GM's $300,000 EV is hitting the market it's aimed at.
The Cadillac Celestiq is targeting an entirely new audience with a $300,000 asking price, but to do so, Cadillac has had to implement a new policy where a client can ask for anything they want, and the brand must say yes and get it done. No questions asked.
Speaking to the SAE, Cadillac's chief engineer for Celestiq, Tony Roma, detailed how Celestiq buyers are no ordinary customers. "These truly are people that tell you about a $100 million yacht that they spent three years building," said Roma. "They don't see roadblocks. They don't understand the word 'no' like most of us do. And 'I can't afford that' doesn't enter their vocabulary." That's the type of buyer Cadillac hasn't really dealt with in decades. "So, we've baked a mantra - "Never tell a customer 'no'" - into how we make the car and the material choices. We just want to tell them how much and how long [it'll take]."
You can't simply offer this clientele a service and then wing it. The Celestiq will be produced in highly limited numbers annually, and each will be completely bespoke to the client's request. That's why General Motors bought a new Rolls-Royce Ghost and a Bentley Flying Spur when benchmarking the EV. "We wanted to thoroughly understand what it takes to play in this space and what's expected there," Roma said. Finding out what goes into building a Rolls or Bentley rival takes more than poking around inside the final product; it requires extensive research into their suppliers. Roma flew to Europe to visit many of these to find out how an ultra-luxury brand operates.
One such supplier is closer to home in the form of Multimatic. Based in Canada, Multimatic is responsible for constructing the Ford GT supercar, so it understands how to build a low-volume, highly-specialized product. Roma credits his contacts at Ford for "graciously getting us in the door there."
Engineers created elements of the car using technologies they had never used before, like additive stainless alloy, but this focus on innovation and quality is exactly what Cadillac needs if it wants to be considered a frontrunner in the luxury automotive space once more.
"Quality is the kind of thing when you see it, you know it," said Roma. "The deco on the center console had to be commensurate with custom furniture in this vehicle. Every piece of brightwork on the interior is real, authentic metal. People have accused me of being obsessive about this, but Cadillac has to go above and beyond. Otherwise, people are going to come at this looking for plated plastic. We want to take away those excuses."
In addition to improving quality in hitherto unseen ways for a GM brand, "we're going to drive our competitors crazy with what we're going to easily allow people to customize," added Roma. "That would be impossible with other manufacturing methods and techniques." Is it any surprise that each bespoke Celestiq will be produced in a brand-new facility with no in-plant carryover? The pursuit of perfection in every process of this vehicle's production means that just two units will be built each day, which explains why the Celestiq is sold out for the next 18 months.
GM is ensuring that the rebirth of Cadillac as an ultra-luxury contender will be taken seriously, fitting the Celestiq with new tech and finding more innovative processes for production without resorting to product dilution by using components from other GM vehicles unless already proven and only if these components are invisible to the customer. The Celestiq will feel unlike any other GM product, or Cadillac, for that matter. We can't wait to see what custom requests are presented once production gets underway in December.