotainment display. That's almost three feet of screen that spans almost the entire length of the dashboard pillar from pillar to pillar. With the Cadillac Escalade 2021, we first got an impression of this type of curved screen, but the Lyriq takes it to a whole new level. Comprehensive infotainment screens are clearly a direction in which GM is moving.
Chinese startup Byton has a 48-inch screen in its first prototype vehicle, but it's not a real car – and it doesn't seem that it will be soon.
"If you look at it and experience it, it's just like" wow "."
The image quality is described as the next level. According to Cadillac, the display has the "highest pixel density available in the automotive industry today and can display over a billion colors, 64 times more than any other vehicle in the automotive industry." Prepare your eyes to be overwhelmed by pixels become.
"When you look at it and experience it, it's just like" wow, "" said Mark Hogan, Lyriq's executive chief engineer. "It's just so cool."
Unlike Tesla, however, not everything is routed through the vehicle's screen. There are still many tactile controls like volume controls and HVAC buttons. Below the surfboard screen in the middle are two opening drawers for storage. The steering wheel has a bright Cadillac logo in the middle.
Those familiar with GM's Super Cruise system will also notice light bars embedded in the steering wheel. The Lyriq will be equipped with the latest version of the advanced driver assistance system "Handsfree", which shows green lights in the steering wheel when activated. Recently announced features such as automatic lane change, which allows the speakerphone to change lanes in reasonable conditions, will also be included.
But there will also be brand new technologies – at least for GM – that make their debut in the Lyriq. Cadillac says there will be an augmented reality heads-up display with "two levels", with a "near level" showing speed and directions and a "far level" showing transparent navigation signals and other warnings.
The Lyriq has a remote parking function, which allows ultrasonic sensors to park the vehicle either parallel or vertically, regardless of whether the driver is in the vehicle or not. It is too early to say how well this will work. Tesla released a beta version of its Smart Summon remote parking feature and was immediately accused of causing chaos in the parking lots of grocery stores. Of course, Tesla was aiming for something more ambitious, such as being able to cross an entire parking lot than Cadillac seems to be trying.
Time of production
Where Cadillac will surely disappoint some of its customers, the time has come for the release of the Lyriq. The automaker says it won't go into production until the end of 2022, with production beginning in China and then in the United States. GM will not say where the Lyriq will be manufactured, although many observers expect it to be at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, GM will use the $ 2.2 billion GM to retrofit its first “fully dedicated” electric vehicle assembly plant issues.
By the time the Lyriq arrives, the luxury EV market will be much more crowded than it is now. BMW is expected to release its iNext SUV next year. Audi and Mercedes-Benz will have new electric models. Startups like Rivian and Lucid Motors are expected to deliver their first models to customers. Even the Ford Mustang Mach-E – not necessarily a direct competitor to Cadillac – will be on the market for two years when the Lyriq hits the showroom.
"As good as it is, it really seems like it should come earlier, you know, preferably next year," said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights.
"It really seems like it should come earlier"
Abuelsamid said Cadillac's uncertainty in naming the production site could suggest that the Lyriq will be exclusive to China, at least in the short term. And that would make sense given the brand's popularity in this country compared to North America. In the meantime, GM will bring the GMC Hummer 2021 electric pickup into production for its US customers.
Apart from Tesla and Nissan, no other automaker has invested so much energy – and so much money – in electrification in the past ten years. GM has announced that it will spend $ 20 billion in capital and technical costs by 2025 to begin its "all-electric future." This is really an amazing amount of money an automaker has to spend.
Given Tesla's recent success on the stock exchange – the company's stock has been in excess of $ 1,000 a share for several months and is now the world's most valuable automaker according to this indicator – and the hurry to be launched on the stock market by a large number of smaller EV companies to become GM's ambitious and costly plans could look ahead, especially if they lead to real profits for automakers.
The luxury off-road vehicle for electric vehicles is still very small – a fraction of an already tiny overall market for electric vehicles. Edmunds estimates that the existing players (Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace, Audi E-tron) together sold less than 12,000 units in the first half of 2020.
This tiny sales volume is one of the reasons why GM believes it can keep up. But to do that, it has to compete, if not exceed, everyone else on the market – and that includes Tesla.