Years ago, Cadillac was associated with luxury and performance.
Today, in a bid to get back to the top of the luxury heap, the US automaker unveiled the production Cadillac Celestiq on Monday, a hand-built, custom-built hulking fastback sedan that closely follows the concept it launched in July. revealed this year. .
The vehicle, which harkens back to the land-hunting era of the 1960s and has a weight similar to that of the Escalade between 56.35 and 6,217 pounds, starts at a whopping $300,000 and is built at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.
The company has been generating a buzz since unveiling the concept in July and showed the prototype at Pebble Beach in August, and TechCrunch got a first look at the production vehicle in Hollywood on Monday night.
In reality, the company has been making great performance and luxury sedans (vehicles such as the CTS-V, the ATS and the CTS) for years, but it has failed to capture the US luxury market as it planned and wanted. . Previous sedans were designed to go after the better-selling German cars that have established the company as the “Standard of the World” for the past 41 years, Cadillac’s slogan.
“We will continue to earn our way back to the top of the luxury market and bring Cadillac back to the pinnacle of luxury,” Rory Harvey, global vice president of Cadillac, told TechCrunch, “and we don’t plan to stop.”
The Celestiq is Cadillac’s halo vehicle. Cadillac has previously said it planned to make just 500 vehicles. However, spokespeople at Monday’s event told TechCrunch that it plans to continue making the Celestiq for years to come, suggesting that the final sales figure could eclipse that initial figure. Harvey said the company can make as many as two a week at Michigan’s Warren Tech Center.
A mix of old and new
Image Credits: Abigail Bassett
While Cadillac has a strong history of hand-built custom bodies dating back to the very beginning, this is the first modern vehicle with an all-electric powertrain that combines modern technologies with custom customization.
The Celestiq is backed by GM’s Ultium battery technology, albeit in a different layout than other GM vehicles.
Tony Roma, Cadillac’s chief engineer, told TechCrunch that the company has been showing off the battery layout for Celestiq for two years, but no one has ever asked about it.
The batteries are stepped over the underside of the vehicle instead of being laid in the chassis like a pancake. The front section of the battery pack is lower than the section under the rear seat, and an additional battery pack is positioned lengthwise under the center of the vehicle, mimicking a transmission tunnel.
The special EV architecture combines a 111 kWh battery pack with a twin-motor all-wheel drive system. GM estimates the Celestiq will make 600 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque and will get about 300 miles on a full charge.
Cadillac says the Celestiq will travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 3.8 seconds. The company also says that on DC fast charging, the Celestiq will gain a whopping 78 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
That’s impressive, considering that everything about the vehicle that looks like metal is, in fact, metal, adding to the already hefty weight. Most car manufacturers make things like moldings and interior parts from lighter plastics and coat them to look like metal. That’s not the case for the Cadillac Celestiq. Executive Chief Engineer Brandon Vivian noted during our preview that that’s intentional.”
This is Cadillac’s flagship product and we want it to be authentic and genuine,” said Vivian.
The company used a mix of additive manufacturing, stamping and casting to create everything from the body-in-white to the aluminum steering wheel insert and the composite curved body panels.
Additive manufacturing is essentially 3D printing, and according to Roma, the technology wasn’t really feasible for the project until about a year and a half ago. When the technique became available, Cadillac was able to run it and use it in the build. There are 115 3D printed parts on the Celestiq.
The evolution of additive techniques has also enabled Cadillac to offer even more customized features. “If you want your name or some kind of design cut into the steering wheel or the metal piece under the vents, we can do that. Because we can just print it on the file itself, and it’s not like I have a tool. up,” Roma said.
Technology and packaging
Image Credits: GM
“One of the most challenging parts of designing the Celestiq was wrapping a beautiful body around all the technology,” Erin Crossley, the Design Director for Celestiq, told TechCrunch. That tech includes everything from the fixed glass roof with four separate panels that can be individually made opaque, patterned, or open, based on the preferences of those inside, to the 55-inch diagonal screen that stretches across the dashboard of the Celestiq.
Cadillac also says the Celestiq will be equipped with the latest Super Cruise technology, GM’s advanced driver assistance system that is as close to self-driving cars as realistically possible.
The Celestiq comes with Ultra Cruise, which will build on GM’s Super Cruise, providing hands-free driving on mapped highways and divided roads. Ultra Cruise allows drivers to drive hands-free in the city. Cadillac says the “vehicle will be equipped with all necessary Ultra Cruise hardware to enable incremental feature growth via over-the-air updates in 2024.”
The Celestiq will also include automatic remote parking, allowing the driver to exit the vehicle while the car parks itself in a parallel or perpendicular space.
While Cadillac has struggled to regain its Standard of the World moniker, at least here in the US, the company’s vehicles are popular in China, and it’s easy to see how the Celestiq fits into the company’s global ambitions. business.
The long, low roof and fastback design, with everything from retractable tray tables that nestle into the center armrest in the rear seat to individual screens at each seat, indicate that Cadillac is thinking about those buyers who would rather be driven than drive themselves.
When asked about ambitions for overseas markets, Cadillac representatives said, “Celestiq will be available in North America first. As a global brand, we will expand into other global markets later in the product lifecycle, including China and the Middle East.”
Cadillac says it will begin building the Celestiq in late 2023, and orders can be placed through dealers. Interested parties will then connect to a concierge service that will guide them through the design process or use an AI developed in-house to help them narrow down the multitude of options for color, finishes, materials and customization.
As customers further customize their Celestiq, the price tag will rise above the $300,000 starting price.
While that price tag is well out of reach for most car buyers, Cadillac did say that much of the technology the company used in developing the Celestiq will also appear in more viable vehicles. The manufacturing techniques, as well as some of the packaging and technology, will likely appear in future Cadillac vehicles priced for those of us who are mere mortals.