During a conversation with a friend the other day our conversation turned to the automotive and automotive industries, particularly future models and potential innovations. During this discussion, a friend of mine asked a question that was rhetorical at the time, and he quickly moved on to another. Only then, looking back, did I have the opportunity to think a little more and realize that this issue deserves deeper study. The question he asked himself was mostly simple: is the Cadillac shift on electric cars (EVs) good or bad?
It’s not quite the way he formulated it, but it comes down to the point – he created it primarily to respond to it with his own thoughts on Cadillac and whatever their future lineup. But I think this issue deserves further consideration and I will address it as best I can. You will certainly have to draw your own conclusions, but I would say that this shift is beneficial as long as they are serious about it and actually put in the work to achieve something real.
According to GM’s management, they plan to switch exclusively to the EV model over the next decade or so, and Cadillac is a significant part of that. People at the top at Cadillac have echoed this view and have repeatedly backed up the idea, setting 2035 as the target year when their lineup will be fully electric. Sometimes they talk about it in terms of decades, saying they want to start the 2030s with the EV lineup, but I tend to think of it mostly as marketing. The real deadline for GM and Cadillac – and many other manufacturers – is 2035.
Why 2035? Because if things stay the way they are, then states like California will require that all new vehicles sold to consumers be EVs. Starting January 1, 2035, any new model of internal combustion engine (ICE) made by any manufacturer will not be sold in California. This is a huge part of the U.S. car market that has been increasingly sliding towards EV over the last decade or so.
Probably in the next few years we will see that more states will pass similar legislation, looking at California as a fashion legislator. The fact is that the 2035 marker is not just what GM wants to do inside; California is going to keep them up before that, and other states probably are too. The question, of course, is whether Cadillac will be able to meet this schedule and achieve the goal they set for themselves.
Future models and potential
Right now, the prospects for the lineup of all EVs from Cadillac are a bit ambiguous, which is not very good for them and their efforts to reach that deadline. In fairness, the lack of chips, which has been going on for the second year, has definitely affected Cadillac – along with the rest of the industry – and how well they can produce new, technologically advanced vehicles. This is something that cannot be overlooked and is really important when trying to figure out how well they will actually be able to convey what they have said.
Cadillac has two EV models that they are talking about, starting with Lyriq, which is scheduled to premiere in 2023. As far as I’m concerned, it’s great for Cadillac because it will set the tone for what people expect. If it has a disastrous start or decides to break out like Chevy Bolt EV (not because I have reason to think it will happen), then it will make the future much harder for Cadillac.
The second big EV model they’ve announced is the Celestiq, which looks absolutely gorgeous but won’t be available for a few more years – at best, it will probably be the 2025 model. Assuming Cadillac can reach that release date, that means they will only have two EV models that will be available in just ten years until 2035. They’ve been talking about this fully electric future for a couple of years now, showing nothing real for it, and that’s what worries me the most.
If you look at future cars from Cadillac, there are only two models they have announced: the Celestiq and the 2023 Escalade-V, which is far from electric. Cadillac now sells five ICE models: CT4, CT5, XT4, XT5 and Escalade; plus four more V-series and Blackwing performance options. That’s essentially nine different ICE options now and only two EVs on the horizon … not really.
For now, let’s assume that Cadillac can indeed reach that deadline in 2035 and only offer EV models in 13 years. Is that good? I would say yes, it is an absolutely good thing and it is useful for several different reasons. To begin with, of course, we have had an impact on the environment of cars with internal combustion engines over the last 100 years and how they have contributed to man-made climate change through pollution and exhaust fumes.
Eliminating ICE vehicles will not save the world overnight, but it is a good start, especially if we can move away from coal and the highly polluting methods used to generate electricity for most of the world. The more clean energy produced and used to power vehicles, the less pollution and waste that benefits everyone. Yes, I know there are many different factors: the carbon footprint, the production of batteries for EV, the recycling of batteries, etc. that affect the environment from the transition to the EV line.
There is no perfect solution, but switching from gas-burning engines, which consume huge amounts of fossil fuels and pollute the environment, is a good step in the right direction. Every step in this direction helps to prevent a catastrophe at the level of extinction, which I generally consider “useful”. It may take a hundred steps or a thousand to get there, but that doesn’t mean none of them are worth going to.
Competition and innovation
Apart from environmental factors, there is another serious reason why Cadillac switched to EV – it’s competition. Our capitalist rulers like to remind us that “competition is good for the economy” is usually coming up with a new way to try to eliminate competition for their business to make more money. Apart from cognitive dissonance, competition is actually good for us as customers because it pushes companies to make an effort to get our money.
As long as Tesla can remain the king of luxury EVs in the US, they will be free to be lazy – something that already seems to be happening with reports of a serious decline in the quality of their cars over the past year or so. If Cadillac is seriously trying to capture the EV market, then Tesla will have to innovate and actually make some effort to retain customers or win new ones. Since we’re the potential customers we’re talking about, that’s good; it’s not easy Tesla either; any manufacturer who wants to make a luxury EV will have to look at what Cadillac does, and go even further.
Who does it help?
After all, at least theoretically, you can see that this should help us as people on this planet, and as customers who want to buy our next car. It could also help Cadillac rebrand itself as a youthful and “trendy” luxury brand rather than what Grandpa rides. Cadillac sold 182,543 models in the U.S. in 2013, but only 118,032 cars last year – apart from the pandemic, their sales have been declining for years. I would say that Cadillac was in something like a rut other than their V-Series models, which left them shrinking the market. Moving to EV with real efforts towards innovation and transformation may be exactly what they need to find new life and become relevant for decades to come.
Cadillac Going EV is good (hopefully)
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