Cadillac Taking on Market Leaders with Aggressive Product Plans

New chief lays out future product cadence.

by on Jan.13, 2015

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen outlined his ambitious product plan to fill out Caddy's line-up.

If the folks from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz heard the sounds of cannon shot flying by during the two-day media preview of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it’s no surprise. And those shots very likely were launched from the Cadillac stand nearby.

Vowing to take the fight to the enemy, Cadillac’s new global President Johan de Nysschen has outlined an aggressive product launch program that will begin to fill in critical holes in the Detroit maker’s line-up.

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“We’re here to disrupt, to shatter the status quo and change perceptions,” de Nysschen declared during the unveiling of the new 640-horsepower CTS-V sedan. “We will take on the market leaders head-on with vehicles aimed at where they are strongest.”

Cadillac will introduce eight new vehicles by decade’s end, the exec indicated, including five targeting all-new segments. The program, which will require an investment of at least $12 billion, will also see updated replacements for existing models, such as the compact ATS line and the midsize SRX crossover.

GM executives join Johan de Nysschen, left, at the debut of the CTS-V in Detroit. Photo credit: Len Katz

“One way to increase sales is to add more products,” said analyst Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst, IHS Automotive. “Today, the luxury buyer doesn’t have to compromise, so it would be good for Cadillac to have more products to offer them.”

It’s no surprise the South African-born de Nysschen would want to take aim at the Germans. He spent much of his career with Audi before jumping to Infiniti a few years ago to oversee that brand’s ambitious product offensive. He was lured to GM last summer.

Following the Cobo Hall news conference, de Nysschen took time to lay out Cadillac’s planned product cadence, which starts with the sales launch of the new 640-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V in December.

Meanwhile, Cadillac’s all-new flagship sedan, the CT6 will have its formal unveiling at the New York Auto Show this April, according to de Nysschen.

A replacement for the current SRX crossover is next on the boards, with an introduction set for 2016. It’s a critical product, targeting what has become one of the fastest-growing niches in the U.S. market.

The new 640-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V sedan will hit showrooms late this year. Photo credit: Len Katz

Also growing at a frenetic pace is the compact crossover segment populated by the likes of the Audi Q3 and, closer to home, the new Lincoln MKC. According to de Nysschen, Cadillac will come in with “an all-new crossover below SRX, probably in 2017.”

“The next play,” he quickly added, will be a sedan sliding in under Cadillac’s current entry-level model, the ATS. That would target a small, but fast-expanding segment that has seen significant momentum with the arrival of such German products as the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It also would give Cadillac a potentially appealing offering for overseas markets. Look for that compact sedan to arrive later in 2017, said the Caddy chief.

The CT6 won’t remain the premier vehicle in the Cadillac family for very long. An even more upscale model that could be branded either CT8 or CT9 is now under development, with de Nysschen saying it should reach market “towards the back end of the decade, probably 2020.”

That vehicle could push into the rarified air now occupied by the top-end Mercedes S-Class models, possibly with a price tag reaching up around $150,000, de Nysschen previously suggested.

(Cadillac offered up an early viewing of the CTS-V. For more, Click Here.)

A separate Cadillac insider stressed that it is critical to note the further one goes out in the product program the more uncertainty exists about timing – and even whether a product actually will reach market at all.

“I’ve seen vehicles pulled out of the plan just before they were supposed to go into production,” said a well-placed Cadillac insider, asking not to be identified by name.

(Click Here for details about Mary Barra’s plans for GM’s future.)

On the other hand, still other vehicles could be added to the Cadillac program before decade’s end. The brand’s new boss knows that even now, there are lots of other un-tapped white spaces that the German makers are filling rapidly on their own.

Cadillac has been looking at all sorts of other possibilities, including convertibles and sports cars. The challenge is coming up with both the cash and the design and engineering resources. The good news is that senior GM officials, up to CEO Mary Barra, have tossed their corporate hats in with de Nysschen and his plan to make Cadillac once again the standard of the luxury market.

(To see why 2015 is “The Year of Honda,” Click Here.)

That said, there’s no guarantee of success, indeed, it’s not clear Cadillac will go far enough. Mercedes alone has said it plans to bring a total of 30 new models to market between 2013 and 2020, and it had a wide array of performance and hybrid models on display at the Detroit Auto Show. Audi, meanwhile, recently announced a 50% increase in its own model count.

So, while Cadillac is finally ready to fly its flag, it’s far from certain it will win the fight.

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2 Responses to “Cadillac Taking on Market Leaders with Aggressive Product Plans”

  1. Jorge says:

    My suggestion is deliver what customer desire at a fair price with good customer support and the sales will follow.

  2. Dano says:

    Cadillac products are excellent–but they don’t yet merit pricing at the same level of Mercedes,BMW or even Audi.

    Yet that’s exactly how they’re being priced, and it’s an arrogant mistake.

    The ELR was priced to compete with the Tesla,and while it’s a gorgeous car, it didn’t have competitive tech or content. Now, dealers are forced to sell it for around $55K, which is the right price, and $20K under sticker!

    Same with the ATS–price it like the CLA and it’ll sell.

    Meanwhile, Lincoln’s pricing is aggressive–and appropriately. The MKZ is a surprisingly fine car, stylish, well made, and even sporty. Yet it’s priced at only $35K–getting people into the Lincoln brand.

    While Cadillac has built more of a reputation than Lincoln they’re not Mercedes or BMW–yet–especially when it comes to the dealer experience. Cadillac’s dealers feel like Chevy (and sometimes are). Mercedes dealers have a luxury feel.

    Cadillac will get there, but they aren’t quite there yet. Raising their prices doesn’t mean that they are, and they aren’t fooling anyone, in fact, they’re turning them away.

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