By on January 9, 2018

fairfax line assembly factory general motors, Image: General Motors

General Motors is tooling one of its car plants to build the svelte new Cadillac crossover that’s aimed at fixing the luxury brand’s sales slump in the United States. However, GM is keeping quiet on the move as the XT4’s future hasn’t been officially announced. However, insiders have claimed the automaker has already begun production on test versions of the Cadillac XT4 at its assembly plant in Kansas City.

Cadillac deliveries fell 8 percent last year in the United States and, as crossovers seem to be the sure-fire remedy for every automaker seeking sales, the XT4 could be a godsend. That blessing isn’t isolated to North America either. Adding the more-affordable crossover to the company’s Chinese lineup is equally important. 

Chinese shoppers, who seem to really dig luxury nameplates like Cadillac and Buick, likely won’t mind seeing another model added to the mix. However, in the domestic market, Cadillac genuinely needs to bolster is non-sedan offerings. Presently, the only utilities available stateside are the XT5 and Escalade.

The production location, while technically still a secret, is not a surprise. The XT4 uses similar underpinnings as the Chevrolet Malibu, which is also built at GM’s Fairfax Assembly in Kansas. With the automaker slowing down sedan production last year, it makes good sense to assign the luxury crossover to that location. Through the first five months of 2017, Malibu sales were down 30 percent, falling nearly three times faster than the segment as a whole.

However, there were still 185,857 Malibus sold in the United States last year. At that volume, General Motors knows it can’t outright replace the sedan. But it can offset costs by sharing factory space with the XT4.

[Source: Bloomberg] [Image: General Motors]

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39 Comments on “Cadillac Prepping XT4 Production on the Sly at Kansas City’s Malibu Plant...”


  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    No Subaru XT6, no care.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The big problem with today’s Cadillacs is that they are no longer Caddys. They carry the name and the badge, but they are no longer the big, heavy, soft-riding luxo-barges that they used to be and the effort to sport them up has destroyed the brand’s reputation.

    If you want to restore the Caddy’s reputation, then you need to build those big luxo-barges again. Class them up against the Mercedes S, not the Mercedes C.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      A luxury brand needs not only crossovers, but sedans smaller than the flagship class.

      Both MB’s and BMW’s best selling sedans are in the compact and midsize segments.

      Problem with Cadillac(aside from not currently a full-fledged flagship; the CT6 carrying that flag for the time being) is that the ATS and CTS were lacking in interior/passenger space compared to the competition.

      The ATS should have remained the size of the 2G CTS and not shrunk down to where it had the interior space of the CLA and not the C Class.

      The CT4 (the replacement for the ATS) will be more the size of the 2G CTS.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I disagree; the brand, ESPECIALLY Cadillac, needs a flagship that reminds people of who they are. Cadillac was never known for small cars… never. The Seville was a laughing stock for years, though became accepted because it gave some little homage to the old-style boot of the 20s and 30s-vintage luxury cars. The others were laughed at from the beginning, especially that ludicrous, Vega-sized dink that never should have carried the Caddy name.

        And the Escalade is not a flagship-type of vehicle… it says Big Truck, not Big Luxury. Not one of the sedans hints at Caddy’s history. Not one of the coupes hints at that level of •personal• luxury the way the Coupe de Ville did. Let these cars ride in the Bentley and Rolls Royce heights; that’s where it was designed to run. The Escalade is second fiddle to such Classic automobiles.

        ATS? CTS? These are not Cadillac marques; they’re alphabet soup trying to put on airs and failing miserably. These cars need real names that evoke the real cars that Cadillac used to make. These alphabet models are pretenders, claiming sporty-sounding characters to give Caddy a new direction and all they’re doing is dragging it down to its death. They Are Not Cadillacs, even though they wear the badge.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Didn’t I state that one of the problems for Cadillac was not having a full-fledged flagship?

          But right now, a more pressing need for Cadillac is to fill out its CUV lineup and fix/re-align the sedan lineup it does have.

          The following are the total 2017 sales for flagship sedans:

          XJ – 2,721
          A8 – 3,127
          LS – 4,094
          G90 – 4,398
          Panamera – 6,431
          7 Series – 9,276
          S Class – 15,888

          Let’s be generous and say that a proper Cadillac flagship (CT8) does well enough to finish in the 3rd spot behind the 7 Series (the S Class is, by far, the dominant player in this segment).

          We’re talking maybe 8k or so in sales.

          You really think that’s more important than getting the XT4 and XT6 CUVs out as soon as possible?

          Heck, one could argue that a “flagship” crossover based on the Omega platform (slotting above the XT6) should get priority over the CT8.

          As for the nomenclature – who really cares?

          Mercedes recently changed the nomenclature of its CUVs – has had ZERO impact.

          Despite its nomenclature, the 1G/2G CTS sold pretty well (b/c it was properly sized/priced).

          Not to mention, the XT5 is the 2nd BEST selling luxury model (after the RX).

          Cadillac needs sedans in the compact and midsize segments (again, the highest volume for both MB and BMW).

          But unlike for the ATS and 3G CTS, the sedans in those segment need to offer MORE room/space than the competition (not less) – which is exactly what the CT4 and CT6 will do.

          The flagship (CT8) will come in due time.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You do know, of course, that Mercedes is Europe’s “Chevrolet.” Chevrolet needs all those different sizes but Bentley and Rolls do not.

            Cadillac is supposed to be out of the price range of plebes in order to give people a goal to work toward. That’s been my point all along. You don’t want a Caddy that’s “affordable”, you want one that you’ll do anything to get enough money to own one. Johnny Cash’s “One Piece At A Time” demonstrates this. Almost anyone can afford a Caddy today and that’s exactly WHY its sales are down; it’s lost that air of exclusivity. It’s a Buick in a black tux while Buick has fallen to Oldsmobile status or lower.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            And you really think Cadillac would be fine with only 3 large sedans/coupes in its car lineup?

            Great – they can divide the 10-12k in sales that Cadillac is likely to get.

            Like I had stated, the volume sellers for MB and BMW are the compact and midsize segment sedans (which by no means are “small”; heck, even the compacts these days are larger than the mid-sizers a few generations ago).

            And you have a misunderstanding of the auto business if you think buyers move up from small cars (Chevy) to medium sized cars (Buick) to full-size cars (Cadillac).

            That’s not how it goes.

            The problem for Cadillac was that its entries (the ATS and CTS) were more cramped than the competition – which is a major handicap when trying to sell to the US market (the ATS and CTS would have sold a lot better here if they were the size of the ATS-L and CTS-L that are sold in China).

            Now, I can maybe agree that Cadillac does not need a subcompact model – to compete against the likes of CLA, A3, the upcoming 1 Series and A Class sedans, etc.

            At least not for the US market (as that segment really isn’t a big seller here anyways), but Cadillac will need it for certain overseas markets (if Cadillac is serious about being a “world-wide” brand and not just the US and China.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      You broke the code.

      A Coupe DeVille is a Cadillac. A Sedan DeVille is a Cadillac. A Fleetwood is a Cadillac. An Eldorado is a Cadillac.

      There is nothing in their current me-too Eurotrash-style lineup that says “Cadillac” when you look at it except perhaps for the Escalade – and that is still a truck no matter how many luxury features they throw at it.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Agreed, 2manycars. And until GM learns that lesson, Caddy will continue to fall.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Know when Caddy failed, Vulpine?

          It was when they made crappy cars WITH NAMES that people refused to buy anymore. And that was going on for a good 20 or 30 years by the time the brand remade itself.

          Naming Cadillacs “DeVille” again won’t do any good. Bringing back the land yachts won’t work because no one who isn’t on this website buys them anymore (if they did, Lincoln would still be making the Town Car or something like it).

          They’re stuck basically restarting from scratch. That’s the way it is.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I still contend that a land yacht with Texa-Guido styling would not have sold any worse that the current CTS fiasco.

            Just build the Elmiraj and see what happens. It’s not like their car sales are going to go much lower.

            Niche cars might be the only thing that will survives CUVpocalypse for the premium brands.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Actually, the CTS is a sales champ compared to the DTS in its’ last few years. XTS hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, either.

            Luxury sedans have just taken it in the shorts, no matter who makes them. Cadillac’s biggest problem was timing. They’re like a football team that put the third string out until the fourth quarter, and put in the starters right at the two minute warning.

            (But, yeah, an Elmiraj would be tres cool. Maybe if if the Lexus LC is a hit, it might spur some action in this segment.)

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This would be an epic waste of time and money. Cadillac’s current flagship- the Escalade- is what people want. In 2017 it handily outsold every large luxury sedan by as much as 10:1, and it outsold the S-Class by nearly 3 to 1 (when you include ESV sales). To add to that all Cadillac sedan sales range from underperforming to full on freefall. People aren’t interested.

      You want manufacturers to turn back the clock to an era nobody cares about anymore. We are in the era of the SUV/crossover. Cadillac should have gone all in on them 10 years ago. The kind of statements manufacturers need to make have to be innovative and forward looking, not recalcitrant and stuck in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You are trying to put plurality onto a singular argument; I am not trying to get “manufacturers”(plural) to turn back the clock, I am trying to get ONE BRAND to restore its cachet–its Prestige.for over 50 years of its life, every Cadillac made was a Classic right on the showroom floor, until GM started trying to platform-share the brand and cut costs. You and others want to blame CAFE and the EPA but the blame really belongs to GM itself; cutting costs hurt Caddy most of all and cost the corporation three brands that all had loyal followings. GM with four brands is only barely keeping up with Ford, carrying two.

        The CUV market is saturated; literally there is no room for more. I can see the CUV decimated by the introduction of a single new/old class of vehicle that most here insist will have no market. But I’m not here to discuss that specific issue. My point is that sedans as a class are failing because they’ve lost their direction; they simply aren’t being led by true flagship models. Toyota/Lexus across the board are ugly cars, even if they are reliable, but not a one can truly be called a luxury car; they’re all advertised on their performance and handling–their sportiness–not the level of comfort and huge legroom front and back that was the standard of a full-sized sedan and/or coupe. Maybach, Bentley, Rolls Royce are flagship marques for their respective corporate brands. They are priced high because they are built to high standards. True, they don’t sell in huge numbers but they do bring in profits greater than what Cadillac is bringing.

        What does Cadillac bring to the show? “Look! We can win races!” Well guess what, so does nearly every other brand EXCEPT Maybach, Bentley and Rolls. Go sit in a 70s or 60s Caddy. Take a ride in one. No, I didn’t say “drive one”, I said “Ride it”; have a chauffeur drive you. Ride down that freeway. Ride down that city street. Ride down that ancient, two-lane highway. Then do the same thing in a modern version. Sure, that older version doesn’t have all the modern bells and whistles, but those can be added easily enough. The difference is that the bigger car just rides better. The bigger car is more comfortable. The bigger car is pure luxury. Those luxury pickup trucks? Can’t match a REAL Cadillac. A CUV can’t match a REAL Cadillac. And that’s why the Cadillac brand is dying.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    That Johan and Mary Barra are real brain surgeons. Johan basically crafted an idiotic plan, the equally brilliant Mary Barra paid 12 billion dollars for it, saw it go sideways in the worst possible way (ATS, 3rd gen CTS, CT6…and now, EVEN Escalade sales are falling YoY), then pretty much wiped their a$$ with 12 billion dollars, and this is the NEW PLAN as predicted by me a long time’ago (the quote below):

    “DeadWeight

    I predicted this in 2015 as I watched Johan-Melody CTLee-Uwe flail around in helpless drowning –

    GM (Mary Barra )’could have saved itself 12 billion USD by canning the Johan and his idiotic plans.

    Here’s what I said and that which I predicted would replace the utter failures that are now the ATS, 3rd gen CTS, CT6, and (now defunct) ELR:

    “XT1 – Rebadged Chevy Spark-based CUV (this can actually be seen in the Cadillac Urban Luxury concept)

    XT2 – Rebadged Chevy Sonic-based CUV

    XT3 – Rebadged Chevy Cruze-based CUV

    XT4 – Rebadged Chevy Malibu-based CUV

    XT5 – *exists*

    XT6 – Rebadged Chevy Impala-based CUV

    Escalade – *exists*

    And there’s your future Cadillac lineup, that Roger Smith himself would proudly bring to market and ensure that pleather trim, CUE and the storied Cadillac emblem, now monochromatized and devoid of wreath, are distinguishing, standard features separating the Cadillacs (“standard of the world”) from their less prestigious GM siblings….

    WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN…GENERAL MOTORS AND CADILLAC ALA ROGER SMITH STYLE!”

    GENERAL MOTORS GENIUSES, SINCE THE 1970s (GM went from 50% market share in the 1960s to 15% today).

    BRILLIANT EXECS, MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP1

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      JdN’s “plan” is just starting to come to fruition (the XT4 being the first Cadillac to have been developed under JdN’s watch).

      The ATS, CTS, CT6 and ELR were all developed under the previous regime.

      JdN wanted a RWD-based CUV lineup, but with the previous regime’s disastrous Alpha platform (which is unsuitable for CUV-duty), that was never going to happen.

      So the core Cadillac CUV lineup will be FWD-based (just like for Lexus); not ideal, but the lower price-point of FWD-based CUVs helps with regards to sales (the XT5 is the 2nd best selling luxury model next to the Lexus RX).

      There is, however, talk of a higher-end RWD-based CUV to slot above the 3-row XT6 – and the CT8 flagship may still be in the plans (just delayed until Cadillac gets its CUVs out).

      And you seemed confused between “platform-sharing” and “rebadging” (Mercedes actually does both).

      • 0 avatar
        bo darville

        can you please elaborate to us ignorants what specifically makes a platform unsuitable for cuv-duty? but before you answer that, can you explain to me so i understand exactly which particular automotive components constitute a platform? for example, why can’t a particular platform be used for both fwd & rwd? asking in earnest

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The Alpha platform already compromised a lot when it came to the packaging of the ATS and CTS sedans (making them less competitive when it came to passenger and trunk space).

          We also saw the same thing when the Camaro was moved onto the Alpha platform; the rear seats became useless and sales dropped compared to the previous gen (enough that the even the aged Challenger, which still had usable rear seats, started outselling the Camaro a good part of the time).

          Also was considered too narrow; for instance, the XT5 is about 3 inches wider than the ATS.

          As for the other stuff, I’m sure you can find numerous sites to read up on that (too complicated to summarize).

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “So the core Cadillac CUV lineup will be FWD-based (just like for Lexus); not ideal, but the lower price-point of FWD-based CUVs helps with regards to sales (the XT5 is the 2nd best selling luxury model next to the Lexus RX).”

        No. We should not be linking Cadillac to “lower price point.” The Cadillac is meant to be elite; it is meant to say, “You don’t drive me, I drive you,” to its owners. It’s a car meant for a chauffeur and not an owner-operated vehicle. The Fleetwood needs to return… WITH its luxury tax included. A full BEV version would be the ultimate in luxury as it would never travel more than 300 miles away from its garage and would likely not go more than 100 miles away, if that far. You’re driven to the airport to climb onto your private jet rather than drive (or ride) four hours to your “summer home.” That is what Cadillac was and what it should be. And yes, it should be every bit the purpose-built car–practically hand-built–rather than a platform-sharing compromise to low cost.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Where you (or I) or the powers-that-be want Cadillac to be and where it is currently are 2 very different things.

          Just like JdN, wanted to see Cadillac go to a RWD lineup (except for maybe the subcompact segments as everyone is doing FWD there).

          Problem with that (as noted above), the Alpha platform was developed (by the previous regime) so that it was unsuitable for crossover-duty.

          The ATS replacement (the CT4) is not due out for another 1.5-2 yrs or so (as the replacement for the Alpha is finishing development).

          So, if JdN had gotten his wish, that would have meant that the next Cadillac CUV would have been delayed for another 2 years (instead of launching in a few months) when Cadillac so desperately needs to fill out its CUV lineup.

          And like I stated, there are trade-offs.

          A FWD/transverse CUV (much less a sedan) can’t command the prices of a RWD-based CUV, but in lieu of that, they tend to sell better.

          Guess which are the 2 best selling luxury models?

          1. Lexus RX
          2. Cadillac XT5

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      To be fair, all American manufacturers lost significant market share during that period as the import manufacturers got bigger, drive by the growth in their domestic markets.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      More brilliant than you.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Alphabet soup is NOT Cadillac. With what they’re doing now, the Caddy is in worse shape than Pontiac before it was shut down.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Going to stay out of the fray when it comes to what Cadillac is today. Just going to say that I’m glad GM Fairfax is getting the work. That plant built bombers in WWII you know. Lot’s of history there.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The big DeVilles and Town Cars are dead as dodos.Blame CAFE,EPA, leases on European cars, and ungodly luxurious trucks and Lexus. People with money who want to humble brag buy a nicely loaded truck; Town Car = King Ranch crew cab, Caddy = Silverado Denali. Then some folks just get an LS and drive it for 10-15 years; its not like they change THAT much. Until GM can build the equivalent to Lexus LS, people with money aren’t interested. Lincoln? Being the American Acura/Volvo should work just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      They can be resurrected, el scotto, unlike people. I don’t have to blame CAFE, EPA or leases on Euro cars, I can only blame the company that chose to cheap out and dodge the fines I’m quite sure the original Caddy owners would have gladly paid to keep their big cars coming.

      Pickup trucks with luxury doodads are nothing but the “poor man’s Cadillac”; they’re pretending to be what the Caddys were: pure luxury vehicles. I would rather go Type S than any existing Caddy and I would rather go Rolls or Bentley than any faux-lux pickup truck. I would rather drive my mother’s old Sedan de Ville than drive ANY full sized pickup for its supposed luxury. Odds are I will be inheriting that car within the next few years. But I will NOT, ever, buy a modern, full sized pickup just to put on airs. The pickup truck I buy will be a working and sporting truck that makes no pretense towards luxury.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      A long time friend recently retired his Towncar and bought an F150 Platinum 4dr 4×4.

      First time he took me for a ride in it, the electric running board extended automatically when I opened the passenger door and connected with my shin bone. That hurt!

      We owned a 1992 Towncar Executive from 1992 until July 2008, but don’t want to go back to them these days because cars and trucks today are just so much nicer and better.

      My wife’s 2016 Sequoia is just nicer and roomier than any Towncar ever could be.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Town Cars are NOT all that…I had one as a rental in the late aughts and it was evident why the car died a few years later.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          We had pretty good service from my wife’s Towncar for the years she used it to show real estate properties.

          It had mechanical problems, but back then I was able to do most of the work myself with the exception of AC.

          I ended up selling that Towncar to a young Airman who left the Air Force and used it to move back to South Carolina, where he still uses the car as a daily driver after all these years.

          After he bought the Towncar from us he told us that his dad owns two, his brother owns two and that his family is always looking to buy another Towncar.

          So there still are people who prefer them, if the price is right — or until parts can no longer be found.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I can see the appeal for someone who wants to drive some big road boat into 500,000-mile decrepitude. Panthers are good for that mission.

            Problem is, the Town Car was a $50,000 luxury car, and people who buy $50,000 luxury cars could care less about that kind of thing. They generally don’t want to keep a car more than a couple of years.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I recently tried out an ATS just to see what the hate was all about, and you know what? As a driver’s car, it’s superb.

    Where it fails is in the details, particularly underneath the hood. The 2.0T is great on paper, and has plenty of power, but it sounds and feels unrefined. The instrument panel, which took a lot of heat four years ago for being cheap, is still cheap. The interior has lots of discordant styling touches. None of this is awful, but when you look at a C-class Benz right afterwards, you know why this car isn’t selling.

    A Cadillac needs to feel like money, and contemporary ones don’t, no matter how well they perform.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Cadillac ATS is a massive POS and pile of unrefined garbage in the context of a 40k to 50k (even 32k) premium vehicle, and has typical General/Guangzhou Motors awful build quality, NVH traits, epicly bad interior material and gauges and switchgear…

      …but it could have been acceptable, given its good chassis – lending itself to good handling characteristics – and good steering feel (it’s two, sole, virtuous qualities) – as a next gen $22,999 base price Pontiac Grand Am (there are credible rumors that it was thus destined to be such prior to Pontiac’s murder, in the midst of General/Guangzhou Motors bankruptcy).

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        No, it’s not a massive POS. The one I drove was actually used, with almost 40,000 miles, and in many ways, it looked and felt almost new to me.

        This is NOT a poorly built car. Far from it.

        What it (and what every Cadillac aside from the Escalade) needs is a ton more polish in areas like the engine, and the interior. Like I said…they don’t feel like money.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          DW is nothing without froth mouthed hyperbole.

          GM spent money on all the wrong things. This is why Lincoln’s quasi rebadges are outselling the whole Caddy Alpha lineup. A $50K Malibu based PHEV with swoopy styling and a high quality interior would have turned Caddy’s fortunes around for a lot less money and would have been an offering much more relevant to the times.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        My 2013 ATS4 2.0T had over 87,000 miles and not even a stone chip on thr hood to be found. I thought it was repainted when I bought but it was just the best quality paint this side of Lexus. The ATS is quiet, solid like it was chisel from ingot and I really loved feeling the felt lined map holders in the door. Difficult to find any hard plastics as everything was padded. But it was a stiff ride with really high spring rates that would bounce your head to the roof.

        I loved tuning the stock, little turbo to 400 lb-ft of torque and with AWD it really would scoot from a stop.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          You should start a new auto tuner company called abNormal Trifecta Tuner Motors, using General/Guangzhou Motors’ vehicles, particularly Buick clown car Encores, and made in China Envisions, and chip them to 480-horsepower/510 lbs feet of torque, while enabling them to achieve 78 mpg city/109 mpg highway, and give customers a completely free, bumper to bumper, completely comprehensive (every single part covered, from motor to the exterior to the tiniest screw or gasket) 500,000 mile/20 Year, $0 deductible warranty.


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