By on September 17, 2018

Halfway through the brand’s decade-long turnaround plan, Cadillac President Steve Carlisle says the company is finally ready to paint the town redder than a baboon’s ass. As you’ll no doubt recall, Carlisle took over for Johan de Nysschen after a “surprise management change” last April.

He’s addressing 900 retailers this week’s Cadillac dealer meeting in Las Vegas. The strategy? Carlisle intends to outline Cadillac’s upcoming products through 2021 — primarily crossovers. For the most part it looks to be steady as she goes, with the new president following de Nysschen’s overall strategy with a few tweaks. Those changes will likely come through the brand’s marketing efforts and some minor adjustments to the 2019 Project Pinnacle retail incentive program. But it could alter the luxury marque’s final lineup, too. 

“We have an arsenal of products and technologies that will create even more differentiation for Cadillac and establish a very unique and attractive position for us in the global marketplaces,” Automotive News quoted Carlisle as saying during the 2019 XT4 launch. “Where do we go next? Well, we’re going on the offensive.”

Cadillac is in the midst of a 10-year, $12 billion turnaround plan that aims to restore the American luxury brand’s luster. It entails releasing a redesigned or entirely new automobile every six months through 2021. The XT4 was the first model of the bunch, filling a gaping void in the blistering hot compact crossover segment. The next vehicle is expected to be a large three-row crossover slotted between the XT5 and Escalade SUV. Cadillac was extremely late to the crossover party, so getting these models out swiftly is of the utmost importance right now.

However, the brand’s current obsession with crossover vehicles may not leave adequate room for everything in de Nysschen’s original strategy. The initial plan had a replacement queued for the aging ATS and CTS, followed by an even smaller sedan, and then the next-generation Escalade by 2020. Those models were to be followed by a redesigned XT5 and a fun-loving EV or more-serious sports car based on the next Chevrolet Corvette — maybe even both.

Carlisle said he’s unsure whether Cadillac needs a range-topping sports car. While it would yield some added attention, another XLR-like flagship could detract from the brand’s current set of priorities. “Now, if it were somehow a different propulsion system that might be more interesting,” he said before adding that electric vehicles still provide “really good performance.”

Ah yes, another EV is exactly what Cadillac shoppers are interested in. Just ask the 2,958 North Americans who purchased the ELR before it was discontinued after two years of production.

While Caddy attempts to figure out what type of premium electric vehicle customers want to buy (hint: look to Tesla), Carlisle says the semi-autonomous Super Cruise system will continue to improve as it works its way into more models. We’re not the biggest proponents of advanced driving aids, but we do know it’s something luxury shoppers will begin to expect in the coming years.

The brand’s shitty “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign will continue, as well, though Carlisle promised to make changes to better suit consumer expectations. “We have the opportunity to come in from a different perspective,” he said,”[adding] a little bit more fun and how the vehicle makes you feel.”

We’d recommend ditching the overwhelming focus on New York City and focus instead on product. Feel free to tap into brand heritage as much as needed, just don’t get sidetracked. You’re supposed to be selling cars, not some convoluted message about how Cadillac fits into the American lexicon. Fortunately, the company’s marketing team already seems to be doing this.

[Images: General Motors]

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67 Comments on “Cadillac Confirms ‘It’s On’ Again...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What’s on again?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The XT4 reviews I’m seeing are basically saying: “desperately wants to be sporty, it’s not.”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I think the bigger news out of Cadillac is Melody Lee was taken out back and shot – a mercy killing. The bar is pretty low right now to adjust Cadillac marketing given the lousy job she did.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew Cadillac

      I agree that Melody Lee’s high visibility presence was a strong indication that Cadillac was very screwed up. She was literally a laughingstock with her ridiculous quotes and ideas, and she had no qualifications to market luxury cars.

      Did she really think that having a fashion show/coffee house in New York City would raise the perception of Cadillac as a luxury brand? Or that serving free meals at 5-star restaurants, and helicopter trips to the Hamptons, was a great marketing ploy? Or was that simply the lifestyle she wanted for herself, and she managed to con GM into paying for her personal luxury?

      Johan de Nysschen didn’t hire Melody, but he kept her on and let her run wild (as well as running her mouth like a fool). Melody the Millennial, what a joke. The fact that Melody departed soon after Carlisle arrived – is a sign that the adults are back in charge at Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Melody Lee always left me with the impression that until the day she was hired she had no idea what a Cadillac was… and when she left all that remained were her Cadillac crested handbag and pumps

  • avatar

    There is now a small grill opening to give the tear drop light design a final conclusion. Cadillac and Tesla give me hope for the US auto industry.

    • 0 avatar

      FYI, Tesla took over Cadillac as Americas luxury brand. To compete Cadillac needs to move up to RR level.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Where is the fully electric Cadillac? Not sure the electric car market can support a large selection but GM should try and show Tesla how it can be done. Not sure why GM does not see Tesla as a competitor. I’m truly surprised that Jaguar has a good chance to beat GM (and BMW and Mercedes) to market with a decent BEV. If your stuck at the bottom of the sales chart you need to think boldly and not just chase your traditional competition.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        “Not sure why GM does not see Tesla as a competitor”

        Must be why they didn’t make the Bolt, huh?

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatic

          Come on, do you really think the Bolt was designed to compete against the Tesla? Yes the Model 3 is suppose to be $35000 but in reality cheapest Tesla is $50,000 and top is over $100,000. Bolt is an excellent car but where is the AWD Cadillac BEV using two Bolt drivetrains (one front one rear) to compete with the Tesla S and maybe turn a profit when sold for $75000.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      Too bad the small air intakes are (probably) fake and therefore pointless.

  • avatar
    Drew Cadillac

    I have much more confidence in Carlisle than in JdN. Johan – who grew up in South Africa and spent his career at German brands (save for a short and not sweet stint at Infiniti) – had no idea what Cadillac was about.

    Yet de Nysschen imagined that Cadillac should be about making track-performance cars and copying BMW (one car generation behind) in every way possible. The market already has BMW. Respect Cadillac’s century of success and build on that.

    Now that Carlisle is in charge, Cadillac can be Cadillac again. I already like that he’s dumping JdN’s racecar mania. Cadillac can once again be the leader in brash, roomy, comfortable, refined, reliable American luxury rides. I believe that Carlisle understands what eluded JdN.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I hope your right, but I don’t trust Barra to let anything bold and brash leave the doors unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar

      Nothing in his statement give me that hope. And nothing in Cadillac history justifies that hope. Cadillac CEOs as a rule are clueless. I am missing DW.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Like many others, you’re blaming the wrong person for the long line of missteps at Cadillac.

      The ATS and CTS were not on JdN’s watch, but his predecessor’s.

      JdN actually took steps to fix the packaging issues w/ the ATS and CTS, replacing both w/ a larger/roomier sedan.

      The ATS being replaced by the CT5 and the facelifted CT6 taking over for the CTS.

      Another problem was that the Alpha platform was unsuitable for CUV-duty, which is why JdN had to give up on his wish for an all-RWD Cadillac lineup.

      Carlisle, despite his title, isn’t the real decision-maker at Cadillac (at least not when it comes to products) – that is Mark Reuss (who butted heads w/ JdN and basically forced him out).

      These are some of the reasons JdN left.

      – A flagship crossover based on the CT6’s Omega platform and AWD powertrain was nixed after GM engineering estimates showed it would have been too costly. Those estimates were reportedly later proven incorrect (while giving up on having RWD-based XT4, XT5 and XT6 – JdN thought that he would at least get a RWD flagship CUV).

      – de Nysschen had been dismayed to learn that no provision had been made for a more powerful engine in the new XT4, denying Cadillac the opportunity to crease a V-Series crossover to compete with performance models from German rivals.

      And speaking of Reuss, since he has been the head of product planning at GM, he is largely responsible for the fiasco w/ the development of the Alpha platform (which has also made its way to ding Camaro sales).

      Not only that, JdN had to fight for every penny not to scrimp on the interiors, but he had to compromise a lot on that front due to the powers-that-be who (like in the typical GM way) were looking to cut costs.

      Don’t expect much better from Cadillac going forward (aside from what JdN fought for) as Reuss is a known penny-pincher (keeps his bosses happy).

      Basically, the guy responsible for crippling Cadillac the past decade or so is now in charge.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I actually saw an ELO.. err ELR a month ago on the road, the only other time I’ve seen one was at the dealership when new. Cadillac shouldnt touch another EV until we see if the market wants EVs, up to now their less successful than diesels. Crossovers seem to be bread and butter so they could certainly be a short term solution to Cadillac issues. Terrible long term solution but clearly Mary Barra is refusing to allow and real talent into the doors so it will have to wait for her to get kicked to the curb.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Roger Smith is ejaculating in his grave.

    THE NEW ERA OF CIMARRON/CAVALIER HAS ARRIVED.

    The Cadillac (Standard of World LMFAO) XT4 is nothing more than a Chevy Equinox with some extra gingerbread.

    IT’S ON.

    Get your Cadillac Equinox for 40% more than a Chevy Equinox now! While supplies (and Chinese and other foreign parts/components) last!

    CADILLAC = STANDARD OF WORLD!!! CADILLAC HAS SOHO HQ AND HAUS DU CAFE IN NYC!!! TRUE LUXURY!

    THIS NEW XT4 IS THE CADILLAC OF EQUINOXES!!!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    DW was essentially right again. Cadillac will selectively rebadge in order to meet dealer demands and right the sales ship. XTS will not go away, hell the Alphas might stay if they can be sold profitably. But the course is clear and the previous plan is now more or less shelved. Coming soon from Chevillac, a clone of every faux suv model.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      According to the Jalopnik test drive article, nothing about this is a rebadge. Though I’m sure parts bin materials can be found in various places, that is really neither here nor there for this vehicle. This will keep the lights on at Cadillac until the showrooms can be stocked with new products. Sort of Cadillacs version of the Buick Encore.

      I take away two things from this vehicle. First, Cadillacs design language is beautiful on a long hooded sedan, downright awkward on a snubnosed crossover. Second, I see the side profile of the XT4 and the as tested price of $56k under the picture and vomit literally shoots out my nostrils as I cover my mouth in disgust and horror.

      I’m not a crossover guy, maybe never will be. But I appreciate the design of some small crossovers, particularly those with RWD proportions from bow to stern. Say what you want about Cadillac, but the sedans work, at least from an exterior design standpoint. Even the Slade looks decent. But the XT5, XT4 don’t work.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The XT4 is *LITERALLY* a jacked up Chevy Malibu.

        Let that Roger Smith-oozing thought permeate one’s brain.

        I love how the manufacturer knob slobbing rags (digital and print) are giving this XT4 a masturbatory introduction.

        The fat journosaurists in their bad clothes must have loved free trip to Seattle, gratis Hotel accommodations, food, drink, and swag.

        This vehicle looks like the pile of excrement it is.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          What’s an RX other than a “jacked up Camry”, or an MDX other than a “jacked up Accord”?

          At least this isn’t a CH-R in different sheetmetal like the UX.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Rule #1 on TTAC: don’t try to reason with DW.

            He will blitzkrieg you with hyperbole and claim victory via validation from his fan club.

            Cadillac has had some big missteps… however, their crossovers/SUVs are not one of them.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            Would you agree though that the Art and Science design does not translate well to shorter, taller vehicles. The high beltline on Cadillac Crossovers makes them look like mini tanks, too upright. Also, you gotta admit that a sticker in the mid $50’s well equipped for this is outrageous. I would like to see what the base model at $35k looks like because pretty sure all the testers out there are highly optioned. Show us what $35K gets us.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Sporty got it right.

            Its make up facts, claim to be proven right based on trivial nonsense, and watch the believers eat it with a spoon.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Please, changing out drive train, sheetmetal, and other small things doesn’t excuse what will happen. Ironically in the JdN era to their credit several models were unique to the marque. However unique didn’t move the volume, so now Operation Chevillac is a go.

  • avatar
    V16

    2019 Hyundai Santa Fe ‘Ultimate Edition’ AWD–$36,600
    2019 Cadillac XT4 similar options–$46-50,000.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Electrification is exactly what Cadillac needs. Saying the ELR failed because it was a hybrid is like saying the XLR failed because it had tires.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I have zero interest in baby sized mommy mobiles, BUT, there are a few things about this car that are generally positive. First time I’ve felt that way about Cadillac since…. I don’t know, ever?

    The BIG one: FINALLY that freaking transformer shield center stack with its hideous black shiny plastic and non-functional touch buttons/sliders is D.E.A.D dead. Somebody seems to also have been tasked with making the hard buttons ergonomically useful instead of going for “style” (read: more black plastic) particularly on the steering wheel. This version of the CUE system also seems quick enough to at least be tolerable.

    Until now, the ONLY Cadillac with an IP that didn’t make me want to vomit was the CTS-V. This one is “fine.” It looks like somebody at Cadillac rented a B8 Audi A4 on Turo and said to everyone “just copy this,” but hey, I’ll take a lazy copy of Audi gauges over the abominations in the rest of the Cadillac lineup.

    If Cadillac can manage to replace the ATS with something that has more reasonable interior room and an interior more like this, I would at least consider taking a test drive, which is not a feeling I have about anything else Cadillac has right now. Maybe there’s some hope for them after all.

  • avatar

    What does one shot Lincoln do without any cars and just a few SUVs. Even Acura outsells Lincoln. Maybe Hackett the Hatchet-man can cancel Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Is the Continental not a car? The MKZ?

      (I’ve seen the new Conti on the road – it actually looks *great*, surprisingly.

      I did not like it in the pictures, but in person it actually made me kinda want one, which, for the segment, is high praise.)

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Please excuse his obsession with Ford. His therapist is working on it, until then, every Hyundai article is a chance to rant about Ford, and Cadillac articles are an excuse to bring up unrelated garbage made up about Lincoln.

        Just pray the new meds start working.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    One more comment, I find Cadillacs arts and crafts styling they’ve used for the past 20 years off-putting. It’s stale, boring, unattractive (personal opinion) and simply not special. Cadillac needs something fresh and interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Cadillac has moved on to the Escala design language (thanks to JdN).

      While the facelifted CT6 only gets elements of Escala, it looks significantly better.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Agree, the softened edges look better while still keeping the original flavor. Personally, I love Cadillac design on their sedans, particularly the CT6 and CTS. I also think they are right to stick with it. Historical cues and very distinctive. There is nothing cookie cutter about Cadillac design. For better or worse, it stands out from the crowd.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Is Escala actually different from Art and Science?

        I say this because I l*was not aware they had notionally changed design languages*, despite seeing Cadillacs all the time.

        If nobody can tell you changed design languages, that might be an issue?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I think the CT6 is a move in the right direction but other than the V series of the multiple CTS generations I’ve found all of their designs staid. I’m just not a fan, how they went from the designs of the 50 and 60s to the Arts and Crafts designs of the 00’s I will never understand.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    Badge engineering and bottom of the barrel part sharing. You cant even put lipstick on the pig that is Cadillac.

    GM-JUNK

  • avatar

    I’ve probably said this before, but…I’ve come to the conclusion that Cadillac is some great engineering and design, undone by the GM parts bin. Now, my CTS is going on it’s 5th wheel bearing in 75k of driving….and the satnav system is beginning to get buggy. The car is eight years old, with 140k, but so is my Acura, and so was my BMW. I had the exact same feeling when I drove an ATS-V for the weekend. Now, the ATS was all over my CTS, but there, in the stack, was black plastic, CUE, and the same GM feel. Trolling the ATS/CTS boards, “My cue screen crapped” is a . long thread on every one of the, and my FIL in his XTS (he’s over 80) had a bad CUE screen too. Out of warranty it’s a $1000 day. I thought about an ATS-V, but after the scotch wore off, a C43 was a much better idea, and the Benz forums weren’t full of problems with ineffective dealer responses. GM deals with this by having longer/better warranty with Cadillacs, and extending things to 120k when problems come up. Meanwhile, there are very, very few Cadillac in my Green Leafy Suburbs around NYC…..

    I went into this with an open mind, and sadly, what everyone said was true…..5 wheel bearings ? I have no idea how…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good points.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I hope more people (vehicle buyers) awaken to the fact that Guangzhou-Guadalajara-Gangwon Motors (GM), of all automakers, literally uses the cheapest parts/components, with price being their number one criteria, in purchasing decisions and assembly of their vehicles.

      Search GM’s “China Cost” parts purchasing policy, whereby they threaten all suppliers that if their pricing quote doesn’t match the rock bottom price GM can get from lowest-cost suppliers in China, they’ll simply outsource the component and supply contract overseas, to that Chinese supplier (which is why GM vehicles have a huge % of foreign – including Chinese – made parts, growing by the year (Jack “I Only Buy American” Baruth’s Chevy Chinerado has nearly 50% of its parts made overseas, particularly of the Chinese flavored variety.

      There is a huge overlap between GM and Harbor Freight’s supplier base.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “a C43 was a much better idea”.

      Ouch, Cadillac.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sometimes it hard to remember a time when Cadillac wasn’t undergoing a multi-billion dollar turn around. So far, however, they are still going in the wrong direction.

    For a start, they could call off the relentless pursuit of the cheapest Chinese parts that they can find. This does nothing for their reputation.

    Then, maybe they could focus on value. The XT4 fully loaded is around $56K which is way more than a loaded X1 and about the same as a fully loaded X3 2.0T. Guess what’s wrong with this picture?

    Stay tuned for the next CEO and yet another multi-billion dollar turn around plan soon.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Pseudo-luxury for soccer moms. Standard of the World?


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