Cadillac Optiq electric SUV aims at Tesla and BMW, costs $54,000

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  • The five-seat Cadillac Optiq SUV is designed to appeal to younger buyers, who the brand says are key to cornering the luxury EV market.
The five-seat Cadillac Optiq SUV is designed to appeal to younger buyers, who the brand says are key to cornering the luxury EV market. (Bloomberg)

Cadillac’s newest SUV, the Optiq, will be the entry point for the brand’s electric lineup in North America. General Motors Co. says it hopes the model will help it reach its goal of selling two million EVs worldwide between now and 2026 and corner the market against rivals BMW AG and Tesla Inc.

The $54,000 Optiq arrives after a roller-coaster start of the year. GM discontinued the popular Chevy Bolt, while Tesla laid off 10% of its global workforce. Others saw exponential growth—Hyundai-Kia saw EV sales rise 56% and at Ford Motor Co., sales were up 86% compared to last year. In April, the International Energy Agency said sales of fully electric vehicles in the US will hit 2.5 million in 2025, up from 1.1 million in 2023.

Optiq will slot below Cadillac’s $58,600 Lyriq SUV, which has gained momentum after a slow debut in 2022, earning attention for its competitive price tag and driving range of 314 miles on one charge. Cadillac sold almost 6,000 Lyriqs in the first quarter of this year, up from fewer than 1,000 in the same period in 2023.

The Optiq will have an estimated driving range of 300 miles, similar to those of competitors such as the $87,250 BMW iX and the $47,990 Tesla Model Y AWD. Two trim lines, Luxury and Sport, will be offered in 10 global markets, including Europe. (A spokesperson declined to confirm whether those markets included China, where Cadillac has faced an uphill battle against its peers and local brands like Nio Inc.)

Key to the Optiq’s success will be its popularity with younger buyers, who prize practicality with a luxury look and feel. The five-seat Optiq looks more svelte than the snub-nosed iX and rounded Model Y, with a sharply raked roofline, tall headlights, distinctive horizontal lines etched across its rear pillars and a wagon-style hatchback.

“Optiq is all about sporty, youthful,” says Hoon Kim, who designed the car’s exterior. In the past five years, Cadillac has won more than 1 million customers who are new to the brand. Of those, roughly 5% were under 40. The Optiq is intended to capture more of them, he says.

The SUV’s illuminated, roomy cabin is dominated by a 33-inch curved LED dashboard display. Trim options include patterned accent yarns woven from 100% recycled materials, synthetic leather and veneers made from tulipwood and recycled newspaper. Authentic leather is not available.

The Optiq is smaller inside than the iX and Tesla, with 57 cubic feet of cargo room when the rear seats are folded, compared to 78 cubic feet in the BMW and 76 cubic feet in the Tesla. However, it offers more storage space than other competitors, including the Audi Q4 e-Tron and Volvo EX30; plus, it has additional storage hidden in a cubby under the mat in the rear. GM’s Super Cruise driver assistance system, a competitor to Tesla’s driver assistant, comes standard.

The wheelbase is six inches shorter than the Lyriq, a move that signals possible agility. Although they are not unique to Cadillac, an extended glass roof and a vented rear spoiler help the Optiq stand out as a premium SUV.

However, Optiq could face challenges in winning buyers who care more about power than price. The SUV has four drive modes and uses an 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack with a standard dual-motor all-wheel drive system; in total, that achieves 300 horsepower and 481 Nm of torque, figures that fall below those of the Model Y and most variants of the iX. In 10 minutes, DC fast charging will add up to 127 kilometres on the total 482 kilometres of driving range, about standard for luxury EVs on the market today.

North American deliveries will begin later this year.

First Published Date: 05 Jun 2024, 06:46 AM IST

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