WARREN, Mich. — Today, General Motors held an “EV Day” event at its Warren, Michigan, campus to present its new “Ultium” battery technology, modular electric vehicle architecture and soon-to-come electric vehicles. Unfortunately, we were forbidden from bringing cameras into the event, so while we can’t show you what we saw, we can tell you more about it.
While we saw the previously teased Cadillac EV (which we now know to be called the Lyriq) and the GMC Hummer pickup teased during the Super Bowl, there were a number of other future cars at the event, which GM President Mark Reuss assured us are all real vehicles in the works. The biggest surprise came at the end of the event, though, in the Cadillac Celestiq electric sedan, which Reuss described as a future flagship that would be hand-built “very locally.”
It had been hiding under a dark sheet all morning, with the front and rear illuminated Cadillac emblems shining from underneath. When the wraps came off, we saw a long, white, four-seat fastback sedan. The 23-inch wheels were pushed out to the very corners of the car, giving it what appeared to be a very long wheelbase. The model on the stage had no side mirrors or visible door handles. The grille mirrored that of the Lyriq crossover next to it, with integrated lighting in lieu of the usual mesh or slats you’d see in an internal combustion car. The entire roof, all the way until it tapered to the tail of the vehicle, was tinted glass. In back, vertical tail lighting ran down the C-pillar before turning rearward across the top of the trunk. Inside, everything below the beltline of the windows — essentially all but the headrests and top portion of the steering wheel, was hidden from view.
Behind the Celestiq, a large digital display showed a rendering of its interior. The dash consists of a pillar-to-pillar curved LED display serving as both instrument panel and infotainment system. Protruding forward between the front seats was another touchscreen that appeared to house some more controls, with open area, probably for storage, below it. The rear seats had the same sort of touchscreen between them. Built into the back of the front seats were a pair of rear-seat entertainment screens, much like we saw in the Lyriq. The door panels blended wood, metal and animated lighting to give character and a sense of opulence.
GM interior design manager Tristan Murphy was on hand to tell us a bit more about the Celestiq. Although the Lyriq will be the first of the new Cadillac EVs shown to the public, the Celestiq’s design came first, and inspired the rest of what’s to come. Murphy described Celestiq as a design halo, “the ultimate experience” for his team. It provided designers with the opportunity to elevate the brand and inspire the more mainstream products to come.
Speaking on the trend of crossovers taking over the market and pushing sedans to the sidelines, Murphy pointed to the Celestiq as an example why “It’s not that the sedan is dead, but the traditional three-box design” that’s becoming obsolete.
The Celestiq is a beautiful vehicle, and it is very much intended for future production. Neither Reuss nor Murphy would comment on production timing, but they said the Celestiq would be individually hand-built, with a high level of personalization based on customer preferences. Murphy appeared excited that Cadillac would finally be able to coach-built vehicles again, harking back to the brand’s early years. For us, it has us excited about the brand’s electric future.
But that's not all
There were nine other GM electric vehicles on display at EV Day, some of which we knew about, others coming as complete surprises. We’ll go through what we saw from left to right on stage, with the Cadillac Celestiq on the far left.
Cadillac Lyriq crossover
We knew the Cadillac Lyriq was on its way, but today we learned its name and saw it in full for the first time. Appearing to be about the size of the midsize Cadillac XT5, Lyriq has a grille similar to that of the Celestiq, with an illuminated Cadillac crest front and center. The glossy plastic “black crystal jeweled” grille features illuminated lines around the sides and across the bottom, with triangular lighting housings on either side. It’s fairly faithful to the rendering we’d seen before, but with more visible details. In the rear, we saw vertical lighting on either side of the rear glass extending downward before turning inward across the tailgate. Below that, we saw vertical lighting on both sides of the lower fascia as well.
The Lyric’s flat battery pack and lack of a traditional powertrain means good things for packaging. It has a long wheelbase, rides on 22-inch wheels, and the omission of a transmission tunnel allows for a cantilevered center console to extend forward between the front seats, with open air below. In front of the driver and passenger is a 34-inch, pllar-to-pillar LED screen, similar to what we saw in the rendering for the Celestiq. In real life, it looks nice, and well integrated into the surrounding design. Below that screen in the center are two opening drawers for storage. The steering wheel features a light-up Cadillac crest in the center. The doors feature a lot of wood and metal integrated artfully. Cadillac promises that plenty of hard, tactile controls will remain in the Lyriq, as that’s what helps to provide the “richness” and “warmth” a luxury experience demands.
The side doors of the Lyriq automatically open with the touch of a button in door handle outlines that are flush with the body. Similarly, they close automatically, slowing down at the end to pull the doors fully shut. We wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't make it to production.
You won’t have to wait long until you, too, can feast your eyes upon the Cadillac Lyriq, as it’ll be unveiled to the public in April. For now, here's the side profile silhouette:
Chevrolet electric midsize crossover
This unnamed EV was a clay model, we were told, covered with fairly convincing body panels, like many of the other vehicles onstage. It appeared to be very close in size to the Lyriq, with a similar shape but fewer details. The main difference was a more upright rear window than the Lyric, which looked to provide a larger, more useful cargo space behind the second row. The interior will feature curved LED screens, with a digital instrument panel and a big, 18-inch central infotainment touchscreen.
GM did not provide launch timing for this crossover, though, but like all the vehicles at the event, it represented a real product in the works.
Buick electric midsize crossover
Again, this looked to be similar in shape and size to the Chevy CUV and the Cadillac Lyric. It features sharper creases compared to the Chevy’s more rounded angles. Picture the Buick EV rendered in an earlier GM presentation, but sized more like the Chevy Equinox, and you’re on the right track. We were told this would feature a 30-inch-wide combination instrument panel and infotainment screen.
Buick small electric crossover
Take that small midsizer and shrink it to something that looks more like a lifted hatchback, and that’s what we saw next to it. It had the same face, which we were told would be shared across the Buick brand. It looked suspiciously like the new Buick Velite we recently saw leak out of China. It also bore many similarities to the Bolt EUV on the other side of the stage (more on that shortly). This, too, will use the 30-inch screen combo featured in its bigger brother.
Cadillac large electric SUV
On the center right of the stage, on the other side of some of GM’s new Ultium battery and electric powertrain technology on display, a large Cadillac SUV stood in all its glory. It looked similar in size to the Escalade, sharing its more traditional, boxy looks. It had big, 24-inch wheels pushed toward the corners, long front and rear doors, and what appeared to be a slightly shortened cargo area compared to an Escalade. It will also feature a pillar-to-pillar LED screen like the other Cadillac EVS we saw today. This SUV will share the same underpinnings as the GMC Hummer electric truck, as well as a future full-size Chevy pickup EV that may or may not adopt the “Silverado” nameplate.
GMC Hummer electric pickup
This is the one we saw teased during the Super Bowl, and it was one of the vehicles that wasn’t a clay model wrapped in body panels. It’s an off-road ready electric pickup, from the GMC brand, reviving the Hummer moniker. It’s tall, with the roof about eye-level compared to your 6-foot-tall author. The roof panels can be removed for topless driving, and they stow under the hood of the Hummer where the internal combustion engine would normally go.
We were surprised to see it has sail panels behind the C-pillar connecting the cab to the sides of the bed, looking a bit like a Chevy Avalanche. The bed was hidden under a tonneau cover, but the truck’s rear appeared to incorporate the MultiPro tailgate we first saw on the GMC Sierra Denali. It also sported two huge tow eyes on the rear bumper.
The GMC Hummer will be offered with a number of electric powertrain options, the most powerful of which will provide 1,000 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of less than three seconds.
GMC Hummer electric SUV
This looks exactly like the Hummer pickup from the rear doors forward, but with an enclosed cargo area in the rear. Also built on the truck architecture, it features a shorter wheelbase than the pickup. Inside, it has a large, rectangular 15-inch infotainment screen, as well as a 12-inch digital cluster screen. It borrows some styling cues from the other Hummer, like a lunar theme with “Sea of Tranquility” contours on the speakers and floor mats. The angular hourglass-style air vent bezels mimic the look of the taillights.
Updated Chevrolet Bolt EV
From the outside, we’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this and the newly refreshed Bolt you can find in dealerships today. Looking inside, we notice some interior updates. Most significantly, it has new front seats, which look more substantial and less plasticky than the current chairs. The dash also takes on a more traditional look, with more true angles and fewer flowing curves than the contours of the 2020 Bolt. This launches later this year.
Chevrolet Bolt EUV
This was another fully built prototype on the stage. It’s essentially a longer-wheelbase version of the Bolt. Its extra three inches in length go toward the rear legroom, making it more comfortable for any passengers you put back there. Its longer roof and roof rails make it look taller from the front, but we were told that it’s not raised up at all compared to the standard Bolt. It had prototype front lighting that differed from the eyes of the other Bolt onstage, but those should look like the more familiar headlights when it comes to production in summer of 2021.
Perhaps most significantly, this will be the first non-Cadillac vehicle to feature GM’s Super Cruise hands-free advanced driver assistance system. The new and improved Super Cruise features automatic lane changes initiated using the turn signal, and rear facing radar that can better monitor your blind spots and the speed difference between you and other approaching vehicles to make sure it changes lanes safely. Its driver monitoring system has improved for fewer interruptions. A new lens, improved visible spectrum and a frame rated integrated with that of the infrared emitters in the steering wheel mean that it can better track your face even in harsh sunlight. It also does more to monitor the position of your eyeballs rather than your head to make sure you’re paying attention to the road.
Furthermore, GM has added more scenarios where Super Cruise can operate. The inclusion of more multi-lane trunk roads, like the kind of divided rural highways that feature occasional intersections along the way. In all, GM has added 70,000 more miles of roads where Super Cruise can operate.