GM Makes Another Huge and Risky Bet

Detroit giant GM offers an electric vehicle at a price that no American vehicle manufacturer has ever tested.

General Motors  (GM) – Get General Motors Company Report and its premium Cadillac brand are taking a huge risk. 

The Detroit giant is doing what no other American electric-vehicle manufacturer – not even market leader Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report — has dared do so far: attacking the ultraluxury segment.

The automaker and Cadillac have just disclosed the model-year 2024 Cadillac Celestiq. 

This vehicle will be base-priced at more than $300,000, the company said on Oct. 17. 

This lofty tag price brings Cadillac into the select club of Bentley, Rolls-Royce  (BMWYY)  and Lamborghini.  (VWAGY) – Get Volkswagen AG ADR Report

For the price, Cadillac enables customers to build their own Celestiq vehicles with help from employees of the brand. In a 3-minute video unveiled on social networks, the musician Lenny Kravitz is the first to indulge in this exercise of designing his Celestiq.


Less than Two Cars Per Workday

The Celestiq provides “an opportunity to create a car that reflects my personality,” Kravitz said. 

The musician explains that he was led to customize almost all aspects of the vehicle (apart from the mechanical elements). Each customer chooses the interior trim and exterior color. 

To add to the exclusivity of the Celestiq, Cadillac plans to produce only a few hundred a year. Capacity is less than two vehicles per working day.

The Celestiq is presented as the Cadillac flagship and will be available only by request. Clients will need to advance a “significant deposit” to initiate the process.  Cadillac intends to open orders this year, with production to start in December 2023.

The Celestiq will be available in all markets. 


The model also becomes one of the first handmade cars GM has offered in many years. 

Ford  (F) – Get Ford Motor Company Report was offering the hand-built GT performance sports car for a base price of $500,000, but that opportunity expires this year. The Dodge division of Stellantis  (STLA) – Get Stellantis N.V. Report in 2015 offered buyers the option to customize the Viper sports car. (These vehicles were not electric.)

The Celestiq heralds a new era for Cadillac: The brand effectively will have two EV segments: models for mass production, with the Lyriq as the leader, and a second segment for hand-built vehicles. 

It’s unclear whether this bet will pay off, particularly when raw-materials prices have soared and the prospect of a recession is looming.

A Return to the Past

GM and Cadillac unveiled the Celestiq last summer. It’s an imposing luxury electric sedan that the company aims to bring to market by 2024. 

The design draws on the Cadillac mythos. It has futuristic lines, especially in the rear area, offering an innovative look. 

Two pairs of boomerang LEDs act as optical groups and, at the same time, as real styling cues on the side. The rear part plunges, but given the length of the vehicle, one could almost see a cross between a 4-seater coupe and a hunting station wagon.

Celestiq’s designers have traveled back in time to study, and draw inspiration from, prewar V-16s and the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. Fewer than 400 Eldorado Broughams were built, at a starting price of $13,074 each. For comparison, at the time a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith sold for $9,000. Adjusted for inflation, those figures would be roughly 10 times as much today.


The roof also uses smart-glass technology. This creates four distinct areas that enable each passenger to control the amount of light coming through to them. 

The vehicle has no door handles. Owners will open the vehicle by pressing a button or when they approach the vehicle with a key fob.

The Celestiq’s battery will have a range of more than 300 miles (480km) on a single charge. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. The vehicle’s performance specs: 600 horsepower and 649 feet-pounds of torque.

The car will also be equipped with the new generation of Ultra Cruise, the company’s driver-assistance system that enables the vehicle to perform many maneuvers on its own.

GM said it June that it was investing more than $81 million in the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich., for the Celestiq. 

Cadillac aims for an all-electric portfolio by 2030. 

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