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Cadillac Escala Concept

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Cadillac Escala Concept

Controversy leads to hints on new Cadillac flagship and electrified powertrains

Cadillac will get a new flagship that won’t be a four-door sedan, and the brand has a new small car in the works, possibly to compete with the BMW 2 series and the front-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz CLA.

The revelations came in an unusual way: a lengthy retort online by Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen to an Internet report describing an alleged product squeeze at the General Motors luxury brand.

De Nysschen also noted that new powertrains are coming, including “new energy” units, which could mean hybrid, electric or fuel cell vehicles.

The Cadillac leader did not discuss timing for the new products. He wrote his response after the Aug. 18 debut of the Escala five-door luxury concept car during Monterey Car Week in California prompted an automotive website, The Detroit Bureau, to post a report about the brand’s shrinking future product plans.

The Cadillac Escala debuted at Pebble Beach before the yearly Concours d'Elegance.

Cadillac Escala concept

De Nysschen gave no details about the new flagship, but three possibilities seem evident: a version of the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette, which is widely expected to have a midmounted engine; a Bentley Bentayga-fighting SUV above the Escalade, which Cadillac has been studying, or a more distinctive vehicle such as the Escala, which has four doors and a rear-opening liftgate.

Another surprise in de Nysschen’s reply included Cadillac’s plan for a new small sedan he called “lux 2.” Cadillac sales have been hurt in part because buyers are abandoning sedans for light trucks. In August, the new XT5 crossover was the brand’s highest volume vehicle and Cadillac was the only GM brand to post a sales gain.

With the new CT6 large rear-wheel-drive sedan now in production, the front-wheel-drive XTS was expected to fade away. But de Nysschen wrote that the XTS will get “a major refresh.”

On the crossover front, de Nysschen said Cadillac plans a compact that slots below the XT5 — could this be based on the new version of the Chevrolet Equinox? — and a larger utility vehicle that fits under the truck-based Escalade.

The Escala's rear-opening lift gate exposes an ample cargo area.

2016 Cadillac Escala cargo area

Cadillac’s “new energy” powertrains are a mystery. The brand’s only hybrid, the ELR, did not sell well. But GM has said that it plans to have its new generation of fuel cell powertrains, developed with Honda, ready by 2020. An electric car, to compete with Tesla could also be in the works, as GM is just months away from launching the Chevrolet Bolt, which can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge.

“These programs are secure and development work is well underway, with very substantial costs already committed,” de Nysschen wrote in his reply to The Detroit Bureau. “I trust these unusually transparent insights which I have shared, will allay the fears of thousands of Cadillac fans who will greet your article with justified consternation.”

Source: The article “Cadillac boss spills product plans” first appeared on Automotive News.

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