Despite occupying the top slot in General Motors’ brand hierarchy, Cadillac won’t get the first electric vehicle from GM’s dedicated new electric vehicle architecture. That honor goes to GMC, which is getting the 2022 Hummer EV SUT, an electric pickup that goes into production in the fall of 2021, and which will be followed later by an SUV. (GM just released more details on the pair, in fact.) Instead, Cadillac will run a close second behind GMC—its Lyriq electric crossover will go on sale for the 2023 model year. Prior to that, the full unveil of a production-previewing concept will happen on August 6, and we know plenty about both the concept and the eventual streetgoing model.
Indeed, the Lyriq concept is an unusually direct precursor to the production model, and GM says 95 percent of what we saw is expected to go into production. This was backed up by Michael Simcoe, vice president, global design. The Lyriq is based on the crossover version of the platform known as BEV3. The five-seat, two-row midsize SUV will go into production in late 2021 or early 2022, with the first units going to China and the first North American supplies coming a few weeks later. As you might have expected, the Lyriq’s batteries live in its floor, under the seats; it will take advantage of GM’s own Ultium battery cells, which were co-developed with LG Chem and allow for vertical or horizontal stacking to enhance packaging options. Since Cadillac isn’t sharing much in the way of photos of the thing quite yet, we have seen it so, we’ll describe it as best we can:
It has a wide stance, as well as an expressive face with a backlit, precise geometric pattern that forms a grille of sorts; keep in mind, electric vehicles don’t really need grilles. The effect here is similar to that on the Celestiq flagship concept Cadillac also showed us, and the grille-effect pattern bleeds into the Lyriq’s Cadillac-signature vertical headlights. In fact, the Lyriq’s overall look was inspired by the bespoke, hand-built Cadillac Celestiq. A new photo released by GM confirms the charge port will be located on the driver’s side front fender, behind a large panel that will slide forward. The shot also reveals the fender-mounted light will take the shape of the Cadillac crest, and that the debut concept is fitted with a GM Design badge along the rocker panel.
As for the rest of the SUV, in the center of the front end is the Cadillac crest, and there are dramatic (and functional) air inlets. Around the sides, designers went for a sporty profile uninterrupted by door handles, which sit flush to the body’s surface, while a glass roof extends from windshield to glass rear spoiler. This dramatic shape is set atop a long wheelbase. The concept has enormous 23-inch wheels that will likely not make it to production model. The rear end is dominated by a two-tiered lighting display, with vertical lower taillights beneath an upper set of lights that start behind each C-pillar and flow into the directional lights on the tailgate. Cadillac refers to the unique upper set of lights as the “sail tail.”
Inside is a 34-inch, seamless curved LED screen stretching from one side of the dashboard to the other, a feature that will be rolled out into future Cadillacs. It is different from the pricier OLED curved screen in the Cadillac Escalade. Apparently, LED is the more affordable choice and makes better sense for high-volume vehicles that don’t command the same high transaction prices as the Escalade, which is all-new for 2021. There are still physical controls for those who don’t want to rely only on touchscreen inputs. A large crystal rotary knob controls all screen functions.
With no transmission tunnel, the Lyriq’s interior feels open and roomy. The center stack has two sets of drawers and the center console is a giant storage bin. The Lyriq uses a stalk shifter on the steering column similar to that in Mercedes-Benz products. Each door has nice burled wood trim that bleeds into a light pattern, and even the design of the speaker that swoops to the armrest adds to the overall flow of the materials in the door. Rear passengers face screens mounted to the front seats, as well as a third screen in the center console with controls that are easy to reach while reclining in the massaging (!) seat.
Cadillac is being touted as GM’s leading brand when it comes to electrification. Being a luxury brand, it is better able to absorb the higher initial costs of the technology. It’s a smart strategy, and a good reason behind Tesla’s rise where less interesting, lower-cost EVs have failed. Cadillac also appears to be taking the lead in changing up its naming convention for its electric products: The Lyriq crossover and the Celestiq flagship sedan—as well as two recently discovered trademarks for new names—suggest more to come ending in “iq.” We’ll find out more when GM shows the Lyriq on August 6 after the global pandemic forced a delay from a planned unveiling in April.
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