Cadillac Confirms ‘It’s On’ Again

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.

a version of this article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com

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