GM launches 'entry level' Cadillac e-SUV

The Optiq is positioned just below the Lyriq SUV in size and price

GM launches 'entry level' Cadillac e-SUV
The Optiq will sell for $54,000, Cadillac says

Legacy GM brand Cadillac has unveiled its new compact Optiq SUV, which it describes as an entry level EV, which it will sell in ten regions worldwide. The vehicles is part of Cadillac's five-strong EV portfolio, with the Celestiq luxury sedan and Escalade SUV to come in late 2024.

The Optiq will also form part of GM's all-electric re-entry strategy in Europe, which it is backing to capture mind share with bold vehicle styling.

Since the Optiq was teased in November last year, GM has labelled it as an entry point to its luxury Cadillac brand. But the $54,000 starting price positions the Optiq only marginally below Cadillac's bigger Lyriq e-SUV, which starts at $58,590.

"In the US, Optiq will be an important gateway to attract luxury EV intenders to Cadillac as we look to offer a fully electric portfolio by the end of the decade," says Cadillac global vice-president John Roth.

Cadillac's luxury positioning in theory makes the firm's EVs somewhat immune to affordability concerns which present a barrier to widespread EV adoption, since the brand aims at those who would otherwise be buying higher-priced ICE vehicles anyway. But the pricing of the Optiq may raise questions as to whether it will cannibalise sales of its flagship Lyriq.

Tackling anxiety

GM says the Optiq comes with a range of 300 miles, a threshold which GM CEO Mary Barra has described as the point at which range customers' range anxiety dissipates.

Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Barra says that GM finds its prospective customers are "open to EV, as long as it has the right range, and really over 300 miles is where people lose range anxiety, but then that is quickly followed by charging anxiety".

And with her juxtaposition of range anxiety and charging anxiety, Barra seems to mean that a publicised 300 mile range will attract buyers who would otherwise be EV-hesitant, but anxiety about charging infrastructure and/or length of time charging may prevent EV owners from using their EV for all journey types and use cases.

"Right now, a lot of people who own EVs also have an ICE vehicle in their garage," Barra notes.
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Improved charging infrastructure is needed "so that when [EV owners] go on a road trip, or go somewhere [they] did not expect to go... they are not not going to be in a jam".

While Barra cites some of GM's charging ventures with CPOs like EVgo and retail partners such as Pilot Flying J, its investments amount to only $750mn. and put against GM's share buyback commitments of $10bn, that number does not really suggest a firm commitment to addressing the charging shortfalls that Barra references.

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