Cadillac was named the lead electric-vehicle brand of General Motors in an announcement last week. The pivot toward electrification is surprising, but based on comments made recently by one of GM’s top executives, it seems going electric may be the brand’s last remaining hope. Indeed, newly appointed GM President Mark Reuss got candid in an interview with Reuters: “We don’t have any chances left with taking Cadillac to a really new place, this is pretty much it.
“So we really have to hit the ball here,” he added. “It’s my job to make sure we do.”
Johan de Nysschen was tapped to transform Cadillac when he was appointed president of the brand in 2014. He laid out a $12 billion product plan, changed the nomenclature, and moved the brand’s headquarters to New York. Unfortunately, Cadillac was too slow to keep up with consumer demand for crossovers, as Reuters points out. In 2017, Cadillac finally committed to reducing its lineup of sedans in favor of SUVs and electrified vehicles. Sales in the U.S. declined under de Nysschen’s tenure, which led to his ousting last year. Cadillac is now returning to Detroit, and Steve Carlisle is now leading the luxury brand.
Now, Cadillac will lead the EV charge at GM, where the first model from a new EV architecture will wear that brand’s crest. GM said in 2017 that it will introduce its next EV platform by 2021. Reuss said it’s too early to tell when Cadillac’s entire lineup will switch to electric power. He expects the lineup will include a mix of electrified and combustion engine vehicles “for quite a few years.” China, the world’s largest car market, is expected to aid Cadillac’s future growth.
Cadillac’s new transformation plan comes at a time of great change for GM as a whole. The automaker announced plans to cease operations at five plants in North America amid declining demand for sedans. Meanwhile, over the next two years, GM will double its resources for electric and autonomous vehicle programs. By early next decade, GM anticipates more than 75 percent of its global sales volume will come from five vehicle architectures.