When Cadillac announced it will use advanced, lightweight materials and new body-construction techniques to make the 2016 CT6 flagship "the lightest and most agile car in the class of top-level large luxury sedans," I honestly thought that Travis Hester, the executive chief engineer of the car, got a little too excited with the project. Four months have passed since then and it became clear that Hester’s statement was more than just PR. As the CT6 moves closer to production, the luxury brand released detailed info of the sedan’s manufacturing process, and there are plenty of highlights to talk about.

Before anything else, it’s important to stress that Cadillac poured no less than $300 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, which will handle the production process of the CT6. The massive amount went to a new body shop with new tooling and advanced technologies. The 138,000-square-foot facility is fully automated, using 205 robots that have been programmed to complete most of the stages required to assemble a CT6. Twenty-eight of them will descend on the vehicle body in two separate framing stations to weld both the inner and outer vehicle frames. A large robotic arm will then lift the vehicle to an upper-level conveyer, a first for a sedan the size of the CT6.

Cadillac also takes pride in the joining techniques it will use in the body construction of its flagship car, for which it patented a brand-new aluminum sport welding technology. For the first time on any product, GM will also use aluminum laser welding, which creates a seamless joining of exterior panels. Self-piercing rivets will enable the facility to join different types of materials together with a seamless appearance, with flow drill screws used where the process requires adhesive. Simply put, these innovative techniques will help put various components the CT6 together cleanly regardless of how many types of materials are being used. Naturally, the assembly procedure will also include classic joining techniques such as aluminum arc welding and structural adhesives.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Cadillac CT6.

Why it matters

What matters here is that Cadillac has taken all the necessary steps to make sure the CT6 becomes the flagship luxury car it promised to deliver. Sure, a successful vehicle needs more than just a state-of-the-art assembly line, but as far as that goes, it seems Cadillac is covered. The massive investment it put in the Detroit-Hamtramck facility is yet another sign that GM is willing to do as much as possible to build Cadillac into a brand powerful enough to take on Germany’s premium automakers. All we need to do now is wait for the CT6’s debut in 2015 and a full sheet of specs to find out where it stands against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Audi A8.

2016 Cadillac CT6

2016 Cadillac CT6 Exclusive Renderings
- image 567454

The Cadillac CT6 is set to become the company’s range-topping model; a large, luxurious sedan to take on Germany’s finest: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and the Audi A8. Design-wise, the CT6 will be an evolutionary step in Cadillac’s current design language. The engine motivating this massive sedan is also a mystery, but I expect it to arrive with either a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V-6 or a 6.2-liter V-8. Pricing should start from around $80,000 and jump well into the $100,000 range with all the options checked.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author

Press Release

Cadillac will use the auto industry’s most comprehensive and advanced mixed-material manufacturing techniques to build its all-new CT6 top-of-range sedan, allowing creation of a top-of-range large luxury sedan with the agility and efficiency of a smaller vehicle.

Cadillac Details CT6 Manufacturing Process
- image 612425

The CT6, which goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015, will be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, using a unique combination of joining techniques, a first for any General Motors’ model. A new body shop with new tooling and advanced technologies – including 205 robots – has been added to the plant. The fully automated, roughly 138,000-square-foot shop is dedicated to the manufacturing of the high-end luxury sedan.

When it launches, the CT6 will expand the Cadillac range upwards – adding rather than replacing a current product. Positioned above today’s CTS and XTS product lines, the CT6 aims to join the elite group of top-class large luxury cars.

“For the Cadillac CT6 we have developed additional new body construction techniques and technologies allowing various types of advanced and lightweight materials to be combined within the manufacturing environment like never before,” Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said today at the Washington Auto Show.

Cadillac Details CT6 Manufacturing Process
- image 612426

“We have invested $300 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant to make this possible,” he said. “These actions will allow us to advance the art of manufacturing and take craftsmanship and manufacturing technology to a new level.”

Engineers faced a new challenge in manufacturing the advanced mixed material vehicle structure for the CT6. Combining different types of joining methods, the team overcame previous manufacturing difficulties involving the joining of traditionally dissimilar materials, while still allowing the engineering team to optimize every panel for its desired purpose.

Material joining techniques prominent in the body construction of the CT6 include:

Patented Aluminum Spot Welding Technology
Aluminum Laser Welding, which creates a seamless joining of exterior panels
Self-Piercing Rivets, which are able to join different types of materials together with a clean appearance
Flow Drill Screws, which are able to join different types or materials and used in conjunction with adhesive

Aluminum arc welding and structural adhesive are also separately used for CT6 body assembly.

Among the five techniques, the CT6’s engineers were able to select the best joining method depending on material combination and body location (for machine equipment access).

Cadillac Details CT6 Manufacturing Process
- image 612427

To weld both the inner and outer vehicle frames, 28 robots descend on the vehicle body in two separate framing stations, joining the body-in-white together from all angles. The robots are mounted above and beside the vehicle and can also reach beneath it. The two framing processes were choreographed to compensate for different microscopic vibrations, and CT6 body construction resembles an orchestra as the robotic arms move in and out around the vehicle.

“Never before has an automaker brought this combination of joining techniques together for a single vehicle,” said Travis Hester, CT6 executive chief engineer. “The manufacturing team has enabled body engineers to optimize the vehicle for mass, safety, stiffness and materials with more precision than ever.

“The result is a top-level large luxury sedan, with class-leading body stiffness that generates excellent driving characteristics and impressive fuel economy without compromises to safety, comfort or quality,” he said.

Once the body construction is complete, a large robotic arm lifts the entire vehicle from one part of the assembly line to an upper-level conveyer – unheard of for a vehicle the size of CT6 – to be transferred across the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

Using these advanced manufacturing techniques allows for the CT6 to meet the highest standards in vehicle build quality, and to allow Cadillac to use the most mass-efficient materials while reducing fuel consumption and enhancing safety and driving dynamics.

Cadillac Details CT6 Manufacturing Process
- image 612428

The CT6 marks the return of a full-size luxury sedan to Detroit-Hamtramck. The plant also builds the Cadillac ELR electrified luxury coupe, among other products.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: