A Cadillac SUV EV will lead General Motor’s latest push into electrics

Jul 21, 2019

After success with the Volt and Bolt, General Motors is finally jumping into the electric vehicle business in a big way. Cadillac’s president, Steve Carlisle, announced in January 2019, on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, that Cadillac is developing an electric crossover SUV which will come out in the 2020 to 2021 time frame.

By John Coulter, CMO, Current EV / July 2019

Looking at the prototype renderings, one might think Cadillac is developing a luxury SUV to compete with the Tesla Model X. Carlisle claims this isn’t the case. He says the two-row electric Cadillac will have a range of more than 300 miles, be offered with all-wheel drive and Super Cruise (a semi-autonomous driving capability), and be a volume-priced vehicle designed to compete with mid-sized utility vehicles.

The Cadillac pure electric SUV (there’s no name for it yet), will be the first vehicle from a new General Motors EV architecture that will generate front, rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles in the future. Drivers will use a square steering wheel that retracts into the dashboard; a sign of the Fully-Autonomous Epoch that’s on the way. A digital screen will extend across the entire dash. Large screens in the seatbacks of the front seats will entertain second row passengers.

Cadillac’s first full-electric vehicle will be the start of an expanding portfolio. “We’re the leading brand for GM for electrification,” Carlisle has claimed, explaining that the luxury brand will be the first to use GM’s new BEV3 platform, designed for electric vehicles of all sizes and body styles. Mark Reuss, GM’s President says: “The architectural design will allow the battery packs to fit into the vehicle like ice cubes into an ice tray. You can put in as much water to make as many cubes as you need; the tray still takes up the same amount of space in the freezer. This give us astounding flexibility across the vehicle portfolio and allows us to achieve two things: the broad range needs and price points that our customers desire, and because we are at the highest degree of scale, tremendous cost savings.”

This will be the first pure-electric vehicle for Cadillac, which has previously offered the CT6 and ELR plug-in hybrids, which failed to catch on.

Numerous Chinese makers such as Byton, Faraday Future, and Nio, have announced plans for long-range luxury crossover utilities, some with seven seats. The Chinese market is eager for SUVs and gobbles them up. GM is aware of this; in addition to marketing Cadillac’s electric SUV on the US continent, they’ll be addressing the world’s largest vehicle market, which is now China. Reflecting on the importance of the Chinese market, GM Chief Mary Barra has indicated the company will roll out at least 10 all-electric or hybrid models in China between 2016 and 2020, including those already in the market.

GM’s electric car strategy began with the Volt in 2015. It then produced the first mass-marketed 200-mile EV in the $30K category, the Bolt. GM is a leader in advanced battery technology, with 3 labs in America, Germany and China. The USA lab is the largest battery systems lab for an automaker in America. GM is also the first US automaker to design and build drive trains and motors for electric vehicles. The company has produced more than 20 million battery cells for more than 73,000 GM plug-ins with a quality metrics of less than two problems per million battery cells produced. In addition to Volt and Bolt, they’ve marketed their 2 Cadillac plug-ins, and currently offer a Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.

Having outlined a fundamental shift in its vision of the industry, General Motors has announced plans for 20 new all-electric models by 2023. The Cadillac pure electric SUV will kick off the manufacturing blitz.