On Friday, Cadillac confirmed that it would in fact be building a leading flagship sedan to slot into its portfolio above the XTS. We don’t yet know its name, but we do know that it will go into production in the fourth quarter of 2015 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. The car would be a top-end offering to compete with the likes of the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, and Mercedes S Class.
As such, General Motors promises that the vehicle will be heavily technology laden, and “in addition to new technology in the car itself, we are instituting innovative manufacturing techniques to assemble it with the precision deserving of a luxury make,” Cadillac’s new president, Johan de Nysschen, said in a statement. The equipment is reportedly already in place, and given the company’s timeline, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the car take a bow at next year’s Detroit Auto Show in January.
De Nysschen came to Cadillac earlier this year from Infiniti, where he helped Nissan’s luxury division do an about-face and become a truly competitive brand. Before that, he was at Audi, doing the same thing for Volkswagen; GM recruited him hoping that he can apply his magic to Cadillac, which although has been better than ever recently, has still been plagued by recall concerns and isn’t quite there in terms of global competitiveness.
“The objective for this upcoming model is to lift the Cadillac range by entering the elite class of top-level luxury cars,” de Nysschen said. “Currently in development, this new rear wheel drive-oriented sedan uses completely new, custom-designed materials on a unique vehicle architecture.”
Cadillac made a special point in noting that the new car will complement the portfolio, rather than replacing an existing model. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant was constructed in 1985, and is home to the company’s electric car efforts — the Cadillac ELR and the Chevrolet Volt are both constructed there. GM has invested more than $1 billion in the plant over the last five years, it said.
For Cadillac, the new car will push the brand’s boundaries as far as its presence in the luxury circle. “We have two cars—the CTS and XTS—that kind of transact in what you would call the mid-range of luxury,” Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell said, quoted by Bloomberg’s Kyle Stock on Friday. “We need to shore up our credentials and make sure we compete at the top levels in terms of aspiration.”
While BMW, Audi, and Mercedes all boast significant pricing power, that aspect of the business has been a soft spot for Cadillac; years of badge engineering did a number on its image of prestige, and the company is working on building that back. The issue now, for a car of this caliber, is convincing the public that a Cadillac sedan can be worth as much as a $95,000 Mercedes. Chances are good that the new sedan will fit somewhere between the $78,000 Audi A8 and the aforementioned S Class.
Stock pointed out that the brand has been working up to this car for some time now, slowly regrowing its brand identity from the bottom up. For a brief, short period of time, Stock notes that Cadillac’s pricing bested Mercedes, as the Stuttgart-based brand pursues entry-level options like the CLA.
The concept may end up being based on the 2013 Elmiraj concept, which immediately won over fans and critics alike, and has, as a result, set Cadillac’s engineering benchmark pretty high. However, Cadillac also has a reputation for generating huge buzz with little yield — remember the Cadillac Sixteen, or the Ciel concept?
The tools and equipment are already in place for production, which as mentioned previously, will begin next year. It’s likely that a potent V6 will be offered as standard, but in order to truly compete with the Germans, GM’s going to have to work some magic with a V8 — the crowd going for a large luxury barge isn’t necessarily going to be aiming for fuel economy, and the velvety power of an eight cylinder has historically been a must for the segment.