In a surprise announcement, Rory Harvey, vice president of global Cadillac, said that production of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq would begin in March 2022, nine months ahead of schedule. The announcement came at a meeting of the International Motor Press Association.
As TheDetroitBureau.com previously reported, the Lyriq will be built at GM’s Spring Hill, Tennessee plant,which has received $2 billion worth of investment in preparation for building the new EV. The former Saturn plant currently builds the Cadillac XT5, Cadillac XT6 and GMC Acadia.
In addition, GM recently announced an additional investment of $2.3 billion to build a second battery cell manufacturing plant alongside the Spring Hill plant. Harvey said the battery plant will bring with it 1,300 new jobs.
How did they do it?
Jamie Brewer, chief engineer of the Lyriq, credits GM’s development of virtual design and validation tools, something that’s been happening over several years.
“As we started implementing them early and earlier into the vehicle development process, what we found is that the quality of our prototype vehicles or pre-production vehicles that we’re building the physical vehicles is much, much better,” Brewer said.
Through virtual development, engineers were able to test thousands of designs through multiple scenarios for variation in manufacturing, customer usage, and physics, the company said. The rapid acceleration of product development cycles has led to engineering costs decreasing by $1.5 billion per year. This makes a big difference when developing an all-new vehicle architecture, such as the Lyriq’s Ultium Platform.
“We have been able to refine so much in the virtual space. Areas like cabin comfort, advanced vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, acoustics, road noise cancellation — even active safety features and crash barrier development, have all been done virtually. Because of that, the physical testing that is underway now is significantly … ahead of schedule,” Brewer said.
Currently the Lyriq is in the final stages of vehicle development, with engineers finalizing the vehicle’s coefficient of drag, NVH refinement, tire cavity boom noise, steering sensitivity and steering feel. This is all being carried out earlier in the ramp up to launch because of the time saved with virtual development, Brewer said.
More details on the Lyriq
Harvey said that prices will start at $59,990. “From our perspective in terms of benchmarking, we think that that’s so competitive in the marketplace.”
The First Edition will also have more than 300 miles of range on a full charge. Cadillac is launching the Lyriq with the 19.2-kilowatt level two charger, and with DC fast charging up to 119 kilowatts. “We know that charge rate and charge time is extremely critical and especially for early adapters we want to make sure that we come out with all of our best foot forward from a charging perspective,” Brewer said.
This has led Cadillac and GM to the creation of Ultium Charge 360, which integrates charging networks to a GM vehicle app. “We aim to have nearly 60,000 charging plugs throughout the U.S. and Canada within a reasonable period of time,” Harvey said. “That’s something that is a must for EV adoption going forward.
As for the batteries themselves, they’re part of GM’s proprietary Ultium Platform, as well as the drive units and the integrated power electronics. Engineers used 70% less cobalt in the Ultium batteries’ cathodes, substituting aluminum. “That’s significant when you talk about the cost of rare earth metals.”
Just as important, the production vehicle will greatly resemble the concept.
“I think that you’ll be hard pressed to find many differences between the two, and that was a very purposeful and strategic move, and not without trials and tribulations. But it was something that we were very committed to doing.”
Lyriq should sustain sales momentum
Harvey struck an optimistic tone — hardly surprising — noting the Lyriq arrives at a good moment for Cadillac.
The brand enjoyed its third best global sales year ever in 2020, followed by a first quarter with worldwide sales up 66% year-over-year. In the U.S., sales rose 5.8% in 2020. Better yet, Harvey said transaction prices are rising as well, and are now second only to Mercedes-Benz.
This comes as Cadillac is working its dealers to ensure they’re ready to sell and service EVs.“The goal is that by the time that we sell Lyric, all of our dealers will be enabled to sell and support and raise the bar from a customer satisfaction point of view in terms of EVs,” he added.