Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Cadillac unveils first electric SUV years before sales start

Aug 08. 2020
The Cadillac logo is displayed on the front grille of a CT5 sedan during an event in New York City on April 16, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Jeenah Moon.
Location: New York, United States
The Cadillac logo is displayed on the front grille of a CT5 sedan during an event in New York City on April 16, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Jeenah Moon. Location: New York, United States
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By Syndication The Washington Post, Bloomberg · David Welch

General Motors unveiled a long-awaited Cadillac electric vehicle that will offer Tesla-like range, though prospective buyers will need to be patient.

The Cadillac Lyriq is debuting about four months later than planned, with GM having postponed the reveal because of the coronavirus. But that interval pales in comparison with the two years it will take for the plug-in crossover to go on sale.

GM's plan to bring Lyriq to market in late 2022 risks being a bit of a letdown for investors who heard CEO Mary Barra's EV pitch and were enthused about its prospects. The more than 300 miles of range Cadillac is planning for its first all-electric vehicle would beat Audi's e-tron and Jaguar's I-Pace, but Tesla's Model Y and X crossovers already boast that ability.

The Lyriq will launch after a crossover-utility version of the Chevrolet Bolt and an all-new GMC Hummer pickup planned for next year. And Barra, 58, has more up her sleeve, having vowed to bring 20 electric vehicles to market globally by 2023.

"Led by Lyriq, Cadillac will redefine American luxury over the next decade with a new portfolio of transformative EVs," Steve Carlisle, president of GM North America, said in a statement.

The slate of plug-in models and the Ultium battery system that Barra touted in March have spurred analysts to call for GM to consider spinning off its electric-vehicle operations. It's an idea that was floated internally back in 2018, Bloomberg News reported earlier. The company is war-gaming the concept as it ponders ways to get credit for its EV plans, though a spinoff isn't actively being prepared.

Cadillac will offer the Lyriq in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations, as well as an enhanced version of Super Cruise, its hands-free driver-assistance system. The feature will be usable on more than 200,000 miles of highway and offer automatic lane-changing capability. The Lyriq also will be able to park itself.

Its touch screen is a 33-inch panel that stretches across the cockpit and boasts twice the resolution of a 4K television, similar to what Cadillac will offer in its new Escalade SUV going on sale later this year.

Other luxury brands have had trouble getting much sales volume out of their electric SUVs. Volkswagen-owned Audi delivered less than 17,000 e-trons in the first half of this year, a little more than 2% of its worldwide total. Tata Motors's Jaguar retailed just over 5,400 I-Pace SUVs.

"We continue to believe that GM is proving itself as one of the most ambitious legacy OEMs globally in EV, with a holistic strategy," Dan Levy, a Credit Suisse analyst who rates GM shares the equivalent of a buy, wrote in a report Friday. "Yet it's possible investors may not give GM credit on EV until we see real volumes materialize."

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