The electric Cadillac Lyriq will kickstart the relaunch of General Motors’ luxury brand in Europe, ahead of a possible return to Australia.
While some Chinese brands have been using electric vehicle-loving Norway as a beachhead, the American brand is starting in Switzerland.
The Lyriq can be ordered there from today, ahead of deliveries beginning in the first half of 2024.
Cadillac will then expand to five additional European markets over the next couple of years, with Sweden and France next.
The company says it’s only selling electric vehicles (EVs) and will sell vehicles direct to consumers, launching a new digital platform that will allow customers to build, price and buy vehicles, organise finance and registration, and schedule delivery.
Cadillac will have a bricks and mortar presence, however, with a retail location in downtown Zurich it’s calling Cadillac City.
The Lyriq will be offered in Europe in dual-motor all-wheel drive guise in Luxury or Sport trims, with a 102kWh lithium-ion battery that GM claims will give the crossover 530km of range.
It pumps out 373kW of power and 610Nm of torque, and will start at CHF 82,000 (A$141,083). For context, the BMW iX3 opens in Switzerland at CHF 78,900 (A$135,749).
European-market models will reportedly be sourced from the Lyriq’s factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and not the SAIC-GM factory in Shanghai that builds it for the Chinese market.
Cadillac also says it’s deploying its Super Cruise hands-free driving technology in Europe once it has the required approvals.
General Motors had been continually shrinking its presence in Europe, largely withdrawing the Chevrolet brand in 2013 (except sports cars, and except from Russia and some other Eastern European markets) and then selling off Opel/Vauxhall in 2017.
Cadillac has maintained a presence of some kind in Europe for decades, though in recent years it has only sold the Audi Q3-rivalling XT4 crossover only in left-hand drive continental markets and only in low volumes.
That’s in sharp contrast with markets like China, where it offers a wide range of vehicles and sells in meaningful volumes.
It tried pushing the front-wheel drive, V8-powered Seville in Europe in the 1990s, before a more serious attempt in the 2000s with models on the rear-wheel drive Sigma platform as well as a unique, Saab 9-3-based BLS sedan and wagon created specifically for Europe.
Though its presence in the UK market was always marginal, Cadillac did offer right-hand drive versions of the BLS and the rear-wheel drive CTS and STS. This late-2000s right-hand drive push also saw Cadillac enter markets like South Africa and almost enter Australia.
GM has yet to officially announce Cadillac for our market, but a spokesperson provided the following comment:
“GM participates in select right-hand-drive markets around the world. We have previously said that the modular Ultium platform and EV architecture offer greater flexibility in vehicle configurations. We do not have any product announcements to share at this time but stay tuned.”
The Lyriq has already been spied in right-hand drive, and trademark filings have appeared on the IP Australia database for the Lyriq, recently revealed Escalade iQ, and the Optiq that was revealed in a Chinese Government certification filing.
Also trademarked by GM this year was the Vistiq nameplate. It’s unclear what this model will be, though Cadillac has previously confirmed it wants to offer electric counterparts to its current petrol-powered SUV range that comprises XT4, XT5, XT6 and Escalade models.
Reports have also indicated Cadillac is working on an electric sedan or two to sit under the ultra-luxury Celestiq, which is understood to be left-hand drive-only.
Cadillac has come tantalisingly close to returning to Australia before, only to have a global financial crisis and its parent company’s bankruptcy pull the rug out.
It announced a return to Australia in 2007, obtaining local certification for the sale of the CTS. This would have been sold alongside Saab and Hummer products in a new GM Premium dealership network.
GM even imported several dozen CTS sedans, before the brand’s launch was cancelled in January 2009 just weeks before they were due to go on sale.
Australian Jess Bala took the reins as managing director of GM Australia and New Zealand on September 1, 2023.
She most recently served as director of global product planning and product strategy for Cadillac, which saw her play a central role in the luxury brand’s transition to being electric-only by 2030.