Grand Cadillac to be Built in Detroit

New model will sit at the top of Cadillac’s model range.

The worst kept secret in the automobile industry is this one: Cadillac plans to build a full-sized, rear-wheel drive sedan that will rival the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS and the Audi A8. The top-of-the-range model has only been openly discussed for several years now with two recent concept vehicles, Ciel and Elmiraj, fanning the flames.

Built in Detroit

On Friday, Cadillac issued a press release announcing that its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has been selected to build the unnamed flagship with production commencing in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Cadillac Ciel Concept.

Cadillac Ciel Concept.

An official preview of the new sedan is months away with GM saying that it would happen in the first half of 2015. Auto Trends has been told that the New York International Auto Show will showcase the new model, with a March 31, 2015, debut tentatively scheduled. The NY auto show will be open to the public from April 3 to 15, 2015.

Another possibility is a Jan. debut in Detroit, host of the North American International Auto Show. Personally, I’m leaning toward Detroit as it is the biggest stage for Cadillac’s most significant model ever.

The Detroit-Hamtramck facility is a logical choice as GM has invested more than $1 billon in the plant over the past five years. The plant currently builds several Cadillac models, including the ELR plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the compact ATS coupe and sedan, and the midsize CTS sedan. Retooling for the new sedan is already done, reflecting an earlier $384 million investment commitment.

No Cadillac Models Replaced

GM also put to rest rumors that Cadillac’s XTS sedan would disappear once the new model arrives. Some analysts have looked at that sedan as a “place holder” until the grand sedan appears, but GM noted that the new model “adds to rather than replaces any model in the portfolio.” Likely, the slow-selling ELR will also hang around for at least another model year too.

Newly installed Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen, formerly with Audi and Infiniti, noted that the flagship model will extend GM’s luxury brand’s range. He also pointed out that the vehicle will lift Cadillac in other ways. “In addition to new technology in the car itself, we are instituting innovative manufacturing techniques to assemble it with the precision deserving of a luxury make,” stated de Nysschen.

Cadillac sales are down 4.7 percent year-to-date in a market that is experiencing double-digit increases. The brand should erase its shortfall by year end as new ATS coupe and Navigator models draw people to Cadillac showrooms.

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept.

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept.

Omega Platform

The flagship Cadillac will be built on GM’s all-new Omega platform, itself derived from the Alpha platform underpinning the ATS and CTS. Even so, the cost for launching the new platform cannot be paid by a vehicle selling for upwards of six figures, given that fewer than 10,000 units will be sold each year.

Auto Trends believes that there are two models that will ultimately be derived from Omega: Buick’s large coupe, what likely will sport the Riviera moniker, and the next generation Escalade SUV. The most recent generation Escalade was introduced for the 2015 model year, but its run is expected to be a short one. My guess is that the Riviera will debut by 2017 and the Omega-based Escalade by 2018.

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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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