General Motors Accelerated the Development of the Cadillac LYRIQ Using Virtual Engineering Tools

General Motors Accelerated the Development of the Cadillac LYRIQ Using Virtual Engineering Tools

Author: Eric Walz   

Designers typically use virtual testing to speed up the development and deployment of new products. But as vehicles become more high-tech machines, the same processes can be employed in the auto industry to speed up the development of new vehicle models.

On Monday, automaker General Motors said its was able to speed up development of the upcoming Cadillac LYRIQ electric SUV using the same types of virtual engineering tools used by engineers and researchers in other fields.

The Cadillac LYRIQ is the first fully-electric SUV from GM's luxury division and marks the brand's transition into a luxury electric brand, so it was important for the company to deliver the best product possible.

The Cadillac LYRIQ had its official unveiling last week in Shanghai, which was nine months ahead of schedule. GM said the timeline was accelerated by a process of virtual testing and validation throughout the phases of the LYRIQ's development.

GM said that employing virtual design, development and validation (VDDV) has a profound impact on the overall efficiency of its vehicle development programs. 

Implementing the virtual design tools early in the development process allowed its teams to optimize the LYRIQ's design, quality and performance within the confines of a digital environment. It enabled the automaker to rapidly accelerate its product development cycles while reducing engineering costs by $1.5 billion per year, the company said.

"While GM has been developing great products for more than 100 years, virtual engineering has allowed us to visualize aspects of our designs that have not been previously observable with conventional vehicle testing. This is one of many inherent strengths of virtual engineering that we've capitalized on to completely reimagine how we create and develop future mobility products like the Cadillac LYRIQ," said Mike Anderson, GM executive director of Virtual Design, Development and Validation. 

GM also said the flexibility of its Ultium EV platform further supported the virtual development process of the LYRIQ since its will be shared among its future electric models. The family of EV powertrains include five different units and three electric motors which are configurable for rear wheel, front wheel and all-wheel-drive electric models. 

The modular design of GM's Ultium EV platform and batteries allows it to be easily adapted from one vehicle model to another, meaning the learnings from one program can accelerate the development of other EVs in GM's future portfolio that will share the same platform.

For the LYRIQ, the virtual design was used to test cabin comfort for all passengers in both cold and hot environments, and to study the LYRIQ's aerodynamics to help maximize range. 


Using virtual engineering tools, GM was able to make the LYRIQ as aerodynamic as possible to maximize range.

Additional virtual testing included aeroacoustics and active road noise cancellation, as well as test various driver assistance and active safety features.

For example, using virtual tools, GM's engineers were able to model how air flows over the LYRIQ's exterior, including the use of a vented roof spoiler to further reduce drag and optimize the vehicle's range.

Through virtual development, GM said the LYRIQ development team was able to test thousands of designs through multiple scenarios to address the many forms of variation, allowing the first drivable LYRIQ prototypes to be produced with a single optimized design. 

GM engineers were also able to virtually test how to best protect the Ultium battery pack from damage in a wide variety of collision scenarios.

"Now that we've moved to the next phase of development, the initial quality of our pre-production test vehicles is some of the best that I've ever seen," said Jamie Brewer, LYRIQ chief engineer. "During early test drives, I've been impressed with the ride, handling and overall performance of the vehicle at this stage of development."

With the accelerated timeline, LYRIQ is expected to go into production in the first quarter of 2022 instead of later in the year. 

Reservations for LYRIQ will be available beginning September 2021 with initial availability starting the first half of 2022.  The LYRIQ was initially scheduled to arrive in late 2022. 

Launching the LYRIQ ahead of schedule might help GM gain some ground on segment leader Tesla, which has become the world's most valuable automaker. Tesla has been relatively unchallenged in the luxury electric vehicle space that Cadillac aims to dominate. In addition, GM's ability to accelerate its EV development timelines will help the automaker compete with rival automakers that are introducing their own electric models to compete with Tesla.

The virtual engineering for the LYRIQ was also used to develop the upcoming GMC Hummer electric truck. GM was able to build a working prototype of the Hummer in just 18 months using virtual engineering tools.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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