Following the announcement last week that Cadillac is the first choice of General Motors to lead its foray into manufacturing EVs in quantity, a new electric SUV concept bearing the Cadillac brand will make its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. The as yet unnamed car is said to represent the latest “design language” that will be featured in all Cadillacs going forward.
Details at this point are few. The car appears to be a Goldilocks car — not too big, not too small, just right for Mr. and Mrs. America to ride around in zero emissions style. Steve Carlisle, head of the Cadillac division, tells Motor Trend the electric SUV is intended to be a volume vehicle priced comparably to other midsize sport utility vehicles. The 5-passenger electric Cadillac will have a range of more than 300 miles and will feature all wheel drive and Super Cruise — a package of electronic driver assist features.
The new Cadillac will be the first car built on General Motors’ new BEV3 chassis platform, which is adaptable to front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive vehicles of various dimensions. In that regard, it is similar to the MEB platform Volkswagen will use to build a variety of models for its new ID division.
“We’re the leading brand for GM for electrification,” Carlisle told the press at the Detroit auto show, “and the brand will be the pinnacle of mobility for the automaker. The luxury brand has customers with the means and wherewithal to try new technology.”
Speaking of new technology, the new car will have a square steering wheel that can can fold away into the dashboard when and if true autonomous driving becomes technically possible and approved by regulators for use on public roads, according to Fox News.
No target date has been announced for when the newest electric SUV will be on sale, but whenever that happens, it will have plenty of competition. Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, and Volkswagen all have similar products in the pipeline and, frankly, it’s hard to tell one from the other from a styling perspective. Give Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen his due. He and his team have penned three all new cars so far and each one is both handsome and unlike anything else in its class.
Not only are electric cars upending transportation as we know it, they are also disrupting traditional branding in the automotive marketplace. Will people flock to Cadillac if its cars are priced similar to models from Nissan or Hyundai? Will Cadillac and Buick bump elbows in the boardroom as they struggle to maintain their brand image? Will Tesla customers cross shop Cadillac? Will Volkswagen and Mercedes compete for the same electric car buyers?
There are no answers to those questions at the moment, but one could argue that this new marketing plan from General Motors could be a “make or break” moment for the company as it struggles to remain relevant in the new era of electric vehicles.