Cadillac Is Trying Too Hard

Cadillac Is Trying Too Hard

Cadillac has fully immersed itself in the EV reinvention game. Obviously it’s far from the only brand doing that, but you kind of have to respect General Motors for the strength of the commitment. The company told its entire Cadillac dealer network to get with the times or get out, and it’s clearly attempting to form a new identity around the Lyriq and Celestiq.

Those won’t be the only models to receive the “-iq” suffix, as we learned some time ago. But the full names of the remaining vehicles that will build out Cadillac’s range have been unknown. Until now.

Three names — Vistiq, Lumistiq and Escalade IQL — were leaked by CarBuzz citing “trademark filings with several trademark offices, including the UK and Austria” on Thursday. CarBuzz doesn’t link to these listings in its article, though Vistiq does indeed show up on the U.K. Intellectual Property Office website, as does Lumistiq in the database of the Austrian Patent Office. It would seem these are legit, then — though that’s not to say Cadillac couldn’t still change its mind and go with something else.

Then again, why would it? It’s not like those names are any more contrived than Lyriq and Celestiq, though they are further removed from the English language. Yes, I know all names are bullshit and there’s no such thing as a “Veloster” (though there is such a thing as a “Miata,” it turns out). But the harder Cadillac leans into this, the more I wish the alphanumerics stuck around.

Ultimately these may very well be great, important EVs for the brand, GM and the people who buy them. I don’t doubt GM has it within itself to realise its engineering ambitions for these future Cadillacs. The recently-refreshed Bolt is a very compelling entry level EV, and the C8 Corvette is so good, people are willing to let dealers swindle them for the privilege of ownership. In Cadillac’s case, I can understand the temptation to emphasise and celebrate everything it believes these cars stand for with fresh, confident marketing. But the stench of entitled opulence and self-importance emanating from a name like “Lumistiq” is so heavy, it’s making me gag.

If I had to guess why, I think it’s because it screams desperation. Even if Cadillac has the right products, that doesn’t mean shoppers will take it as seriously as they do the German brands that have been eating its lunch for the last three decades. Cadillac’s top brass is actually depressingly self-aware of this. I suppose given that the alphanumerics didn’t work out, going hard in the other direction is worth a stab. When you’ve got nothing left to lose, why not?

And then there’s the “Escalade IQL,” whose mention alongside the Vistiq and Lumistiq not only sticks out, but says something. Cadillac turned its gold crest into a monochrome circuit board; its very name doesn’t mean all that much anymore. But the Escalade brand does, and GM can’t afford to spurn it. One would assume the standard model will be dubbed the “Escalade IQ,” while the long-wheelbase variant will get the “L” designation.

If the Lyriq becomes a runaway hit, I’ll look like a fool. That’s fine — names always sound better when they’re attached to success. Look at the Nintendo Wii. Until then, I’m going to have trouble saying these with a straight face.