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Cadillac said Thursday it will unveil its large, flagship CT6 sedan March 31, and has invested $300 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant to build the vehicle.

General Motors Co. said the new vehicle will use advanced mixed-material manufacturing techniques. It goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015. The vehicle will debut at the New York International Auto Show. Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said the advanced material mix of aluminum and steel would expand to Cadillac’s entire lineup.

De Nysschen declined to disclose the price or fuel economy of the all-new model, but said the CT6 would be Cadillac’s most expensive vehicle, and would be a “large spacious car” that would be as fuel efficient as a mid-size car.

GM said a new body shop with new tooling and advanced technologies — including 205 robots — has been added at Detroit-Hamtramck.

In an appearance at the Washington Auto Show, De Nysschen said the luxury brand is improving; he reiterated that Cadillac would invest $12 billion and add eight new vehicles by 2020. And he said Cadillac plans to unveil diesel SUVs and cars in the United States and Europe around 2019.

De Nysschen said Cadillac’s new product cadence “would really start hitting” the brand in late ’17, ’18 and ’19. “We have to use this time to prepare. We need to work on the brand. We need to work on the dealer experience. We need to work on the quality of the business.”

Cadillac has begun work on a high-performance, lightweight cross-over SUV that will be smaller than the Escalade — a “large functional SUV... with low fuel consumption,” de Nysschen said.

He said that would come to market no earlier than four years from now.

Cadillac is also introducing start-stop technology later this year and will greatly expand the use of cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy to both four- and six-cylinder engines.

De Nysschen defended his comments about Cadillac having too many U.S. dealers compared to its luxury rivals, but emphasized GM has no plans to try to reduce its Cadillac dealer fleet.

The needs of mainstream customers “whether we like this or not” are different than luxury customers, he said.

“It is illogical to assume that McDonald’s could deliver a fine French dining experience even as much as they might try, and that same philosophy is when you are an auto dealership,” de Nysschen said. He said when dealerships are geared around meeting the needs of mainstream customers, it it unrealistic that when a prospective Cadillac buyer walks in, “you can just change gears and take it to a new level.”

“Our challenge is to work constructively with our dealers to achieve this in the most pragmatic fashion,” he said in explaining the need to upgrade dealerships.

He will meet with Cadillac dealers Saturday at the National Automobile Dealers Association annual meeting in San Francisco.

Explaining the idea behind encouraging smaller dealers to build down-sized, standalone boutiques, he said he wants to turn the Cadillac dealer body “into a strong competitive advantage, ”

Cadillac’s sales fell 6.5 percent in the U.S. last year to less than 171,000 — the only one of GM’s four brands in 2014 to shrink — but Cadillac was up slightly worldwide. De Nysschen said he expected sales to be flat this year.

“Of course I want to sell more cars, but I want to sell them in the right way,” de Nysschen said explaining efforts planned for 2015 to get inventory levels and incentives “under control,” stabilize the business and improve average transaction prices.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com

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