General Motors is going all-out on the electric vehicle. Not with the compact almost-compliance-car Chevrolet Bolt EV or the what-on-earth-was-that EV1 (and we're aware there was a Spark EV too, but nobody else remembers it either), but with a vehicle that has the potential to make or break the recovery of the Cadillac brand. The Cadillac Lyriq is an electric crossover that will go to battle with some serious EVs like the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, and the 800-lb electric SUV gorilla and pseudo marketing behemoth that is the Tesla Model X. With plans to go to predominantly or entirely EV by 2030, and with the president of GM saying the brand isn't in good shape already, this could be a "do or die" product for Cadillac.
Will 150kW charging, nearly 500 km of range, a 33-inch screen, self-parking from outside the vehicle, and hands-free driving be enough?
This is an electric crossover with concept car-like styling, but we already know that Cadillac can make a vehicle that looks good. That's been Cadillac's strong suit, with a just a few exceptions, for decades, and the Lyriq looks shockingly close to the concept car that the brand showed off last year. It should be pointed out, however, that Cadillac is calling this a show car, implying it's not exactly what you'll see on-road.
What matters here, though, is the electrical bits, and there, Cadillac seems to be starting strong. The Lyriq will have more than 485 km of range, the brand says, which puts it ahead of the 351 km from Audi and 377 km from Jaguar, though it does lag behind the 528-km range of a Tesla Model X Long Range.
Charging at up to 150kW on a DC fast charger (or up to 19kw Level 2), the Lyriq's Ultium batteries store 100 kWh. The cells are a new nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum chemistry that cuts the cobalt required by 70 per cent. The cells are large, flat pouches, made as large as possible so that GM can use the smallest number possible. The design lets them use fewer cells for less range or larger ones for more range, and the design of the pack cuts 90 per cent of wiring compared with current GM batteries while simplifying cooling.
There's no word yet on the performance of the vehicle itself including how fast it goes, but the battery back in the floor and a near 50/50 weight balance should give it fitting handling, and modern luxury EVs aren't often lacking in acceleration. It will come available with rear or twin-motor all-wheel drive with the latter advertised as a performance option.
On the inside, the Lyriq will get a massive 33-inch LED screen that turns more than half of the dashboard into a display. Above that is a dual-plane head-up display that shows speed and direction in a near plane and augmented reality nav and other important alerts on a far plane that makes the directions look like they're in the traffic.
Audio comes from Cadillac's new AKG partnership. From launch, there will be a 19-speaker system Cadillac says will deliver a recording studio-like sound experience with help from a new form of active noise cancellation with more mics and accelerometers to let it target the noise cars experience. The Lyriq will have the third-generation of Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance with automated lane change, and new ultrasonic parking sensors will let the Lyriq self-park in parallel or perpendicular spaces, even if you're not inside.
Cadillac has already announced it will be joining with EVgo to triple that company's current charge network for more high-speed charging. It won't be building out its own proprietary network, with brand execs saying they prefer to go this route and allow anyone with an EV to fast charge rather than only one manufacturer.
Back to the styling, Cadillacs going forward will share some of the Lyriq's details like sheer surfacing and its proportions as well as the "technicality of the front" of the body. That nose combine's Caddy's existing vertical light signature but adds an almost non-existent headlight and a flat black crystal grille shape that has the appearance of a conventional grille. At the rear is a new double stacked taillight signature that wraps around to the side of the body. Though since they're still calling it a show car, we're not sure if all of the styling features - especially the tiny side mirrors - will make it to market.
On the inside, Cadillac has stepped up its game beyond the gargantuan screen. The vehicle it showed was a four-seater, with each rear passenger getting separate bucket seats with a large console between them housing a large display. Backlit speaker grilles, other lighting signatures, and hidden storage spaces help complete the look.
Here, though, is the rub. This is the first Ultium-powered vehicle that GM has shown, but it's still the "Cadillac Lyriq Show Car." Despite all this hype, and what looks like a ready-to-go crossover, the Lyriq isn't set to enter production until 2022, meaning we might not see one on the road until 2023. In the world of EVs, that's a lifetime. With the competition having seen GM's work well ahead of time.