Cadillac Confirms 'It's On' Again

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Carguy Carguy on Sep 18, 2018

    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.

  • Whatnext Whatnext on Sep 18, 2018

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

  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.