GM goes all in on electric with a flying car and new Cadillac CELESTIQ concept at CES

GM introduced its Cadillac Halo concept vehicle and flying car known as a vertical takeoff and landing drone at CES 2021. (Photo: GM/Cadillac)

On Tuesday at CES 2021, General Motors announced its commitment to electric vehicles called ‘Everybody In’. The company unveiled several new EVs and announced new details about some of its current ones too. One of them was a flying car concept that made me think, really? It looks like something right out of “The Jetsons.”

GM debuted its first-ever flying car, also known as a vertical takeoff and landing drone, which is described as the company’s first foray into aeromobility. The automaker says advances in electric and autonomous vehicles makes personal air travel possible. “It is designed for when time is of the essence and convenience is everything,” a spokesman said. It comes with a 90-kWh EV motor to power four rotors and air-to-ground communication. 

GM also premiered the Cadillac Halo portfolio, a flying car concept for a group or friends or family to spend time together. The Halo also comes with a glass roof. Inside are futuristic biometric sensors to automatically check passengers’ temperatures and adjust the inside temperature, humidity and lighting for optimal comfort. It also features voice control and hand gesture recognition to adjust the interior.

For the first time ever, GM introduced the all-new Cadillac CELESTIQ. It is described as a more luxurious version of the LYRIQ with even more technology. The CELESTIQ features all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and even a glass roof! The glass roof is divided into four separate pieces so that each passenger can select their own level of transparency. It changes to match the mood and ambience of the interior. Another cool feature is the large display that runs from the left A-pillar to the right B-pillar. Rear passengers will also have private screens on the seat backs. No availability or pricing information was provided. 

New details on the upcoming GMC Hummer EV: It will go from 0 to 60 mph in about three seconds. Also, it will offer 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 lb. ft. of torque. Terrain mode one-pedal driving is a new feature that offers precision handling at low speeds while off-roading and rock climbing. It also comes with a Bose electric vehicle sound enhancement technology that is described as “a truly immersive sensory experience.” Look for the 2022 GMC Hummer EV in Fall 2021.

“Introducing the new face of Cadillac,” said Candice Willett, an advanced lead creative designer at Cadillac. “The Lyriq is an uncompromising SUV…the embodiment of Cadillac innovation and a showcase of technologies you will see repeated over Cadillac SUVs. We took advantage of the quiet that comes with Ultium-powered EVs to curate an entirely new sensory experience. And the inspiration of VIPs electrical bandwidth to reimagine what it means to always be connected to your vehicle.”

As soon as a Lyriq owner walks up to their vehicle, the lights will illuminate on the exterior. When the driver enters the vehicle, the 33-inch display also lights up. The display offers augmented reality on the heads-up display for navigation.

Barra offers opening keynote speech

General Motors Chairman & CEO Mary Barra provided the opening keynote to the first-ever digital CES 2021 on Tuesday morning. She spoke about the automaker’s move from internal combustion engines towards an electric future. Her speech was titled “Inflection Point: Putting Everybody in an EV.”

Consumer Technology Association (CTA) President Gary Shapiro provided this introduction: “One of the biggest lessons we learned from this global pandemic is that we are changing the way we think about transportation and how we’ll move around our communities in the future. Our next keynoter is on the front lines of this transformation. As our world needs solutions to slow climate change, as global demographics shift and as our transportation patterns continue to evolve…General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra are confronting these challenges head on.”

General Motors

Just a few days earlier, General Motors changed its corporate logo for the first time in 56 years. The letters “GM” are now featured inside a rounded square with a sky background. The letter “M” is styled to look like an electric plug.

“We want to use this moment as an opportunity to look forward with optimism and hope,” Barra said during her CES keynote. “Because many of us have arrived at this moment tired and weary in the past year, we see optimism in the vaccines being distributed around the world. But when we reflect on 2020, for many it will be with sadness and frustration. This time last year there was reason for optimism. A collective belief in the undisputed science behind climate change was prompting companies to make unprecedented commitments towards reducing carbon emissions.”

The chairman and CEO said her company tracked the coronavirus’ move around the world. She said the first priority was the safety of its employees and its customers. GM quickly put safety protocols in place and asked its dealers to promote online shopping and enhanced cleaning procedures. She also highlighted GM’s manufacturing of 30,000 critical care ventilators and 200 million face masks and other PPE.

GM is committed to bringing 30 electric vehicle models to the global market by 2025. It is spending $27 billion to develop EVs and autonomous vehicles (AVs). The American automaker is committed to a world with zero emissions, zero crashes and zero traffic congestion.

“The key to unlock that vision is electrification,” Barra explained. “GM pioneered vehicle electrification 25 years ago and introduced the world’s first affordable, long-range EV right here at CES. But global EV market penetration stands around 3 percent. We believe that is all about to change. At GM, we believe that after one of the most difficult years in recent history, this moment will prove to be an inflection point. The moment when our world’s reliance on gas and diesel-powered vehicles will begin transitioning to an all-electric future.”

GM and LG Chem are building a new manufacturing facility in Ohio to make electric batteries and components for its upcoming fleet of vehicles. It will employ more than 1,000 workers there.

“Ultium is the world’s first hyper skill electric vehicle platform with the power to make almost any vehicle an electric vehicle,” said Mei Cai, GM Technical Fellow and Lab Group Manager.  “A combination of groundbreaking battery architecture, highly flexible electrical propulsion systems and a common high-energy battery cell that will power an entire range of next generation electric vehicles. The foundation of our platform approach is a single common cell design that can be used across all of our vehicles.”

Cai says GM’s electric vehicle batteries are composed of Nickel, Manganese and Cobalt. However, the automaker is reducing its use of cobalt by 70 percent and adding aluminum to lower the cost. These new battery cells will produce 60 percent more energy capacity than the outgoing battery cells.  She also said that GM would be the first automaker to use an almost completely wireless battery management system. The automaker has announced its newest battery pack will achieve up to 450 miles of range on a single charge.

The American automaker says it hopes to reimagine the entire concept of vehicle ownership and driving. You might be wondering how?

“Ultifi is the promise of a more personal EV experience,” said Travis Hester, GM’s chief electric vehicle officer. “A single unified platform that simplifies discovery, education and management of your GM products and services making it easier for your to explore EV options like make a reservation, get transparent pricing, purchasing a vehicle online or visiting your local dealer to complete your purchase in person. The vehicle intelligence platform gives us the ability to deliver over-the-air updates to your vehicle. Our goal is to have your home charging unit installed before you even take possession of your vehicle.”

The video presentation previewed the refreshed Chevrolet Bolt, the all-new Chevrolet Bolt EUV. It also mentioned an upcoming all-electric pickup truck, more crossovers and performance cars. The GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq were also featured.  

“Initial electric vehicle designs were intended to signal this is an EV for people making that choice,” said Michael Simcoe, GM’s vice president of global design. “Now, as the world prepares to go all-electric, we’re drawing a line in the sand and rethinking how an entire range of electric vehicles should look and feel. As Mei demonstrated earlier, Ultium’s modularity provides incredible flexibility with three main architectural configurations to be used across Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. We were able to accelerate the design process helping deliver a full vehicle lineup in record time.”

Towards the end of the video, Barra introduced a new company called BrightDrop to reimagine delivery and logistics services. Its entire fleet of delivery vans will be totally electric so there are no more emissions. The company will also produce an electric pallet called the EP1 that will be available in early 2021. Meanwhile, the electric light commercial vehicle called the EV600 will hit the roads in late 2021. FedEx Express has already agreed to purchase a fleet of BrightDrop delivery vans.

General Motors and CES share some history together. In 2016, Barra first unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt EV at CES. It can travel for 259 miles on a single charge. 

Stay with for continuing coverage of CES 2021…

One of the first EVs to market will be the GMC HUMMER EV Edition 1, offering GM-estimated 1,000 horsepower and unprecedented off-road capability. It goes on sale in late 2021. (Photo: GMC)
Cadillac LYRIQ pairs next-generation battery technology with a bold design statement which introduces a new face, proportion and presence for the brand’s new generation of EVs. (Photo: Cadillac)
GM’s wireless battery management system is expected to drive the company’s Ultium-powered EVs to market faster, as time won’t be needed to develop specific communications systems or redesign complex wiring schemes for each new vehicle. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)
FedEx Express is slated to be the first customer of the BrightDrop EV600, and will begin receiving their vehicles later this year. (Photo by GM)
Building on the growing popularity in China of the Buick VELITE family of electric vehicles, Buick is accelerating its transition to electrification, including three new Ultium-powered EVs. (Photo: Buick)
General Motors wants to put everyone in an electric vehicle and during the next five years, the company will introduce 30 new EVs globally from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac — by the end of 2025, 40 percent of GM’s U.S. entries will be battery electric vehicles. (Photo: Chevrolet)

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