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General Motors Unveils the Cadillac LYRIQ, Which Represents the Luxury Brand's Future, But it Won't Arrive Until Late 2022

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【Summary】​U.S. automaker General Motors unveiled the much anticipated battery-powered Cadillac LYRIQ luxury crossover on Thursday Night in an online event. The futuristic and sleek Lyriq represents the future of Cadillac, but also that of General Motors, as the company transitions to building more purely electric vehicles. The Lyriq also marks the beginning of Cadillac being reborn as an exclusive, luxury electric brand.

Eric Walz    Aug 07, 2020 11:30 AM PT
General Motors Unveils the Cadillac LYRIQ, Which Represents the Luxury Brand's Future, But it Won't Arrive Until Late 2022
The Cadillac LYRIQ marks the beginning of Cadillac's transformation into a luxury electric brand.

U.S. automaker General Motors (GM) unveiled the much anticipated battery-powered Cadillac Lyriq on Thursday Night in an online event. The futuristic and sleek Lyriq represents the future of Cadillac, but also that of General Motors, as the company transitions to building more purely electric vehicles. GM is making a $20 billion investment in electrification by 2025.

The Lyriq marks the beginning of Cadillac being reborn as an exclusive, luxury electric brand.

The Lyriq was first teased in Jan 2019 and now General Motors has finally provided a closer look at the futuristic luxury-electric crossover for the first time. However, it's still not in its final form, GM said what you see right now is roughly 85% of what will be in the production model, although the body and interior will probably not change much before production.

However, in its current form the Lyriq represents GM bold design and its vision for Cadillac going forward made possible by not having to design the electric crossover around a traditional internal combustion engine and driveline.

The Lyriq's exterior features straight lines and smooth body surfaces, with a low roofline and wide stance, giving it an aggressive look.

A "black crystal" grille in the front is one of the LYRIQ's most noticeable design elements. Including in the grille are lights that are choreographed in a pattern that greets the owner when they approach the vehicle. The same feature is incorporated into the rear tail lights as well.

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The Cadillac Lyriq will be built on GM's new modular electric vehicle architecture, which will be powered by the automaker's new Ultium batteries. The company's new EV architecture will underpin many future electric models from GM. 

The Ultium battery system is not just a flat battery pack, rather its part of the structural element of the Lyriq and for future models that will use it. It creates a lower center of gravity and near 50/50 weight distribution to improve ride and handling. GM says the placement of the battery pack results in a vehicle that's responsive and allows for spirited driving.

"LYRIQ was conceived to make every journey exhilarating and leverages more than a century of innovation to drive the brand into a new era, while rewarding passengers with a more personal, connected and immersive experience," said Jamie Brewer, Cadillac LYRIQ chief engineer. "To do this we developed an architecture specifically for EVs.  It is not only an exceptional EV, but first and foremost a Cadillac."

The Ultium EV platform includes GM's new state-of-the-art NCMA (nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum) batteries which use aluminum in the cathode to help reduce the need for rare-earth materials such as cobalt. GM engineers were able to reduce the cobalt content by more than 70 percent, compared to current GM batteries, which are used in the Chevy Bolt EV.

The Ultium battery system offers approximately 100 kilowatt-hours of energy for the Lyriq, which is on par with the Tesla Model S and Model X Performance versions. However, rival Tesla advertises 348 miles of range for its models equipped with a 100 kWh battery pack and 402 miles for the Long Range Plus, so the Lyriq falls a bit short when it comes to range.

GM said the LYRIQ will offer over 300 miles of range on a full charge. However, by the time Lyriq enters production in 2022 that number is likely to increase a bit, as battery chemistries continue to improve.

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GM's new modular EV architecture is primarily designed for rear-wheel-drive EVs, but Cadillac will offer an all-wheel-drive performance option for the Lyriq. 

GM says the placement of the rear drive motor helps the Lyriq maintain a more balanced and nimble road feel. In addition, it transfers more torque to the pavement, results in powerful acceleration without any wheel slippage, as well as offering better handling in turns. 

The all-wheel version of the Lyriq adds a second electric motor up front, which allows for a significant amount of control via electronic torque vectoring, enhancing overall vehicle dynamics and performance, GM says.

The Lyriq Will Use "Pouch Cell" Batteries

Unlike the cylindrical battery used by Tesla, The Ultium batteries are a flat "pouch cell" design, so more can fit in the battery pack with less wasted space in between them. Instead of being round, pouch cell batteries use cathode and anode materials that are rolled flat and stacked in layers. Then they are sealed in a foil-like pouch, which resembles a big envelope to protect the contents inside. 

GM says that the pouch cell batteries reduce complexity, including in the cooling system. Additionally, the battery electronics are incorporated directly into the modules, eliminating nearly 90 percent of the battery pack wiring, compared to GM's current electric vehicles. 

The Ultium batteries for GM's new EV architecture will be built in a joint venture between GM and South Korean battery maker LG Chem. The two companies are investing $2.3 billion to build a battery factory in Ohio that will churn out advanced batteries for GM's upcoming lineup of new electric vehicles. 

LG Chem is one of the world's leading battery suppliers.

The Lyriq will accept DC fast charging rates over 150 kilowatts and Level 2 charging rates up to 19 kW. Using DC fast charging the LYriq can reach an 80% charge in under 30 minutes.

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GM's advanced modular EV architecture was first revealed in March. It will underpin the Cadillac LYRIQ and future EVs from the automaker.

The Lyriq Will Offer GM's Super Cruise Automated Driving Feature

The Lyriq will offer the enhanced version of Super Cruise, which is GM's hands-free driver assistance feature for highways. Super Cruise works on more than 200,000 miles of roads in the U.S. It was recently updated to perform automated lane changes on-demand. The Lyriq will also offer remote self-parking, a first for GM.

The remote parking system uses ultrasonic sensors to help the Lyriq park itself in parallel or perpendicular parking spaces. For automated parking, the driver can either be behind the wheel or outside the vehicle.

The Interior of the Lyriq represents a departure from the traditional dashboard. The Lyriq will include an augmented reality-enhanced head-up display and a massive 33-inch LED widescreen display that spans across the entire dashboard region in front of the driver.

GM says the display has the highest pixel density available in the automotive industry right now for the sharpest clearest view. The display can produce one billion colors, 64 times more than any other vehicle in the automotive industry, the automaker says.

The dual-plane augmented reality-enhanced head-up driver display employs two separate depths of view. The nearer plane view shows vehicle speed and direction, while the far plane displays transparent navigation signals and other important driver alerts.

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The Lyriq Will Come With Advanced Noise Cancellation in the Cabin

Being a member of the Cadillac family, the Lryiq is designed to be a luxury vehicle and GM engineers spend time outfitting the cabin with advanced technology to make it quieter for occupants.

Cadillac will introduce a new road noise cancellation technology for the Lyriq, which blocks out unwanted noise from the outside and from the tires. Throughout the interior are microphones and accelerometers, which improve the noise cancellation abilities. 

Cadillac's engineers even targeted the frequency range of tire noise, reducing the noise level in the vehicle and applied using noise-cancellation technology to help reduce it. It's similar to the technology found in noise cancelling headphones. A quieter cabin can make music sound much better, so Cadillac's engineers worked with world renowned audio company AKG on Lyriq's audio system.

"With LYRIQ we wanted to deliver a sound experience that would transport the driver from a vehicle into a recording studio," said Hussein Khalil, Cadillac lead audio design release engineer. "With the AKG sound system, we are able to deliver this experience along with the quality and reliability luxury customers expect."

The LYRIQ will offer a 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system for audiophile grade sound quality.

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In summary, the Lyriq is a bold new electric vehicle from GM and it has the potential to become a huge hit for GM's and its luxury division Cadillac. With the Lyriq, it looks as though GM has finally fully embraced electrification. The automaker now has a serious contender to compete with luxury electric models from Tesla, Porsche, Audi and others. 

However, here lies the problem. GM's answer to Tesla and other automakers building new luxury electric models is still over two years away, which is a long time from now. The Lyriq won't be available until late 2022. By that time, the entire EV landscape could change even before the Lyriq arrives at Cadillac dealers. 

GM's rivals Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus and Ford's luxury division Lincoln will likely have new fully-electric crossovers on the market before then, leaving GM on the sidelines without a strong electric competitor until late 2022

It's possible that GM will be forced to play catch up once again, as it did while Tesla became the leader in electrification over the last decade, eventually rising to become the world's most valuable automaker. 

But for now at least, there is no doubt the Cadillac Lyriq is one cool crossover and the luxury EV shows what GM is capable of.

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