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CT6 Hybrid NA Cancellation: Another Electric Cadillac is DOA in USA: Where Does this Put Caddy on the Comeback Track?

SHOCKING!! It seems Cadillac and electricity mix like oil and water. Never mind the gas versions are crap, plagued with electrical problems, they can’t even make reliable ones that partly run on electricity either! While GM’s CEO Mary Barra has a “zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion” ten year plan for GM’s future, Cadillac certainly isn’t helping with the failures they’ve had with each electric they tried to sell. CT6 was strike 3. Here’s why and what they can do about it:
Posted: November 19, 2018 - 11:36AM
Author: Al Castro


Cadillac recently cancelled their at least somewhat well put-together PHEV variant made in China (could that be why it was better built?) of the flagship CT6 sedan range without further explanation. This makes the third electric Cadillac failure. And without telling us why, with the way GM reports its sales quarterly, we may never know the real reason. So this gives me another opportunity and another valid excuse to go down yellow brick roads to conjecture what’s wrong with the storied brand as I’ve done lately, and tell you in more detail than last time, what I think they should do with their electrical program that can help them to get back to being on top as the #1 luxury world brand:

  • Cadillac needs a comeback.
  • Cadillac needs to be a leader and a winner.
  • Luxury brands are leadership brands.
  • Cadillac quietly cancels the Chinese made hybrid version for the NA market of their Detroit built CT6 for next year.
  • This hybrid continues production in China where it’s already built and really made for.
  • CT6 was Cadillac’s only current EV, the third strike.
  • Year 6 of Electric Car Revolution, and Cadillac still has no BEV.
  • An all electric brand would be a greater and easier way to be #1 again and beat competition.
  • Cadillac needs to be cutting edge. Tesla is their main competitor. Tesla’s about BEVs not PHEVs.
  • Cadillac needs to stop making PHEVs for GM to assign that chore to other brands if there’s insistence to still make them.
  • Cadillac also needs to wrest control of tech mantle it lost to Chevrolet.
  • This is probably why Caddy didn’t have a Bolt.
  • Electric Cadillac 1: Escalade mild Hybrid. 2009-2013. Customer feedback: nothing but complaints.
  • Electric Cadillac 2: ELR: the Chevy Volt Coupe: 2014-2016. More a decent lesson learned car than the perceived failure its rep now has.
  • Electric Cadillac 3: this one: the CT6 Hybrid flagship sedan. 2017-2018. Cancelled for NA only, no specific reason given.
  • CT6 is a low volume seller in limited production as should be.
  • CT6 gas still imported from Detroit but hybrid now stays in China. It’s time winding down.
  • “Volt on steroids:” Shares GM Voltec tech with Chevy Volt, but hardly any common components.
  • Price point $75,000 USD.
  • Typical PHEV paltry 31 mile range, and poor 62 mpge. But for a car this size not bad really.
  • CT6 PHEV cancellation may fall in line with plan to soon cancel CT6 and plant top range big BEV sedan to replace it.
  • CT6 Replacement would immediately compete with Model S and Jaguar XJ BEV.
  • The CT6 replacement should eventually be Cadillac’s only sedan they’ll need in NA, the flagship, and a serious contender well made, and all electric.
  • If successfully executed this new flagship should easily answer Model S and help move upmarket for Caddy to reintroduce itself into Rolls and Bentley segment.
  • Next PHEV: mid-sized crossover XT4 PHEV was scheduled for next year, just in time.
  • I synopsis the problems of Cadillac, address brand issues, Cadillac infiltration of the electric market, EV strategies which include ditching hybrids to go all electric.
  • I also address the flagship sedan problem with the upcoming larger range topping all electric sedan that ties into this.

This has become the second part to an ongoing series about what’s wrong with Cadillac and what they need to do to turn things around. Timing is everything they say in the auto industry, that as I filed the last story about the problems of Cadillac, here they come with more. This time we’ll into more detail about Cadillac’s electric program and what they can do to turn things around. First let’s look at the three failures:

1. Cadillac EV 1: Escalade Hybrid 2009-2013. In the same time period as Volt’s introduction into the market, Cadillac took its now iconic signature SUV in what appeared as a bold step on paper, to make it the first full size SUV to market to be hybridized. The 6.0L V8 is a thirsty monster on its own, and the mild 300V nickel metal hybrid system with two 60 kW motors that had a gigantic electric generator to supplant energy, gave the combined system 379 HP, verses the gas version 6.2L V8 Vortec at 407 HP. For the first time in its history, the Escalade was able to deliver fuel economy over 20 mpg in either category. This increased fuel economy efficiency by 50%. There are trade-offs to having what was, such a high tech system at the time though. When new in its first year 2009, 20% of sales went to the Hybrid, which cost $74,000 USD for the base 2WD model, about the same price of the top of the line 4WD version, without options, making it very expensive. And as the vehicle ages, and after the warranty expires, the cost to upkeep the system grew costly, and because of typical Cadillac build quality, plenty of items to repair. As I looked at customer feedback reports, all I saw were electrical complaints, starting with this ignition switch recall on 2011-12 models, and particularly how the electrical system would just fail, cutting out the electric power steering to make steering this iron woolly mammoth particularly and dangerously more difficult, especially for a large light duty truck. Another common complaint was cutting out power after warning lights about stabilitrac. Troublesome years for Escalde Hybrid were 2009, 2010, and 2012. As the problem was with ELR, so it was with Escalde Hybrid: Cadillac charges an arm and a leg for their vehicles when new, for them to be crap worthless when used. The hybrid versions of Cadillacs are always significantly more expensive, more so than other GM brands comparable, which is why if Cadillac is going to charge more they matter as well go all electric for that price. I’ve always said hybrid systems are a double propulsion system, one that backs up and supplants power to the other, but the bottom line is that it is a double system that makes you vulnerable to double trouble, a service department’s delight to make money. This is now over 10 year old technology we don’t need and are beyond ready to let go.
2. Cadillac EV 2: ELR Coupe 2014-2016: the Caddy Volt: ELR was a purposed designed PHEV from the ground up. In a sole coupe variant it was the only type sold, and Cadillac knowing the car wasn’t going to be a hotcake, sold it limited production. Today the car has a reputation as being a failure. I say, the car is not necessarily a failure car, it’s more of a lesson learned car. Why? Other than being a EV with a tiny battery and paltry range, it was a good reliable car. There were no major issues with it, especially for a Cadillac. It’s demise was more about its pricing issues than about anything else. At about $75,000 USD its original MSRP was about the same price as the 4WD top trim gas version Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac’s most expensive vehicle at the time. For the same price you could also get a base model 2WD Escalde mild Hybrid. Why so much? Rumor has it, to keep up with the $77,000 Model S pricepoint, which is in a completely different segment. To compare pricing, without taxes, fees, titles, and incentives, a 2010 Chevy Volt’s original MSRP was just over $40,000 USD. Regardless of its controversies, I do know this. This car was well thought out for what it was, starting with its design and technology language. This car screams for a convertible variant, which was probably too cost prohibitive for an already option and tech loaded car. Ironically, had this car continued production with improvements, maybe to switch over to BEV in a refresh, next generation, or different variant, ELR would have became without a doubt, another halo car for Cadillac. Fortunately for this little Caddy, what Cadillac denied her in doing in sales and production, she will now do for the brand, and more importantly for herself, in legacy. She will become a halo anyway, an icon. Instead of hybridizing another current production model like Escalade, Cadillac this time chose to make its first purpose built PHEV along with the utility four door liftback Chevy Volt. The Volt and ELR were temporary segment opening vehicles approved by GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz and meant to be temporary transition vehicles until lith ion battery technology improved for deployment. Both were made to help GM compete against Tesla, not Prius, until the next generation Bolt vehicle is ready. That promise and commitment has been made. Battery technology has improved that we’ve moved beyond lithium to use solid state batteries as state of the art. PHEVs are an incidental, if not accidental segment that was supposed to be temporary. This whole debate started with Tesla. Tesla does not make PHEVs, they purposely make BEVs, and that is what according Lutz is why the aim is to compete with Tesla on a BEV level. That was how the whole debate about electric cars started: It’s time to start drawing down the PHEV so that at least Cadillac, if no the rest of the industry, can focus on improving BEV technology further.
3. Cadillac EV 2: CT6 PHEV 2017-2018. CT6 is Cadillac’s range topping full sized flagship sedan that replaced the slightly smaller FWD XTS in 2016. XTS continues production, but is now considered more of a mid-sized vehicle than CT6. XTS replaced DTS is 2011 which was also FWD and even slightly smaller. So gradually, since deVille, Cadillac was making the range toppers less about FWD and at first smaller, then gradually larger, where we are now, at CT6. You can tell Cadillac is getting serious about its sedans; too bad the American market has turned against them. But global markets are still ready and open armed for them. Cadillac is getting back to sticking to what they know, and historically what they do best; that’s making bigger cars that are engineered better, RWD, with even more powerful and fuel efficient V8s in top trims, unlike Lincoln, which is still stuck at FWD, badged engineering, and supplanting V6’s on top trims. But Cadillac is trying, with some slip back failures, to get away from the dedicated front wheel drive train that contributed to build quality and brand devaluation issues that plagued Cadillac for decades. CT6 is now a dedicated RWD vehicle, AWD optional, and the first since the A-Body Arlington Fleetwood of 1996. Designed and made exclusively for Cadillac as it shares no variants with other GM brands on the GM Omega platform, this car is a modern interpretation and nod to those traditional full sized land yacht Cadillacs from the glory years that came from the legendary A-Frame, whose roots go back as far as 1923, the same frame with modifications that built and/or coached Cadillacs right through the 1990’s until the alpha/omega/epsilon labeled platforms took over. Fleetwood Special, 60, 70, 75, Brougham, Sedan deVille, Coupe deVille, the guts of the legacy history of this sacred, storied brand. Bodies by Fisher, some of these cars were hand built and crafted on calibre with Rolls Royce, some even built to order in Europe. If Cadillac decides in its journey back to glory to go upmarket, this vehicle’s platform and premise is the recipe for it to get there with Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Maybach. A year after the 2016 ramp up in Detroit for gas variants, CT6 offered an optional Chinese built variant with a Voltec hybrid system, a “Volt on Steroids.” Its reasons for cancellation are unknown. New President Steven Carlisle intends to introduce an even slightly larger sedan that’s all-electric soon. Cadillac will soon deploy its new sole purposed hand built 4.2L 500HP V8 twin turbo shortly into CT6. Because of this, it’s possible that CT6 may be the last gas powered full sized Cadillac, to maybe stick around a little longer until a GM-wide gasoline phase-out, and while her larger BEV replacement sister takes over as the range topping flagship.

Cadillac likes to charge its customers $75,000 for a new hybrid Cadillac regardless of the model, model year, the past 9 years. All three vehicles above. The CT6 is perhaps the only one closest to that actual value. And like all Cadillacs, to get the best value for your money, it is preferable to lease them used or new, subscribe to them even better if you can afford, and if you buy to get the most value for your money, keep them for a long time. That’s a risky proposition when you eye reliability to repair costs. Otherwise if you trade in or sell a used Cadillac when purchased new or during a late model year, you will take a big hit. Hopefully after full electrification, this dynamic might change for the better. This is why it’s important Cadillac improve build quality. It’s brand retains value to be worth and costs more!

That’s about the vehicles. Let’s go a little deeper into the company and corporate culture relative to the electrical program.

The GM Problem with Cadillac: Step One: Assigning Value to Their Brand

We’ve already discussed this last time, so let me put it this way for those who may not have gotten it then. Let me make analogies using different actual brands: The Cadillac brand has now become to the auto industry what the Pierre Cardin brand is in men’s perfume and wallets, at least as I remember.

If you have no idea what I’m writing about, on your next visit for this holiday season’s shopping, go to Sears or JC Penney’s before they finally go to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Macy’s before they do too after Sears and JC, and go to the Men’s Store and to the wallet cologne section for men and look there at the cheapest brands already discounted. In fact, you might find a nice Pierre Cardin wallet cologne gift set combo there already on the cheap.

Like a Cadillac nowadays, be lucky if you find a wallet or cologne you actually like Pierre branded, and that the wallet lasts longer than a car lease would, up to four years. Actually the thought just occurred to me: if Cadillac was a luxury brand to wear, like Jeep, Caterpillar (very clever branding for a bulldozer company they have), and Harley Davidson too (believe it or not Harley is considered a luxury brand, not mainstream), a Cadillac wallet would be right there, right next to Pierre’s, about to go to Macy’s 70% Clearance Table in the back corner.

For those who might have missed it last time, see what I now mean? Now tell me, with wallets and/or cologne, where would Coach’s be? Armani? Louis Vuitton? Wallets, watches, or pens: How about Mont Blanc? Bulgari? How about Rolex? Breitling? Their prices, exclusivity, or brand value? I dare you to disagree.

Cadillac Needs to Ask Themselves What is it They Want?

For a company that has suffered extreme loss of prestige in the global luxury market, more here than anywhere else, because they’re doing well in China like it was in times like, 1965 here. But their brand prestige has been battered globally, so for a company that now desperately needs to be bold and be different to stand out in that same market, and for a company that needs to generate sales if it seriously expects to remain America’s largest car company’s luxury brand, Cadillac is certainly not acting the way a zero emissions all electric luxury vehicle aspiring car company should. Cancelling a PHEV variant of your range topping flagship vehicle is one way to prove it. What’s going on?

I need to ask the people who are Cadillac Motor Company at present, with the people who supervise them at GM listening in, too: Do you want to go back to the day when you were the #1 car brand in the world, “the Cadillac of [put in your noun choice] [or] Cadillacs?” We don’t even say that anymore, it’s all about Rolls: Or would you rather be the “Rolls Royce of [put in your noun choice] or Rolls Royce that Cadillac once was?” Ouch, that hurts!

Do you believe in your brand? Do you actually feel your brand is important, that it matters, because you’re not acting that way by doing things like cancelling a Cadillac electric car without explanation? Do you want to be the symbol of change you seek by being the first brand to introduce new and the finest products of the world to an automotive future that will enhance our lives like Cadillac used to do decades ago? Do you want to be the first car division in the GM portfolio to become the all electric luxury car brand for the eventual all electric car company? And are you finally willing to be brave enough to be that change that ironically, you say that you seek, but you really don’t seek as you say? What is it you really want, and if and when you find that answer or find what you’re looking for, what have you learned to avoid going back?

GM: The Ten Year Goal Includes Cadillac

This is part of the ten year goal of introducing autonomous and all electric, with a few hybrid models into the GM portfolio to move the company toward a zero emissions autonomous car company business model by 2030, or sooner. Obviously as their range topping flagship luxury brand, Cadillac figures prominently into this plan. From GM’s website what the goal is: “General Motors believes electric, self-driving, connected vehicles and shared mobility services will transform how we get around, and we are drawing the blueprint to advance our vision of a world of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.”

Here’s a Step: To Do Turnarounds and Comebacks Start Again Where You Left Off: Go to Your Roots or Go Home

The message may seem loud and clear at the GM Mother Ship at Detroit’s GM Tech Center, but not at recently shut for ops Cadillac House in SoHo Manhattan, transferred back to Cadillac Detroit Central, wherever that is now in that city, and after a few years, in the Big Apple. Going back home where you belong, to be closer to mom who can help with your transformation, I think it’s a good step in the right direction. Cadillac should never have left Detroit for New York. To start off, it’s too expensive to work and live there, and they settled in the absolutely wrong neighborhood, the fun part, not the historically car industrial one, that ironically has become chic, it’s just not in Manhattan. Caddy wouldn’t of thrived in NYC. If it was a winning brand, maybe. Certainly not now. They need to reset and double down. If startups are moving closer to supply chains, financing, and business partners at initial ramp up, Cadillac needs to do the same about reset, rebranding, or comeback.

Plus, I’ve also read that a Cadillac’s success always hinges on a good relationship between a Cadillac President or CEO, and the parent CEO, in this case, GM CEO Mary Barra. There’s only so much personal touch you can do on phone with a two hour difference from New York. In fact when I read about the Roger Smith Years or read about the glory years of Harley Earl and even when he passed his scepter to Bill Mitchell, the Caddy Prez and the big CEO were always cliquey buddy buddies! It seems to be a necessary element.

Something tells me obviously Johan de Nysschen, the recently let-go CEO, an obvious outsider brought in to mix things up, who came from Audi where he gave them a stunning turnaround to their brand when we all thought Audi was permanently damaged goods, didn’t have that kind of relationship with Ms. Barra.

Mr. de Nysschen’s abrupt replacement is Steve Carlisle. It wouldn’t surprise me if Barra and Carlisle have known each other and for years. Former President of GM Canada, Mr. Carlisle is a GM lifer, like Ms. Barra is, barely post-teenager she started as an HR girl. Mr. Carlisle started as an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa Truck Assembly Plant. With GM since 1982, he’s a SVP of GM and also now President of Cadillac.

Another Step: Luxury Brands are Leadership Brands. Go Lead, Don’t Follow

Caddy ELR is a luxo Chevy Volt. But there was no Caddy version for Bolt. I wonder why, and that’s a shame. The Chevy Bolt’s entry came in 2017, after GM South Korea development between 2012-2016, and would have came around Mr. de Nysschen’s tenure, 2014-2018. Mr. de Nysschen for some reason shied away from utility and EV vehicles. New President Steven Carlisle is not. He intends to go full steam electric, with an eye to introduce a full-sized flagship range topping sedan that’s BEV all electric.

Being a luxury brand means being a trailblazer, a front runner, a forefronter, to boldly go where no other brand, and if new circumstances, where no product or industry has been before. Luxury brands in the car industry are leadership brands, and like cars, you lead in the passing lane with new tech, products, accessories, or services; you “flash to pass,” and if ahead of, lead faster, or get out of the way.

This why we are here, all because of Tesla. This is all about BEVs not PHEVs, a 10 year old first aid bandaid fix a flat technology that’s 10 years old, and no longer cutting edge it actually never was. More on that later. It’s about battery tech, not hybrids, that’s also Tesla. Say what you will of Tesla, but it is now at the least, a leader in this field as a leadership brand, and if Cadillac wants to be on top and get ahead, it needs to be better than Tesla and that means on the forefront of the electric revolution and then first to be all electric to lead by example. This is an opportunity not only to come up behind Tesla and “flash to pass,” but also an opportunity to come back on top of the luxury brands.

To be a leadership brand, Cadillac I say, should give up PHEV production. Let Lincoln follow with V6’s on top trim cars, FWD, and hybrids, while Cadillac during phase-out is about heading to all-electric. Buick, Chevrolet, even GMC can take over PHEV deployments for any shared Cadillac variants they have. PHEV manufacturing is recognized as a cost cutter for now, only because the technology is so dated its affordable. It is no longer cutting edge. It never was. It was about compromising by using a tiny battery because the lithium could only go so far. That’s not the case anymore. Cadillac needs to be cutting edge, and PHEVs have pulled Cadillac down. They need to step up, and move to the next logical phase in the revolution, and focus where they have to begin,and that’s with using solely battery electric technology.

And here’s another reason to all electric ASAP: Tesla started it, and Jaguar is next.

Next Step: Take the First Digs on GM Tech Back from Chevy, It’s Yours Cadillac

Part of that reason for the PHEV problems, and why they don’t even have a BEV in production that Chevrolet of all the divisions, does, not even Buick, is that Cadillac no longer holds the mantle as being GM’s official technology gatekeeper. When a car division holds the tech mantle to have first digs at product development and/or deployment, you know they have clout with the parent home office. Bentley Motors Co. of Cheshire, Crewe may be the darling crown jewel in the VW Group brand portfolio, but be no fool, it is Audi, VW’s largest luxury brand, VW Group’s largest luxury brand, that’s in charge of new technology, testing, and distribution of such.

Bentley may have all the glamour, and Porsche, all the glory and guts, but Audi holds the VW House keys and plays corporate Purser First Class, stewarding and shepherding house luxury brand members aboard that VW steamship. Bentley calls Audi, not the other way, when it needs something or has problems. This is why Audi was a bit concerned when it was reported that the collaboration between VWG and Ford might include MEB sharing, autonomy, and electromobility technology, saving VW money, but making Ford that tech hub, not Audi.

For decades the same VW dynamic existed for Cadillac with GM. Cadillac always got first digs on new GM technology when available. For decades since William C. Durant founded the firm, that was expected, the best cars get the best things first. From air conditioning to infotainment, one of the pleasures of having a new Cadillac owner drop by, or seeing one on display at a mall, or going to a car or auto show, is to get an idea what’s coming down the line for your next car.

Another Step: Lead by Never Passing Up Making Experiments That Might Help Your Brand, Like Caddy Bolts

Being in charge of tech means if a project fits your needs better, than someone else deciding if it does. I wonder if the Bolt passover Cadillac was a de Nysschen move. If it was his decision, what was the reason, was it his fixation on sedans? If it wasn’t, that it wasn’t his decision to make, was the lack of ability part of the problem? Cadillac needs a BEV NOW. RIGHT AWAY. Bolt would have been an excellent opportunity. It was passed. Whoever at Cadillac is making PHEV decisions doesn’t get it as to why we are here with electric cars. Tesla doesn’t make PHEVs for a reason. They make BEVs. The goal GM corporate and worldwide is ZERO EMISSIONS. You do that with BEVs, not hybrids.

This is where I question Cadillac’s ability and sincerity to be the #1 leader again. How could such an opportunity be missed?

The ATS was a great intro model for both the segment and the Cadillac brand to see as great looking and put together that car is, Caddy Bolt could have been more useful, I believe, for Cadillac, even more so than Volt was. Caddy Bolt would have made a great leather lined compact sedan or utility, with more torque and range in a V variant could have made it an excellent high performance electric car. This would have made for a great REAL Caddy that zigs!! It’s not too late for this to happen.

ELR was not a disaster or a failure, I’d categorize it more “wordfully” as not being that successful, that’s all. It was just a good car. We should be glad it’s that, especially as an experiment. With the crap that GM can make, just alone in Cadillac, the perception of failure is unfortunate. The car gave us more benefits than troubles, has different circumstances than the CT6, as this was a purpose designed car to consumer test GM’s Voltec technology, the battery tray it sat on, and to get an idea of consumer feedback to gauge what GM would face when they were ready to finally produce a “real” BEV electric car. A better way: Volt and ELR were in-production prototypes.

The mere fact that Volt is still here, 10 years later, and ELR is not, speaks volumes to troubles Cadillac is still having. The goal is BEV, not hybrids. This is a GM problem no doubt, but I like to better describe it as a Cadillac problem more than a GM one. Whosever bright idea it was to make this a coupe did us all a disservice, not only by not looking more carefully at marketing research, but regardless of what the research said, to not follow common sense and conventional wisdom.

Coupes in this American car market now belong almost exclusively to SUVs as trucks, and for cars: Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, and Challenger! Even Eldorado, once considered a halo flagship of the 1950’s, that somehow survived through the 1990’s, died without dignity! If you are going to make anything with wheels with just two doors, it has to have something useful and/or unique other than a battery tray. Torquey it may be, but ELR was still a hybrid to offer nothing about horsepower to write home about, the car didn’t even come with a hatch or a drop top to be aspiring beyond voltage.

So the ELR wasn’t exactly a failure. That GM made it with limited production they knew it was not going to be a hotcake. It was just okay for what it was. It was overpriced if anything, and I don’t want to hear about those rumors it was pricepointed at Model S, a different segment.

ELR was very much like the 1975-1979 Cadillac Seville, the reverse badging of the Chevy Nova, and when Cadillac separated the iconic Seville and Eldorado monikers, for each name to finally have its own car. ELR and Seville weren’t the finest of the Cadillac catalog but decent cars that had tested a lot of theories, inventions, and ideas, opened new introductions into segments, won’t be the most notable or memorable pieces, but with age, as already the with ELR on fast track, both Seville and ELR are or will go to collector status.

This is why a Caddy Bolt was needed. It’s better to make these mistakes on a new Nova Seville or ELR to Caddy Bolt, than to put them right into an all new flagship full size saloon, “introducing the all new 2023 Cadillac CT7 BEV Phaeton Saloon, with Level 4 Cruise Automation and equipped with High Speed and Torque Voltec Mode.”

Trying BEV on Caddy Bolt would have helped here. Straight into a flagship would be a potential disaster for the brand, and I hope Caddy has time to production mule a smaller model before doing something like that, combining different technology to add it to a flagship before consumer testing it on a smaller models. You can also now see the dynamic of the frustration Rolls Royce and Bentley goes through over the decades putting new technology into their cars. Having BMW and VW Groups helping them comes handy.

Here’s Another Step: Brand Recognition and Identity; Be Careful Introducing and Cancelling Products

How Cadillac survived the numeral nomenclature changeover from Sedan de Ville to DTS right through to CT6 and not Lincoln from MKX to Nautilus, I’ll never know. Lincoln’s I believe was simpler: MK for Mark as in Mark 1 thru 8, the last Continental touring coupe, MK as in Mark, except X for cross over. Lincoln MKT is retired for retail, and is now assigned to fleet airport rental duty. Replacing it is Aviator, who’s value has a greater chance of being retained.

Cadillac was the one all over the place. But their’s was executed more glibly, which why their’s survived and Lincoln’s did not. Cadillac over the years has fewer models to change hands as Lincoln had more models come and go, which added to their problem. My message to Cadillac: make up your damn minds what to call your cars then keep it that way to not change them. Like Honda, Toyota, and Mercedes who’ve kept the same plates for years: when you have problems with the car, don’t get rid of the name, just replace the car!

For brand recognition and identity Cadillac needs to learn to do the same. Name it and forget it. S Class and Accord are the range toppers. Everyone knows that. Cadillac needs to do the same.

Cancelling any kind of electric car for any car company these days is not a good thing, with a market that now has several promising models out, but still is woefully insufficient with choices. This is another way Caddy Bolt could have helped. Even though it’s in a different segment, a great excuse for canceling CT6 is that Caddy had Bolt, and CT6 is a hybrid, we need to exert leadership by moving our line to BEVs not PHEVs. Case closed. But the lack of a Caddy BEV is what will strengthen market conditions for Caddy’s competitors.

This is how Tesla is poised to capitalize on this market condition to corner it, with a portfolio that covers just about an entire range of battery electric vehicles, including a tractor and a super sports car, save for an ultra cheap or subcompact econo-model that requires such a massive scale for profitability on a Toyota/Honda level, that I’m sure you’ll agree Tesla isn’t ready for, the Model 3 problems they’re now facing is part of a long Journey should they want to pursue something smaller.

Last Step. For Now: All Global Luxury Car Brands Need a Flagship Full Sized Saloon and Well Made

At least Cadillac recognizes that having a flagship sedan is important to have on top of the range if they still wish to be a serious global luxury brand. They got rid of slightly smaller DTS when they really didn’t need to, and brought on CT6. They need something even slightly larger. The North American and European market as they are, should make this much easier for Cadillac.

One market doesn’t want cars as much as they want utilities even more. The other, has at least three or four brands that make great sedans it’s almost impossible to compete in any market with them. To stay on top, Mercedes, one of them, has to spend tons of money developing both E and S Class, C too.

The de Nysschen Era taught us Cadillac should stop wasting time and money trying to keep up with the Germans to always fall short. Cadillac still needs a sedan. I say make only one, but you got to make this one count, no Lincoln Town Car, it has to be much better than that, that it might enable Cadillac to upmarket it against Bentley or Maybach. And since it’s a sedan it has to be the flagship. I think this is what Cadillac is planning for, with this soon coming all electric sedan. Plus there’s an additional incentive: Jaguar has the same idea to entirely revamp their flagship XJ sedan with another brand new look and on an all electric platform only. The competition will intensify.

But what about making a SUV the flagship instead? That would save money. Well, now hear me, I Iove Escalade, I do, immediately right after Range Rover, but for global brand recognition Cadillac really needs a saloon. The idea that President Carlisle has of a soon new coming one being bigger than CT6 and all electric, seems heading in the right direction. I often say the American sedan may be dying, but not the European saloon. As the big three Americans revamp or cut their big sedans, the Euros defiantly keep theirs as range toppers as if sending a message to Americans: it’s not all about you. A flagship range topping Escalade works here without a complaint from me, that Escalade already is that, but she needs a very well planned, designed, engineered, and executed saloon version of herself for the rest of the world.

So as STS, DTS came and went fairly quickly compared to deVille and Fleetwood, so shall CT6, relatively soon. It’s obvious Cadillac in its soul searching quest to improve its brand, recognizes that while Americans wade through their crossovermania for Cadillac to finally satisfy that demand, they need a sedan to satisfy several markets to be considered a global brand.

Although the flagship CT6 Hybrid was kind of a stealth model that debuted without much fanfare, and cancelled in a similar way, obviously Cadillac is lining their ducks to find the best position for the next venture. The quandary is, did Cadillac finally find itself again? Is cancelling CT6 Hybrid about getting rid of another mistake, or part of the electric venture that’s taking them in the path of becoming number one again? Has Cadillac finally found itself? Cadillac’s story is yet to be completed. But mine’s here is.

So Has Cadillac Found Itself to be Back on Track?

Well we’d like to know, have they? Has Cadillac finally found itself? In cancelling the CT6 Hybrid for North America, is Cadillac back in control of their destiny and heading back in the direction of the glory years it was so famous for? That was the question I asked myself when I wrote this, that I tried to find the answer. Looking at what Cadillac is doing to CT6 it seems they’re heading for the right direction, overall, but cancelling a variant for just one market isn’t really reading tea leaves. Having ast problems that related to build quality, certainly doesn’t help selling cars today and tomorrow. I personally love the brand. Like, Tesla, I want to believe in Cadillac. But it’s the things both companies do at times that frustrates me. Like everything else in life, only time will tell.

But this I can tell you and this, I do know . . . The most important thing Cadillac can do to heal itself, is to make the build quality of its cars better, and more importantly than that, make them reliable. Make them like Mercedes used to make their cars back in the 80s and 90s, that they and BMW have watered down their products as well. This is the big problem of the auto industry. They water the cars down so customers go back more to buy newer ones. But they’re getting too expensive to see short cycles. So they need to do soul searching to find other ways to make money while making cars. So I ask them, the industry as a whole, was is it do you all want? We should be able to see 20 years from these same car with over 100,000 miles on them, and in good condition, even before a loving owner cares for it. They should look like an old Saturn does today.

And to the people of Cadillac I say this to you:

There aren’t too many people in the world who have the luck and privilege of having Cadillac on their resume. It may not be the best or the most glamorous place to work. But you’re there. So make a difference.

  • Regardless of the circumstances, always be professional. Always strive for excellence.
  • Value your brand. It’s a part of you. As long as you work there, and as long as you put it on your resume, their coat of arms is incorporated into yours as well.
  • Don’t squander your brand. Make it more precious pieces exclusive, difficult to make, harder to duplicate, not easy to find, rare when possible, and expensive to afford as possible. Do that, and they’ll want it even more!
  • Make these cars the best made most reliable ones ever. Do that alone, and 80% of the work you need to make a comeback will be achieved. But remember, it’s about 110% effort to get to excellence!
  • And right before the first unit is about to be assembled for the first time, at that last very moment you can make the slightest change without it costing money, ask yourself this: could this vehicle be my father’s, mother’s, aunt’s, or uncle’s Cadillac? And if you can say yes without hesitation, then anyone can drive these cars.
  • And when finished, find ways to improve it, and to improve yourself as well.

All photos courtesy Cadillac Media

What do you think of the CT6 and Cadillac’s trajectory? Let us know below!


DeanMcManis (not verified)    November 19, 2018 - 3:55PM

Another good article Al. Of course you knew that I would be chiming in because I own a Cadillac ELR. The ELR was a market failure for one main reason...price. The Cadillac execs wanted to position their cars as a market rival to the German luxury automakers who owned that market, so they priced it accordingly. The problem is perception. With Cadillac's ELR, everybody knew that it shared the Chevy Volt's PHEV drivetrain, so while the Volt started at $40K (later $35K) the ELR started at $76K+!. Realistically, the ELR should have been sold with a MSRP of $54K for the base model, and when the Volt dropped to $35K they should have dropped to $48K, even if the initial models sold at a loss. What Cadillac had to gain was a market perception of being an innovator, which would have been far more valuable than short term profit over time. I thought that the CT6 Plug in was a smarter move, using the Volt's PHEV drivetrain in a large Cadillac sedan, but they should have used the newer 2016 Volt's drivetrain, and they should really have pushed ahead, using the Bolt's BEV drivetrain too, offering both PHEV and BEV options. Plus they should have done this for the XT4 crossover and Escalade from the beginning. The mild-hybrid solutions like on the Escalade provide such little MPG gains, whereas if they had done a proper PHEV solution, it would have been a hit. They are probably going to do a BEV limo and BEV Escalade, but not until 2021 where it will be seen where they are again just following the leaders. Cadillac should have taken BMW's approach with PHEVs, making them quick and luxurious. Using their 280HP turbo 4 and PHEV combination. Tesla's slowest vehicles get to 60 in 5 seconds, their quickest in 2-3 seconds, which shattered the world's notion of EVs being slow.

Al Castro    November 21, 2018 - 1:10AM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

Thanks for the kind words. Yes, when I wrote this I knew I’d have to write about ELR, did extensive research on ELR, and the first thing that came to mind when I had to write about this, was you. So glad you like it. It is unfortunate that Cadillac was not able to use the Voltec system for horsepower supplementation to make ELR a rocket. It if was I bet you it’d be around today. Dean I know you disagree adamantly about my view on PHEVs, but I hope now you can see why Cadillac really does need to stay away from them. The key to the future are batteries and they need to take that away from Tesla to take the lead.