Former Infiniti boss and Cadillac’s newly appointed president Johan de Nysschen recently sat down for an interview with Automobile Magazine where he discussed some of the more pressing questions surrounding the brand today. These included gaps in the Cadillac’s product portfolio, its perception problems with consumers and its future in Europe. The most interesting insights de Nysschen gave were in regards to Cadillac’s future product plans, though.
Often times executives refuse to discuss future product plans or rumors with the media for competitive reasons, but de Nysschen was undeniably forthcoming during his Q and A with Automobile. His most interesting answer came when he was asked if he sees room for Cadillac to produce an even higher-end vehicle to slot in above the impending Omega-based full-size sedan.
“There are probably two cars beyond that at least, maybe more,” de Nysschen said. “I don’t think (the large sedan) will ultimately represent the pinnacle of Cadillac’s entry into the real top end of aspirational cars. We have room for a car above that, and then these would be very prestigious, very high-performance but luxury cars.”
That could mean a number of things. If the new full-size sedan “won’t represent the pinnacle,” of Cadillac’s entry into high-end luxury than what will? A low-volume, higher-end version of the car could be released sometime down the road offering more exclusive and more luxurious features (comparable to the Escalade Platinum Edition), as could a high-performance version to join Cadillac’s ‘V’ family. A two-door model bearing a close resemblance to Cadillac’s well-received Elmiraj concept also seems like a possibility and would contest Mercedes-Benz’s 2015 S-Class Coupe well.
Another interesting notion de Nysschen mentioned was looking at one or two sports cars for the brand that consumers would “buy for emotional reasons” because they are “so sexy and so fun to drive.” One of these could be the new XLR Motor Trend has talked about, while the second might be a smaller sportscar built in the same vein as the BMW Z4 or Mercedes SLK, for example.
Performance enthusiasts will also be happy to hear another nugget of information de Nysschen dropped. He says Cadillac will have a new modular engine family that can be structured for four, six or eight cylinder engines. The first engines released in this family will be smaller capacity engines in China, with the eight-cylinder offerings coming towards “the latter part of this decade.”
The new engine family probably won’t be unique to Cadillac, as much as de Nysschen is looking for autonomy from GM for the brand. He says if he chooses to enter a market with a unique Cadillac platform he’ll either run the numbers and find it’s not financially feasible, or reach into the GM portfolio to “see what other assests exist.” This will allow for some models to be exclusively Cadillac, with others sharing componentry while still living up to Cadillac values. He says this would allow Cadillac to offer some models with brand exclusive components and engines while also keeping costs down, a page pulled from his time spent with Volkswagen Group.
Halo cars and sports cars might be expensive, but de Nysschen says “some cars have to make volume for (Cadillac), some cars have to make money, and some cars have to make image.” If you apply strict financial criteria to individual cars like more mainstream brands do “you’ll never do the halo cars.” However if the halo cars can drum up excitement for the brand, they may have a positive affect beyond immediate profits or volume.
“The way to measure it properly is to say, ‘Well, how did they help the pricing power on the rest of the cars?’—that’s their contribution,” said de Nysschen.