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GM plans to challenge Tesla with Cadillac as its lead electric vehicle brand

GM will position Cadillac as their lead EV brand in a mission to catch up to Tesla in the US electric vehicle market, according to sources talking to Reuters.

They report that GM will announce these plans to investors on Friday. They are expected to announce that a Cadillac vehicle will be the first car made on their upcoming next-generation “BEV3” platform. This would be the first all-electric Cadillac GM has made or announced.

So far, we have no other details and GM is not expected to release any other details about the upcoming Cadillac in the Friday update.

Cadillac’s previous entries into the electrification space included the Cadillac ELR and the Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrids.

The ELR was a plug-in hybrid based on the Volt platform with an upgraded interior and two fewer doors.  It sold poorly due to its high introductory price, almost twice the Volt’s base price despite having the same internals.

Eventually, GM dealers lowered the price to around $50,000 and managed to sell a few more cars to some pretty happy owners, but the adventure was short-lived and the car was killed off after only two model years in existence (2014 and 2016). GM also announced the end of the Volt, the car the ELR was based on, late last year.

The Cadillac CT6 was actually a quite impressive offering when compared to other powertrains in the CT6 line, offering more power, more efficiency and a lower price than similarly-equipped gas models.  Alas, GM managed to sell very few of them and killed the project along with the Volt at the end of last year.

GM, for their part, has made other electric vehicles, including the excellent Chevy Bolt, and has sold more vehicles with a plug in the US than any company other than Tesla.

Electrek’s Take

GM is one of the larger, stodgier automakers out there.  So they deserve great credit for taking EVs seriously before almost anybody else. The Volt came to market before the Model S, and the Bolt came to market before the Model 3, and both were very capable entries into the market for their time.

What GM doesn’t deserve credit for, though, is their lack of focus on selling electric vehicles. Despite all the large talk about upcoming vehicle models and declarations that they will become a leader in the space, those mostly have not materialized.

We hear commitments that this dominance will come in the future, yet that future never comes.  The Bolt EV was meant to compete with the Model 3, yet Tesla is outselling that vehicle roughly 10:1 – despite the Bolt still boasting an almost $10,000 lower price.

And the CT6 plug-in should have been an easy sell for any CT6 shopper and also for many Model S shoppers, but GM has sold fewer than 500 of them in the US.  Ever.  In the same time, Tesla has sold roughly a hundred times as many Model S – again, at a higher average selling price.

The market for quality EVs is obviously there, demand does exist, but automakers, including GM, seem uninterested in selling EVs.  Meanwhile, the only company fully committed to selling them, the one GM intends to challenge with this move, is going gangbusters.

So we of course hope, once again, that automakers’ threats will materialize, and that they will start taking plug-in sales seriously, and start challenging Tesla.  The more electric vehicles out there, and the fewer gas-powered vehicles, the better for all of us.

Volvo recently announced a similar, but more ambitious, move, resurrecting their Polestar brand with a luxury performance electric vehicle focus.  While GM’s move falls short of that, it’s nice to see them trying to position one of their better-respected brands as a leader in EVs.  Hopefully they will move further in this direction in the future.

GM has as good a chance as any to make this happen in the US with a well-regarded, classically American brand like Cadillac – but they need to give their full effort, not half-measures.  We would welcome that effort, should it come.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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