Cadillac shows new EV as brand looks to electric future

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

Cadillac gave a sneak peek of the brand's first-ever fully electric model, which will establish the luxury brand as General Motors Co.'s electric-vehicle leader.

Cadillac showed a video of a crossover EV on Sunday night ahead of the Detroit auto show. It's based on GM's ballyhooed next-generation EV platform. Dubbed BEV3, the new electric-car architecture will be designed to accommodate multiple body styles as well as front-, rear- and all-wheel drive options. 

Cadillac revealed the brand's first EV on Sunday. This will be the first model derived from GM's future EV platform.

The luxury electric vehicle will be a crucial piece of Cadillac's plans to reinvent itself for a new generation of customers and to compete in an increasingly cutthroat luxury segment.

RELATED REPORT: Cadillac XT6 makes live debut in Detroit

"One of the things that’s going to make Cadillac, Cadillac again is being leading in innovation and technology," CEO Mary Barra said at an event Sunday at Detroit's Garden Theater. "We’re very intent on continuing aggressively to accomplish that ... This is just the tip of the iceberg."

The new EV, which does not have a name yet, will carry most of Cadillac's outer design cues, including the brand's signature vertical headlamps. But on the inside, Cadillac global design chief Andrew Smith says the brand will take advantage of new opportunities to make the cabin more luxurious.

"Starting with a clean-sheet approach," Smith said, "electrification allows designers to really consider what goes where, what is the most intuitive layout of various controls and how will we use the space freed up as a result?"

GM first announced its plans to debut the new EV architecture on an all-new Cadillac at its 2019 financial forecast for investors in New York on Friday.

As GM's $7,500 federal tax credit dwindles, Cadillac will lead GM's electrification push in the coming years. The luxury brand takes the baton from Chevrolet, which established an early-adopter EV following with its plug-in hybrid Volt, which will stop production later this year. Chevrolet followed up the Volt with the Bolt EV, the first affordable, long-range electric car to hit the mass market — ahead of Tesla Inc.'s Model 3.

Cadillac furthered its recent product blitz today with the reveal of the brand’s first EV. This will be the first model derived from GM’s future EV platform. GM announced on Friday that Cadillac will be at the vanguard of the company’s move towards an all-electric future.

"We’re very proud of what Chevrolet Bolt EV was able to accomplish," Barra said. "We want to continue to build .... on that strong foundation." 

She said Chevrolet will still "play an important role" even as Cadillac takes the lead on GM's electrification efforts.

"When you believe in an all-EV future, it’s going to be multiple brands," Barra said.

Cadillac did not say when the new EV would go on sale. In addition to taking on Tesla, Cadillac will be up against the likes of Jaguar's I-Pace crossover EV.

GM has been slowly restructuring its leadership to prepare to a pivot to electric vehicles over the next four years, with 20 new zero-emission vehicles by 2023. The Detroit automaker promoted former global product chief Mark Reuss to GM President earlier this year. Prior to that, former global electric-vehicle chief Pamela Fletcher was promoted to the senior leadership team as the Cadillac brand was moved under Reuss' supervision.

Twitter: @NoraNaughton