GM electric vehicle strategy last chance for Cadillac’s success: executive

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co’s strategy to make its luxury Cadillac marque, its leading electric car of the brand is the automaker’s last chance to turn the unit around and make it a success, a top executive said on Monday.

“We have no chance left to take Cadillac to a really new place,” the newly appointed GM President Mark Reuss told Reuters on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. “This is quite a lot.”

“So we have to be really on the ball here,” he added. “It is my job to make sure that we do.”

In a move first reported by Reuters, GM said Friday that a Cadillac would be the first car to be built is on the Number 1 of the AMERICAN automaker “BEV3” platform to challenge electric car manufacturer Tesla Inc.

Tesla’s market capitalization is higher than that of GM, even though Tesla has never posted full-year profit.

Reuss did not elaborate on what would happen if the multi-year effort to make the Cadillac brand more profitable failed.

But GM has demonstrated repeatedly over the past two years, there is a willingness to exit unprofitable markets and kill weak car lines in North America. In November, five North American factories, including four in the United States, on notice for the closure and cut almost 15,000 jobs.

GM has for years to make Cadillac more competitive. Last spring, the automaker replaced veteran auto executive Johan de Nysschen as head of the Cadillac brand. Appointed in 2014, he outlined bold plans to reform Cadillac’s line-up with a $12 billion product program.

Moving Cadillac’s headquarters to New York in 2015, saying of the brand managers should be closer to the urban customers who have been shunned.

In a belated bid to catch up with a rapidly changing U.S. consumer preferences, Cadillac said in 2017 would be the shrinking of the line-up of sedans, and add the sport utility vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles.

Cadillac sales in the U.S. fell more than 1 percent in 2018.

Late Sunday, GM unveiled its new 2020 Cadillac XT6 SUV that goes on sale later this year and will be built in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

GM said that in 2017 the plan from 2021 to the introduction of a new dedicated flexible electric vehicle architecture and an advanced battery system to support the development of at least 20 new models in the United States and China. Many of Cadillac’s future growth is expected to come from China, the world’s largest car market.

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Reuss said: “one of the first fully electric Cadillac models with the new platform it would be on the market around 2022.

He said it was too early to say how long it would take for Cadillac’s full line-up to be electric, but he expected a combination of electric and internal combustion engine models “for a few years” to come.

“I’m especially focused on what we do now…” Reuss said, “and momentum back in Cadillac.”

Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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