cadillac

General Motors unveiled its first all-electric Cadillac Lyriq at its Spring Hill plant Monday, a landmark contribution to the electric and hybrid market segment.

Detroit-based GM hosted a grand reveal for the new vehicle in its biggest American plant at a time when gas prices have skyrocketed in response to the Russia-Ukraine War and as the industry continues to manufacture more and more hybrid and fully-electric vehicles.

The Cadillac Lyriq EV started production nine months ahead of schedule, which is slightly uncharacteristic of electric vehicle makers who are more likely to delay releases. This comes after GM sold out of reservations for inaugural units of the Lyriq EV in the first 10 minutes of availability last fall.

"Today marks a new era for Cadillac, because we flip the switch on the transition to a fully-electric lineup for the flagship brand of General Motors," GM president Mark Reuss said at the big reveal. "This vehicle is another step on the path to EV leadership for us."

Plant employees joined Gov. Bill Lee, state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) in applauding the new, luxury crossover. Lee extolled the facility’s staff as an exemplary segment of the Tennessee workforce that attracted employers like GM in the first place.

“There’s a reason that [automakers] have stayed and continued to invest,” Lee said. “It’s because of the men and women who are putting those vehicles together in this plant.”

Back in 2020, GM heralded its $2 billion investment in the 7.9 million-square-foot Spring Hill facility for renovations that enabled it to better suit production of electric vehicles like Lyriq. Employing 3,252 people at the plant as of June 2021, GM also announced early last year a $2.3 billion investment to develop an electric vehicle battery plant in collaboration with South Korea-based LG Energy Solutions.

This comes amid U.S. sanctions not only against Russian oil — which is driving gas price inflation — but also against Russian nickel, which might be threatening automakers’ ability to keep producing their EV models long-term.

Russia being a major nickel supplier from whom American businesses have been cut off means the lithium-ion battery cells, which require nickel, are becoming more expensive to produce — driving up the input cost of EV models by about $1,000 in one day early this month according to Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas.

The Lyriq EV runs on GM’s Ultium Battery Platform, which is expected to drive over 300 miles on a full charge.

Reuss said on a conference call with investors that he doesn't fear supply chain risks posed by the geopolitical climate, though, and that GM actually plans to expedite Lyriq releases, Reuters reported Monday. Reuss touted GM’s long-term contracts for materials and diversified portfolio of suppliers.

The vehicle’s base model lists at $59,990 to start, and dealers will begin accepting orders on May 19. GM, meanwhile, aims to stop producing gas-fueled vehicles and replace them with 30 new EV models by 2035; Cadillac in particular aims to go all-electric by 2030.