General Motors will add a second Chinese-made model to its North American portfolio, the maker has revealed.
Following the launch of the Chinese-made Buick Envision this coming summer, the Cadillac brand will begin importing the plug-in hybrid version of its new CT6 sedan from a plant in Shanghai. That’s not entirely a surprise, several observers said, considering China’s increasing push to replace conventional gas models with cleaner, electrified powertrains.
The CT6 is the new flagship sedan for the brand, slotting above the current CTS. It is one of at least a half-dozen new offerings the luxury brand plans to launch before the end of the decade, though an even more upscale four-door is in the works, as well as three all-new SUV models.
The decision to import the battery-based luxury model reflects the realities of the market, said Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell, “Given the vast majority of sales, close to 90% will take place in China, the Plug-In Hybrid edition of the CT6 will only be assembled in China, with a small quantity exported to other markets.”
The announcement could generate a bit of controversy, however, considering the political climate in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election and the lopsided trade situation with the Asian nation.
A number of Chinese domestic automakers have talked about entering the U.S. market, including BYD, which has even opened its own American headquarters in Los Angeles. But it was the Chinese-owned, Sweden-based Volvo that made the first move, importing a low-volume, stretched version of the S60 sedan, dubbed Insignia, from a plant in Szechuan province.
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GM officially unveiled the new Buick Envision model last weekend, the SUV coming off a line in Shanghai. That announcement brought a sharp rebuke from the United Auto Workers union.
Cindy Estrada, the head of the UAW’s GM group, called it “another case of GM backing out of their word to build where they sell.” She also called the move “a slap in the face to U.S. taxpayers and GM workers,” even though the numbers are expected to be small.
The Envision has proven to be one of the biggest hits GM has had in China this past year.
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As for the Cadillac CT6, the standard model, offered with a mix of different gas powertrains, will be built at a plant near Lansing, Michigan. The most powerful model will forego the classic V-8 luxury engine for a twin-turbo V-6.
But Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac’s president, told TheDetroitBureau.com he expects the plug-in model will match the turbo’s performance. It also will deliver as much as 30 miles of electric-only range with a fully charged battery.
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The base 2017 Cadillac CT6 will go for $53,495, with a Platinum edition model going for $83,465. Cadillac has not yet announced pricing for the CT6 plug-in version.