By on January 11, 2019

Remember the Cadillac ELR? Your author saw a single, solitary unit in the wild once, and there’s a good chance a journalist was behind the wheel. Not long for this world, the plug-in hybrid Caddy coupe gave way to the stately (but equally low-volume) CT6 Plug-in, whose death was revealed shortly before that of the sedan itself.

Not to be deterred from its goal of advancing electrification, or at least competing against glitzy foreign rivals, General Motors has announced the brand will once again pick up the green torch.

During a Friday media briefing for its 2019 earnings forecast, GM copped to Cadillac’s new role within the company. While not unexpected — former Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen hinted as much a year ago — the statement by newly minted GM president Mark Reuss at least provided some context for the automaker’s powertrain future.

There’s a new, dedicated electric vehicle architecture on the way, and a Cadillac will be the first vehicle built on that platform, dubbed BEV3. The company’s BEV2 platform underpins the Chevrolet Bolt.

“Cadillac will lead that and drive that globally,” Reuss said, without providing details as to the type of vehicle, or vehicles, consumers can expect.

Late Thursday, Reuters published a report stating exactly this, based on the word of two sources. Neither source was able to elaborate on whether the first Caddy EV would appear in sedan, coupe, or utility vehicle form. Given that Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW have compact — and quite conventional — compact EV crossovers about to hit the market, it’s a solid assumption that Cadillac’s first EV offering will emerge in this form. Tesla’s Model Y crossover should appear before too long, too.

Still, past statements by GM CEO Mary Barra suggest there’s still hope for those those holding out for a clean, green, super sedan. While describing the company’s product future (GM’s aiming for 20 new EVs by 2023, spanning many divisions and markets), Barra said the range will run the gamut from crossovers, minivans, and SUVs to sports cars and sedans. One wonders whether the company’s recent decision to kill off numerous conventionally powered sedans indicates an EV sedan might be off the table.

Truly, electric motoring would be so much more exciting if it came wrapped in the body of Cadillac’s Elmiraj, Ciel, or Escala concept cars. Speaking of concepts, a report last year claimed the Escala name will appear on a vehicle bound for a late-2021 production date at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. GM’s BEV3 platform comes online in 2021.

Interesting.

[Source: Automotive News] [Image: General Motors]

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67 Comments on “Forget About the Flops: Cadillac’s Job Is to Make GM Greener...”


  • avatar

    They learned nothing from the ELR fiasco. At first you don’t fail, fail-fail again.

    • 0 avatar
      orioncanam

      Second verse same as the first…..

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The ELR was a plugin hybrid.

      It cost as much as a Tesla Model S, but had the all-electric-range of the Chevy Volt. In other words, it delivered Chevy Volt performance for a Tesla price.

      Obviously, the people looking to spend $60k-$80k on an electric car just bought a real one from Tesla.

      I guess GM had hoped that the Cadillac brand cachet would sell an inferior vehicle. Wrong. I guess that GM also hopes that the Chevy Volt technology under the hood would make people think of Cadillac as a high tech brand, halo car style. Wrong again — again, because Tesla beat them with the Model S.

      GM failed to understand the buyer and the competition for the ELR. A little SWOT analysis could have saved them a lot of trouble.

      Now, if Cadillac were to compete with Tesla in terms of technology and value, maybe Cadillac would matter.

    • 0 avatar
      Principe Raphael

      If GM didn’t put cars on the market, only to drop them when they failed to make a short-term profit, they wouldn’t be the GM we all know and hold in medium esteem.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Someone here at work owns an ELR; I see it parked out front occasionally, plugged into one of the BLiNK chargers. The only one I’ve ever seen, besides the I saw at the Dallas Auto Show a few years ago.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The ELR was less practical and far more expensive than the mechanically identical Volt. It looked more exotic, but that was about its only virtue.

    I own a 2013 Volt and think it suits my needs great. I worked on the EV1 program at Saturn in the late 1990s,am a huge EV fan, yet even I had no idea they even made an PHEV CT6 until I read the recent announcements of its demise. GM marketing strikes again.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      When I walked into the dealership to look at my used 2013 Volt they tried to sell me an ELR. Sorry I got 3 kids, need 4 doors. Purchased the Volt, its got the optional Cadillac paint, close enough!……..LOL

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    I think GM should just kill the Cadillac brand completely.

    Revive Pontiac but as the top luxury performance brand. Pontiac’s old branding is so much more kinetic than any of Cadillac’s attempts to make itself more modern and cool. They can’t shake the baroque stodginess. Pontiac is good to go.

    • 0 avatar
      stevelovescars

      They do sell a lot of very profitable Escalades, though. That’s essentially the whole brand these days.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        I also see a lot of gen-2 SRXs, XT5s, and growing numbers of XT4s here in Los Angeles. They’re not sexy vehicles (I must say the XT4 is quite striking in a good way in person), but they bring home the bacon for GM at nice margins…and hopefully, can help fund cool stuff like an EV sports offering

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Escalades and all the CUVs sell.

      • 0 avatar
        d4rksabre

        The Escalade would definitely be the one sticking point with eliminating the brand.

        It’s a funny thing the Escalade. It’s simultaneously the one thing that makes sense to wear the Cadillac badge (because it’s large, luxurious, and makes you feel superior to everyone else), while at the same time being the thing that holds Cadillac back from moving forward from their land yacht past.

        You’d probably have to keep Cadillac alive just to sell only the Escalade. Or spin Escalade off as its own brand. I guess it depends on whether you could get people to go from the Escalade to any of its platform mates.

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          “while at the same time being the thing that holds Cadillac back from moving forward”

          When you jump off a bridge, that bungee cord really holds you back from moving forward into being street pizza.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        As I’ve said before and will again, GM has no business trying to compete in the true luxury marketplace. It simply possesses neither the engineering ability nor assembly-line quality control to pull it off.

        The best GM can realistically hope for is maintaining Buick’s line of ChiCom-approved quasi-“luxury” offerings, and probably the occasional gilded Tahoe/Suburban under the Escalade – not Cadillac – brand.

    • 0 avatar
      wooootles

      Only on the internet will you find an idea of wanting to bring back Pontiac because the buying public is just -clamoring- for a return of recent classics like the Aztek, the G6 and the Sunfire. So Kinetic, those nameplates.

      Meanwhile, Escalades, XT5s and (probably) XT4s are just quietly printing money…

  • avatar
    carguy

    It’s not really that hard:
    Step 1: Make some appealing SUVs – compact, mid and full size
    Step 2: Make sure your big sedans have affordable V8 options
    Step 3: Don’t be tempted to use lowest bidder Chinese components in your luxury brand.
    Step 4: Profit.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I’m not interested in V8s. I’ve owned one in a pickup truck, and it made a lot of sound and fury, but the truck could barely get.oit of its own way. Not exciting.

      Honestly V8s are a niche market that has been well served off and on over the decades. Most people who want one have one already.

      Now an electric powertrains are something new and interesting with potential to grow in both luxury cars, “commuting appliances”, and many things in between.

      I don’t think V8s will go away. I think the people who like them will still own them, just like the people who like horses still own them.

      Lastly, your recipe is the one Cadillac has been trying for decades — without results. Because you don’t have to buy a Cadillac to get a great CUV or sedan. Anyone from Honda on up will sell you a great CUV or sedan — the only reason you’d consider a Cadillac one is for the badge. …And the Cadillac badge doesn’t represent anything in particular at this point.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This is the first good idea GM has had for Cadillac since moving the SRX onto the FWD platform.

    Truthfully, this is the track Cadillac should have taken with the Alpha platform. I think the Model S and the Alpha cars came out the same year.

    • 0 avatar
      wooootles

      ^Sorta agree, they should have already done something like a Cadillac Taycan (with Escala styling maybe) around now.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ sportyaccordy – The 2nd-gen SRX is an interesting topic. I totally agree that the move to FWD was a good idea. Bemoan the move away from the RWD CTS platform if you like, but the 2nd-gen was the type of vehicle the market wanted.

      I’ll also note two negatives:
      1) The rebranding of the 3rd-gen as the CT5 is archetypal American branding stupidity. You have a successful model. Build on the brand identity, for heaven’s sake!
      2) Low resale really hurts this car. I see a lot of SRXs suffering under neglectful 2nd and 3rd owners – curb rash, scuffed bumpers, and so forth. It’s bad for the brand’s image. Meanwhile, RX 350s of the same age remain relatively coddled in their first owner’s garage.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Is that an ELR pictured or just another concept? If so, it’s probably the only Cadillac, aside from the Ciel concept, that I’ve personally found visually appealing. The headlights are a bit squinty, but otherwise, to my eyes, that looks well done.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Everyone likes to trash whatever Caddy does, but I think it’s a helluva idea. Tesla’s shown that well heeled folks like electric cars, and GM’s proven itself highly competent at making them.

    Go for it, I say.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I agree, but Tesla also probably has the strongest brand equity in the history of the car business…

      GM will have to absolutely knock this out of the park just to compete. But it beats whatever the hell they’ve been doing the last 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        You know, I think they’d have to be seen as all in on it. That would mean every Cadillac is electric. The car in this article should be a model S competitor. They should have something to offer every potential Tesla buyer, and then some. If they go down this road anyway. If we are going to define Electric as the pinnacle of American luxury then Cadillac should be the standard of the world. I have no reason to believe an all in effort by GM could not accomplish this. It may take a while, but if you build it, they will come.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “GM’s proven itself highly competent at making them.”

      Maybe. But GM sure hasn’t proven to be highly competent at selling them. Everything they’ve ever made with a plug is dead or slated to die. Aside from the Bolt, which was down 23% Y-O-Y.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Electric cars are a moving target, at least as long as Tesla is proceeding on their super-secret plan (see the blog post on Tesla’s website for the details of the plan).

        GM doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with Tesla when it comes to adapting their offerings to a fast-changing marketplace. The ELR might have been competitive 5 years before it was released, but it was badly mispriced for where it ended up in the electric ecosystem. The ELR was DOA because it was a low-end product (when judged by EV standards) and cost the same as Model S (a high end product). Cadillac just doesn’t have the brand equity to sell a low-end car for a high-end price.

  • avatar
    trackratmk1

    “Truly, electric motoring would be so much more exciting if it came wrapped in the body of Cadillac’s Elmiraj, Ciel, or Escala concept cars.”

    I’m not so sure. Besides styling, I’m having a hard time understanding what characteristics are going to be so special about EV fleets at ANY manufacturer. When they can all accelerate quickly, move without sound, and steer with decent precision, what exactly makes any one manufacturer’s EV stand out?

    Just because you make a car look good doesn’t make it special if it drives the same as everyone else’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      That’s why Cadillac needs to be there first.

      OTOH, I learned to love EVs (rather than merely finding them fascinating) by driving a Nissan Leaf. So, there’s that.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Nothing better illustrates the futility that is GM than the Cadillac division: Hostage to the market obsession with trucks, inability to initiate effective marketing campaigns for respectable products, inability to articulate brand value, pricing incoherence, design timidity, indifferent quality.

    So much potential…..lost. Truly pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      R Henry, the problem is that GM has negative brand equity after decades of not so great products. Their excellent LS V8 engines become more valuable when you remove them from the GM vehicle and put them in something more desirable. As others have written, the Escalade has a solid following and brand equity, but that’s in spite of being a Cadillac from GM, not because of it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The ELR was a plug-in hybrid, and its performance was not great.

    Many said that it was priced too high, but I still maintain that its problem was performance. Tesla has no trouble selling EVs costing over $80k, and their worst car performs better than the ELR did on a good day.

    So if Cadillac wants to get serious, I’d recommend they produce a high-performance BEV (not a hybrid) that looks nice, has some utility, and can keep up with a Corvette in the 1/4 mile. Secondly, don’t limit availability, and that means securing a large and reliable battery source.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Performance was one of the ELR’s problems, but not its biggest one. Even with adequate performance, it looked like something half its price. Model S looks like something about 3/4 its price. Given the availability and popularity of $60, 70, 80K 4 banger German sedans, I don’t think performance is an issue for 99% of the luxury market.

      Cadillac should definitely give this thing adequate performance… but if they want this thing to win, they need to knock the design out of the park. The ELR looked like a kit car CTS coupe, which itself looked like it had been rear ended. The interior was nothing to write home about either. That won’t work this time.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      You can call me a fool (and many have), but I really liked the looks of the ELR. The refreshed version had pretty respectable performance as well (by the admittedly low standards of the hybrid-car class).

      If they’d brought out the more powerful one first, and sold it for $50,000 or so, maybe $60,000, they’d have had something. But they were smoking s**t to think they’d be able to sell something that could get outrun by a Cruze for 75 grand, sexy styling or not.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      What is Cadillac? I’d argue that at this point it doesn’t matter what they do so long as they do it really well.

      I will say this, in answering the “What is Cadillac” question I dare say that nobody would think of 1/4 mile et’s and ring times in formulating their answer.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Out Teslaing Tesla isn’t the worst idea though, but you’d have to be all in. no more escalades (unless it is a model x competetior). You also have to be comitted. You can’t axe the thing after a generation…people are going to be skeptical because they have been in the toilet for so long. It takes time to change that.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Yet another expensive mistake by GM. Cadillac is no longer Cadillac. It’s re-branded Pontiac at a higher price.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    3 Top U.S. Luxury brands in 2015
    BMW 345,000;Lexus 344,000;Mercedes 342,000
    3 Top U.S. Luxury brands in 2018
    Mercedes 315,000;BMW 310,000;Lexus 298,000
    Down 108,000 vehicles in 3 years

    For 2019 Cadillac has the XT4 & Tesla is out of production Hell. It’s only a matter of time until an American brand takes back the luxury Crown, and when they do their first official act will be Declaring High End Pickup Trucks are Luxury vehicles!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Reboot #5 incoming, amazing this marque hasn’t folded.

    Reboot 1: 80s FWD/4100
    Reboot 2: 90s Northstar and Euro inspired models
    Reboot 3: 00s Catera and A&S
    Reboot 4: 10s Johann era reboot

  • avatar
    jatz

    No greener cars than those never purchased and driven. Cadillac is already a leader.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““Cadillac will lead that and drive that globally,” Reuss said”

    No, it won’t. In the China they may brand their Volt 2.0 as a Cadillac but Stateside monied people are not walking into one of the 933 Cadillac dealers because they are shopping TESLA. I see one of two options, one is my original argument for years which was go low volume high quality high margin (think Escala convertible built on Bolt tech), or two create the mythical $35K Model 3 before Tesla can as a Buick (doubtful). What will happen is Cadillac will follow the Cimmaron model and become Chevillac which has already started.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      If Cadillac gets serious about competing with Tesla, I can see that changing.

      But they can’t phone it in the way they did with the ELR, which was a tarted up Chevy Volt for the price of a Tesla Model S (pronpinced “a real electric car”).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The marque can’t properly compete in the ICE space it helped create and it’s going to take on the market leader in an entirely new industry? I truly do not see this coming to pass.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          GM has the tools to compete, it just doesn’t leverage them properly.

          If GM can get ~250 miles of range and decent performance, as well as generate a compelling design in and out for ~$60K, they will succeed. As many ifs as that is, it’s nothing outlandish. They don’t have to beat Tesla at its own game; just hit Tesla where they’re hurting (build quality, design, buying/ownership experience)

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Hit em’ where they aint…one word…

    Brougham

  • avatar
    vehic1

    They should just ignore Tesla and EVs; the horse and buggy are king, and here to stay!

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    As Bob Lutz said, to paraphrase, “EVs are the new thing – everyone thinks that their neighbour should have one”. What’s the EV market share now? 2%? Where does that [coal] energy come from?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Ah, the old coal meme still lives.

      In short: Electricity produced with economies of scale at a power plant is cleaner than gasoline burned in numerous small-scale engines. It’s not an equal exchange of pollution.

  • avatar
    arthurk45

    Lots of folks here are out of touch. The ELR failed because GM was trying to sell a teeney-bopper EV architecture to the Cadillac crowd, the mature auto buyers. The interior of the ELR was light years better than anything Tesla has thrown together – think really dumb , oversized and overy distracting dash LED driver control panel, compliments of Felon Musk, boy computer programmer.
    Cadillac is the obvious premium GM brand and EVs only make a profit when sell for large amounts of money, and have generous govt subsidies (think $7500). GM is losing their tax credit subsidies and cannot compete against the newly arriving midpriced competitors any more than Tesla can. Its simple economics. Tesla sales are getting clobbered in Europe ever since a direct competitor arrived on the scene late last year, in a beautifully styled envelope – the Jaguar I Pace. It obliterated Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles in Holland (by 2 to 1 and 4 to 1 margins) and caused a 40% drop in Tesla sales in Norway. The car has won 20 major awards, something no Tesla
    has ever accomplished. Even worse for Tesla is the sales performance of the Porsche Taycan electric. Its planned production schedule was doubled a while back and the other day Porsche announced that its entire first year’s production (greater than the Model S sales this past year) has been sold out, many sales coming from Tesla owners. Now suddenly Elon Musk, in the midst of trying unsuccessfully to explain why his $2000 price cuts and offers of freebies as sales enticements are NOT violations of his promised “No discounts, evah!!” has eliminated the ModelS and Model X base versions, future versions unknown and unmentioned and perhaps non-existent (Elon is such a child in these matters). Tesla’s EV technology is pretty much second rate these days and its loss of tax credit subsidies will destroy any attempt by Tesla to sell its lower priced (relatively speaking) vehicles in the U.S, especially their upcoming Model Y, which will go up against a slew of competitors from Hyundai and Kia and VW and Volvo Polestar 2 – it’s gonna to be Mission Impossible.
    GM’s major failure with the Bolt was its inability to recharge quickly using public DC fast CCS chargers. Nowadays the CCS chargers are blooming everywhere, being installed by just about everybody and have 350KW and now 450KW max power – as opposed to the much slower Tesla Superchargers – 120KW.
    GM is joining forces with an electronics firm and looking to have available 500KW CCS charging in year or so.
    GM has the technology (as does everyone else) to beat the pants off Tesla.
    They use the standard world-wide battery charging protocol (CCS) and can match anything Tesla does and have superior interiors. They must focus on styling, because that is what sells cars and GM is in the same bad sales position as Tesla in the U.S. losing its govt tax credits. Sell higher priced
    EVs to combat the tax credit price disadvantage and use those higher profit margins to lower stickers. THAT is why GM should concentrate their EVs in the Cadillac brand, and continue until they reach a level playing field with respect to tax credits.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      At least you’re consistent; everything you state about EVs and Tesla is wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “The interior of the ELR was light years better than anything Tesla has thrown together’

      Agree, the chassis under the ELR was also engineered heads and tails above what Tesla had at the time(and still has today) which is why it rode and handled better. No comparison between the two.

      Regardless the ELR wasn’t a full on EV like a Tesla so it’s really comparing Apples and Oranges.

  • avatar

    What GM does not realize is that a potential Tesla customer would not get caught dead in a Cadillac showroom. The future for Cadillac here is not hard to predict. They will be saddled with a hand full of slow selling electric vehicles destined for cancellation within a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “What GM does not realize is that a potential Tesla customer would not get caught dead in a Cadillac showroom.”

      But yet many people who drove off the lot in a 1st Gen Chevy Volt were people who said they would never step foot in a GM dealership again.

      Tesla hasn’t set the bar all that high in the luxury EV market. Their engineering and manufacturing capabilities leave a lot to be desired compared to GM/Cadillac. Can’t take a car company too seriously that uses tents for assembly, which is why I refer to Tesla’s as clown cars!……..LOL

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      ^^ This is true.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    No GM should not kill Cadillac or Buick. A Carl Icahn needs to buy up shares of GM and start selling Cadillac and Buick off. These brands are dead to most Americans but still have value to the Chinese. The next step is to get rid of Barra and the board with a golden parachute and clean house. Hire someone from the outside who has experience in the car industry and that actually likes cars but is savvy when it comes to finances. Next step put some more resources in Chevrolet and actually make good trucks, crossovers, and suvs. Fire those who designed the new Silverado and get a design team that can actually make an appealing Silverado. Also take the new Blazer and rename it. Using the Blazer name on such an inferior product just ruins Chevrolet’s legacy. I understand the need for such a vehicle but if at some later date GM wants to release a Jeep Wrangler competitor at least give it a name it deserves. The old GM still exists waiting for another Government bailout which most taxpayers don’t have the stomach for. GM has a chance to become a great corporation with great products but corrective action needs to happen now. Take a giant broom and sweep away all those who have made this mess.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Forget about the flops? Good luck with that plan!


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