General Motors Co. is planning to import the plug-in hybrid version of its Cadillac CT6 luxury sedan to the U.S. from China when the car goes on sale later this year.
The plug-in hybrid version will be built only in a plant in China, which is one of two factories assembling the CT6, said Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer. The plug-in sedan will be the second car GM will import to the U.S. from China; the other is the Buick Envision, introduced in North America for the first time at the Detroit auto show on Sunday.
The decision to import two high-end models from China shows that GM increasingly views its factories there as capable of building vehicles with good enough quality to sell in the U.S. Plus, the Chinese tax imported cars heavily, which encourages automakers to manufacture there rather than bring in models produced in other countries.
“Longer term, we should see more of this because GM’s Chinese operations have every capability required to provide cars for North America,” said Eric Noble, president of CarLab, a consulting firm in Orange, California. “They would import here instead of from Europe because Chinese consumer tastes align more closely to American tastes than Europe’s ever did.”
Though GM could build cars in the U.S. and export them to China as the company does with the Cadillac SRX crossover sport utility vehicle, the import tariff is very high, Ellinghaus said.
In the case of the CT6 version, Cadillac expects that Chinese government incentives that encourage consumers and businesses to buy plug-in hybrids will mean better sales of electrified cars in that market than in the U.S., GM President Dan Ammann said in an interview.
GM also will build the CT6 at a plant in Detroit. The CT6 plug-in hybrid probably will sell in small numbers, so GM isn’t likely to be importing many of the cars.
“That will be the largest market for electrified vehicles,” Ammann said. “The next generation of fuel-economy rules in China will be quite stringent at the end of this decade and into the next.”