On Monday General Motors took the first step toward its promise to dominate U.S. electric vehicle sales by mid-decade, as the first 2023 Cadillac Lyriq electric SUVs started production.
The Lyriq is the first EV to come out of GM's luxury brand, Cadillac.
It is intended to boost the brand's sales and start Cadillac's segue to an all-electric lineup by 2030. GM intends to sell all-electric cars across its brands by 2035.
GM is making the Lyriq at its Spring Hill Assembly plant in Tennessee and by midmorning Monday, production Lyriqs rolled off the assembly line as first-shift workers gathered with company leaders to celebrate.
Two UAW members drove one of the newly built Lyriqs onto the stage as a symbol that GM is bringing its workforce along with its transformation to all EVs.
"You're not just making a new vehicle, you're building the transformation of Cadillac and you're building the transformation of General Motors," Rory Harvey, Cadillac's vice president, told the plant workers.
Big demand, long wait
Customers looking to order a Lyriq, which starts at $59,990, should prepare to wait.
Cadillac will open up its order banks on May 19, but it will probably be sometime next year before many get one due to high demand, Harvey said.
Cadillac has 240,000 hand-raisers for the vehicle, up from 233,000 just weeks ago, he said. A hand-raiser is a person who expresses interest in the car, but does not put down money on it.
The Lyriq is GM's second EV to come off GM's Ultium platform, which will underpin and propel all of GM's future EVs. The first was the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup made at Factory ZERO in Detroit and Hamtramck, which started production late last year. GM has said it will bring at least 30 new EVs to market by 2025.
Besides the Lyriq, GM builds the Cadillac XT5 and XT6 SUVs and the GMC Acadia SUV at Spring Hill. It also makes a variety of engines used across GM's lineup.
The plant will ramp up its Lyriq production over the next nine months and it has capacity to build 200,000 Lyriqs annually, said GM President Mark Reuss, who was at the plant to mark the occasion.
Reuss reiterated GM's promise to be the EV leader in America by building and selling 1 million EVs by mid-decade, adding, "The Lyriq will help the company get there."
Local UAW 1853 Shop Chairman Danny Taylor told the workforce that EVs are the future for the auto industry and the union workforce is crucial to making the switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs seamless.
"We are at the forefront of GM's all-electric future," Taylor said. "When you see how much people love and want this product it wouldn't be possible without the rank and file of the UAW Local 1853. You showed you are a 'can do' workforce. Now we are building for today and for generations to come."
'Spring Hill City'
The Lyriq launch is crucial to GM's luxury brand Cadillac.
GM has declared that Cadillac will lead in technology across the company, which it believes will draw in new customers across all GM brands.
The Lyriq launch "is a moment where we’ve made Cadillac special in terms of material and design," Reuss said. "If it’s new … whatever we’re talking about, you’ll see it in Cadillac first. This is bringing Cadillac back to leadership and tier-one luxury and making an American luxury brand highly desirable.”
In October 2020, GM said it will invest $2 billion in Spring Hill to build the Lyriq and other EVs. Spring Hill’s paint and body shops were expanded and the general assembly was upgraded with new machines, conveyors, controls and tooling.
GM is moving production of the next-generation GMC Acadia to Lansing Delta Township Assembly where it invested more than $100 million in retooling to build it. That will allow for Spring Hill to get more EVs to build.
"We will have a battery assembly plant as well as the Ultium cell plant — it’s sort of a Spring Hill City," Reuss said. "It’s highly integrated. We have more (EV) models planned. We haven’t talked about that yet. We do have additional models to come into this plant that are EV-based."
Nearby Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between GM and battery-maker LG Energy Solution, is building a $2.2 billion factory to make battery cells.
Currently, GM assembles the battery packs in Spring Hill.
But the cells for those battery packs will come from LG's factory in Ochang, South Korea, and then from the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown, Ohio, which starts operations this summer, Reuss said. When the Ultium Cells plant in Spring Hills is operational next year, it will feed the cells to Spring Hill for the EV production.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: GM president: First Cadillac Lyriqs off the line are key to EV future