In a move akin to how luxury houses debut new fashion collections, Cadillac today launches its new XT5 crossover-utility vehicle in partnership with New York fashion label Public School at a co-branded event in Dubai (hashtags: #CADILLACxPSNY and #ParallelsByDesign) which includes a look at the designers’ pre-fall menswear collection.
The XT5 replaces its current SRX utility vehicle and will provide the cornerstone of a new series of crossovers. Bigger picture, it’s the cornerstone of a rescue plan for a luxury brand that has foundered for a couple of years as a new leadership team has laid the pieces in place for an intended fleshing out of its SUV-thin product line and a repositioning of its iconic marque.
The first-ever SUV to use Cadillac’s new nomenclature system and brand architecture—”XT” now denotes all crossovers and SUVs except the pre-existing Escalade, while “CT” applies to all new car models including the CT6 that will be launched in March—premieres this month at the Dubai and Los Angeles auto shows and begins production in the US and China in spring 2016.
“The all-new XT5 not only enters the most popular segment in the worldwide luxury auto market, it is the first of four new crossovers form Cadillac,” President Johan de Nysschen said in a statement. “It’s pivotal to our ongoing growth, which is why we’ve developed XT5 from the inside out to provide customers with more space, more technology, more luxury and more efficiency.”
Besides a brand image that had grown diffuse until Cadillac staked out its “Dare Greatly” positioning this year and moved its sales and marketing offices to New York from Detroit, Cadillac arguably has been hurt more than anything by its lack of strong and multiple entries in the crossover and SUV segment. This is the fastest-growing part of the entire automotive business, and especially so in the premium market.
While the hulking Cadillac Escalade has just gotten more and more popular—US sales were up by 11 percent, through October, compared with a year ago—it’s considered sort of a sub-brand by the Cadillac brain trust, and de Nysschen right away recognized the need for getting his company a robust line of utility vehicles soon after he took the job in mid-2014.
In fact, Cadillac’s aging SRX, which XT5 soon will replace, has managed to sell 25 percent more units so far this year than in 2014, so eager are Cadillac buyers to access a utility vehicle. SRX sales were up 46 percent in October globally.
“This is excellent, as it means we have a strong base of customers to build upon, while also continuing our mission to attract new buyers,” Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s CMO, told brandchannel. The surge in SRX sales means “we are embedded as a serious competitor” in the SUV segment even without a new model to tout until XT5, he said.
“The XT5 will offer these customers upgrades in every way—a superb interior, more space, improved performance. And the interior is a new design direction from Cadillac,” Ellinghaus noted, “influenced by our partnerships with emerging designers” such as Public School.
In fact, Cadillac partnered with the fashion label a few weeks ago at a New York City event to showcase its latest menswear collection as well as provide a sneak peek at the XT5. And now Public School is co-hosting the formal unveiling of XT5 at the Dubai auto show, which will be followed by its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
— Cadillac Europe (@CadillacEurope) November 9, 2015
“This is an American fashion brand that has garnered tremendous success,” Ellinghaus said about Public School, “and is now expanding outside the US for the first time.”
There is a “true parallel” with Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” repositioning, and its global expansion, he said, “in the sense that their fashion design has a link to how Cadillac designers approach interior materials, color and craftsmanship. Then you have a parallel from an entrepreneurial perspective—two creative American brands expanding outside the US.”
— Public School (@PublicSchoolNYC) November 9, 2015