By Gary S. Vasilash
“Go make something epic.”
That, Tony Roma, chief engineer of the Cadillac CELESTIQ, says was the mandate he and his team received from GM management to develop a vehicle for the brand that is more like an aurora borealis than a mere halo.
This is a full-size uber-lux electric vehicle that customers will commission, not simply buy.
It is a sedan that has aluminum mega-castings at the base of its overall structure and an exterior skin made primarily with carbon or glass fiber panels. Roma says that the doors are made with SMC—because the material is transparent to radar, and there are radar units in the doors. Yes, the vehicle is also ladened with plenty of technology, including Ultra Cruise, which will allow hands-free driving in multiple driving scenarios, going well beyond the Super Cruise that GM offers in Cadillacs and other brands.
The CELESTIQ has an 111-kWh Ultium battery pack and a two-motor, all-wheel drive system that generates an estimated 600-hp and 640 lb-ft of torque: Roma says that the car goes faster in a straight line than a CT-5 Blackwing—but the vehicle, he says, is powered such that it provides confidence for the driver and is not meant to have performance for performance’s sake.
This is not simply another vehicle in the Cadillac lineup: the companies benchmarked for the CELESTIQ included Rolls-Royce and Bentley. The pricing for the vehicle is on the order of $300,000+.
Roma says that the production rate of the hand-built vehicles—and the building is going to occur not in a factory, but at the GM Global Technical Center in a special clean-room like facility that is called the “Artisan Center.” The company has made an $81-million investment for producing the vehicle. Within the Artisan Center there will be no more than six vehicles being built at any given time.
Speaking of the development of the vehicle Roma says, “This is all-in house. We didn’t write a check [to another company] and put our badge on it.”
The CELESTIQ, in effect, is a vehicle that makes a statement that Cadillac is a brand that is competitive at the highest echelon within the auto industry.
Roma talks about the engineering that goes into the CELESTIQ on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Frank Marcus of MotorTrend and Richard Truett of Automotive News.
It is arguably one of the most comprehensive insider looks on what will be a landmark vehicle, not only for Cadillac, but for the overall auto industry.
And you can see it here.