(Copyright 2014, TheDetroitBureau.com)
There was a time when luxury brands sought exclusivity above all else, even if that meant shutting the door on some potential buyers. No longer, as Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated with a rapidly expanding line-up that will soon reach from the under-$30,000 CLA to the top-line S600 Pullman limousine that, in some configurations, could top $1 million.
While Mercedes has confirmed plans to add 30 new or updated models by 2020 – rivals BMW and Audi making similar moves — Cadillac has been subsisting on a handful of products. But that’s about to change.
As part of a global restructuring that includes the move of its headquarters to New York City, the General Motors luxury division will unleash an unprecedented product assault aimed at catching up to its German rivals.
As with Mercedes, Cadillac could cover a far broader range of market segments, running from entry-lux to super-premium, by decade’s end, new global chief Johan de Nysschen told TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview.
(Click Here to find out more about Cadillac’s move to NY and global restructuring.)
While the move to NY will involve a tremendous amount of change in the basic way Cadillac does business, de Nysschen promised it will put “a great deal of focus” on its product portfolio. Today, the line-up is miniscule compared to what its German rivals offer, with a mere three sedans, a pair of coupes, two utility vehicles and a single high-performance model.
At the low end, the South African-born executive said there “definitely” will be a new entry-lux line to rival the hugely successful new Mercedes CLA and Audi A3 models. This is a “must-have” if Cadillac is to target the Millennials that are just moving into the luxury market but who will soon dominate the segment, stressed Baby Boomer de Nysschen.
Also essential will be filling out the brand’s minimal mix of utility vehicles, currently limited to the midsize SRX crossover and more traditional, full-size Escalade SUV that was redesigned for 2015.
“We need a crossover between SRX and Escalade,” stressed de Nysschen, along with something below the SRX. He also suggested there could be a “more complex crossover,” akin to the new Audi A1, so that by decade’s end Cadillac would likely have “three more (utility vehicles) than today,” by around the end of the decade.
As with its German rivals, the Cadillac plan would target so-called “white space,” or niches that the brand hasn’t traditionally competed in, and it could soon add “coupes and convertibles…and a number of performance cars” that would expand the current V-Series line-up. A new ATS-V is expected to debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show, along with a version of the latest CTS sedan.
Those two models will share the spotlight with an all-new flagship sedan that GM last week confirmed it will put into production late in 2015 at its upgraded Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
(For more on the new Cadillac flagship, Click Here.)
The still-unnamed flagship is expected to introduce Cadillac’s new Super Drive technology in 2017, a system which will permit hands-free operation on freeways. Technology will become even more of a key to Cadillac’s product renaissance going forward, brand officials have stressed. The CTS line will be the first to offer Vehicle-to-Vehicle, or V2V, technology that would allow a motorist to get a heads-up on traffic and weather conditions, among other things.
The flagship model will land above the current XTS model in the Cadillac line-up – that current front-drive sedan model expected to go away or be replaced later in the decade. But while target the top of the Mercedes line, the formidable S-Class, de Nysschen revealed that Cadillac is looking to push even higher into the luxury market.
“I quite readily envision a Cadillac positioned above the car we’ll be launching next year.”
The executive didn’t discuss the price tag for all of Cadillac’s product plans, but it is expected to run into the billions of dollars. The upgrades at the Detroit plant needed to produce the new flagship will come to nearly $400 million. (That figure allowing other new products to roll off the line, as well.)
But de Nysschen stressed that GM cannot afford to sidestep this product program, which he described as “an investment in generating the future profitability for the corporation.
Luxury models currently account for just 10% of global car sales. But they generate as much as half of industry profits, depending upon the company. Going forward, as GM presses to become even more of a global manufacturer, it needs to put more emphasis on luxury, insisted de Nysschen.
That is all the more important for Cadillac. Its current line-up is totally “U.S.-centric,” he said. With Cadillac pressing into China and other parts of the world, its future product mix will have to be far more diverse and extensive if the brand hopes to deliver on its potential.
(Lincoln updates long-neglected Navigator — but is it enough? Click Here for more.)
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