Cadillac has spent a year or so softening up buyers with a new approach to marketing GM’s luxury brand: a fresh positioning under the “Dare Greatly” rubric, attempts to break with Detroit tradition, an effort to create a genuine lifestyle brand, and promises that a new generation of Cadillac products would back up this brand promise in steel, leather, aluminum and rubber.
Now that day has come, and the first expert reviewers of the initial product in Cadillac’s “new tradition”—the CT6 sedan—credit the brand with getting it right. They say that it will do well in supporting Cadillac’s aim of delivering a body blow to large rival German sedans such as BMW’s 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class.
“The CT6 that hits showrooms in March is its own animal,” enthused an Automotive News reviewer. “It’s a fresh approach to the big-body luxury-sedan category, one that defies categorization in terms of its size, interior space and price.” The new sedan has “serious road presence, with a long hood and low, wide stance. Its cavernous interior” rivals those German targets, too.
Yet CT6 is lighter than comparable German vehicles in part because of a mix of aluminum and high-strength steel welded together with minimal riveting and fewer overall components. Cadillac also outfitted the entry-level CT6 with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine, much lighter than the entry-level V-8 in the Mercedes S-Class.
Price-wise, Cadillac is trying to give US buyers this all-new package for about $65,000 for a CT6 with a twin turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 engine compared with more than $82,000 for a BMW 7 Series with the same displacement and power.
“It is a car like no other,” Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen told reviewing journalists in California last week.
And CT6 is just the first in a string of new products, which include a new XT5 crossover-utility vehicle, a compact crossover, an SUV somewhat larger than XT5, and a true, ultra-expensive flagship sedan by 2020.
DeNysschen told brandchannel that Cadillac now “must deliver on ‘Dare Greatly'” and “that means technology, showing how good the products are, with a distinctive design inside and out. We need to show that GM is serious about Cadillac and that we are visibly on par with the Germans.”
And, he added, CT6 “shows we have something more to offer than just look and feel and a marketing campaign.”
One of the key elements of de Nysschen’s strategy for Cadillac has not yet been deployed. That is creating a sense of supply scarcity. He was really good at doing so when he ran Audi, boosting buzz and prices for the brand’s high-performance models and leading the Volkswagen-owned luxury brand to unprecedented levels of US sales, market share and profitability.
“You need to show the cars proper respect,” he told brandchannel. “You must compete on the basis of substance. Before now at Cadillac, though, we had taught our dealers that Cadillac runs a mainstream brand strategy. If you have too many cars, the salesman says, ‘We have a deal today.’ You change that conversation with tension in the supply chain.”
Or, as de Nysschen told journalists, GM plans to use CT6 to draw a line in the sand between its past and a future in which even worthier vehicles as well as a supply-scarcity strategy will undergird prices, profit margins and brand equity.