DETROIT -- Top-end Cadillac CT6 models with the Super Cruise semiautonomous driving system will start at about $71,300 -- in-line with an entry-level, tax-credited Tesla Model S equipped with similar technology.
Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac chief marketing officer, on Thursday confirmed Super Cruise will be a $5,000 option beginning this fall on the CT6 Premium Luxury trim, which starts at $66,290, including shipping. The system, as first reported by Automotive News, will be standard on the top-end CT6 Platinum model. That model will start at $85,290, including shipping -- a $500 increase from the 2017 model year but the same as the initial 2018 pricing.
Super Cruise is part of an interim model-year addition that Cadillac is calling "2018i." The system was initially expected to be a $2,500 option on the two trim levels. However, a Cadillac spokesman earlier this week said the company has changed those plans.
Ellinghaus said making the system standard on the top trim level was important because it's a new technology that buyers may not even know they want until they use it.
"It is certainly a feature that once you have experienced it, you are totally sold on it and will never want to give it up," he told Automotive News, comparing Super Cruise to the adoption of head-up displays. "I think Super Cruise will go the same way."
Ellinghaus said Cadillac plans to have its network of more than 900 dealers have CT6 models with Super Cruise in their courtesy fleets so customers have a chance to experience it.
Super Cruise includes Cadillac's Driver Awareness and Convenience and Enhanced Vision and Comfort packages.
Cadillac launched an advertising campaign for the system Sunday night during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, calling Super Cruise "the world's first true hands-free driving system for the freeway" -- indirectly taking shots at systems on the market, including those used by Tesla.
The Cadillac system controls steering, braking and acceleration in certain situations. It allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedals while driving.
But Cadillac's system has additional safety measures that monitor facial cues and pupils; if the system senses the driver is sleeping or not paying attention, it sends alerts, including audio warnings and a light bar on the steering wheel.
Also unlike Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and a few other luxury brands, Cadillac won't force drivers to touch the wheel every so often to prove they're ready to take over if the car encounters a situation it can't handle. Instead, the CT6 watches the driver's eyes through an infrared camera on the steering column.
Super Cruise also uses precision lidar map data. If the driver does not take control of the vehicle after receiving alerts, the system will safely stop the vehicle.
A Tesla Model S sedan equipped with Autopilot is priced from $71,200, including up to $7,500 in federal tax credits for purchasing an electric vehicle. The system is an $8,000 option when purchasing the vehicle and $10,000 post-purchase.