By on December 12, 2019

If Cadillac President Steve Carlisle’s vision turns into a reality, we’re in for plenty of disruption by the end of the coming decade.

The brand chief’s vision, shared by many in the industry (especially overseas), depicts a land almost completely devoid of new internal combustion vehicles. That includes a marque that once fielded an 8.2-liter V8.

You’ve heard it all before — following a long lead-up that served to grow public awareness, the tsunami of electric vehicles about to spill onto our shores will catch fire with consumers, leading to a tipping point of acceptance. At that point — mid-decade is always the target — gasoline engines, regardless of their efficiency or cost effectiveness, will bite the dust.

“We’re going to enter that decade as an internal combustion engine brand. That’s where we are. We’ve never been better positioned as an internal combustion brand,” Carlisle said Thursday in a Detroit media event attended by CNBC.

“It’s a decade we’re also going to exit as a battery-electric brand. There’s a lot that’s going to be going on for Cadillac in the ’20s.”

Maybe the potentially stillborn Blackwing V8 wouldn’t have had a chance to fly, after all. While the Cadillac lineup currently houses zero electrified models in the U.S., to say nothing of actual EVs, the brand’s president sees that changing after the introduction of an electric crossover model in 2021.

Under General Motors’ plan to introduce 20 EVs in various markets by 2023, Cadillac plays a large — if still undefined — role. Its upcoming crossover heralds a slew of EV models, likely a few of them Cadillacs, riding atop that same dedicated architecture. The public is becoming aware that doubling up (or more) on electric motors can make a vehicle powerful and fleet of foot; just look to Tesla, Porsche, and even Ford for proof. Driving range is also on the upswing. Eventually, falling battery prices will allow manufacturers to offer EVs with no price markup over comparably-sized ICE models.

Still, the vision relies on a marked shift in consumer preference. Currently, the U.S. take rate for EVs hovers at or just below 2 percent. And 10 years is not a great length of time. Hell, Tropic Thunder was released 11 years ago last month.

Carlisle claims Cadillac, by 2030, will be either an all-electric brand or at least a majority-electric one, with internal combustion powerplants falling away each year. And he’s not just talking about China, whose citizens are more inclined to purchase a gas-free vehicle.

Like others before him, Carlisle believes the mid-point of the decade will bring about the big shift. Time will tell if he’s right.

Aside from that, the brand boss did tease some product information. A new electric utility vehicle, similar in size and plushness to the Escalade, is under development.

[Image: General Motors]

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65 Comments on “Steve Carlisle Consults Magic 8-Ball, Sees Caddy’s Future...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    Yawn. Save FCA, this is the same stuff we hear from all the other manufacturers these days.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “That includes a marque that once fielded an 8.2-liter V8.”

    a 190 hp, 8.2 liter V8.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      At its introduction it produced 400HP and 550lb-ft of torque but I see you’ve strategically ignored that to fit your narrative.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        It’s almost as if he did what you do when you say your six liters gets 30 mpg on the highway. [but maybe you forgot to mention the trifecta tune?]

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          If you could show me where any such statement was made from my mouth I’ll leave this site permanently. Making up words and attributing them to me does yourself no good.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            Ok maybe not 30, but you’ve said on multiple occasions that your car does upper 20s on the highway, concluding “there’s really no discernible fuel penalty to v8s.” If I were motivated enough I would go and find them, but i am not. I also gain nothing from you leaving this site. I get the cars that you love, and I have zero problem with them. It’s the length to which you go defend them, and belittle anything else (turbos etc) that it’s a bit much :)

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ Ok maybe not 30, but you’ve said on multiple occasions that your car does upper 20s on the highway, concluding “there’s really no discernible fuel penalty to v8s.” If I were motivated enough I would go and find them, but i am not.”

            Still incorrect, the best I see on my SS is 23 HWY that is the only V8 car I own, and I would buy it again. If you look up EPA figure for Early C7 cars and early Alpha platform Camaro the V8 engines have highway figures in the very high 20s, but I do not have experience with these vehicles.

            I have said in the past, my company issued pickup truck with a 5.3L V8 DOD and DI has achieved on highway trips over 30MPG on 2-3 occasions. I by no means make any assertions that it is a repeatable or expected MPG return on a daily trip. A typical highway trip will likely return 24-25.5MPG but in certain conditions I can drive extended distances at (much) greater fuel economy.

            I don’t make assertions I’m not prepared to stand by.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            I have no horse in this race…
            just reporting my C7 Z51’s best mileage to date is 33 MPG (50 mile average) on the highway using 7th gear plus cylinder de-activation (Eco mode). The Z51 has a small deck spoiler and different rear-end gearing, so I’d guess a base C7 might squeak out another 1 to 2 MPG depending on tires. I bought the car in NJ and drove back to FL, a total of 1,200 miles. During that drive I averaged 28 MPG @ 62 MPH. Clearly that was 95% highway miles with the other 5% was in town going to hotels, lunch, dinner, etc.
            On track it gets 6 MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I ignored it because those are the engine’s pre-1972 “SAE Gross” ratings which were as fictional as the tooth fairy.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Even accounting for the change in SAE ratings, the engine still produced much more power than 190 at its introduction. Multiple emissions reconfigurations later the engine was all torque, which was needed for that road hugging weight.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Welp, from ’71 to ’72 they changed from gross to net ratings with no other changes, and published hp/torque went from 365/535 to 235/385. So I feel pretty confident that when it was introduced the 500 actually put out no more than 265-270 hp.

            If you believe *ANY* published horsepower ratings from prior to 1972 you’re a fool. There’s an image floating around online of Plymouth’s engine lineup in 1971 when they published both gross and “as installed” (net) ratings. That “425 hp” Hemi was really only putting out 350 hp.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            1966 and 1967 Hemis made considerably more power than later ones.

            The 1968 Dodge Hemi Dart had a curb weight of 3,527 and hit 130-133 MPH in the quarter mile. It had a gross hp rating of 425, but using a curb weight/trap speed horsepower estimator suggests that it was putting out 604 net horsepower.

            Using the same calculation for a 1970 Oldsmobile tested by CandD estimates 281 net horsepower for a car with gross advertised ratings of 390 hp/500 lb-ft.

            The problem with gross hp numbers when they weren’t playing games for insurance purposes was that there was a big variation in how much engine outputs benefited from removing ancillaries, baffled air cleaners, and factory exhaust manifolds.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        “At its introduction it produced 400HP and 550lb-ft of torque but I see you’ve strategically ignored that to fit your narrative.”

        Why would anyone care that with more than twice the displacement and gross ratings pulled out of someone’s kiester they were laying down power numbers one can get in an Explorer.

        You can love the V8. You can love how smooth the 8.2 was, but don’t pretend such a motor hasn’t been eclipsed by even now 30 year old designs.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          60 years ago your luxury sedans didn’t have that much horsepower or torque, it was prestigious engine with prestigious output. An engine that still hasn’t been eclipsed today in overall luxury.

          It’s disappointing to see Cadillac 60 years later isn’t leaps ahead with a 10+L V8 making 1,000+HP, but GM doesn’t have that kind of leadership any longer.

          The fact that it took 60 years for your Explorer example to reach comparable power ratings speaks to the technological achievement of the 500C.I.

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      Well yeah, it ended up there but it started out at 400.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I saw this article with 8.2L in the wording and got excited maybe Cadillac found a pair. Then I read the sentence in full and remembered Cadillac is dead in the water with no real management and no real future.

    A sliver of that 2% is what Cadillac is after, apparently they aren’t bright enough to remember 98% of the pie is still on the table.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Good messaging for people interested in buying a new ICE Cadillac within the next 5 years.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Doesn’t that presume that people would be interested in buying a new ICE Cadillac to begin with, and isn’t that currently the problem with the state of affairs at Cadillac? And Lincoln for that matter.

      Cadillac and Lincoln are kept alive by the sales of the lesser models at their respective automakers.

      A person willing to commit to lose that much money on a depreciating asset would be well-advised to look around the market place to see what is available out there, what is in demand, what retains the greatest value over 3-5 years, and then match their wants and needs accordingly.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>Steve Carlisle Consults Magic 8-Ball, Sees Caddy’s Future<<

    that future is cloudy, try again

    in other words, Cadillac will lose $billions$ while it continues to lose market share – I'd bet they lose money on every model save the Chevy Escalade which is the closest thing to Cadillacs of yore, big. imposing gas guzzlers

    people who buy Caddys want American luxury and tech is low on the list

    Cadillac not only doesn't know what it is, it also appears to want to be something it will never be

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    That’s nice, Mr. Carlisle. Now show us some product.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    My chuckle for the day.

    Nothing replaces or more cost effective than ICE…periods.

    Why was the model T successful? One cost. Two freedom to travel a three day or week getaway. Electric cars infringe on peoples time requiring one to wait to recharge.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Two freedom to travel a three day or week getaway. ”

      You honestly think a Model T ran that reliably?

      • 0 avatar
        dont.fit.in.cars

        “quickly became prized for its low cost, durability, versatility, and ease of maintenance. More than 15 million Model Ts were built“

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Ford’s advertising slogan for years was, “If we take you there, we’ll bring you back.” Yes, they were that reliable, compared to the competition. GM bought David Buick’s OHV research along with his company, but it took years, and higher grades of gasoline, to develop it.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      One of the silliest comments I’ve ever read on here. You do know that technology evolves right?

      • 0 avatar
        dont.fit.in.cars

        True, I’m a silly guy. It’s that 3 hour time suck, charging 30 miles east of Cheyenne technology has yet to overcome.

        Meanwhile Proven ICE technology has doubled mpg, lower maintenance cost and increased reliability 400%.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        “One of the silliest comments I’ve ever read on here. You do know that technology evolves right?”

        What do you think has evolved more? A technology that was superseded a century ago, or one that has been developed in a competitive market for a century? I’ll give you a hint: If you can’t figure out that it is ICE vehicles, stay out of debates and do your best to be thought foolish instead of known to be foolish.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Facts, F1. ICE first out-competed electric 100 years ago and his been kicking its butt in the marketplace ever since. Some consumers will buy electric if they can pick the pockets of their fellow taxpayers to subsidize the cost, but otherwise…not so much. The tech advances in electric vehicles have been jack sht compared to the advances in ICE.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            it won because it could run on that (theretofore useless) fraction of crude called “gasoline.”

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            And it still can, much to the chagrin of the “we know what’s best for you” crowd.

            God bless the frackers and their moms – the motherfrackers.

          • 0 avatar
            dont.fit.in.cars

            ICE works because of VVT, fuel injectors and smoothing flow through the engine. Smaller one makes a fuel droplet, more efficient four cycle becomes. Exception is diesel and why mpg gains are less than gasoline.

            Electric cars cannot make up the difference in energy transfer nor the odd fact customers are charged more per kilowatt hour if they use more electricity. Most other commodities you pay less. In addition electric cars fail same way solar and wind does. They all need and alternate power source to provide power through a 24 hour cycle.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Electric torque really is luxurious. The downsides – which is to say the $15,000, 1500 pound battery pack – are a lot easier to cover up in a Cadillac than they are a Chevy.

    It’s not like they’re walking away from a world beating ICE lineup either.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This. Is it accidental that practically all the growth in this market has been with Tesla, which makes expensive luxury / high performance cars? Nope.

      As it’s currently evolved, EV tech works better in that application than it does at lower rungs in the market.

      Focusing on the upper rungs of the market also solves the biggest EV-market challenge, which is range. If you can afford a car that costs upwards of fifty grand, chances are you have a garage you can charge it in every night.

      This is beginning to mirror the development of other “new-tech” consumer goods, like PCs and smartphones – those were also aimed primarily at well-heeled customers to begin with, and eventually the tech got cheaper and better, and tricked down to “the masses.”

      I bet you that’s the way it’s going to work with EVs.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        This +1. EVs work well for commuters who have garages and a 2nd or 3rd car for longer trips. Plus they can afford the home based charger and generally aren’t making random unplanned trips. Need to catch a flight? Use a car service for that longer airport run.

        Reference point: my brother has a Cayenne hybrid and while not a pure EV he basically uses it like one. It gets charged at work and home. He told me his last fill up was after 1,282 miles of which 860 were battery driven. The onboard computer reported 70 MPG! If he lived closer to his office his gas usage would drop to zero.

  • avatar

    Cadillac as an electric luxury brand makes sense. Tho I doubt GM’s ability to build luxury vehicles anymore.
    GM as an electric car company does not. Not until the unicorn battery packs come prancing in.(You’d think that the cell phone/laptop industry would have come up w/a near instant recharging,multiple day heavy use batt pack in the past couple of decades.)

  • avatar
    IBx1

    “That includes a marque that once fielded an 8.2-liter V8.”

    Aaaaand the article doesn’t tell us what that marque is.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “We’ve never been better positioned as an internal combustion brand,” Carlisle said Thursday in a Detroit media event attended by CNBC.”

    Baghdad Bob is back!

    ““It’s a decade we’re also going to exit as a battery-electric brand. There’s a lot that’s going to be going on for Cadillac in the ’20s.””

    Sure, like bankruptcy Steve! Hey, can I still get an ELR?

    “And he’s not just talking about China, whose citizens are more inclined to purchase a gas-free vehicle.”

    Yes he is, nobody wants this crap unless its a Tesla.

    Tesla is 21st Century Cadillac. Cadillac last highest numbers were in the late 80s and early 90s when they were between 2 and 3% of the USDM. Tesla is 2/3rds to 3/4ths of 2% of the USDM and no matter what Musk says I don’t see them becoming a main line automaker. He doesn’t have to be.

    “The public is becoming aware that doubling up (or more) on electric motors can make a vehicle powerful and fleet of foot; just look to Tesla, Porsche, and even Ford for proof. ”

    So 66-75% of a niche market, another niche marque and niche product which won’t register, and remains to be seen.

    Taking all bets…

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “We’ve never been better positioned as an internal combustion brand,” Carlisle said Thursday in a Detroit media event attended by CNBC.”

      Baghdad Bob is back!

      I’m sure they’re ‘better positioned’ now than they were when they sold hundreds of thousands of luxury cars to people who showered before they went to work.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      COTD, 28.

      I’m glad GM still has enough money to fund endless failure at Cadillac. In he meantime, Steve Carlisle is funding his IRA and paying of his mortgage in anticipation of his inevitable golden parachute firing. It’s like being the coach of the Cleveland Browns. Hire, fail, fire. Hire, fail, fire. The Cadillac Foxtrot.

      At least this guy isn’t some creepy anorexic German dude. How long did it take him to fail? How much money did he spend? What were his hit vehicles? Did he make Cadillac profitable? Oh well, as long as the GM and UAW execs get paid, who cares, right?

      Electric future my a*s. He’s just saying what PR people want to hear, like with the Volt fiasco. How much money did the Volt make. Oh, that’s right, after billions spent on another “game changer” nothing but a smoking crater and yet another dead brand.

      Good luck with GM, China. You guys deserve each other.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Anything he says about Cadillac’s future 8 years out is silly and irrelevant. How accurate were the last two guys about where Cadillac would be 8 years after they moved in?

    Here’s what can sensibly be said:
    •”We’ll keep selling Escalades. Everything else pales by comparison.”

    •”If we wise up enough to start naming our smaller SUVs with word names that sound like they have family resemblance to Escalade — say, the way “Aviator” sounds sort of like “Navigator” — we’ll sell some of those, too.”

    •”We’re dead in sedans no matter what we do, which is just as well since we have no idea what we’re doing, having just pissed away a billion-dollar investment in an advanced aluminum unibody and then ashcanned it because all American corporations are Wall Street’s bitch now and will jump every quarter when they hold up a dog treat.”

    •”Of course, all this is null and void when the 2021 depression hits, followed by a cascade of global warming crises that will rock the world’s entire capitalist economy to its foundations and shutter our whole corporation anyway. So ignore all of this.”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “A person willing to commit to lose that much money on a depreciating asset would be well-advised to look around the marketplace to see what is available out there, what is in demand, what retains the greatest value over 3-5 years, and then match their wants and needs accordingly.”

    Well you can always buy a used Cadillac with low mileage after a few years and lessen the depreciation but I myself would rather do that on the new Lincoln Continental which is a nicer car than the Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Used Cadillacs have not been a buy since the late 90s IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        Not a good idea. My Cadillac experience is what everyone usually slanders German cars with….Cadillac is designed for the first owner only. GM is generous on warranty for Cadillac to keep that guy happy. Second owner beware. My second gen CTS was great engineering let down by generic lowest bidder GM parts.

        Cadillac may have the last 3 year rinse and repeat client base, and that is who they sell to.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And right now I have noticed Lincoln 0-0-0 Lease options on TV which are truly “out of this world” affordable and provide a luxury-class automobile for a predetermined Lease period as a transportation option.

      The downside is, of course, no equity build and when the Lease period ends, you have no ride and are back at square one.

      But I know two individuals who have taken advantage of the current 0-0-0 Lease offer and they are pleased with the terms.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not in the market but maybe a Conti. Maybe, and I imagine they’d want $700/mo for it the way they’ll want $1,000/mo for the Navi.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I had a company A6 that leased for $714/month some years ago with about $3,000 due at inception. If we had bought the car for the price offered at lease end, we’d have paid a total of $57K over three years for a car with an MSRP in the mid-60s. I don’t know why Audi is still in business, but I’m sure Lincoln isn’t making a dime on Continental depreciation at seven bills a month.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        That new Navi is sweet. Beautiful job, Ford.

  • avatar
    scott25

    So….nothing on the fact that it was stated that Cadillac is ditching the alphanumeric nameplates and going back to actual car names (just like Lincoln)? That’s been something everyone on this site has been pining for for years, thought it would at least get a small mention…

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, realistically unless all these upcoming names are going to be ‘new’ then it’s a terrible idea wrapped in a nice blanket.

      Naming some silly 2.0T CT5 a Fleetwood would be hilariously sad, but at this point I think we all just about expect GM to do something that stupid.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I’m a bit of an EV fan, but to pretend that some giant battery breakthrough is right around the corner kind of ignores that electronics makers have been trying to skin that cat for a couple of decades now, to include the charging side of the equation. They largely manage incremental improvements that struggle to keep up with the increasing demands of new devices.

    Not saying they won’t get there, but incremental improvements in capacity and cost are the likely outcome for now. These will sustain a slow growth model.

    The rush to market may be a negative however where demand is eclipsed by supply, a collapse of prices, and players leaving the industry. Where is all of this demand?

  • avatar

    We were supposed to have Moon bases, walk on the Mars and live long enough to live forever by now. What’s happened? What went wrong?

  • avatar
    abitolder

    Steve Carlisle had many dreams that promised great things for Canadian vehicle production during he tenure here as President of GM Canada, as we have come to see none of them came to pass and he was transferred to Cadillac probably until he is ready for retirement. His famous OpEd at the link below shows that one cannot really believe what he says…

    https://media.gm.com/media/ca/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/ca/en/2016/Apr/0426_SteveCarlisleOPED.html

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I might not be interested in a used Caddy but a used Conti might be a good buy. I work with someone who bought a Lincoln Zephyr and then again just bought a used 2010 Lincoln sedan with 25k miles on it with an extended warranty from a Lincoln dealership for 10k. True the car is almost 10 years old but her previous Lincoln is a 2006 which has almost 200k miles and still runs like new. I like the new Conti enough to consider it in the future as a good preowned buy especially if the miles were low.

    As for Cadillac they lost their reputation long ago and EVs are not going to help them if the quality is not there and the dealer experience is bad. It is time to sell Cadillac to the Chinese or just shut the brand down.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Cadillac” and “future” are not words I use together a lot.

    The validity of corporate forecasts drops off dramatically at about the 18-month mark, and reaches the “fairly useless” stage past 30 months.

    “We’ve never been better positioned as an internal combustion brand.”
    – So your in-market ICE powertrains are better in December of 2019 than ever before?
    – And you’ve never taken a crack at EV’s before – is that right?

    [I just want to point out that the *peak* power output of a good horse is an order of magnitude greater than one horsepower.]

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      My day today:
      – Ordered $500+ worth of genuine MOPAR parts from rockauto to address an intermittent spark issue on the 2010 Liberty (apparently the princess prefers OEM parts?)
      – Purchased new tires for the 5th of 5 vehicles in the fleet (wholesale club best sale of the year) [I may owe Michelin a partial apology – apparently some customers on some vehicles still get the promised treadwear? The very busy sales guy says some vehicles eat tires – to the point where Michelin won’t warranty their tires on those vehicles.]
      – Stopped by the Cadillac dealer and sat in a $75K CT6 – was kind of happy to get back into my daily driver (and this is only 23% sour grapes).
      – Also sat in a Camaro – shrinking rearview mirrors are a thing now? (The Malibu and the Impala were better.)

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “Cadillac” and “future” sounds more like an oxymoron. Can’t see much of a future for Cadillac unless it is in China.

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