PHOTO: Cadillac President Steve Carlisle sits in one of the pre-production Cadillac XT6’s at the General Motors Spring Hill Plant on Tuesday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Flying in from General Motors’ (GM) headquarters in Detroit, president of Cadillac Steve Carlisle came to visit the Saturn GM plant in Spring Hill Tuesday ahead of the launch of the Cadillac XT6: a seven-seat luxury crossover vehicle that will be produced exclusively at the plant.
First announced to be manufactured exclusively in Spring Hill back in January, which also saw the transfers of hundreds of GM workers from across the country, the Cadillac XT6 is currently in its pre-production phase, and will enter mass production sometime in early June. The vehicle is expected to be available to consumers sometime around August.
In what would be his first visit to the Spring Hill plant in over 20 years, Carlisle spoke to reporters, sharing his excitement of the progress made by Spring Hill’s GM workers, saying it was quite a sight to behold.
“We had a good look at the product, and of course, we’ve been working with that product for a number of years now leading up to the launch, so it’s really good to see them in the plural form,” Carlisle said. “We start the process with some sketches and clay models, and now to see the close-to-finished product was really good.”
Carlisle said one of his main reasons for visiting was to communicate with the Spring Hill team Cadillac’s vision going forward, and how its products are intended to fit into that vision.
“We took the opportunity with the Spring Hill team just to go through where we are with the state of Cadillac, where we are with the business, where we’re headed and how these two products fit into that,” Carlisle said. “We spent a lion’s share of the time just pouring over the product, getting ourselves aligned in terms of where we are, where we need to focus the remaining time in the launch process, and then talking about how we’re going to work together through the launch as we start to get vehicles out to dealers, customers and media.”
GM’s current mantra at the moment, something extensively talked about by its CEO Mary Barra, is its zero initiative – something Carlisle said the Cadillac, and by extension Spring Hill, will be at the forefront of.
“We’re in pursuit of a vision that Mary Barra has set out for us, which we call the triple zeros: zero congestion, zero collisions and zero emissions,” Carlisle said. “Cadillac is going to be the soonest and most complete representation of that. The significance of Spring Hill and this visit is XT5 is the largest segment globally for luxury crossovers, and XT6 is right behind it, and they fit very nicely into our portfolio as we fill it out. “
When asked what the XT6 may do to other Cadillac models such as the XT5, Carlisle said each model targets a distinct consumer base, and that production of the XT5 would continue as normal.
“Back to the customer at the center, there are pretty clearly defined customer segments for XT4’s, XT5’s, XT6’s and Escalades, so we see XT6 fits nicely in a space in the market between an XT5 as a two-row, and an Escalade as a three row,” Carlisle said. “In a way, we’re just reflecting the customer in the center.”
Carlisle said he was excited to have the Spring Hill team at the center of Cadillac’s future, and that its workers, along with the plant’s director Ken Knight, have proved themselves more than capable to excel at the job.
“The concentration of the Cadillac business in Spring Hill is quite unique, we’re right in the heart of the big segments here in Tennessee, it’s pretty darn exciting,” Carlisle said. “What really strikes me and other members of the team is just the experience that they bring. [Knight] had been through an even two-dozen product launches, so when you’re in my position, it really makes you feel good, because you know you’re in great hands.”
The Cadillac XT6 is described by GM as luxury crossover vehicle, and features three rows of seats, a 3.6-liter V6 engine, and is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $60,000. The estimated cost places the XT6 snugly between the XT5, which starts at $41,695, and the Escalade, which starts at $75,195.
The new Cadillac XT6. pic.twitter.com/BLZshvZn0l
— Alexander Willis (@ReporterWillis) January 24, 2019