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Cadillac is going all-in on EVs, bringing real model names back with them

President Steve Carlisle says Cadillac could be an EV-only brand by 2030 if the demand is there.

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A teaser sketch of Cadillac's upcoming electric crossover.

Cadillac

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle outlined the brand's electrification plans to journalists on Thursday in Detroit, making the bold statement that Cadillac could be an EV-only brand by 2030. (Key word there is could.) Cadillac is entering the new decade as an internal combustion engine brand, but the end of the 2020s will be "the end of the ICE age," as Carlisle joked. The brand will be in a position by 2030 to go fully electric -- and if consumer demand is there, it will. At the very least, the majority of Cadillacs sold by then will be electric, with the brand's focus completely on EVs.

Now, that doesn't mean Cadillac is stopping any sort of internal-combustion development. It intends to continue developing new powertrains and related tech, as Cadillac doesn't believe the electrification push will really happen until the middle of the coming decade. Hybrids, PHEVs and hydrogen fuel-cell cars, though, aren't in the cards. While the transition is happening Cadillac will have competing entries in segments for a while. For instance, both a gas-powered midsize crossover and an electric midsize crossover might be on sale at the same time.

The first EV we'll see from Cadillac is a large crossover that was previewed earlier this year, shown in the images in this story. Carlisle says development is "moving along very well," and we'll hear more about it in the first quarter of 2020. The initial range target is over 300 miles, which aligns with current consumer demands, but that goal will quickly move towards 400-plus miles as time goes on and battery tech improves. It will be built on a new EV-only platform that accommodates multiple drivetrain setups.

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We'll learn more about the electric Caddy crossover early next year.

Cadillac

When asked if Cadillac would consider entering any new segments with an EV that the brand isn't already in, Carlisle said it's a possibility. EVs offer lots of new possibilities, so a "really cool electric car" could be created for a segment that Cadillac might not otherwise consider entering with a gas-powered car. And becoming a fully electric brand doesn't mean Cadillac will have to exit segments that it's already in, either. There will be a fully electric Escalade, for instance, and that might even appear during the soon-to-debut fifth-gen model's lifecycle.

Carlisle is excited about the performance that will come with EVs, too. "The performance you'll get on each and every EV is exciting," said Carlisle. "We're looking forward to a much higher level of performance on everything across the range." When asked about the possibility of an electric sports car he stayed coy, especially when the idea of a mid-engine Cadillac supercar was brought up. It would have to be mid-battery instead anyway, he said, as there would be a motor at each corner in such a theoretical, totally-not-C8-Corvette-based car. Racing is something that's on his mind, too, but don't place bets on Cadillac entering Formula E just yet.

And in news that is sure to excite auto enthusiasts around the world, Cadillac's onslaught of electric cars will bring real model names with them -- no more confusing alphanumerics like CT5 and XT6. We don't yet know if it means the return of classic nameplates like Brougham and DeVille, but we think fresher names are more likely.

As for why Cadillac is leading the electrification push ahead of other GM brands, it's fairly simple: New tech is expensive, and luxury consumers are "demonstrably more open-minded to electric cars and automated driving," said Carlisle. "[Cadillac] is at its best when it's leading in technology and innovation."