Update: ‘Features’ and ‘Gas-powered Escalade in high demand’ sections updated.
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.
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, has now 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)
GM submitted a new trademark application for ‘Escalade IQ’ in some countries last year, 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.
The Cadillac Escalade EV may debut in a concept version by next year. 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.
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 understand 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 Electric Escalade will be positioned above the electric Cadillac Lyriq, which is planned to reach customers in a few months. 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, 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 2022 GMC Hummer EV, 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.
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.
The Cadillac Escalade EV’s batteries should have a very high level of local content. Lithium is a key material for the battery’s cathodes and electrolytes, and currently, it is an imported material in most cases. The Golden Bowtie plans to source U.S.-based lithium for its next-gen EV batteries, which are likely to find their way into future models like the Cadillac Escalade EV.
GM plans to form an investment and commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) to source Lithium locally and at a low cost. The company says that the production of lithium will take place through a closed-loop, direct extraction process. Compared to traditional lithium mining processes like evaporation ponds or pit mining, the process results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing, and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
CTR’s closed-loop, direct extraction process will recover lithium from geothermal brine. GM could source a significant portion of its future lithium hydroxide and carbonate from CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field.
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.
Ultra Cruise, GM’s all-new advanced driver-assistance technology for premium models, will be seen on the Cadillac Celestiq in 2023. 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 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 load on the battery for power heating and other functions.
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 Q1 2022, the Escalade was the only Cadillac that saw growth in sales compared to Q1 2021. GM delivered 10,505 units of the luxury full-size SUV in the U.S. during this period, recording a year-over-year growth of 6.74% (Q1 2021: 9,842 units). The company is preparing a facelift to protect the momentum. GM Authority has published spy shots of the facelifted model, which it says will arrive as the 2024 Escalade.
Cadillac’s brand perception is improving, suggests a new consumer study. According to this survey, 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 that are currently under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.
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. So if they keep the policy of being forthcoming about their product pipeline, our first glimpse of the Cadillac Escalade EV should come early next year. The next all-electric vehicle from the American luxury brand is the Cadillac Celestiq that will break cover by the end of June.
Cadillac Escalade EV FAQs
What is the release date of the Cadillac Escalade EV?
The Escalade EV is reported to enter production in Jan 2024, and customer deliveries could begin in the first quarter of that year.
What are the rivals to the Cadillac Escalade EV?
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.