Last week, there were rumblings Cadillac was planning to position itself as a challenger to Tesla, or something to that effect. A few days later, after the luxury brand announced the Cadillac XT6 crossover, the company teased an electric SUV alongside news Cadillac would spearhead General Motors’ future electrification efforts. In an interview with CNBC, Cadillac President Steve Carlisle said Cadillac is “obsessively” benchmarking itself against Tesla.
“I think they have done a lot to popularize electric vehicles and to get into the minds of consumers,” Carlisle says in the video above. “I think that has been very valuable. They’ve pushed the envelope in terms of that process, and that made everybody a little sharper and on their game.”
Benchmarking Cadillac against Tesla makes sense. Tesla is a leader in the electric vehicle market, even with the troubles the company has had. Namely, the Model 3 sedan coming to market with spotty quality. And even though the prices of Tesla products would assume luxury, interior refinement lags behind traditional marquees. If Cadillac can deliver on range and performance, a luxurious interior and more dramatic designs than Tesla should speak for themselves.
Right now, Tesla has cachet with consumers and the public even with its growing pains. Even though the company is criticized ofter, many of those critics praise what Tesla has created and brought to market, spurring change contributing as to how the public and legacy automakers view electric cars and the EV market.
However, Carlisle and company are cautious with the push into electric vehicles. One problem Tesla has faced is scaling up production, which is where much of Tesla’s has stemmed over the last several months. Building an electric vehicle that ticks every box a consumer wants while still being affordable and reliable is difficult, and Cadillac seems to understand that there are challenges.
That said, if Cadillac can’t find growth in this aggressive electrification push, it could be curtains for the storied brand.
“I think we have to wait a while to rate the whole story because we don’t know what happens when EVs really start to scale from a distribution and customer experience perspective and from a profitability perspective,” Carlisle added.
“I think we have to wait a little while before we rate the whole story.”