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Expansive Cadillac Product Plan Getting Squeezed

Product portfolio delayed, some models could be cut.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

(This story has been updated to include additional insight into Cadillac plans, including the brand halo product frequently referred to as the CT8.)

Cadillac offered a hint of its future design direction last week, in the form of the Escala concept car unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But plans to launch a large luxury sedan that might share that design theme have been delayed and could even be cut, has learned.

With General Motors’ flagship luxury brand struggling to boost U.S. sales, despite the addition of several new models, Caddy is facing the prospect that the aggressive product growth strategy outlined by brand boss Johan de Nysschen will be sharply paired back, according to various company sources and industry observers. Among the projects being delayed are the full-size sedan, which was expected to be called either the CT8 or CT9, but also the twin-turbo V-8 that would be used to power it.

What a Concept!

While the South African-born de Nysschen declined to discuss specific changes to the Cadillac product program, he did indicate there could be some slowdowns during a conversation following the reveal of the Escala show car. The twin-turbo V-8, for example, might not make it into production until “the next-generation CT6.” Since biggest sedan in Caddy’s current fleet just came to market, that might mean the high-performance engine wouldn’t be available until around the 2023 or 2024 model-year.


Cadillac Shifts Design Direction with Escala Concept

A more buttoned-down take on Art & Science.

by on Aug.19, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

It’s been more than a decade since Cadillac set out to rebuild its once trend-setting credentials with the introduction of the edgy Art & Science design language. Since the debut of the first generation CTS sedan, it’s been tweaking the theme but as General Motors’ luxury brand gets set for what it’s calling an “unprecedented” product blitz, it seems we’re in for another major design makeover.

But if anyone was expecting an equally radical new look, it seems that Caddy is going in a different, more buttoned-down direction. The new Cadillac Escala Concept making its debut ahead of this weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance won’t get lost in the crowd, but it’s certainly not the bold showstoppers of other recent Caddy concepts, like the Elmiraj Coupe Concept that was unveiled in Pebble Beach three years ago.

What a Concept!

The concept “marks an inflection point” for Cadillac, said its President Johan de Nysschen, who declared the Escala, “the next design chapter” for the brand, and promised key elements of the show car “will be incorporated in every one of our new products over the next five years.”


Is Cadillac’s Elmiraj for Real This Time?

Coupe concept offers a hint of a future Caddy flagship.

by on Aug.16, 2013

Cadillac rolls out the Elmiraj Coupe Concept.

Ever since it rolled out the stunning Sixteen show car a decade ago, Cadillac has repeatedly offered hints of what an all-new flagship might look like with a procession of sedan and convertible concepts that most recently included the Ciel two years ago.

So what to make of the new Cadillac Elmiraj, another stunning exercise – this time in coupe form – that General Motors’ luxury division drove up to Tehama, the hilltop retreat of actor Clint Eastwood, last night? Is it the long-awaited flagship or just another el mirage?

What a Concept!

The long, lean coupe – which bore some of the long-nosed DNA of the old Cadillac Sixteen – certainly got people talking, precisely what a luxury brand’s premier model is supposed to do.  And, as the maker’s advanced chief Clay Dean later told, “There’s nothing here we couldn’t do today.” But the question is one of “would,” not “could,” and the reality is that Cadillac still has not decided what its long-awaited flagship will be.  In fact, it still could be several different models.

The important thing, global design director Ed Welburn confided in us, “We have to move fast. The competition isn’t standing still.”


First Look: Cadillac Ciel Concept

“The hint of a fin,” as Cadillac goes forward into the past.

by on Aug.19, 2011

Cadillac reveals a show car that could serve up a hint of the brand's next flagship in the form of the four-door Ciel convertible.

“Retro” was definitely not a word Cadillac officials wanted to hear as they pulled the covers off the luxury division’s new Ciel Concept during a Thursday night preview.  But with what General Motors chief designer Ed Welburn described as a “hint of a fin,” the striking show car provides a vision of where Caddy might be going by touching on where it had been in a once-glorious past.

Long the leader of the luxury market, Cadillac now lags behind overseas rivals like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.  But it has begun regaining ground, in recent years, with a renewed focus on distinctive design.  And confident there’s an opportunity for growth, GM management has given Caddy the green light to add a variety of new models, including the ELR plug-in hybrid, approved just this week, as well as the small Cadillac ATS and larger XTS.

Breaking News!

But, “You need a flagship in your portfolio to be successful in the luxury market today,” asserted Clay Dean, the brand’s lead designer.  And the Ciel is a hint of what such a car might be.  Nearly as long as the big Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle, the prototype was shown in convertible form, but if taken into production would likely also be offered as a full-sized sedan, company insiders told

The name, Ciel, is French for “sky,” and carries something of a double meaning.  There’s the reference to the convertible design but it might also suggest that the sky is the limit, as far as GM is concerned, if Caddy can pull off a true turnaround.  That would likely depend on tapping into more than just the U.S. market – even though it is the largest luxury market in the world.  The Ciel, whether in convertible or hard top form, would also be targeted at China, now the largest overall automotive market on the planet – and a place where increasingly affluent buyers have shown a distinct predilection for cars that are large and lavishly equipped.