Update: ‘Design’ section revised.
According to a report on The Detroit News filed in April 2021, a Cadillac Escalade EV (Cadillac Escalade Electric Vehicle) could enter production as early as January 2024. That would put its launch in the same year as the Range Rover EV. Since then, plenty of new information has surfaced, and here’s what we know about Cadillac’s full-size electric SUV:
Confirmation of a full-size Cadillac electric SUV
On November 17, 2022, GM President Mark Reuss, confirmed during his presentation at the 2022 Investor Day event that a full-size Cadillac electric SUV is arriving in 2024. He was likely referring to the Cadillac Escalade Electric. Reuss also talked about the design of this model, which we’ve detailed in a dedicated section in this story.
In 2021, GM submitted a new trademark application for ‘Escalade IQ’ in some countries, one of which (Switzerland) has even approved it. The Cadillac Escalade IQL could be the pure electric variant of the Escalade LSV (long-wheelbase Escalade). Similarly, the Cadillac Escalade IQ could be the standard-wheelbase zero-emissions variant.
Spy pictures of the purported Cadillac Escalade Electric have surfaced online, revealing some details of its design. Unlike the gas-powered Cadillac Escalade, the future electric SUV doesn’t look huge. Compared to the regular Escalade, it appears shorter, with a sloping, lower hood to improve aerodynamics.
Reuss gave 2022 Investor Day event attendees a glimpse of a full-size Cadillac electric SUV, which we assume was the Cadillac Escalade Electric. This model will “wow the world,” the company’s president said:
This is a full-size Cadillac electric EV, SUV, and you can imagine what this competes with, and where it competes. But it is, again, this will be a pinnacle of design and execution. Some of the things we learned on the Celestiq will find their way into these vehicles, which I think is gonna wow the world once again, even after the Escalade that we sell today, even in BEV form.Mark Reuss, President, GM (2022 Investor Day on November 17, 2022)
Then, Reuss suggested GM is almost done with the design of the Escalade Electric:
It’s like you can imagine the wheelbase differences we have today in the size base different things that we have today on our full-size SUVs, we’re going to do it again in a much more innovative way, though. So, you’re gonna see things here, design, size, platform-sharing-wise, but also technology-wise that’ll be very different than the way we execute today. So, very exciting for us, and we’re pretty much finished with the design and going and preparing for production.Mark Reuss, President, GM (2022 Investor Day on November 17, 2022)
Car and Driver reported back in March 2020 that Cadillac is working on an electric version of the Escalade, and the American publication had a look at the concept vehicle in the early stage.
C&D shared observations of the Escalade EV concept from the secret preview. It says that the electric variant of the Escalade is more aerodynamic with a steeply raked windshield and a less boxy body, but still “unmistakably an Escalade.” The exterior can’t look overly futuristic or funky like the EVs emerging out of startup companies. An Escalade, be it an EV or ICE model, has to look stately and unequivocally American. We believe that Therese Pinazzo, the Escalade’s exterior design manager, and the design team building the electric variant, won’t risk straying from the original work.
The all-electric Escalade will be positioned above the electric Cadillac Lyriq. Essentially, General Motors now has the Ultium platform technology to quickly spin off electric variants of popular nameplates (such as the Escalade, Blazer, Hummer, Silverado, Equinox, and the Corvette) or introduce new body styles altogether. At the heart of this flexibility is its Ultium battery technology, which are pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack.
The Cadillac Escalade EV could get the most powerful unit of GM’s three new Ultium Drive electric motors. Here, one permanent magnet synchronous motor produces 255 kW (342 horsepower). It’s possible to power both front and rear wheels with the PMSM. The company says that it has developed it for performance all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive applications.
In the GMC Hummer EV Pickup, three units of the 255 kW motor provide a combined power output of 1,000 horsepower (GM est.). Expect the Cadillac Escalade EV to come with two or three 255 kW motors depending on the variant. Though it may not sprint from 0-60 mph in just three seconds like the Hummer, it should be plenty quick for an American full-size SUV.
GM has said that it plans to use silicon carbide in the integrated power electronics of its next-gen EVs’ Ultium Drive units. Silicon carbide can improve the EV’s range, reduce its weight, and conserve space. The company has partnered with Wolfspeed for the development and sourcing of silicon carbide power device solutions. Wolfspeed has the world’s largest silicon carbide fabrication facility, located in Marcy, New York. Its electric propulsion systems are usable in EVs with 400V to 800V and even higher system voltages. GM could use its silicon carbide in the integrated power electronics of the Cadillac Escalade EV’s Ultium Drive unit.
Battery & Range
GM’s third-generation global EV platform can house Ultium cells with battery capacities from 50 to 200 kWh, giving it excellent bandwidth. The Cadillac Escalade EV is likely to see the highest capacity battery on offer, owing to its flagship status. GM claims the largest Ultium battery can do 400+ miles (640 km) on a single charge, which is the expected range of the Escalade EV.
In addition, the Escalade EV will benefit from DC fast charging in the guise of the 800V/350 kW capability as this is planned for GM’s truck platform vehicles. It would offer about 100 miles of range for 10 minutes of charging.
Sky Panels & AVN
No doubt, a lot of features seen on the Hummer EV could make their way into the Escalade EV, and a large sunroof or ‘Sky Panels’ in GMC’s lingo could be one of them. Likely to sit just above the Hummer in GM’s line-up across brands as the most expensive SUV, the Cadillac Escalade EV should feature the most advanced infotainment systems for a GM vehicle. Expect it to have a top-notch display with crisp graphics, plenty of connected vehicle solutions, lightning-fast 5G connectivity, and much more.
In recent spy shots, we also get a peek inside the cabin, where there’s a curved display combining the instrument cluster and infotainment system similar to the Cadillac Lyriq‘s 33-inch panel.
Ultra Cruise, GM’s all-new advanced driver-assistance technology for premium models, will be available in the Cadillac Celestiq. So, there’s no doubt it will be on the list of features of the Cadillac Escalade Electric, too. Ultra Cruise will allow hands-free driving in 95% of all driving scenarios and eventually be usable on every paved road in the U.S. and Canada.
Ultra Cruise is said to be better than Super Cruise and will be able to identify situations where the older system needs upgrading. It will use cameras, radars, and LiDAR and develop a precise, 360-degree, 3D statistical representation of the surrounding environment. Ultra Cruise-equipped models will have a LiDAR behind the windshield and new autonomous driving capabilities in addition to those of Super Cruise for the following purposes:
- Maintaining headway, following speed limits
- Supporting automatic and on-demand lane change
- Supporting left and right-hand turns
- Supporting close object avoidance
- Supporting parking in residential driveways
- Following internal navigation routes
- Reacting to permanent traffic control devices
- Providing users with information through Ultra Cruise Dynamic Display, a freeform display directly in the driver’s line of sight
GM plans to start offering AT&T’s 5G connectivity in vehicles from MY2024. The Escalade EV should get 5G connectivity for the smooth operation of all the Ultra Cruise functions.
Ultium Energy Recovery
Another noteworthy feature of the Escalade EV would be Ultium Energy Recovery. A standard feature of all Ultium-based GM EVs, it’s exactly what its name suggests. It reuses waste heat energy from the EV batteries, power electronics, and other propulsion components in heating, increasing charging speed (by preheating the battery in the winter), and enabling sportier driving (by precooling the propulsion system). The heat pump can improve the range of a GM EV by as much as 10% by reducing the load on the battery for power heating and other functions.
General Motors has settled into a habit of teasing and revealing vehicles years ahead of their sales launch, more so when you consider their electric vehicle range. In the Cadillac Escalade EV’s case, knowing the design is nearly complete and that the launch is due in 2024, we expect to see the vehicle in some form in 2023.
On February 15, 2023, Rory Harvey, the Vice President of Cadillac, told reporters that three new Cadillac electric models will debut in 2023, Detroit Free Press reported noon the same day. It’s safe to assume that one of them will be the full-size electric SUV.
Production of the three new Cadillac EVs should commence in 2024, Harvey added. Moreover, he told Detroit Free Press that GM will announce their production site in Q2 2023, likely in April or May 2023 to be more specific.
Citing AutoForecast Solutions’ Sam Fiorani, The Detroit News report said that the Cadillac Escalade EV’s production might take place at the Factory Zero plant in Michigan, the production site of the Hummer EV SUV.
Mary Barra, Chair and CEO, GM, had revealed that the company will convert another truck plant into an EV truck plant. This could be the Arlington Assembly plant in Texas that is home to all of the company’s American full-size SUVs. This factory rolls out the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and GMC’s Yukon and Yukon XL. It could become an EV truck plant around the middle of the decade and make the same models with electric powertrains.
We will continue to convert ICE capacity to EVs and plan to invest in a third EV truck plant. We are formulating plans for the truck plant right now, and we will share more as we work through the details.Mary Barra, Chair and CEO, GM (Q4 2021 Earnings Conference Call on February 1, 2022)
GM wants to expand its EV production capacity in North America to 1 million units by 2025. This number includes the production capacity for 600,000 electric trucks.
We have set a target to deliver 400,000 EVs in North America over the course of 2022 and 2023. As you know, we have also announced additional battery cell and assembly capacity investments in Michigan that will give us more than 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by the end of 2025, and this includes 600,000 full-size trucks.Mary Barra, Chair and CEO, GM (Q4 2021 Earnings Conference Call on February 1, 2022)
Gas-powered Escalade in high demand
Interestingly, and more so logically, the Escalade EV will co-exist with the combustion variant, which features a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp on tap. GM expects a chunk of its audience to prefer the convenience and dependability of the established V8 and would not want to displease this buyer who shells out 100,000+ USD by not offering the gas-powered variant as an option.
The fifth-gen Cadillac Escalade is witnessing high demand. In Q4 2020, it reclaimed its market leadership in its segment in the U.S. 43% of the orders were in configurations costing in six-digit figures between October and December 2020.
In 2021, the Escalade remained a hot commodity. According to the sales release by GM on January 4, 2022, Cadillac’s largest SUV recorded 40,505 sales in 2021, up from 24,547 units in 2020, an increase of a whopping 65%. At this rate, General Motors shouldn’t have a problem pitching a USD 120,000+ electric variant to Escalade buyers. Additionally, GM highlighted that this marked the best sales figures for the Cadillac Escalade since 2007.
In 2022, GM delivered 40,247 units of the Cadillac Escalade in the U.S. Compared to 2021, that was a 0.6% decline in sales. The company is preparing a facelift to boost sales. GM Authority has published spy shots of the facelifted model, which it says will arrive as the 2024 Escalade, with production to begin in late-2023.
Cadillac’s brand perception is improving, suggests a new consumer study. According to the survey that was published in 2022, the number of customers who consider Cadillac over other brands is 29% up year-over-year. 9% more customers find now that the GM-owned luxury brand “stirs emotion.” There are minor improvements in all other key metrics, which GM Authority has covered in a report.
GM investing USD 35 billion in EVs & autonomous vehicles
GM is doubling down on electric models and autonomous vehicles. The company has announced that it plans to increase its investments in EVs and AVs between 2020 and 2025 to USD 35 billion. This marks a 75% increase from the amount it committed to before the pandemic (USD 20 billion). The company is speeding up plans to construct two new battery cell production facilities at home by the middle of the decade. These sites would complement the Ultium Cells LLC plants in Tennessee and Ohio.
Escalade could become a sub-brand
Cadillac’s full-size SUV has a 24 year-old legacy of opulence and power, which can be linked to a sub-brand in the future. On December 8, 2022, based on information obtained from a GM insider, Car And Driver reported that the company thinks it makes more sense to turn Escalade into a sub-brand than reinvent the Cadillac brand.
Should Escalade actually elevate to a sub-brand, a seven-seat Escalade crossover that’s cheaper than the current full-size model to compete with the upcoming Porsche K1 could arrive. Such a model could see high demand in the U.S. and China. Car And Driver says “a more carlike modern-luxury segment-fusing all-terrain Escalade” is also under discussion. Could that be a high-riding four-door coupe like the rumored Audi A5 successor inspired by the Audi activesphere concept? Possibly. Another option for the Escalade family is an executive MPV like the Lexus LM, initially offered exclusively in China.
Seeing what GM did with the Celestiq, the Escalade Electric will probably be America’s most luxurious electric SUV, one that’s classier and more innovative than the Mercedes EQS SUV.
Cadillac Escalade EV FAQs
What is the release date of the Cadillac Escalade EV?
The Escalade EV is reported to enter production in 2024, and customer deliveries could begin in the first half of that year.
What are the rivals to the Cadillac Escalade EV?
Rivals to the Escalade EV will include the 2024 Mercedes EQG, Jeep Wagoneer S, and the 2024 electric Range Rover.
What is the projected Cadillac Escalade EV price?
The Escalade EV is expected to cost upwards of USD 120,000.
Featured image: Unofficial rendering of the Cadillac Escalade Electric by TopElectricSUV. This is our interpretation of the design based on ICE-powered model. Official design will differ.