Cadillac unveils brand's first electric vehicle ahead of Detroit auto show

Jamie L. LaReau

Cadillac on Sunday unveiled the brand's first electric vehicle and said it will be General Motors' leader in designing and launching EVs going forward.

GM CEO Mary Barra said Cadillac will be known by consumers for its innovation.

"Taking the lead in innovation and technology will make Cadillac Cadillac again," Barra told reporters at a media event in Detroit where the EV was shown along with Cadillac's new 3-row SUV the XT6.

GM offers the Chevrolet Bolt, an electric vehicle, now, but Barra said allowing Cadillac to take the lead will take the luxury brand to "the next level."

Cadillac gave reporters gathered on the eve of the Detroit auto show a peek at the brand's first EV, but did not release a launch date or other details.

The vehicle will be the first off a future platform GM is developing for EVs that will accommodate all-wheel, front- and rear-wheel drive vehicles across the automaker's four brands. Not only will the Cadillac portfolio eventually benefit from a variety of body styles that can be spun off this architecture, but so will other brands, Barra said.

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The most advanced components within this platform are the drive units and battery cells, both of which are being designed for maximum usability throughout GM's global vehicle lineups. The output of the EV battery systems will be adjustable based on vehicle and customer needs.

On Friday, GM told investors that Cadillac will be at the forefront of GM's goal to offer an all-electric vehicle lineup in the future. 

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle reveals plans to pack batteries into future cars.

GM will build the new XT6 in Spring Hill, Tennessee, but it remains unclear where it will build the new Cadillac EVs. A spokesman for GM said the company is not discussing production location yet. 

In November, GM said it would idle five plants in North America, three of them vehicle assembly plants. One is Detroit-Hamtramck, which makes the Chevrolet Volt hybrid sedan. Another is in Lordstown, Ohio, where GM builds the Chevrolet Cruze compact car. The third is in Oshawa, Ontario.

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle reveals plans to pack batteries into future cars.

Asked if  the Detroit-Hamtramck or Lordstown, plants might be a good fit for a future EV product, Barra said, "We first have to get our capacity utilization right and we're working hard to give job opportunities to all of the impacted employees."

She noted that GM has 2,700 open jobs in plants including Flint, Spring Hill and Arlington, Texas. So far, 700 of the impacted workers at Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown have been placed in other plants.

"We'll continue to work with our UAW partners to do that," said Barra.

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As for the Cadillac EV, it will be a crossover vehicle that will "hit the heart of the crossover market and meet the needs of customers around the world,” said Steve Carlisle, president of Cadillac. “It will represent the height of luxury and innovation while positioning Cadillac as the pinnacle of mobility.”

The Cadillac EV’s name and additional details will be revealed closer to launch.

Cadillac is on an aggressive product launch path, planning to roll out a new vehicle every six months through 2021. In addition to revealing the new XT6, Carlisle on Sunday evening hinted at both a future Escalade and an upcoming performance sedan. 

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Cadillac unveils brand's first electric vehicle ahead of Detroit auto show