Cadillac, the brand that pioneered the electric starter at the dawn of the automotive age, has been tapped to lead General Motors' march toward an all-electric future and a new era of vehicle development.
GM plans to use the 117-year-old luxury brand as a catalyst to launch and expand electrified technologies across its lineup. A Cadillac vehicle will be the first to ride on GM's next-generation EV platform in 2021.
Reuss: Big outlay for EVs
"In short," he said at a presentation to investors last week in New York, "Cadillac is going to be about Cadillac once again."
The move marks a departure from GM's strategy of using the bread-and-butter Chevrolet brand as the focus of its electrified vehicles after its 2009 bankruptcy, starting with the Volt plug-in hybrid and later the all-electric Bolt EV. It reflects a bet that Cadillac is better equipped to project GM's credentials as a technological innovator against the likes of Tesla Inc. and that luxury customers will be less sensitive than Chevy buyers to the price premiums that electric powertrains carry.
‘The real answer'
Since plug-in vehicles began hitting the market in the earlier part of the decade, Cadillac's competitors have been moving aggressively to adopt electrified powertrains, particularly plug-in hybrids, as they prepare for stricter regulations in China and Europe.
Reuss said GM will prioritize investments on EV propulsion systems over traditional internal combustion engines. Hybrids, he said, will not be part of GM's future in the U.S., though it was unclear if he was referring to plug-in hybrids such as the Volt, which GM plans to discontinue in the U.S. GM also dropped a plug-in version of the Cadillac CT6 sedan from its U.S. lineup. But last year, it introduced the Buick Velite 6, a plug-in hybrid similar to the Volt, for China.
Reuss said GM has chosen to spend resources "on getting the real answer," which is zero-emission vehicles. GM has already committed to launching at least 20 new or redesigned battery EVs or fuel cell-powered vehicles globally by 2023, as part of a broader corporate mission of "zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion."
Getting ahead of global regulations will be an important motivator for Cadillac, which has relied on China as a key driver of growth in recent years. A substantial number of the new Cadillac EVs will be going to China, GM said.
In 2017, China became Cadillac's No. 1 market — years earlier than the company's executives expected. Even as China's market slowed last year, Cadillac's sales there rose 17 percent to 205,605 vehicles, compared with a 1.1 percent decline, to 154,702 vehicles, in the U.S.
img02GM believes Cadillac "will continue its strong momentum in China" despite growing headwinds such as a near-term market downturn and pricing and regulatory pressures, said GM China President Matt Tsien.
In China, as in the U.S., Cadillac plans to introduce a new or redesigned model every six months on average through 2021, a timetable that began with the launch of the XT4 last year.
Overall, GM plans to introduce more than 20 new, redesigned or freshened vehicles in China in 2019, some of which are expected to be among the 10 new-energy vehicles — a Chinese regulatory category that includes full-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids — planned by 2020. GM then plans to double its new-energy vehicle lineup in China by 2023, Tsien said.
GM's major push toward electrification will begin with the introduction of the company's next-generation EV platform, known as BEV3. Reuss said the platform will be exclusive to Cadillac for an undisclosed period.
A slide for the investor event showed 11 potential model types emanating from BEV3 — from small crossovers and cars to vans and seven-passenger SUVs. No pickups were featured in the graphic.
"BEV3 is the canvas upon which we will paint a profitable EV program," Reuss said, citing it as the reason the company is "so bullish" on its EV plans.
For now, Reuss said, profits from GM's pickups and full-size SUVs will be "carrying a lot of the weight" for covering the costs of its future technologies.Reuss has said GM is doubling the resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs in the next two years.
The EV strategy was part of a bullish presentation that cheered GM investors last week, pushing its shares up 7 percent on Friday, Jan. 11. GM said it expects to boost earnings this year in the aftermath of a strong 2018 that exceeded its guidance and internal expectations.
Positioned to perform well
The healthy 2019 forecast includes earnings of $6.50 to $7 a share and adjusted free cash flow between $4.5 billion and $6 billion. That compares with 2018 earnings guidance of $5.80 to $6.20 a share and automotive free cash flow of $4 billion. GM said it expects to beat those numbers when it reports year-end results Feb. 6.
CEO Mary Barra said GM is positioned to perform well "regardless of external factors" affecting the automaker and overall industry.
GM's ongoing restructuring, which includes reducing its North American salaried work force by 15 percent and closing as many as five North American plants, will result in cost savings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion this year, CFO Dhivya Suryadevara said.
GM expects total U.S. industry sales — including medium- and heavy-duty trucks — to be in the low 17 million range this year. Total industry sales last year were roughly 17.7 million, including light-vehicle sales of 17.3 million.
GM ha svelato la nuova missione strategica del marchio Cadillac, il quale diventera´ la vetrina tecnologica della rivoluzione elettrica del gruppo. Non si puo´dire che GM non abbia investito nel marchio ma i risultati sono magrissimi. Ve la ricordate la tristissima BLS su base Saab 9-3? Negli USA Cadillac sopravvive grazie alla mastodontica Escalade ma rimane molto indietro rispetto a Mercedes, Bmw, Lexus e persino Audi. In Cina invece i risultati sono stati discreti. Riuscira´finalmente Cadillac a rifiorire?
Se si guarda la fine che hanno fatto Saturn, Saab, Oldsmobile, Hummer, Pontiac (sparite dalla faccia della terra), Opel/Vauxhall, Holden e Daewoo (tutte in stato comatoso) non c´e´da stare allegri.