Over at Cadillac, there’s a whole different conversation going on about lighting. With its new Lyriq electric vehicle, set to hit the roads in 2022, the automaker is planning to revamp its entire design direction, and a major part of that initiative is with the lights.
Now, when most people think of a car’s “light signature” they think of the exterior lights like the headlamps and taillights and maybe some interior ambient lighting, but Cadillac’s Lead Creative Designer of Lighting, Candice Willett, explains that’s all going to change.
“The Lyriq is our pivot point,” she says. “We took this initiative to show what technologies are on the horizon, and how new designs can be implemented.”
As the brand’s first all-electric vehicle, it signifies a whole new direction for Cadillac. It uses General Motors’ next-generation, modular electric vehicle platform, the same one underpinning the wild new GMC Hummer EV. It also uses the latest electric propulsion system and batteries from the automaker. Dubbed Ultium, it should allow for 480 km of range and plenty of power.
Being such a new product, Cadillac is using the Lyriq to exhibit a new style, as seen with the slim lighting elements up front, unique split tail light, and the vented spoiler. See, lighting brings it all together.
“We want to connect the interior and exterior,” explains Willett, adding that animations play a big role here. “We’re taking a solid-state tool like lights, and turning it into a form of communication.”
Think back through Cadillac’s recent design language, and you’ll find lights play a special role. The tail fins found on the Eldorado and Deville from the late ‘40s to late ‘60s connected the idea of verticality and lights to premium rides. Today these traits are brought back in the vertical lighting elements found on the brand’s vehicles.
Currently, you can see pieces here and there of what Willett is alluding to in the newest Escalades. The door handles glow as you approach the vehicle, the taillights pulsate when you open the hatch, but taking things to the next step requires a rethinking of what lighting does to your emotions.
“The Lyriq has a whole walk-up sequence, that starts with the badge then fills the grille with a digitized rain,” she says. It looks like the vehicle is smiling to greet you. The lights bounce around to the corner lamps, furthering that liveliness that isn’t expected from a typically stoic luxury car.
Cadillac is making sure we know that they won’t skimp on the details. There are micropatterns created by the deep-cut, precision-crafted crystal in the lighting elements. “We are creating harmony with the lighting and the layers of details,” said Willett.
The lighting also embellishes important design cues of electric vehicles. Since there is no motor in the front, and the battery pack is modular and easy to stash beneath the cabin floor, the interior is very spacious. “We wanted to keep the overall visuals simple and clean,” explains Willett. “We can light up the centre console to make it look like it is floating,” she says. “This helps provide a sense of spaciousness.”
The lighting makes everything appear bigger and more dramatic, like the 33-inch dashboard screen. But there are also lights in the speaker grilles providing some more playfulness within the cabin. Willett adds that they were inspired by peripheral spaces when designed the interior lighting of the Lyriq. “We want you to feel the lighting around you,” she says. Colour and lighting can affect one’s mood, “we know that blue and green lighting is more calming, which is why many spas use those colours.” Using those colours in a luxury car could help reduce stress while on the road, a major selling point of a luxury car.
Other colours are used for different purposes. “Red will energize and awaken your senses,” she says, which is why warnings are blinking red, although we’re not sure if the ambient lighting will change when a warning pops up. “With the show car, we use a white light to show off the materials and space,” she adds, explaining the ambient lighting choice of the prototype. As a result, Cadillac was able to emphasize the other luxury aspects of the vehicle like the moon glow aluminum accents and juniper-toned leather seating surfaces.
The Lyriq is shaping up to be a halo product, something that brings forward a new design direction and impressive technology that is expected to trickle down into other vehicles in the Cadillac lineup. The lighting scheme is described as the jewelry of the car, but don’t expect it all to stick just to the Lyriq. When the vehicle finally hits the road in 2022, a whole new look for Cadillac will be arriving as well.