The battery-electric Celestiq sedan, which starts “north of $300,000,” is more tasked with restoring Cadillac to its former glory; it must now support executives’ bold claim to “re-establish the iconic brand as the standard of the world.”
But with a price tag more than three times the average transaction price of a General Motors luxury brand vehicle, it’s hard to imagine that many Cadillacs of that weight — however highly modified — will quietly charge behind suburban garage doors.
With the market entering an era where cheaper EVs have 300 miles of range with dazzling horsepower and torque, who needs a custom EV?
Cadillac bets on it.
GM’s luxury brand, which plans to follow the market in phasing out gas engines by 2030, is trying to zigzag where its luxury competitors are cutting. Executives have boasted that the brand will average less than two Celestiqs per day when it goes into hand production at GM’s Technical Center outside Detroit in December 2023.
But will customers bite?
The specs Cadillac unveiled on Monday don’t seem spectacular enough to justify the price. Built on the same Ultium platform on which all future General Motors EVs are based, the Celestiq will feature a 600-horsepower, dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup that can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds – a creep compared to some Teslas, Porsches and the Ford Mach-E Mustang GT Performance model). Cadillac estimates the sedan can go about 300 miles on a fully charged battery, which will be the industry standard by the time the Celestiq arrives.
High-tech features include a four-quadrant, adjustable smart roof, a 3D-printed steering wheel and the latest version of Cadillac’s Ultra Cruise advanced driver assistance system.
The car, available at select Cadillac dealers “on waiting list only,” comes with a concierge to help decide colors, trim and materials. So far, the brand’s “whisper events” have shown a “broad spectrum of high net worth individuals who would consider owning a vehicle like this,” said Rory Harvey, global vice president for Cadillac.
Cadillac has not specified how many “extremely small” Celestiqs it will build, but said it expects to sell the majority in North America, followed by China and the Middle East.
Executives were encouraged this spring by high demand for its first-ever EV, the $60,000 Cadillac Lyriq SUV expected later this year, forcing it to close its 2023 order book earlier than expected.
“I believe we primed the pump,” Harvey said. “We now have a very solid foundation to take the brand to the next level.”
However, is there a demand for a Cadillac with five times the starting price? Executives said they think buyers are willing to spend even more, noting that a fully-loaded Escalade V, the high-performance version of Cadillac’s full-size SUV, will fetch $150,000, and some Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing vehicles may have been sold. models venture into the six-digit realm.
“We believe we have the ability to generate customer demand at this higher price,” Harvey said.
Cadillac expects to be able to ship the Celestiq to customers by 2025, with high hopes for a revival.
“Cadillac was called the standard of the world at one point,” Harvey said. “We believe in terms of this vehicle that it gives us the opportunity to regain some of that position.”