LOS ANGELES -- Cadillac plans to equip most of its vehicles in coming years with plug-in hybrid versions to meet tightening regulations, especially in China, brand boss Johan de Nysschen said.
"For us, the avenue to ensure that we are able to play in China is going to be through plug-in hybrids," de Nysschen said on the sidelines of the auto show here last week.
That means for now, Cadillac won't be among the pack of luxury and performance brands rushing to market an electric vehicle to take on Tesla's Model S. One reason: It doesn't need EVs to comply with U.S. fuel economy and emissions regulations, de Nysschen said.
Tucked away inside General Motors, Cadillac gets to ride the coattails of the Chevrolet Volt and other fuel-sipping cars in the GM stable because the federal government's fuel economy regulations take a blended average of all GM vehicles.
It's a luxury that stand-alone rival brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW don't have, de Nysschen explained.
"That removes to some extent the immediate imperative" to do a Tesla fighter, he said.
Instead, the plug-in hybrid system that will be available on the CT6 sedan by late 2016 in both the U.S. and China should be the first of many for Cadillac. The system had its stateside debut at the show here.
It combines a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with an adaptation of the electric drive unit from the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which uses two electric motors and an 18.4-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack (though packaged differently). The CT6 plug-in hybrid will get up to 30 miles on a single charge and have a mpg equivalent rating of at least 65.
De Nysschen said plug-in hybrids are more practical than EVs and eliminate range anxiety.
"We think that those cars anyway offer the advantage that they effectively can be a full EV, but they are not subjected to the constraints of a still-immature charging infrastructure," he said, adding that "most" of Cadillac's lineup eventually will be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
He stressed, though, that a full EV still is on Cadillac's to-do list -- "just on the longer time horizon," he said.
"Once we've covered all the bases" of filling out Cadillac's relatively thin lineup and expanding plug-ins, de Nysshcen said, "then we'll turn our eye to doing a full EV. It's definitely not something I exclude."