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Cadillac CT6 Death Highlights Brand's Strategy Problems

Cadillac CT6 Death Highlights Brand's Strategy Problems

This week brought us a collection of bombshell announcements from General Motors. Laced within the news of five assembly plant closure (“idling”) and nearly 15,000 jobs getting axed was the news that the Cadillac CT6 will meet its death in 2019. Yes, the sedan hailed as the best modern Cadillac sedan in decades–the one that can literally drive itself on the freeway–wasn’t good enough to last. The timely death of Cadillac’s flagship product highlights decades of poor corporate strategy.

Everything at current-day Cadillac dates back to 2002, the year the original Cadillac CTS sedan entered production. At the time it was hailed as the second-coming of Cadillac; laced with this “Art & Science” design theme that was completely different than anything out of Germany, but it was based on a proper rear-drive architecture.

From that day forward GM executives and Cadillac as a brand became that kid in high school who so desperately wanted to be the popular kid, but just didn’t quite fit in with the it-crowd. More specifically, Cadillac wanted to match the German luxury brands mono-e-mono in the segments they owned. Those segments? Compact, midsize and full-size luxury performance sedans. You know, where names like 3 Series and E Class are regarded as the world’s best.

Those of us in the world of automotive journalism didn’t help their obsession with besting the Germans in sedans. We too felt Cadillac needed to churn out a viable 3-Series, 5-Series and 7-Series fighter in order to be worthy of mention with the names BMW and Mercedes-Benz. And back in the early 2000’s, sedans were still cool and worth spending billions on developing.

Spending billions is exactly what Cadillac did. GM authorized Cadillac to produce more unique architectures just for sedans, which ultimately yielded the second-generation CTS, then the ATS and third-generation CTS. Both of the ladder examples have consistently fallen short of sales expectations, with the ATS Sedan actually being killed off several months ago.

While sales expectations were consistently missed by the ATS and CTS, GM let Cadillac continue its quest for three three-box sedans. The CT6 commenced development, again spending a small fortune developing a world-class large sedan to polish off the vey for luxury popularity.

Meanwhile, the macro market is pivoting away from sedans entirely. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are spending resources on new crossover and SUV entries, such as developing the X7 and redesigning the GLS Class.

Even Ford’s Lincoln brand knew better than to chase the luxury sedan stalwarts. Lincoln rolled out an all new Navigator and was developing a new Aviator that appears to be a world-class SUV that will likely hold its own against the Germans.

That’s not to say Cadillac focused solely on sedans. The brand did manage to launch the XT5 and, more recently, the XT4. But let’s examine the difference in scope of these versus the Cadillac sedans. Both crossovers are built on broader GM architectures; they’re not resting atop a host of Cadillac exclusive content like the sedans. The mega development dollars went to the sedans.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Cadillac’s strategy is the CT6 itself. It finally launched in 2016 and actually turned out to be a world-class sedan; particularly recent iterations that included Cadillac’s impressive Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system. The car launched a host of other features, such as the return of Night Vision and impressive mixed-material manufacturing processes.

The money Cadillac spent on the CT6, paid off in execution.

Unfortunately, the market does not reward great products that no one wants. As the market pivots away from sedans, Cadillac is being left with its pants down over a strategy that was more concerned about optics than actual market data. The near 20 year obsession with having three world-class sedans at Cadillac is toast, yet again.

Perhaps Cadillac should have spent billions developing new SUVs atop the Alpha and Omega platforms, versus obsessing over emulating the German sedans. Essentially, perhaps Cadillac should have emulated Lincoln instead.





 

About Nick Saporito

AutoVerdict Senior Editor Nick Saporito began writing about cars at age 13. Nick ran a couple of automotive enthusiast sites for several years, before taking some time off to focus on his career and education. By day he's a marketing executive in the telecom world and by night he hangs out here at AV. You'll find him focusing on tech, design and the industry's future.
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  1. CmicasatheGreatXvX





    Quote Originally Posted by CobaltSSKing
    View Post

    As much as I’ve loved putting miles on my XTS Vsport having a new driving experience is pretty exciting. That’s what Tesla and some of the new start ups has brought to the table. I plan to replace my Bolt with a ELR and my XTS with a used Tesla Model S. I just sold my Custom Cobalt SS/TC and Mazda RX8. I really want a Caddy with Supercruise but will probably wait for the new Slade. If not I’ll probably pick up a CT6 with one.




    Its is a thing to behold. They really put a lotta work into SC and it paid off. I'm waiting for the CT6-V.. and I will trade in my CTS-V for the larger car
    CobaltSSKing





    Quote Originally Posted by CmicasatheGreatXvX
    View Post

    Who's great-great grandfather was it back in 1902 that said.. " I don't want no damn motorized vehicle... I'll give up my horse when they pry it from between my cold dead thighs"

    From Oct of 2017..

    Cadillac Press Oct 2017

    Got me thinking.. Could this be it? Is this the date of change.. sorta like a GOING ON-LINE DATE?

    Thinking.. Why would U need a Cruze sized vehicle if the goal of the Cruze was to cut emissions? An EV would instantly do that. I will be the first to wonder why the Volt would be killed.. as it would be the perfect name to simply go all electric is we are at the point that we can do so with better range than even the 250 miles range of the 60 kWh Bolt. Surely GM can beat the Rivian's range estimates of 300 miles for the 135-kwh, 400 miles for the 180-kwh, and 230 miles for the 105-kwh.

    Obviously to me.. the lost of the Impala and CT6 are the most hurtful.. as I was planning to get a CT6-V at the end of the year. I realize it will be available.. but how rare will it be. Future classic no doubt. Still knocks me in the head that the Omega platform was not utilized in such a way that it accommodated not only the CT6, but also the Impala (merged with SS). Alas.. ACCEPTANCE is what it is.. if GM is doing what I said above, because lets face it.. if they don;t move ahead with electrification.. they are DONE in 15 years. I mean it. IF THIS IS THE PLAN.. then applaud Mary Barra, an engineer by training. A lotta people are thinking about the Human factor concerning the lost of thousands of jobs.. Baltimore is slated to lose 300 jobs. That hits close to home. EV and Hydrogen powered vehicles will sit along with the Gas/diesel ones for another decade I'm sure.





    As much as I’ve loved putting miles on my XTS Vsport having a new driving experience is pretty exciting. That’s what Tesla and some of the new start ups has brought to the table. I plan to replace my Bolt with a ELR and my XTS with a used Tesla Model S. I just sold my Custom Cobalt SS/TC and Mazda RX8. I really want a Caddy with Supercruise but will probably wait for the new Slade. If not I’ll probably pick up a CT6 with one.
    CmicasatheGreatXvX
    CT6-V at La Autoshow. They are fools for killing this car




    CobaltSSKing





    Quote Originally Posted by Tone
    View Post

    What do you think the plan is, exactly, other than shifting rapidly towards them (like most larger companies with the resources to do so)? Don't get me wrong, I think the Bolt is a great product. But, I don't think the GM has yet revealed much about what it thinks EV products should be (and, as great as the Bolt is, it lacks excitement) and how it plans to deal with the need for more rapid, on the road recharging - something that Telsa is addressing and it appears VW/Porsche has some exciting plans for.

    Have I missed something?




    Charging infrastructure is being built by opportunists much in the same way gas stations have done. It’s starting in high demand areas and expanding from there. As I’ve said before why would GM invest heavily in old tech. The Bolt and Volt are good test beds but will the cost of the tech GM never wanted to sell in huge numbers since they really aren’t making any money. With the next gen battery tech coming in at a lower cost i’d expect to see a huge push.
    CmicasatheGreatXvX
    Sorry I got all America123 up there.. a great and awesome poster from years gone by. Either way.. I think GM is laying out its plan. I think that the infrastructure issue is one that is about to be addressed not only by GM, but by the nation as a whole.





    San Francisco Premium Outlets became California's first location for electric vehicle (EV) chargers featuring ultra-fast recharging speeds up to 350 kilowatts (kW). The 350 kW chargers are capable of recharging an electric vehicle quickly, providing another 200 miles of range in just 10 minutes.



    This is from Electrify America:



    What GM needs to do is simply engineer their upcoming vehicles to be able to utilize this 350kw charger. 200 Miles in 10 minutes is damn near on par with a 10 minutes to a gasoline fill up. On a Bolt or Tesla Model3, that is almost "full" as it is. The goal I know of is to have EVs that are in the 400 mile range like what Rivian has presented. I am COMPLETELY confident that GM is getting ready to make Rivian's news yesterday's news
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