First Look: Cadillac Celestiq 2024

Detroit luxury automaker’s hand-built, all-electric sedan starts above $300,000, with just two built per day

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About ninety years ago, few argued when Cadillac called itself the “standard of the world.” The wealthiest customers were often encouraged to buy just a bare chassis and send it to a coachbuilder to make a custom body that was sometimes just one-to-one.

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Over the years, the brand eventually fell off that lofty platform, but now GM is determined to take it back to that height with the hand-built Celestiq. The first cars are expected to enter production in December 2023, beeping at the end of Cadillac’s 120e year. It will be all-electric and, as the brand’s ultra-luxury halo car, all-expensive.

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It starts somewhere north of US$300,000 for US buyers, with the tag for Canada unveiled later this year. The Celestiq will also be sold in the Middle East and China.

Unlike in the past, customers don’t have the option to buy just the chassis – in this case the Ultium platform that GM will eventually use under all of its EVs – to be fitted with custom bodywork. Everyone will start with the same, intriguingly handsome at the front but questionable at the rear, where the lights are meant to evoke the famous Cadillac tailfins of the 1950s.

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Buyers also get the standard four-seat configuration and cabin design, as well as 23-inch wheels. But every customer will choose the upholstery and interior materials, and the cab and exterior colors, including coming up with new shades if nothing in the paint chip catalog tickles anyone’s fancy. Of course, the more customization, the higher the price.

That individual selection gives owners the “one-of-one” bragging rights, but there won’t be many to compare anyway. Rather than work its way through a factory assembly line, the Celestiq will be hand-built at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Only two cars per day are expected to be ready, and only six will be in production at any given time. But it’s not a single run — according to a Cadillac representative, the Celestiq will be built “several years,” with the exact number not being revealed.

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Cadillac plans to go all-electric by 2030 and has already released the brand’s first-ever EV, the 2023 Lyriq. The Celestiq will use a 111 kWh battery pack, with two electric motors providing four-wheel drive with active rear steering. The automaker estimates 600 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque, with acceleration times from zero to 96 km/h of approximately 3.8 seconds and a battery range of 483 kilometers.

It includes air suspension, active roll control, five-link suspension front and rear, and Magnetic Ride Control, which uses electrical power to vary the damper’s performance almost instantly. This version of it was originally developed for the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing.

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It’s not cost effective to make tools for low volume parts, which is why 115 of the Celestiq’s components are 3D printed, including window switches and decorative trim, as well as the steering wheel which GM says is the largest metal-printed piece it is. made for a production car. The bottom structure consists of six parts made of sand-cast aluminum and part of the upper body is made of carbon fiber. all that looks like metal is metal, and the lights are individual LEDs, with up to 1,600 on the outside.

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Buyers can’t swap the glass roof for a metal roof, but they probably won’t want to anyway. Instead of using a sunscreen when it’s too bright, the suspended particulate glass can be adjusted lighter or darker to filter it out. That is not new, but the division into four quadrants is, so that each occupant can individually adjust the glass directly above their head.

The dashboard is a 55-inch display that stretches from pillar to pillar and consists of two screens behind one glass plate. The passenger may be watching a movie or playing with a connected phone on that screen, so to reduce distractions, a “digital blind” prevents the driver from seeing that side of the dash. The display is activated by a tablet-style touchscreen in the center console, while rear seat passengers get their own 12.6-inch screen. The center display is also operated by a crystal dial in the console, adorned with the version of Cadillac’s “Goddess” mascot that first appeared on the 1933 V-16 models.

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2024 Cadillac Celestiq
2024 Cadillac Celestiq Photo by General Motors

Other technologies include a microclimate on each seat for heating or cooling; connected cameras with crash registration and theft detection; audio system with 38 speakers; and Ultra Cruise, an ongoing version of the Super Cruise hands-free driving system already available on some other GM models. The Celestiq comes with the hardware for such semi-autonomous operation, and incremental wireless functionality updates will continue to improve it over the life of the vehicle.

To get a car, you first need to find a dealer that sells the Celestiq – that’s an existing Cadillac dealer that has made the investment to do so. The customization process involves the customer, the dealer and a Cadillac janitor who works between them and the construction teams to equip the car.

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2024 Cadillac Celestiq
2024 Cadillac Celestiq Photo by General Motors

So is there actually a market for a $300,000+ Caddy fastback? Of course the car manufacturer thinks so. “We’ve been doing events with potential customers at the level we’re looking for, and there’s been a huge interest in personalization,” said Brandon Vivian, Cadillac’s Executive Chief Engineer, pointing out that the CT5-V Blackwing and Escalade have already been launched in six – figure territory.

“Blackwing and Celestiq’s customers may overlap,” he added. “Some want that ultimate level of performance and craftsmanship.”

The Celestiq could only benefit from being new: the most important thing for the first buyers will probably be all the attention. Whether it will actually be the halo that propels Cadillac to the “Standard of the World” for electric vehicles remains to be seen after that.

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