There’s no denying that GM has been floating through turbulent waters lately, missing the mark just a bit at every turn. It wasn’t that long ago that the Chevy Silverado failed miserably at a Red Wings Game and the brand has been a little slow to keep up with its main competitors. More recently, the brand killed off its prized plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt, but it does have huge plans to introduce as many as 20 new electric models by 2021. That’s a lot of EVs in just a couple years’ time. So, what is the brand going to do? A Reuters report pins the once-famed luxury brand, Cadillac, as GM’s new leader in its EV onslaught that has yet to get off the ground.

This begs the question: As a “luxury” brand (and believe me, I use that term lightly these days) that has been affiliated more with the senior population than 20- and 30-somethings, can it rebrand itself as an electric manufacturer that’s geared toward the younger population without losing the luxury aura that the brand is supposed to have?

Cadillac Just Hasn’t Appealed to the Younger Generation

Cadillac to Shift from Luxury Brand to EV Brand - Can it Serve as Both?
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It’s no secret that Cadillac’s sales have been on a steady decline in recent years. In an interview with Motor Trend last year, Cadillac President, Johan De Nysschen, essentially blamed the younger population. Well, the younger population along with America’s shitty roads, and the SUV trend – never mind the fact that Cadillac has a few SUVs and crossovers in its stable

“It’s partially happening because of energy prices, where people are less focused on fuel consumption and sedans being lighter,” he said. “But also it’s been driven now by the entry of younger consumers who really are less tuned into dynamics and handling and all of those things that used to excite enthusiasts. It’s more about the way cars complement and enable their lifestyle now.

And candidly, I also have to say it may also be influenced a little bit by the decay of America’s infrastructure. When roads no longer support high-performance sport sedans and ultra-low-profile rubber, people are going to respond to it.”

Cadillac to Shift from Luxury Brand to EV Brand - Can it Serve as Both?
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Perhaps it’s the fact that Cadillac still doesn’t have an image that actually appeals to younger buyers.

Mercedes and BMW have no problems selling their AMG and M-models, and it certainly doesn’t help the fact that Cadillac – a “luxury” brand has an interior plastered with plastic

. Seriously, you can even see it in the brand-new, 2020 Cadillac XT6. I was at the debut of the brand’s latest cross over there is just more plastic than I care to point out. The fake, carbon-looking trim is just something of nightmares too. It’s actually really annoying to see something like this come from a brand that is struggling so bad. It features a good overall design, but it’s just not up to par with the brands it competes against in terms of material – BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, and Acura.

The point is that 20- and 30-somethings with the money to spend on a luxury car are going to go for the best offering they can get with their money – not something that suffers from typical GM plastic syndrome. Give us leather, give us some real wood and real carbon fiber. Pleather and plastic are out. Take note of it.

Will EVs Save Cadillac?

Cadillac to Shift from Luxury Brand to EV Brand - Can it Serve as Both?
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An onslaught of EVs with the Cadillac badge could, possibly, save the brand but not if it continues on as it has with cheap materials and subpar technology. The Chevy Bolt offers up just 238 miles of range, and that’s considered GM’s bargain basement EV.

Naturally, anything with a Caddy badge will command a price much higher than the Bolt’s $36,620 MSRP.

The problem is, it can’t be a rebadged Chevy. It needs to feature all the nice materials, trim, and technology found in a proper luxury vehicle. And, despite the fact that I’m downright tired of talking about Tesla, any Cadillac EV needs to be on par with Tesla in terms of range and performance.

This brings us to a bit of a conundrum. Any EV with a Cadillac badge can’t be cheaply built like the aforementioned XT6. It needs to have materials similar to that of Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus. The plastic has to go. At the same time, the brand also needs to keep up on the performance front too. To do this, more money needs to be spent, and prices need to increase as GM is struggling and can’t afford to take a loss from any brand – Cadillac is about three wrong moves away from sitting on the shelf with Pontiac and Saturn. But, GM doesn’t want to spend the money to do it right.

Cadillac to Shift from Luxury Brand to EV Brand - Can it Serve as Both?
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If Cadillac is going to serve as GM’s EV leader, then a decision needs to be made. Either the brand will fall from the “luxury” territory that it unsuccessfully inhabits, or it will remain a luxury brand with huge improvements across the board and sell models at a somewhat higher base price than it does now. If the former is the case, then the Chevy brand simply cannot have its own EV lineup – too many rebadged models is what got GM into the hole it’s in now. You can argue that GM posted profits of $2.8 billion recently and that’s huge compared to what it was the year before, but that’s only because of the current crossover and truck craze. If, and I should probably say when, gas prices skyrocket again, GM won’t have a leg to stand on – at least not without at least one proper EV.

If it’s only one, then it needs to be priced in a way that will be enticing to more than a single generation of people.

The right move for Cadillac, in my humble opinion, is to serve as GM’s only EV producer and a true luxury brand. Up the quality of materials, deliver proper performance and range, and wait for customers to realize that Cadillac is finally willing and able to serve the crowd it was intended to serve. If, and only if, it can drop the “grandpa car” affiliation and deliver something truly luxurious at various price points, then Cadillac might have a chance. Until then, the brand will continue to decline until GM has no choice but to close up shop and pretend it was the plan all along.

Further reading

Cadillac to Shift from Luxury Brand to EV Brand - Can it Serve as Both?
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Read our full review on the 2020 Cadillac XT6.

2019 Cadillac XT4 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Cadillac XT4.

2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven
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All-new design but with familiar cues

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escala Concept.

2016 Cadillac CT6 Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac CT6.

Source: Reuters

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