Cadillac leads GM's push for electrics, remains bullish on China

Cadillac is leading the charge for General Motors' push into the electric vehicle market, with the automaker revealing on Sunday that its first vehicle of the kind will be a crossover SUV.

“The industry itself is facing an impending shift towards electrification and automated driving," Cadillac President Steve Carlisle told FOX Business' Jeff Flock at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The company unveiled the upcoming vehicle at the 2019 North American International Auto Show on Sunday, though little is known about it. The luxury brand said the name and other details would be revealed closer to its launch.

While some skeptics doubt the practicality of electric vehicles due to the range of its batteries and locations to recharge, Carlisle said the technology used today has improved "leaps and bounds" from what it used to be.

"I think a lot of the barriers to adoption that if we were 10 years ago, a lot of those are starting to move in a direction that’ll be favorable to adoption," Carlisle said, adding that the brand formed a partnership to provide customers access to 10,000 charging points across the U.S.

“We’re at one of those transition points that you only see generationally in any sector, so we’re thrilled to be here," he added.

In addition to its push toward electrics, the brand remains bullish on the Chinese auto sector, despite a lackluster equity market in the country and ongoing trade tensions with the U.S.

“It’s like any market, there’s distinct headwinds and tailwinds in China," Carlisle said. "And like others, we’re hopeful that – and they’re indications that somehow this trade situation will get settled out, and I think that’s beneficial for everybody.”


The Chinese auto market as a whole has been less than rosy over the past year, mainly because of the trade war (including auto tariffs) with the U.S. and sluggish year for Chinese stocks. Sales in the country fell 6 percent to 22.7 million units last year, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Cadillac said its sales in the country rose 46 percent in 2018 versus the prior year, reaching more than 116,000 units. Most of the vehicles Cadillac sells in China are also made in the country, according to Carlisle.

"Cadillac there is growing faster than any luxury brand and a very desirable demographic of young buyers," the Cadillac executive said. "A lot of them are first-time buyers, so there’s a lot to be enthusiastic about in China as well.”