The First Of 10 Or More New Electric Vehicles from General Motors
In an investor conference call last Friday, General Motors announced that Cadillac will become the “lead electric vehicle brand” and get a vehicle based on the automaker’s BEV3 platform. That global electric vehicle platform will provide the underpinnings for the yet-to-be-named Cadillac EV’s expected launch in 2021 and be the basis for 10 or more vehicles.
A Big Surprise
Two nights later, on the eve of the Detroit Auto Show, during a media event to introduce the 2020 Cadillac XT6, a three-row crossover utility vehicle, Cadillac surprised the media with a first look at an upcoming electric crossover SUV, perhaps the first of many electric vehicles to come for the marque. Everyone expected to see an EV unveiled soon, just not this soon.
Presented in renderings, the EV’s name and specific details regarding its powertrain and range will be revealed closer to an also yet-unspecified launch window. Cadillac president Steve Carlisle said the battery-powered utility would be the first vehicle derived from GM’s future dedicated electric-vehicle platform.
“While I can’t divulge all of our secrets,” Carlisle told assembled media, “I can tell you it will be sold globally and will arrive as the vanguard of the product wave that follows our current three-year product assault.”
Even though driving range of the upcoming electric crossover wasn’t revealed, GM CEO Mary Barra recently said the company has determined that the sweet spot for range is 300 miles, and company president Mark Reuss, who most recently headed product development, said that is the target for all the company’s upcoming electric vehicles.
A Versitile Vehicle Platform
The BEV3 platform, GM said, will allow the company “to respond quickly to customer preferences with a relatively short design and development lead time” due to its flexibility and variability. Cadillac is expected to benefit from the various body styles that can easily and quickly be spun off the basic architecture, which is similar in concept to the GM Autonomy “skateboard” chassis it debuted in 2002.
The underpingings can accommodate front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive configurations, and the battery system output can be varied depending on the specific vehicle and the needs of its buyers. The platform can support a variety of battery sizes through an “ice-tray” like battery pack that can be filled with as many or as few battery cells as the automaker wants.
Classic Cadillac Styling
The renderings show an attractive, angular, upright vehicle that stretches some of Cadillac’s styling cues. Unlike other all-electric vehicles with a blunt front end, there’s a giant trapezoid grille at the front, with a glowing logo. The headlights are thin horizontal slits; the daytime running lights are tall and vertical in what design chief Andrew Smith said will be the new face of Cadillac.
Inside the five-passenger electric SUV is a square steering wheel that retracts into the dashboard to herald the eventual age of fully autonomous driving (which GM’s Cruise division is working on). A digital screen extends across the entire dash and large screens on the backs of the front seats can entertain those in the second row. Like most concept vehicles, many of the razzle dazzle features won’t make it to the production model
Plenty Of Competitors
This will be the first pure-electric vehicle for Cadillac, which has had the CT6 and ELR plug-in hybrids. Chevrolet has the Bolt EV, which consumers have been slow to embrace. Sales fell 23 percent in 2018 to 18,019.
While some are saying this Cadillac EV is a Tesla Model X fighter, an EV crossover would also match up well against other luxury brands’ new electric offerings, such as Audi’s E-tron, Mercedes-Benz’s EQC, BMW’s iNext and Jaguar’s I-Pace.
Carlisle credited Tesla for popularizing electric vehicles and making everyone else up their game. Across its lineup, Cadillac will introduce six new vehicles in the next three years, one of which will be this unnamed electric crossover SUV.
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