With its back against the ropes, Cadillac aims to come out swinging against every major luxury brand with 5-10 new models by 2020, including an all-electric model yet to be defined.
In its sights particularly are top-shelf conventional German cars, but how a future Cadillac EV would compete against a Tesla – Model 3 or Model X or Model S – is just as much an open question.
According to Reuters, there is no indication from the company’s new boss, Johan de Nysschen, about the pure EV’s intended price, size, type, range or anything – just that it is approved for development.
de Nysschen’s long career has included time at the top of Audi and Infiniti and he’s now trying to shake up the 112-year-old American luxury brand which is being outsold two-to-one in its home market by German brands.
Among electrified vehicles, the company is also at work on a second-generation ELR – which may no longer be a two-door coupe – and a new model called CT6 to come in conventional and plug-in hybrid versions. Also a long-wheelbase CT8 or a CT9 is expected to go against the German elites including Mercedes-Benz S-Class later this decade.
“Probably 90 percent of Cadillacs sold in 2020 are cars that are [still] on the drawing board,” said de Nysschen, and there will be few carryover models remaining.
Ultimately, de Nysschen wants no more excuses for the Cadillac brand, and wants to turn tables by growing its European market share after 2020.
“We have about five years before we can come to Europe (with) the right products,” he said.
With models mentioned and others including a couple of crossovers above and below the SRX, Cadillac will be taking on the best of the best.
Which leads to what it will do against Tesla. GM’s massive recall campaign this year added to pre-existing doubts for its quality control and decision making, and commenters are often dismissive or incredulous at claims for a turn around.
TrueCar Executive Vice President Larry Dominique analyst told Reuters it would take a 20 years for Cadillac to close the gap.
Those considerations aside, GM has also said it wants a 200-mile Chevrolet car, and now it wants a pure Cadillac EV to accompany other new models for the company with mandate to grow and failure is never an option.
This could be interpreted as one more verification GM expects to have access to significant energy storage that it will want to put into production, such as by Sakti3, a company in which GM Ventures has a stake and appears close to paying off, or another source.
In any event, as Tesla has been rolling out Superchargers and proving it can build and sell luxury EVs now, the giant post-bankruptcy General Motors has been moving toward competing with Tesla since before the new leader took over in August at Cadillac.
In July 2013, GM’s former CEO Dan Akerson noted GM has a Tesla watch team keeping tabs on the California EV specialist, and in September 2013 he said Cadillac would be the brand of choice to take on Tesla.
“If you want to compete head-to-head with Tesla, and we ultimately will, you want to do it with a Cadillac,” said Akerson last year.
During that same report, Akerson however stated serious misgivings with the ultimate market appeal for EVs given issues working against their mass acceptance and profitability.
But a year later automakers including Nissan, Tesla, and others are looking to market perceptibly more-affordable EVs in the next few years with ranges well over 175 miles as batteries improve. Tesla’s entry level Model 3 is to have 200 miles range.
What Cadillac decides to design as its first future all-electric car remains to be seen, but as it aims to “ultimately” compete with Tesla, as Akerson said, observers have widely said it will have its work cut out for it.