Ellinghaus said Cadillac is in a period of transition, lately focused on smaller and more performance-oriented vehicles, which has alienated a chunk of veteran customers and left others trying to figure out what Cadillac is about. He believes that "for a few more years, the products will probably be stronger than the brand," while he does his work of conveying what the company has to offer. But the brand had to make the switch, because "Generation X and Y will make 80 percent of all actual buyers in the next five years..."
On top of that, he'll be working on making sure the customer and dealership experiences are where they need to be. Speaking of dealers, Ellinghaus thinks the future will not be brick-and-mortar shops, but digital pickup-and-delivery services. "Nobody wants to go to a dealership for service and maintenance," he says.
He said the ELR has been "a big disappointment," but it has taught Cadillac that converting its existing line-up to plug-in hybrids is a better way forward. However, he characterized the plug-in hybrid as "the next all-wheel drive," in that everyone's going to offer it soon, so it will be "an entry ticket into luxury automobiles rather than a differentiating aspect." The CMO thinks the CTS is suffering because of the decline in the US midsize luxury sedan market in general thanks to the SUV and crossover craze, so the brand really needs another small SUV.
Head over to Automobile for more of Ellinghaus' intriguing answers, like "I do believe that very long-term hydrogen is really the way," and "it's time to get real" in Europe. Taking a dig at Volkswagen on that last matter, he also said, "I think the absence of the diesel is not as much of an issue as it was eight weeks ago."