General Motors is about to enter its affordable car era—at least in the Chevy brand, that is. Cadillac, on the other hand, it looking to make big bucks thanks the modularity and at-scale development of GM's Ultium battery platform. But it needs younger buyers to really rake in that cash, and its newest EV aims to do exactly that.

Welcome back to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for EV and automotive tech. Today, we're talking about Cadillac's new Optiq crossover catering to the youth, Tesla CEO Elon Musk's distractions, and the auto industry being unhappy with recent governance over consumer protections. Let's jump in.

30%: Cadillac's Optiq Crossover Is Its 'Hello Fellow Kids' Moment

2025 Cadillac Optiq

The 2025 Cadillac Optiq crossover was revealed nearly in full on Wednesday, bolstering GM's lineup of Ultium-powered vehicles across its brands with the little brother of its successful Lyriq SUV. And with 300 horsepower, 300 miles of range, and decent fast-charging specs, the Optiq seems like a win for anybody looking for a little bit of luxury in their life.

GM has the ideal consumer in mind though: the youth.

See, the Optiq is Cadillac's entry-level EV. It shares its underpinnings and powertrain with GM's uber-cheap Equinox EV, but its stylish exterior and premium interior make it ideal for those shopping around for a luxury car on a budget—if you can consider a $54,000 entry (before any tax credits) price budget-friendly, that is.

John Roth, Cadillac's global vice president, called it a "gateway into your first EV, or your first luxury Cadillac purchase." He also called it "fresh," and "fun to drive," and noted all of the "tech and toys" present in the car. It's hard not to imagine this crossover is aimed at younger buyers, something desperately needed since Cadillac isn't exactly dipping into the fountain of youth for its buyer's pool.

Last year, Roth revealed that Cadillac's buyers are getting younger, but not as young as you might think. The automaker's average buyer stands at 54 years old, which is actually down compared to 2014 when the average consumer picking up the keys to their new Caddy was a healthy 59.5. In fact, of its million new global customers over the past five years, its share of buyers between 18 and 55 years old (a broad category) is up 5%.

Automotive News confirmed the Optiq will target buyers 29 to 39 who are buying either their first EV or their first luxury vehicle. It will also target people in that age group who value tech.

That being said, Cadillac is taking a pretty big leap of faith with the Optiq. It's difficult to change brand direction overnight, and given that Cadillac will have to do battle with other brands competing for the same premium EV segment, it's got a bit of work ahead of it to get buyer age down.

60%: Tesla Investors Claim Elon Musk Is A 'Distracted' CEO—Here's What They Mean

musk AI top 1

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been a lot of things over the years—and the vast amount of money in his pockets that allows him to sit comfortably at the top of Forbes' billionaires list ensures it. However, one thing that money can't buy is the number of hours in a day. And that's where some investors feel that Tesla isn't getting its money's worth with Musk.

An exposé by Bloomberg showcases some areas where investors might see Musk as a distracted CEO tapping company resources for non-company projects. The report follows recent commentary from New York Comptroller Brad Lander who called Musk "distracted,"  similar to the remarks made by Wedbush analyst Dan Ives and former Tesla board member Steve Westly.

In the center of the sights sits Musk's new social media toy, X (formerly known as Twitter), though his other roles as CEO of SpaceX, Founder of The Boring Company, and leader of xAI have also been cited as potential sources for his distractions. Even the Delaware judge overseeing Musk's compensation package trial said that the amount of time Musk spent on the Twitter acquisition "was undoubtedly a concern at Tesla."

SpaceX and The Boring Company, both of which are also in Musk's portfolio, has also experienced a bit of poaching. For example, Musk enlisted the help of SpaceX board member and former Tesla director Antonio Gracias to assist in company-wide layoffs at Twitter. He also pinged Boring Company president Steve Davis to help slash company expenses.

It's not just investors who see Musk as distracted. Peter Rawlinson, CEO of rival Lucid and former chief Tesla engineer, says that even he is frustrated with Musk's recent business decisions.

During an interview with BBC's Wake Up To Money podcast, Rawlinson let slip some of his views on Tesla's—and by association, Elon Musk's—recent "distractions":

I really value my time at Tesla. I was there for three years from 2009 through 2012. And at that stage, Tesla was truly at the cutting edge developing the most advanced technology with a clarity of vision and purpose and an absolute singularity of mindset. And what I'm seeing now is a worrying trend towards a sort of distraction.

[...]

There's an interest in social media, even politics, and it's kind of losing its way. I don't see it having that singular sense of purpose, and I think it really falls to Lucid to take the technology to a whole new level now.

To add to the concern that distractions like X are costing Tesla precious Musk Time, investors also know that X is actually costing Tesla real money too. For example, the automaker spent $200,000 on advertising on Musk's privately owned platform and even took out ads to promote shareholders voting in favor of Musk's court-rejected $56 billion compensation package. Tesla also recently backed down on prioritizing a $25,000 EV in favor of building robotaxis during a crucial moment when its sales are way down and more competition is coming to market.

It's a rough time to be a Tesla shareholder right now, and with all eyes on Musk amid threats to develop AI and robotics outside of Tesla if his compensation package isn't approved, the pressure doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon.

90%: Dealers Aren't Happy The FTC Wants Them To Be More Straightforward With Consumers

Nissan starts using BEV Class 8 trucks to deliver cars to dealerships in the LA area

A new rule regulating how dealerships handle their advertising, financing, and insurance practices by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is under fire by the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The two groups petitioned an appeal court to force the agency to revise its recent Combating Auto Retail Scams (CARS) rule—not to be confused with the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales act—or completely undo the consumer protections put in place by it. Now, the FTC must defend its decision in court.

The dealer groups, according to Automotive News, say the FTC "has never identified evidence of widespread misconduct among auto dealers that would justify a new industry-wide intervention." They also double down on the no-evidence argument by noting the survey performed to justify the rule change was qualitative, not quantitative, and that the actual rule has little to no cost-benefit to the consumer, despite the agency claiming an annual savings of $3.4 billion for the consumer.

However, the FTC says that the number of actions it takes against the auto industry each year more than justifies the rule change. The agency says that for more than a decade, it's needed to use its resources to bring cases consistently against one specific industry regarding unfair or deceptive acts and practices.

From Automotive News:

The rule is meant to crack down on bad dealership behavior, including bait-and-switch advertising and sneaking F&I products into deals without customer knowledge.

One of the CARS Rule's major provisions requires dealership ads and communications on a specific vehicle to feature an offering price—the out-the-door price inclusive of all charges except government taxes and fees the retailer will honor for any customer.

The agency also will require dealers to receive "express, informed consent" from the customer on any charges, such as the price of an F&I product. The agency defines this as a customer's "unambiguous assent to be charged." A "signed or initialed document, by itself" or prechecked boxes by themselves would not meet that threshold.

And if the previous justification arguments weren't enough, the trade groups also say that the FTC didn't give proper stakeholder notice, violating its own procedural regulations.

"In promulgating the Rule, the FTC flouted both its own procedural regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act's mandate of reasoned decisionmaking," wrote the two trade groups in its appeal.

"The FTC unlawfully promulgated the Rule by issuing its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking without the advance notice expressly required by its own regulations. And it acted arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to adequately substantiate the Rule's benefits and costs or rationally connect the evidence before it to its decision to impose a convoluted, far-reaching, industry-wide rule."

If the appeal is granted, the FTC may be sent back to the drawing board and forced to relax its recent requirements for what is deemed to be acceptable dealership conduct. Parties involved are required to respond to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by June 13th.

100%: What Brand Have You Been Dying To Try Out?

Xiaomi SU7 (2024): The exterior

The U.S. loves its cars. Perhaps that's why it's one of the largest markets for new automobiles in the entire world, and has a plethora of different marques peddling their four-wheeled contraptions on our roads.

Despite the options, many people still tend to stick with what they know—that's where brand loyalty comes into play. Automakers love it, but I want to take you out of your comfort zone today.

So if you could pivot, risk-free, to try out any new brand of automobile selling an EV today, which would it be? Let me know in the comments.

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