August 19, 2014 at 7:02 pm

GM to build large Cadillac sedan on new platform

General Motors Co.’s top product development executive confirmed Tuesday that the automaker will build a large Cadillac sedan on a new platform.

Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said Cadillac is working on the car that would come out in about a year. Bloomberg and other media outlets recently reported that GM planned to build a top-range, rear-wheel drive Cadillac car that would be available late next year.

The big Cadillac is expected to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S Class and BMW 7-Series. It would be positioned above Cadillac’s full-size XTS sedan. A year ago, Cadillac debuted its acclaimed Elmiraj full-size concept vehicle.

Reuss said having an entry in the top luxury segment is important for Cadillac if it is compete as a serious luxury carmaker.

“What we do there has got to be a symbol of excellence...,” Reuss told reporters following an event in Detroit honoring GM Student Corps interns. “This is a car that Cadillac needs that will define this brand in terms of innovation and excellence.”

Analysts are looking for the big Cadillac to go into production in late 2015.

Reuss said Cadillac also is looking at the lower end of the market, below its entry compact ATS.

Cadillac brand sales are down 2 percent in the U.S. this year through July. ATS and XTS sedan sales have struggled, both sliding more than 20 percent through July.

The company just rolled out a newly designed 2015 Escalade SUV. Reuss said the company has taken time to make additional quality checks at its Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas. That delayed some shipments of the SUVs to dealers. “We’re making sure that the vehicle has the quality that I demand, that we demand and our customers demand,” he told reporters.

Reuss spoke as part of a celebration for more than 100 students from Detroit- and Flint-area high schools who were employed as student interns through GM this summer. GM Student Corps program participants worked to refurbish 15 schools and 17 parks in Metro Detroit and the Flint area this summer.

The program, in its second year, also included 13 University of Detroit Mercy student mentors, also paid GM interns, and 58 GM retiree mentors. Reuss told reporters he hopes to expand the program next summer to include Pontiac.

mburden@detroitnews.com