Much as it is the case with Volvo, Cadillac has been taking great strides to reposition itself in the luxury automotive space in recent years. Edgy and modern design, and an immense focus on performance and driving experience, to the untrained eye it would seem that Cadillac is less concerned with the current electrified and autonomous freight train that is plowing its way through the industry at large. On the contrary, as we learned from our engaging conversation with Cadillac’s Hoss Hassani at the Canadian International Auto Show, the brand is keeping a keen eye on how the industry is forging new paths, and they are taking plenty of strides of their own to step into the future of transportation.
How would you define your outlook on where the auto industry is headed in the years to come?
Dark, and emotionally raw. No, but seriously, things are evolving quite rapidly, and we’re taking a very active role in shaping the future of transportation. Many people don’t quite realize the impact that autonomous driving technology has on the world at large, on urban planning, on development, on education. The plan to not sit back and let things happen to us as a brand. As you know, we’ve already launched Super Cruise on the new CT6, which is our first semi-autonomous system, and we’re going to keep building on that system in the years to come.
Are you finding that movement from the bigger technology players (Google, Apple, etc.) are having an impact on the auto industry of late, both from a consumer standpoint, and from wanting to get into the self-driving car game?
On the customer side, definitely. People have gotten so used to staying connected that it’s more of a demand than ever. As far as adapting to it, we were the first brand to offer Apple CarPlay in our entire range of vehicles, and beyond that we’re constantly looking at ways to improve our UX on our infotainment systems. As far as the whole Google car/Apple car thing goes, we’ll see how that plays out. It’s a neat concept, but they’re coming up against brands like us with over 100 years of experience building passenger cars, so it’s going to be challenging for them.
On the self-driving topic, how do you see autonomous driving impacting the luxury segment in the long run?
The thing is, although many are viewing autonomous cars as more of a service/utility, there will always be a market for an autonomous experience that’s a little more refined, a little more luxe. For Cadillac, at least in the short term of autonomous driving advancement, our focus will be both on maintaining that luxury experience, as well as maintaining a level of duality. We want to offer that refined experience of being driven when one wants to, but also maintaining an engaging driving experience when you want to take control for yourself.
Are you taking advantage of that duality right now with your daily driver?
Absolutely. I’m currently driving the CT6 Super Cruise, and with my commute of 1h each way to and from work, I’m using our Super Cruise system all the time and loving it.
Do you think there’s always going to be a place out there for the, shall we call it the “manually driven”car?
Absolutely. The passion and the interest is always there, racing remains a huge part of modern society regardless of how the platforms are evolving. Even looking way off into the future, it seems every sci-fi movie out there still includes some sort of vessel that’s self-piloted. For now I’m remaining quite optimistic.
If there’s one car that you’d love to have in your garage permanently, what would it be?
Considering I’ve already professed my undying love for the CT6, that’s obviously a contender, though I also have a real soft spot for the Chevrolet Avalanche. It’s a bit of an obscure choice, but they were such a great truck before GM decided to discontinue the model after 2013.
Read more of our An Auto Executive Worth Listening To series: