When the Cadillac Ciel concept debuted in 2011 at the Concours d’Elegance classic car show, it represented the intention for a big, range-topping car that would truly compete with the top-spec offerings from its chief rivals, the European contingency. The Ciel not only indicated that General Motors (NYSE:GM) had more ambitious plans for the Cadillac brand, but hinted at the future styling cues for the company’s luxury marque as well.
Sadly, GM has confirmed that a sedan based on the Ciel — or a production representation of it — won’t be seeing production after all, as the company has decided that a $100,000 (or more) sedan would not be able to justify the investment that GM would have to sink in to get the vehicles on the road.
However, Automotive News says that the abandonment of plans for a Ciel-based car doesn’t negate plans for a large rear-wheel drive sedan to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series. Sources told the publication that development of that future Cadillac, to be built on a new rear-wheel platform dubbed Omega, is well under way, with a launch expected for the 2016 or 2017 model year.
Cadillac is continuing to release models that can more effectively match the portfolio range of its competitors. The introduction of the ATS put Cadillac on the map for a smaller luxury sedan that offered the Caddy badge at a more attractive entry-level price. However, the German competition continues to release vehicles spanning a full spectrum of cars — Cadillac does not yet have a full-size, $65,000-plus sedan, nor a fastback style model that would go head to head with Audi’s A7 or Mercedes’ CLS. Though the XTS is a large sedan, the company doesn’t yet offer a rear-wheel drive variation. Plans for the Omega platform did not reveal whether it would be sold congruently with the XTS, or in place of it.
GM CEO Dan Akerson told Automotive News back in November that he expected the company to make a decision to move forward on a range-topping flagship, or not. “This is a big bet for us,” he said at the time.
Cadillac has been playing with the idea of a top-spec, premium car for a while. In 2003, the company unveiled the Sixteen concept, which like its name implies, packed a beastly 16-cylinder engine under the hood. But like the now ill-fated Ciel, the Sixteen never made it to production.
A large sedan could also be important for the company to leverage the nameplate’s success in China, a flourishing luxury car market where Cadillac intends to triple its sales in the next two years or so. However, Cadillac’s slim slate of offerings (the company had just three models in Spring of 2013) have hindered outright success in the global market. By 2015, though, the brand is hoping to have 10 different models hitting the asphalt.