Newly unveiled CT6 could be Cadillac’s flagship model in Australia, but company boss Johan de Nysschen warns it could take up to eight years for the brand to make it here
CADILLAC’S new luxury flagship, the CT6, has been engineered for right-hand-drive markets and could be sold in Australia as a rival to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6, says Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen.
The aspirational American brand is also preparing new high-performance V-Series models, with Australia a key target market in the expansion of the Mercedes AMG rival.
Speaking at the 2015 New York motor show, de Nysschen confirmed the new Omega platform underpinning the CT6 was set for right-hand-drive markets, with Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom on the hit list for the vehicle – or its replacement – in years to come.
As reported previously by Wheels, Cadillac is all but confirmed for a return to Australia – but by 2019/2020 at the earliest.
It’s understood the next-generation CT6 would be the most likely to arrive in Australia, sharing much of the just-revealed vehicle’s underpinnings, but with a fresh design.
“All our cars that are in development right now are being conceived around the notion of global cars,” said de Nysschen.
“When you do architecture like this it represents a massive investment. It’s not the kind of investment you’d naturally expert to amortise over just one vehicle cycle. We had to conceive this car thinking 12, 15 years into the future.”
De Nysschen reaffirmed the desire to bring Cadillac to Australia but said it was a longer-term play.
“It’s definitely in the plan, but in terms of time horizon I would estimate probably seven or eight years.”
De Nysschen said the “primary focus” was to establish China as a “second volume hub for the brand”, alongside its home market of North America.
Beyond that, Europe is a focus for Cadillac.
“The consolidated European luxury car market is in fact larger than the US market, so it seems to me it’s not a market you could ignore … [and] you cannot play in Europe without being in the UK.”
He said the European attack would require a different approach from the big-engined, big-car ranges that work in the United States.
“It’s hard to imagine you that can go into Europe without the product range … to be relevant to that market … it means smaller cars, it means more compact powertrains, it means diesel engines,” de Nysschen said.
“That means you also need to look at right-hand drive. If you want to invest in generating right-hand-drive variants of your car, you will never finance out of the UK volume alone.”
He said Japan, Australia and South Africa were key to a global right-hand-drive assault, with each bringing critical volume that would make the program viable.
“Imagine a full line-up of cars that has a covering on the sedan space from the entry segment of the luxury market … right up through to even a pinnacle flagship model position. And then in the crossover space … there are many steps that we can do.”
De Nysschen said there was room for another three SUVs in the Cadillac range.
“Having one kind of SUV and one crossover for an American brand is almost outrageous,” he joked.
“There’s an obvious gap that exists in the range between where the SRX is today and the Escalade. Then in the segments below the SRX probably at least another two crossovers.”
But he cautioned that Australia was unlikely to get the entire soon-to-expand Cadillac range.
“We won’t necessarily do a right-hand-drive version of every car … you’d select the ones that are appropriate, where you feel there’s a market, and those would be the offerings you would also go to Australia with.”
De Nysschen said the V-Series performance brand – with its red V logo almost identical to that used on Commodore V-Series models – would be a focus for expanding the brand in future, with two models likely to join the ATS-V and CTS-V.
“There probably will be another one or two V models, but we will not apply this (the V sub-brand) across the range,” he said. “We will be very selective. V-Series for us has to become like a sub-brand for us, representing the very top of high-performance motoring.”
The CT6 is the first Cadillac to adopt a new naming strategy for the American brand, which will ultimately see the end of most of its current nameplates.
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