Has America's luxury brand finally figured things out?
It was a big deal when Cadillac hired now former president Johan de Nysschen, whose previous gigs included running Audi and Infiniti. It was an even bigger deal when he was fired exactly one year ago. His replacement is Steve Carlisle, former president of GM Canada and a GM lifer. Carlisle has the huge task of saving Cadillac from irrelevancy, meaning it could be discontinued altogether if it doesn’t remake itself. But it appears Carlisle is the right man for the job, based on something he recently said to Automotive News Canada.
See, for years Cadillac tried to chase the German brands, specifically Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. It wanted to be like them in every way, but it always managed to miss the mark.
Why? Because it was always copying them and never innovating cool new things on its own. That mentality is coming to an end under Carlisle. "We’ve tried to out-German the Germans,” he said. "We can’t outdo what others have already done. Right now, we’re the underdog, and that gives us the opportunity to be the comeback kid.” We hope he’s right.
One way Cadillac is pushing ahead is to become the first GM brand to go all-electric. While its German competitors are in the midst of launching EVs of their own, none has committed to an outright all-electric future. Cadillac has, and that was Carlisle’s doing. Remember back in the day when Cadillac’s slogan, "The Standard of the World” was believable and true? Chances are you weren’t alive at the time.
Carlisle said the brand’s first EV will arrive for model year 2022 and in the meantime, the next-generation Escalade SUV will debut as well as the first-ever CT4 compact sedan. The CT5, which will replace both the ATS and CTS, just debuted at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Above all, Cadillac just needs to be itself instead of trying to constantly emulate competitors.
"Maybe it’s time for Cadillac just to be Cadillac again and let it speak for itself, not be put into someone else’s box,” Carlisle added. We couldn’t have said it better.