GM wants to get Cadillac Lyriq to customers faster after only 122 deliveries in 2022
General Motors says it was deliberately slow with the launch of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq as it encountered and fixed problems with the new electric vehicle. Now it has a stockpile of about 500 new 2023 Lyriqs built and parked at Spring Hill Assembly in Tennessee that GM said it will start shipping to dealers this week.
Tens of thousands of customers are waiting for the Lyriq they ordered nearly a year ago and wondering what is the holdup as dealers struggle to provide an answer. GM opened the order banks for the Lyriq on May 19, 2022, but stopped taking orders in two hours, saying the Lyriq sold out. GM will not say how many Lyriqs constituted "sold out." But GM told suppliers last year to prepare to produce 25,000 Lyriqs. Earlier in the year, GM's luxury brand reported having about 233,000 hand-raisers, people who express interest in the car but do not put any money down.
Yet GM reported last week it delivered to customers a mere 122 Lyriqs for the entire year.
"I don’t know what is holding up the production; they tell us it’s a supply chain thing," Ed Pobur, manager of LaFontaine Cadillac in Highland, said. "They’ve advertised the heck out of it, but we can’t get it."
Cadillac spokesman Michael Albano acknowledged there have been some software glitches on some of the first Lyriqs built and problems with a trim panel on the rear liftgate, but he said those issues have been resolved. He added that production will increase this year.
"With every launch — no matter the vehicle — there are learnings and other items that we fix along the way," Albano said in an email to the Free Press. "We are constantly making improvements in the build process, materials and software."
A 'deliberate' and 'methodical' production line
Albano said the reason so few Lyriqs have yet to make it to customers is because "we deliberately ramped up Cadillac Lyriq production slowly and methodically last year to ensure quality for our customers. Looking ahead, we will continue to ramp up production in 2023 in order to meet the strong demand for Lyriq.”
In September, GM recalled 186 Lyriqs for problems with the vehicle's infotainment screen, according to published reports at that time. In October, GM put out a fix to address a problem related to cracking in the liftgate panel, according to GM Authority.
The Lyriq is the cornerstone of Cadillac's future because it is the first EV to enter the brand's lineup, which GM vows will be entirely electric by the end of the decade. GM has said all its brands will be all-electric by 2035.
The car is so important to Cadillac that dealers who have received some of the 122 delivered last year said Cadillac will not allow them to deliver it to the buyer until Cadillac engineers and specialists inspect it and teach service technicians how to service it.
Also, in an unprecedented move by an automaker, GM recruited early customers to help it study the car. As first reported by the Free Press, GM gave some customers a discount of $5,500 on the 2023 Lyriq in exchange for them signing a nondisclosure agreement on the vehicle and agreeing to let GM track how they use it.
That move raised concerns at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the NDA might inhibit someone from reporting safety issues with the agency, prompting GM to write the participating customers clarifying that they are not prohibited from reporting any concern to NHTSA or any other entity.
Now that Cadillac has been smoothing out any initial kinks, analysts say it's crucial they get it going to market faster.
"The vehicle was supposed to have a halo effect on Cadillac and technically, GM, in general," said Ivan Drury, director of Insights at Edmunds.com. "Haven't heard anything about why all those reservations haven't converted into sales, but production issues make the most sense. Hopefully their more mass market 2023 EV launches go a bit smoother."
Dealers and customers 'frustrated'
GM delivered the first production Lyriq in early July last year to Cadillac of Novi and the second production Lyriq shortly after that to LaFontaine Cadillac in Highland.
"We definitely have more coming,” LaFontaine Cadillac's Pobur said.
Pobur used to run Cadillac of Novi where he said they got a "handful" of Lyriqs delivered last year. At his new job with LaFontaine Cadillac, he said about 250 people put money down and ordered a Lyriq. Another 150 people are on a waiting list to order it. Pobur said customers are somewhat impatient with the long wait, but hanging in there.
Another large Cadillac dealer in a different state said he only received one 2023 Lyriq last year for a customer who ordered it. Fourteen more people put $100 deposits on orders for a 2023 first edition Lyriq. They continue to wait.
“We’re in constant contact with those other 14 people,” the dealer said. He asked to not be identified because GM had not authorized him to speak to the media. He said he has a total of 125 customers who have ordered future model years of the Lyriq.
He said four of the 14 first editions that were due to him last year are built but not shipped yet. He has no idea why and said GM will not tell him.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “But we have not had any of those customers saying they want their $100 back.”
Just how many Lyriqs has GM built?
GM's Albano declined to say how many Lyriqs the automaker has made to date other than to say there are about 500 parked at GM's Spring Hill Assembly plant where the vehicle is made.
"We do have vehicles at Spring Hill and they will be shipped to customers very soon," Albano said, adding that the parked vehicles are not waiting for any parts and can start shipping this week.
"We have intentionally been managing the process to ensure quality for our customers, which remains our top priority," Albano said. "We are confident in our process."
Next door to Spring Hill Assembly, GM's joint-venture with LG Energy Solution, Ultium Cells LLC, is building a battery plant that will start supplying cells for the Lyriq when it starts running later this year. That battery production is expected to help boost EV production at the assembly plant.
The vehicle production forecasting experts at AutoForecast Solutions expect production of the Lyriq will not top 1,422 units for 2022, though they have not yet received the final production data for the year.
"Through October, GM claimed Spring Hill production of 366 units with the expectation of 166 more in November and 890 in December," said Sam Fiorani, vice president Global Vehicle Forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions. "Production in China, however, is claimed to be in the 2,000-unit-per-month range since June."
The Lyriq isn't the only EV that GM is slowly rolling out, Fiorani said. GM built 1,025 of the GMC Hummer EV pickup between January through October 2022 with nothing planned in November and December. The Hummer is built at Factory Zero in Detroit and Hamtramck.
Please call Lyriq an SUV
Meanwhile GM is asking the U.S. Treasury to reconsider classification of the Lyriq to allow it to qualify for federal tax credits, said Matt Ybarra, GM spokesman.
Most automakers view the availability of tax credits as strong selling points for EVs. In this case, the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service did not classify the Lyriq as an SUV, which means its retail price cannot exceed $55,000 to qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. The Lyriq starts at $62,990. The rules say SUVs can be priced at up to $80,000 to qualify for the tax credit, while cars, sedans and wagons have a price ceiling of $55,000.
"In determining how vehicles should be classified, Treasury should leverage existing U.S. government definitions and practices, using criteria and processes similar to that used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE)," Ybarra said in a statement.
GM said following the existing government guidelines would create consistency and provide clarity for consumers, when using EPA and DOE resources such as fueleconomy.gov.
"We are addressing these concerns with Treasury and hope that forthcoming guidance on vehicle classifications will provide the needed clarity to consumers and dealers, as well as regulators and manufacturers," Ybarra said.
Treasury spokesperson Ashely Schapitl sent this comment in an email to the Free Press in reaction to GM's concerns: "In determining how vehicles should be classified, the administration used CAFE standards, which are pre-existing — and longstanding — EPA regulations that manufacturers are very familiar with. These standards offer clear criteria for delineating between cars and SUVs.”
GM's Ybarra said it does not have a timeline for when it would like Treasury to amend the classification but "it is important to provide the needed clarity for consumers and dealers ASAP."