Cadillac debuts all-electric Lyriq crossover

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — Cadillac's first ever all-electric vehicle has arrived. 

The century-old brand unveiled the Lyriq crossover Thursday night in a webcast, starting Cadillac's transition as the leading electric brand for General Motors Co. By the end of the decade, Cadillac aims will sell more vehicles powered by battery than gasoline.

"Lyric really is a cornerstone upon which we're going to build the future, and that future will include additional EVs that we'll be adding to Lyric over the next few years to build out our complete EV lineup," Steve Carlisle, executive vice president and president for GM North America, said on a media call this week.

The Cadillac Lyriq that debuted Thursday night will hit dealerships late next year.

The Lyriq, which has not yet been priced, will first go on sale in China. It won't hit dealerships in the U.S. until late 2022.

The crossover introduces a new face for the brand with a distinctive “black crystal” grille up front. The grille and vertical, slim LED signature lighting are part of a lighting performance that greets the owner. 

"Basically, this is all about the car recognizing the owner. So as you walk up you'll see the car will come to life and recognize you," said Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac Design. "One of the coolest things is the way that the crest lights up in the center."

The new Cadillac Lyriq will enter the mid-size SUV market in late 2022. Mid-size SUVs are the most popular luxury segment.

The battery-electric design freed up interior space. Designers incorporated small, simple features including a blue-suede center drawer in the instrument panel. "It turns this drawer into almost like a jewelry box," Smith said.

A 33-inch display screen dominates the dashboard. Super Cruise, GM's semi-autonomous system, will allow the Lyriq to change lanes by itself.

"As we continue to develop hands-free technology ... we'll look at what other other capabilities we can be putting onto that vehicle with Super Cruise," said Marty Hogan, executive chief GM engineer.

Another feature is a dual-plane augmented-reality head-up display, which has two planes: a near plane that shows speed and direction and a far plane that displays transparent navigation signals and other alerts. 

The new Cadillac Lyriq crossover has an augmented reality-enhanced head-up display that shows two planes: a near plane indicating speed, direction and more, and a far plane displaying transparent navigation signals and other important alerts.

Also new is electronic road-noise cancellation, which uses microphones and accelerometers to quiet things. A self-park system will allow drivers inside or outside of the vehicle to fit it into tight spaces.

GM estimates the Lyriq will get more than 300 miles of range on a full charge. In comparison, the latest Audi E-tron claims a 222-mile range. Tesla's Model X gets 305 miles to a charge.

The Lyriq is powered by GM's new Ultium battery, which has large-format pouch cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, allowing designers to optimize battery storage and layout. 

DC fast-chargers can top up the Lyriq's battery at rates of more than 150kW; level 2 home-chargers work at 19kW, GM said. To compare, the Chevrolet Bolt's DC fast-charging rate is 55kW and its level 2 charging rate is 7.2kW. 

Rear-wheel drive is standard. An all-wheel drive performance version is an option.

A center console rotary dial controls the infotainment screen on the all-electric Cadillac Lyriq.

American luxury brands have fallen short of their European competitors for decades, but GM believes Cadillac's aggressive push to electric could put it back in the fight.

The Lyric is one of 20 electric models that GM is putting on the global market by 2023. The automaker is also bringing out the GMC Hummer EV in both a truck and SUV version; the Bolt EUV, a larger version of the Bolt EV; and the Cruise Origin, a self-driving shuttle. Yet to come is the Cadillac Celestiq, an all-electric luxury sedan that GM showed in March at an event for the news media, dealers, investors and industry analysts. In total, GM showed 11 future electric models at that event. 

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"We're going to get a whole bunch of products and not all of those 20 vehicles are going to be available in North America. Some of those are going to be China products only," Guidehouse Insight auto analyst Sam Abuelsamid said.

He believes the Lyriq does have "strong potential" to steal customers from its top competition.

The front end of the Cadillac Lyriq lights up when the driver approaches with key in pocket.

"They've done a lot of things right," he said. "They updated their design language in a really nice way. It looks very modern, very contemporary. They've taken some classic Cadillac elements and incorporated them in a different way."

When it arrives in 2022, the Lyriq will be hitting a luxury-electric market with more players. "There's going to be considerably more competition in this segment by the time it arrives," Abuelsamid said. 

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The market is still young. In 2019, 4.3% of total auto sales used some degree of electrification, according to Edmunds. Only 1.4% were fully electric.

The automotive market is going to gradually change over to electrics, said Stephanie Brinley, a principal automotive analyst for IHS Markit.

"This is not a five-year long game; this is a decades-long game," she said.  "They're not first necessarily, but they're not the last automaker to come to that market. And it's about a fundamental change in what Cadillac's portfolio is going to be over time."

The sleek profile of the new Cadillac Lyriq features camera mirrors, a hidden charging door, and 23-inch wheels.

Twitter: @bykaleahall