Cadillac unveiled a bold new sedan concept Friday, the Celestiq. The new concept foreshadows a forthcoming hand-built all-electric flagship for the brand as it reconfigures into a pure electric marque and, at the same time, reclaim its once cherished status as “The Standard of the World.”
The past inspires the present
To achieve a new design paradigm for the Celestiq, designers looked to Cadillac’s past, when it truly was The Standard of the World, looking to the brand’s known high points, including the custom-built V-16 cars of the 1930s, and later engineering achievements such as the 1957 Eldorado Brougham.
“Those vehicles represented the pinnacle of luxury in their respective eras, and helped make Cadillac the standard of the world,” said Tony Roma, chief engineer, in a statement. “The Celestiq show car — also a sedan, because the configuration offers the very best luxury experience — builds on that pedigree and captures the spirit of arrival they expressed.”
Other sources proved inspiring as well, with designers looking to the work of mid-century architect Eero Saarinen, although for that they didn’t have to go far. The architect designed GM’s Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.
One unmentioned source of inspiration that’s clear from the Celstiq’s shape is Cadillac’s “Aerodynamic Coupes” of the 1940s, also known as sedenettes. They debuted in 1941 on the Cadillac Series 61 and 62 in a redesign spearheaded by future design boss Bill Mitchell.
Like the sedanettes, the Celestiq is a fastback, not hatchback, as it’s considered more apropos for the Celestiq’s market segment.
Impressive detailing promised
But Cadillac is doing more than producing a stunning-looking concept; the push for true luxury extends to the interior as well, with a 55-inch-diagonal LED display on the instrument panel, a smart glass roof, and Ultra Cruise, General Motors’ next version of its hands-free driver assistance system.
The car will be hand-built at the GM Tech Center, a first for the facility since it opened in May 1956. This will allow buyers to extensively customize their car. To support its assembly at GM’s Global Technical Center, GM is investing $81 million.
The car uses GM’s Ultium EV platform. GM will use 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to create up to 100 parts. The CT4-V and CT5-V performance sedans already employ it for the shifter emblems, climate control ducts, and transmission parts.
Not another false promise
But that a Cadillac show car will become a production car is notable; past concepts that have been widely hailed for their extraordinary beauty have been mothballed, such as the Cadillac Ciel and Escala — the latter being a production car GM cancelled.
That shouldn’t be the case with the case with the Celestiq, which Cadillac officials have indicated is heading to production with a price in the $300,000 range, although pricing hasn’t been officially announced. But the price would be accurate if the cars are being hand-built, as the company has indicated.
That pricing will be a significant test of Cadillac’s brand strength. It used to be the top-selling luxury brand in the country, but it is now outsold by some competing luxury automakers making it an uphill challenge to attract wealthy EV buyers.
Designers were given free rein to develop a unique set of components for the Celestiq and other Cadillac EVs, ones that aren’t shared with any other GM vehicles, something GM President Mark Reuss encouraged, according to Tristan Murphy, an interior design manager at Cadillac.
“He said, ‘you know, we owe it to Cadillac. We owe it to the brand and the customers to really let’s do it. Let’s go all in,” Murphy said at the recent media launch of the Cadillac Lyriq.
Even though the Celestiq will reach production after the recently unveiled Lyriq electric crossover, it was actually designed first, and provided guidance for the Lyriq and other forthcoming Cadillacs. Murphy said.
“It was important to get this one right out of the box because it really informs this next chapter,” Murphy said. “We’re starting with the Lyriq and we’re not going to let up. You’re going to continue to see other or future variants, and Celestiq takes it to a next level.”
At least 30 all-electric GM models, including Celestiq, will be on the market by 2025, according to the automaker. “Celestiq signifies a new, resurgent era for the brand,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s president, in June.
We shall soon see, once additional details on the production model Celestiq are announced later this year.