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"Don't do what Australians have a habit of doing by trashing something on the way in": Former Holden Commodore design chief wants you to lower your pitchforks and give new electric car brand a chance

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Cadillac Lyriq
Cadillac Lyriq

One of Australia's most celebrated automotive designers and executives has asked local car buyers to not do to what "Australians have a habit of doing", and instead reserve judgement on the newest entry to our auto landscape.

Mike Simcoe was behind some of Australia's most well-known vehicles, including Holden's VE Commodore and Monaro, before relocating to the USA and rapidly ascending General Motors' corporate ladder.

Now the company's Senior Vice-President of Global Design, Simcoe is overseeing the design for the Cadillac brand, which will arrive in Australia later this year in the shape of the Lyriq electric SUV, which is expected to be closely followed by the Optiq.

Cadillac internationally has now committed to a dual ICE and EV future, at least in the short term, the brand will launch as a premium-focused EV-only offering in Australia. It will go up against marques such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but also Lexus, Volvo, Polestar and an ever-growing number of Chinese brands hoping to play in the same space.

Simcoe said the brand has the capability and quality to stand up to its competition, but said Australians have a habit of writing-off brands before they ever experience them for themselves.

"All I'd ask, and I can ask this because I'm Australian, is that you give the brand a look. Don't do what Australians have habit of doing and trashing something on the way in," he said.

"Give it a look, touch it, see it, get engaged a little bit, and then make a judgement call."

The first Cadillac to arrive will be the Lyriq. Detailed pricing and specification is yet to be confirmed, the model has launched globally, hinting at what we can expect.

In Europe every model gets a 102kWh battery pack, unlocking more than 500kms in driving range, along with dual electric motors producing a combined 394kW and 610Nm.

But if the local detail is still a little light-on, we do know that Cadillac is aiming for premium air in Australia, and won't be drawn into battle with Tesla.

"Obviously we're going into a very niche luxury space," said Simcoe.

"It's intended to be a niche luxury brand that drives exclusivity, something that people just have to get their hands on, so I think it will be a cross-section (of customers), but obviously the Cadillac brand is targeting those luxury buyers.

"So while there may be some traditional Australian GM buyers that are going to come and consider us, it's more around really appealing to that luxury market and showing them what we can do with the Cadillac brand here locally."

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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