General Motors will begin its return to the European market as an EV-only manufacturer with the launch of the Cadillac Lyriq SUV in Switzerland this week.
The American giant withdrew from mainland Europe and the UK after selling Opel and Vauxhall to the PSA Group in 2017, retaining just a limited import operation for Cadillac and the Chevrolet Corvette.
However, it established a new European arm in 2021, headquarted in Zurich, Switzerland, and has been steadily preparing to return with an all-electric line-up of cars. GM will open sales of the Lyriq SUV in the country tomorrow (Friday, 6 October), with plans to expand to five further countries – starting with Sweden and France – in the next two years. There is no word yet on any plans for the UK.
The Lyriq will be pitched as a Mercedes-Benz and BMW rival, and priced at CHF82,000 (£73,700) in Switzerland. That compares with a starting price of $58,000 (£52,200) in the US. The large SUV features a huge, 102kWh battery for a range of up to 330 miles and its twin-motor set-up offers 521bhp.
GM has committed to having a fully electric line-up worldwide by 2035 and has invested heavily in developing the new Ultium EV platform that underpins the Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV, among other vehicles.
GM’s previous European efforts featured distinct European brands, but this time it's set to use its existing portfolio of American brands. That will start with Cadillac, which has been reinvigorated in the US with a fresh push to the premium market, but could also include the more mainstream Chevrolet brand. GM has also been considering offering the Hummer EV in the region, although its substantial weight presents a challenge because it would be classed as a heavy goods vehicle.
Notably, Cadillac returned to motorsport in 2023 with an LMDh endurance racer that competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours, giving it a high-profile tool to reinforce a global profile.
GM Europe has been tasked with acting as a rapid start-up, with the intention that its lack of a legacy ICE division in Europe will enable it to more easily push its EVs.
This will involve GM employing a pared-back, online-only retail model – similar to Tesla, Polestar and Genesis – that would enable a return without the substantial investment in a dealer network. It will open an 'experience centre' in Zurich to showcase cars, although it will offer online sales only.
GM’s European ambitions aren’t limited to selling cars, either: it's set to offer products and services under its new Brightdrop last-mile-delivery brand as well.
Jaclyn McQuaid will lead the GM Europe division for the relaunch, having taken over the role late last year.