(CNN)In a major bid to compete with Tesla and other electric vehicle makers, General Motors unveiled the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV Thursday night. The Lyriq is the first fully-electric Cadillac introduced by GM, which is preparing to unveil a whole new lineup of electric cars, trucks and SUVs.
In addition to being fully electric, the Lyriq also introduces new technologies and a new design style that will be seen on future electric Cadillacs, according to GM. The Lyriq will be able to park itself or pull out of a parking space with no one inside the car, a capability similar to one offered by Tesla (TSLA). It will also have the latest version of Super Cruise, GM’s semi-autonomous driving system which allows drivers to completely take their hands off the steering for long stretches along major highways.
The Cadillac Lyriq introduces a new design style that will be seen on future electric Cadillacs.The Lyriq will be able to drive more than 300 miles on a single charge, according to GM (GM). That’s comparable to the Tesla Model Y’s range and considerably more than Audi’s e-Tron, with 204 miles of range. It will be available in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive versions, and all-wheel-drive versions will have two electric motors, one in the front and one in the back.
The Lyriq will go into production in late 2022, according to GM. While the company wouldn’t provide details about its price, a GM spokesperson said it will be competitive with similar luxury SUVs, including gasoline-powered ones.
‘Premium and elevated’
Read MoreInside, the Lyriq’s dashboard houses an enormous 33-inch (measured diagonally) display screen. The screen will act as the gauge cluster, as well as the information and entertainment touchscreen. To the left of the gauges, the screen will also include touch-sensitive switches for various controls, such as adjustments for the head-up display that’s projected onto the windshield.
The Cadillac Lyriq’s interior features a huge multi-function LED screenThe head-up display, or HUD, will show information at two different visual distances in front of the vehicle. Most HUDs display information, such as the car’s speed, as if it’s floating over the hood a few feet in front of the windshield. The Lyriq’s HUD will do that as well, but it will also show a second level of information that will appear farther away. This will include navigation cues, such as arrows, that will appear over the actual roadway ahead.The LED screen display and head-up display will be similar to ones in the upcoming Cadillac Escalade, according to GM, but will be even more advanced.”Everything from the Cadillac brand has to feel premium and elevated and I think this display is a big part of that,” said Scott Martin, a GM engineer in charge of digital displays.The Lyriq will be capable of accepting over-the-air software updates, like a Tesla, and it is engineered to take advantage of future improvements in display designs, Martin said. The big display screen, for instance, has resolution greater than most high-definition televisions and greater depth of color as well.The SUV will have active noise cancellation, something many luxury vehicles offer. But, in the Lyriq, it will be used for the special noise problems that come with an electric vehicle. Its system has been tuned to target tire noise, which can be especially irritating in electric cars which are otherwise nearly silent. The active noise cancellation uses the car’s stereo speakers to produce sound waves that cancel out the unwanted noise in the cabin.The Lyriq was designed using new electric vehicle engineering and battery technology that, GM has said, will enable the company to create a wide range of relatively inexpensive electric cars, trucks and SUVs. The batteries use less rare earth metals than most in use today, the company said. GM CEO Mary Barra has said the company will invest more than $3 billion a year in electric vehicle development through at least 2025.Soon GM will also unveil the GMC Hummer EV, an electric off-road truck and an SUV version of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. In all, GM plans to offer 20 electric models worldwide by 2023.”We want to put everyone in an EV, and we have what it takes to do it,” Barra said in a presentation in early March.
A fresh start
GM has introduced electric cars before but, like other traditional automakers, has not had nearly the success of Tesla. The Chevrolet Bolt EV has been on sale since 2017. But it has never approached the sales volumes of the Tesla Model 3, or even much more expensive Tesla models. Before that, GM offered the Chevrolet Volt, which it called a “range extended” electric car. Essentially a plug-in hybrid, the Volt was powered by batteries but had a gasoline engine to generate electricity for trips beyond about 50 miles.GM’s Cadillac brand briefly sold its own version of the Volt, the Cadillac ELR. Offered for only two model years, the ELR was largely hand-assembled inside GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant where the Volt was built. In 1996, GM introduced the EV1, one of the earliest electric cars from a major automaker that had not simply been adapted from a gasoline car or truck. In 2003, GM stopped production of the EV1 and crushed most of the cars it had made, citing a lack of demand and problems with providing maintenance once parts were no longer being made.
Timeline: Electric cars have been around since before the US Civil War
GM has said that the Cadillac brand will lead the company’s push to introduce more electric vehicles. Cadillac has long been marketed as GM’s leading technology brand. As far back as 1912, Cadillac was the first major automaker to offer an electric starter for gasoline-powered cars, a then-new technology that sounded a death knell for electric vehicles at the time. Before then, gasoline cars generally had to be hand-cranked to start, a difficult and often dangerous task. Once gasoline cars could be started with a simple press of a button or turn of a key, demand for electric cars, which had been an easier-to-use alternative, quickly plummeted.In using its luxury brand to spearhead its new move into electric cars, GM is following a long pattern in the auto industry in which brands like Audi, Porsche and Tesla introduce electrification in their most expensive, and least price sensitive models. first. It’s a departure for GM which had previously introduced electric vehicles as Chevrolet models, its mainstream brand, to show that it was serious about making electric cars accessible to everyone.