DETROIT — Cadillac's first fully electric vehicle will have more than 480 kilometres of range, an augmented-reality head-up display and a new face for the brand that incorporates its "black crystal" grille into choreographed lighting sequences when the driver approaches.
But the Lyriq, unveiled Thursday as a concept that Cadillac executives describe as at least 80 per cent production-intent, is more than two years away from going on sale in North America.
"It's a cornerstone that we're going to build our future on, that we're going to build our brand on," Steve Carlisle, president of GM North America, told reporters ahead of the Lyriq's virtual debut.
The sporty midsize crossover represents the first glimpse at electrification plans for the brand that General Motors calls the "spearhead" of a push into EVs. Cadillac is expected to have a fully electric portfolio within a decade.
The Lyriq positions Cadillac as GM's leading brand not only for EVs, but also for connectivity and automated driving, Carlisle said. It features an interior reimagined on the EV architecture, new technology, more automated driving features and a 33-inch LED screen in front of the driver.
GM, which has committed US$20 billion (C$26.6 billion) toward electric and autonomous vehicles over the next five years, will start regular U.S. production of the Lyriq in late 2022. The automaker has not said where the EV will be built. Production in China will start earlier.
Carlisle acknowledged that many market conditions are necessary for EVs to be widely adopted in the U.S. In the two years before Cadillac launches the Lyriq, GM plans to prepare dealers, expand charging infrastructure and boost customer acceptance.
"We are not going for a sugar high," Carlisle said.
The Lyriq will be among the first vehicles powered by GM's proprietary Ultium batteries, developed through a joint venture with LG Chem.
"GM understands the range challenge, and I think they are prepared to get to necessary range to be competitive with Tesla," said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Guidehouse Insights.
Compared with EVs in the market today, the Lyriq's range is more competitive, but by the time it goes on sale, the EV landscape will likely be much broader, he said.
Still, the Lyriq sets Cadillac on a path to becoming an EV brand and shows consumers, dealers and Wall Street a glimpse of GM's future product plans, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader.
"This shoots Cadillac in the direction it's intending," Krebs said. "It will be the first test to see if consumers accept that direction."