New York — General Motors Co.'s Cadillac brand, continuing on its path of image reinvention, debuted the full-size 2016 CT6 luxury sedan Tuesday in Brooklyn, near the brand's soon-to-be global headquarters.
The CT6, a stylish sedan larger than the XTS, has a lightweight mixed-materials body built from aluminum and l0 other materials. The five-passenger car is one of eight new vehicles Cadillac plans to launch by the end of the decade as part of a $12 billion infusion to expand Cadillac. The car is aimed to compete with the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and is especially important to the brand's growth plans in China.
Hundreds of media, influencers and executives packed a posh Brooklyn party to see the CT6 revealed.
"This is an important night for Cadillac," Johan de Nysschen, president of the luxury brand, said. "It represents another milestone in our exciting history."
The CT6 was in development for four years, chief engineer Travis Hester said.
"I love this car," de Nysschen said.
Talked about for months and teased in ads that aired during the Oscars in February, the CT6 was revealed ahead of press days for the New York International Auto Show. The unveiling comes amid a bevy of luxury models premiering this week in the country's top luxury market. Lincoln Motor Co. earlier this week showed its Continental Concept, based heavily on the large Lincoln sedan that will come next year, along with a new RX SUV from Lexus and the XF sedan from Jaguar.
The latest Cadillac is built on a lighter and stiffer architecture. Cadillac says the CT6 weighs less than 3,700 pounds, but is eight inches longer than the Cadillac CTS.
Cadillac says the CT6 has an industry-first, 360-degree exterior video recording system and a rear camera that streams high-resolution video to the rearview mirror to expand visibility for drivers. Other features include seats with five massage programs and Cadillac's first Bose Panaray audio system with 34 speakers and rear-seat infotainment system.
"The CT6 is nothing less than an entirely new approach to premium luxury — and an approach only Cadillac can offer," de Nysschen, who took over as president of Cadillac last fall, said in a statement.
"Luxury brands are built from the top down," Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac's chief marketing officer, said in a statement. "Adding a dynamic, top-of-the-range car is central to Cadillac's elevation and global growth."
The industry will be looking at the rollout as Cadillac prepares to move to New York under new leadership, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive: "I think there's so much attention on this, on changing the image for Cadillac."
Cadillac vehicles have been hailed by critics the past few years, but sales haven't measured up: Cadillac's U.S. sales fell 6.5 percent last year.
Cadillac officials hope the bigger sedan will begin to change the conversation about Cadillac
"This is a car designed for passionate drivers," Andrew Smith, Cadillac global design executive director, said in a statement. "CT6 is low, wide and sleek, which is just what you'd expect in a lightweight performance sedan."
Three engine choices are available: a 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder; 3.6-liter V-6 and new 3-liter V-6 twin-turbo engine that will generate an estimated 400 horsepower. The engines are paired with eight-speed transmissions.
The car is available in rear-wheel drive or with on-demand all-wheel drive.
The CT6 will be built beginning late this year at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. GM said it also will build the CT6 for the Chinese market at a new facility in China starting early next year.
Pricing has not been announced.
LMC Automotive expects CT6 sales to range between 8,000 to 10,000 a year in the U.S. starting in 2016, likely near the 8,000 mark, Schuster said.
IHS Automotive forecasts the new sedan will drive sales for the brand globally, selling 52,000 per year by 2019. U.S. sales are expected to range about 15,000 a year, IHS says.
IHS Automotive's senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said the CT6 will be a high-volume model for Cadillac in China. Cadillac — like Lincoln with its Continental concept unveiled earlier this week — is paying extra attention to space and features for rear-seat passengers, things extra important to Chinese buyers. Cadillac also has a new, larger-than-CT6 car in the works, but for now the CT6 "sets the tone," Brinley said.
The CT6 also will be sold in Europe, Korea, Japan, Israel and the Middle East, with vehicles exported beginning in early 2016 for those markets from Detroit-Hamtramck.
De Nysschen has said he wants Cadillac to hit an "ambitious" 500,000 sales per year globally by 2020. Last year, Cadillac sold 263,697 vehicles globally, as worldwide sales grew 5 percent.