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GM will launch a new Cadillac flagship sedan next year

Cadillac
A Cadillac SRX is for sale at a dealership in Chicago. GM is working to rebuild the brand and will add a new flagship sedan next year.
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

General Motors plans to bring out a new flagship sedan for its struggling Cadillac brand at the end of next year.

The automaker said the “top-end, high-technology car” will be made at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant starting at the end of next year and will be targeted at customers in the U.S. and China.

GM said it will make the name public soon and will show off the car for the first time next year.

Despite introducing several new models in recent years, Cadillac is looking to reverse a sales slide and prove that its products are equal to other luxury offerings from the German and Japanese automakers.

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“The objective for this upcoming model is to lift the Cadillac range by entering the elite class of top-level luxury cars,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. “Currently in development, this new rear wheel drive-oriented sedan uses completely new, custom-designed materials on a unique vehicle architecture.”

A GM spokesman said the model will have two high-technology functions that GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has previously said will go into future Cadillac vehicles. It will drive partially in an auto-pilot mode and will be able to exchange speed and safety data with similarly equipped vehicles.

The Cadillac’s “Super Cruise” system will allow drivers to switch the vehicle into a semi-automated mode in which it will automatically keep the car in its lane, making necessary steering adjustments, and autonomously trigger braking and speed control to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Barra called it “hands-free, feet-free” driving.

The model also will be equipped with so called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology. When enough autos on the highways have V2V communication, the technology is expected to reduce collisions and ease traffic congestion. Cars will send and receive basic safety information such as location, speed and direction of travel between vehicles as they approach each other. The data exchange will warn drivers and trigger safety features, such as forward collision warning systems.

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In a move to reinvigorate Cadillac, GM hired De Nysschen from Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand this year to oversee the brand’s design and sales. Previously he worked at Volkswagen’s Audi brand.

Cadillac presents a challenge, said Jack Nerad, an analyst at car shopping company Kelley Blue Book.

“Their styling has run its course,” Nerad said. “The origami sharp creases and folds are way past its prime.”

Another problem is that Cadillac’s small ATS, a new model, and its recently redesigned CTS are “good cars but don’t seem to have resonated with consumers,” Nerad said. “They have not had the effect that GM expected.”

Through the first eight months of this year, Cadillac’s U.S. sales dipped 5% from the same period a year earlier to just 114,008 vehicles, according to Autodata Corp. That’s about half the sales of Mercedes-Benz, the luxury category leader, and trails other major luxury brands such as BMW, Lexus and Audi.

Coming out with a big rear-wheel drive Cadillac might restore some of the brand’s luster, Nerad said. Such a car lead the brand through its glory years a generation ago.  But he doubts De Nysschen will bring back the traditional name – the Sedan Deville.

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