Another Tesla chaser emerges as Cadillac reveals Lyriq concept

By AP Time of article published Aug 7, 2020

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Tom Krisher

DETROIT - Cadillac, a well known American luxury brand that’s no longer sold in South Africa, has presented its vision of a future Tesla fighter.

We’ve seen this movie before, an electric vehicle from a mainstream carmaker that wants to steal sales from Silicon Valley’s market-leading electric carmaker.

But General Motors executives say Cadillac’s first fully-electric vehicle has all the features it needs to lure buyers where other companies fell short.

The Cadillac Lyriq, which has just been revealed in concept form, is a midsize SUV that comes out first in China and reaches US showrooms late in 2022, and GM says it will be able to cover more than 480km on a single charge. It will come in rear-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations with sleek looks, a premium interior, internet connectivity, a massive 84cm touchscreen, and a starting price tag somewhere below $75 000 (R1.3 million).

“Prior product offerings, at least on some of those measures, they fell a bit short,” said Steve Carlisle, GM’s North American president who used to run the Cadillac brand.

The company is confident that this product will succeed where the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron thus far have failed.

The Lyriq will go head-to-head with Tesla’s Model Y small SUV, which starts at just under $50 000 (R875 000). The Lyriq also could take sales from the Palo Alto, California, company’s other models.

GM wouldn’t release the SUV’s exact range or price, nor would it say if the Lyriq would match or beat the Model Y’s 508km range or best zero to 60 miles per hour (96.2 kilometers per hour) time of 3.5 seconds. The Model Y can easily top $60 000 (R1.05m) with options.

But executives said the Lyriq’s underpinnings are designed specifically to be an electric vehicle, with balanced weight distribution. They promised crisp handling and fast acceleration powered by the latest generation of nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum battery chemistry.

The Lyriq also will be able to park itself in parallel or perpendicular spaces without the driver being in the vehicle, similar to technology offered by Tesla. It also has direct current fast-charging capability, but charging times weren’t released.

Jaguar’s I-Pace and Audi’s e-tron fell short of the Model Y on range, with the I-Pace going 374km per charge and the e-tron SUV at 355km.

Cox Automotive Executive Analyst Michelle Krebs said having a range of over 300 miles (482km) is important to customers, who in surveys still express fears of running out of juice in an electric vehicle.

People also are concerned about charging vehicles outside their homes, but that network should be vastly better by the time the Lyriq goes on sale, she said. Tesla, which has its own global network of chargers, giving it an advantage over competitors.

Cadillac may check all the boxes to compete with Tesla, but it can’t match the brand and the mystique of CEO Elon Musk, who also leads rocket company SpaceX, Krebs said.

“People buy a Tesla because it’s a Tesla,” she said. “Tesla has done an amazing job of building a brand, doing it without advertising and marketing, just pure enthusiasm from consumers.”

To make inroads, Cadillac will have to change the way it sells electric vehicles, offering long test drives with delivery and pickup of test vehicles at the customer’s convenience, she said.


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