News - Cadillac CT6
GM takes the plunge with Chinese Cadillac exports
Going east: The plug-in hybrid variant of Cadillac’s top model, the CT6, will be made in China for North America in a toe-in-the-water exercise for General Motors.
US to get flagship plug-in Cadillac CT6 from China in a pivotal move for GM
20 January 2016
GENERAL Motors will start exporting its all-new flagship Cadillac CT6 PHEV
(plug-in hybrid vehicle) from China to North America late this year in a move
that could prove to be a watershed in international car manufacturing.
Although the numbers will be small – an estimated 1000 vehicles a year or just
five per cent of CT6 sales in the US – the significance of such a
quintessential American brand sourcing its most sophisticated product from its
joint-venture plant in Shanghai will not be lost on anyone on the car industry.
The full-sized but lightweight limo was designed by a team led by former Holden
designer Andrew Smith and sits on a revolutionary new mixed-material platform,
called Omega, engineered by a team led by Australian Trevor Hester.
The petrol-electric version, using a drivetrain with many components lifted
from Chevrolet’s new Volt, will only be built in China where it is scheduled to
be launched late this year.
The bulk of CT6 production, using twin-turbo V6 and V8 petrol engines, will be
made in GM’s Detroit-Hamtramk plant, with sales set to start in the US next
The plan to export the Chinese CT6 PHEV was first reported in Detroit this week
and then confirmed by GM spokesperson David Caldwell to The Wall Street
It will become the second Chinese-made GM product to be confirmed for North
American sale, with the Buick Envision mid-size SUV already a lock for the US.
With its Chinese joint-venture partner SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry
Corporation), GM is China’s biggest motor manufacturer, selling a record 3.6
million vehicles in 2015 – more than it shifted in its home market.
Cadillac sales in China soared 17 per cent, to almost 80,000 units. The luxury
wing of GM hopes to achieve 500,000 global sales by 2020, up from 277,868
While the CT6 and Envision will be the first Chinese-made GM vehicles to land
in US showrooms, Volvo has already beaten them to the punch, starting exports
of the long-wheelbase S60 Inscription from the south-west Chinese city of
Chendu to North America last year. Again, these are small numbers, as a
Until now, Chinese vehicle exports have been largely confined to Chinese
domestic players attempting to find a global footing. These have included
Chery, Great Wall and its Haval SUV sub-brand, Geely, Foton and SAIC’s MG.
While they have enjoyed some level of success in developing markets, poor
quality and less than satisfactory safety ratings have largely stymied growth
of Chinese vehicles in western markets such as Australia where sophisticated,
well-entrenched players armed with high quality products have provided stiff
In the case of Cadillac, GM has spent large sums to prepare its Pudong factory,
in the suburbs of Shanghai, for CT6 production, and will be extremely mindful
that any misstep could skittle Chinese vehicle sales in the US and other
western markets for a long time.
On the other hand, a successful export program with consumer acceptance could
open other doors for Chinese vehicles on the world stage, not just for GM but
many other manufacturers, including GM's major rival in China, Volkswagen and
its luxury offshoot Audi.
For Australia, a Cadillac rebirth with the CT6 after the still-born effort in
the global financial crisis will hinge on new diesel engines that are said to
be in the pipeline for future models.