General Motors plans electric Cadillacs for Australia

General Motors has kept a low profile in Australia since Holden closed two years ago – with Chevrolet pickups and Corvettes – but the US auto giant is now considering a rollout of its luxury brand’s electric vehicles Cadillac.

US car giant General Motors plans to expand its modest Australian lineup – which today includes Chevrolet pick-ups and Corvette sports cars – starting with the possible rollout of electric Cadillacs in the next few years.

Cadillac was due to be relaunched in Australia in 2008 – having left the local market once General Motors created Holden in 1948 – but bailed out those plans after the global financial crisis bankrupted GM.

General Motors relaunched plans for future Australian models a decade later – telling Australian media in 2018 that it was preparing for another comeback – but the global pandemic then halted Cadillac’s international expansion.

Now it looks like General Motors is preparing its third Cadillac resurrection in Australia in two decades.

This week, senior General Motors executives told a small group of Australian and New Zealand media – invited by the auto giant to test drive a selection of its latest vehicles in Detroit – that the era of the electric car could accelerate plans to bring Cadillac to right-hand drive markets.

It is prohibitively expensive to develop left-hand and right-hand drive versions of petrol cars when a left-hand drive vehicle sells in the millions overseas, but only a few thousand in Australia.

With that in mind, it’s unclear at this time whether future electric models from General Motors will be factory-built in right-hand drive (as is the case with the low-volume, high-output Corvette sports car). or remanufactured locally. (as is the case with the Chevrolet Silverado pickup).

It is also possible that both options will be considered.

One approach could be to offer a select number of Cadillac electric cars that were factory-built right-hand drive, as well as a number of electric Hummer or Silverado electric models that would be locally rebuilt right-hand drive.

Conduct understands the higher profit margins of Cadillac, Hummer and Silverado vehicles – and the simplicity of electric car designs – means a factory-built right-hand-drive Cadillac is a possibility, but full-size pickups such as the Hummer electric and electric Silverado would likely be locally refurbished.

If General Motors decides early on that it wants to sell certain left-hand drive models in right-hand drive markets, engineers can “protect” a vehicle’s structure, to facilitate right-hand drive manufacturing. on the main assembly line – or at a remanufacturing plant after it was originally built in left-hand drive.

“The conversion between left-hand drive and right-hand drive becomes something that we have to design and develop in advance, but it’s much simpler than having an engine in front of you,” said Shilpan Armin, vice -senior chairman of General Motors and Chairman of GM International said Conduct in Detroit.

“We announced that beyond the (all-electric) Hummer truck, a Hummer SUV is in the works, but we have a whole range of electric vehicle portfolios. There are also apps across a wide range of brands and platforms.

“It’s important for us to design and develop a scalable platform, a platform that we could use for Silverado Electric for example,” Armin said.

“The development time with an electric vehicle platform is less than half that of a (petrol) vehicle.

“That means we can learn from a customer point of view or issue, and then we can design, develop, and bring that solution to market much faster.”

Cadillac will be at the center of GM’s push toward a future electric market outside of North America.

Indeed, no new gas-powered cars will be developed for Cadillac after 2026. Existing models will still be sold, but all newly designed Cadillacs from 2026 will be electric.

“We don’t make plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, we believe in an electric future,” said Christian Soemmer, president and general manager of strategic markets, alliances and distributors at Cadillac. Conduct.

“We think we have a much stronger opportunity with our electric vehicles and we want to double down on electric vehicles rather than transitional technology.”

Soemmer was referring to plug-in hybrids and closed-loop hybrids, technologies he says are just stopgap measures.

In response to the current cost of electric vehicles relative to gasoline or hybrid cars, Soemmer said he believes price parity will come.

“The Cadillac Lyric platform has a 40% advantage over today’s battery costs,” he said. “I think by 2030 there should be (price) parity.”

Although General Motors executives have provided a number of clues about the company’s plans to introduce right-hand drive electric models as part of its global expansion – either as factory-built cars or as locally rebuilt vehicles – GM representatives in Australia would not be attracted. the likelihood of those plans coming to fruition, when the vehicles might be in showrooms, or what price range they might be in.

Given that General Motors has had two failed attempts to relaunch Cadillac in Australia over the past two decades, it’s obvious the company wants the third attempt to stick – and isn’t ready to announce anything until it’s done. to have reached the point of no return.

General Motors last sent the first shipment of around 100 Cadillac sedans to Australia in 2008 – and invited the media to a test drive launch – but suddenly pulled the pin in late January 2009.

The cars were shipped to New Zealand and sold there, and the Cadillac signage was returned to GM before dealers had time to install the panels.

Trent Nikolic

Trent Nikolic has been road testing and writing about cars for almost 20 years. He has worked at CarAdvice/Drive since 2014 and has served as Automotive Editor at NRMA, Overlander 4WD Magazine, Hot4s and Auto Salon Magazine.

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