China has a thing for Cadillac and GM hopes to use that to catapult its luxury brand forward.
There was only one major issue with Cadillac’s plan to revive itself from the brink of ’08 extinction and one day become a mighty force in the luxury market: the fact that it banked its resurgence on sedans that looked as handsome as the Germans’, handled just as well, but had a tinge of American personality. Not that its cars are any bad, but if it was sales numbers the automaker was after, it should have stuck close to the Germans and built more SUVs.
Backing up recent talk from Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen, Automobile Magazine now claims that GM’s luxury brand will confront its lack of SUVs and crossovers with a flood of new models. First up will be the Escalade. Cadillac’s flagship SUV has never had much trouble moving volume, but its ancient ladder frame chassis makes it the less evolved option when many competitors are going unibody. Cadillac won’t change that, but the new Escalade could get an independent rear suspension as well as new engine options including a supercharged V8. And then a crossover inspired by the Escala Concept could debut as Cadillac’s new halo model, which will sit atop a throne inhabited by quite a wide selection.
Analysts are guessing that, of the eight models Cadillac could debut by 2022, four could be crossovers. These include an XT1 or XT2 set for a 2020 release to rival the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA, an XT3 due in 2018 for the BMW X3 crowd, a new generation of XT5 SUV for 2021, and an XT7 or XT8 to rival the BMW X7 and Mercedes GLS. The XT3 will ride on GM’s Alpha platform while the XT5 and XT7/XT8 will borrow from the Omega platform. Coupe and sedan lovers have a lot to be excited about as well with the CT1 or CT2 predicted for 2021 release and going up against the BMW 1 Series and the the CT3 set to replace the ATS and eat into Mercedes CLA sales in 2018.
Soon after the CT5 will follow in 2019 with the goal of replacing the CTS and sharing an Alpha platform with the CT3 and a CT8 flagship based on GM’s Omega platform. Both the XT1/XT2 and CT1/CT2 could take GM’s front-wheel drive Delta platform or modify the Alpha platform for these applications. De Nysschen also hopes to bolster sales by using a variety of tactics such as boosting overall quality and investing heavily in its US dealer network to better the ownership experience. Services, such as BOOK by Cadillac, will also add to the brand experience, but interestingly enough, Cadillac no longer seems determined to conquer the Europeans in their own market.
At least until 2022, that is. “By then, we shall have a full, up-to-date portfolio, including right-hand drive,” de Nysschen says. “I don’t expect big numbers. Instead, I see Cadillac as a profitable boutique luxury brand in Europe. We are consciously going down different avenues from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.” Focus will be placed on China, which recently eclipsed America as Cadillac’s biggest customer. Foraying into the future, especially one that seems to be unfolding in electric car-loving China, will mean battery-electric drivetrains courtesy of GM. With the Chevy Bolt coming as proof that GM can build a next-generation electric car, expect a similar push throughout the entire range.