An interesting side effect of the car industry’s push towards a greener, cleaner carbon footprint has been the challenge manufacturers have faced around how to badge their cars - and Cadillac is the latest manufacturer to have a go at shaking things up.
Many car makers traditionally used engine displacement to show bigger is better, but as downsizing took effect they had to find a way to not crush the egos of regular customers who like the world to know how successful they are.
That’s how we ended up with halfway house ‘performance indexes’ that didn’t really relate to anything other than an imaginary hierarchy. Add electric powertrains to the model line-up and things get even murkier.
Audi was the first to truly embrace a new way of doing things, denoting its cars with a number between 30 and 70 based on its power output in kilowatts. It’s both simple - the bigger the number, the more powerful the powertrain - and confusing - the numbers don’t directly relate to the power output in any way.
And now Cadillac is joining the fun. The American car maker is putting a major effort behind EVs, and as such it needs a naming structure that can accommodate them alongside internal combustion engines.
However, instead of being based on power output, badging will be calculated on torque figures. What’s particularly interesting for an American manufacturer, though, is that it will be based on the metric newton-metre figure, rather than lb-ft as is more commonly used in the country. The logic is that it reflects Cadillac’s plans to become a global player, and these numbers will make more sense to a global audience.
Starting with the XT6 crossover in 2020, the naming structure will combine the vehicle name with a three-digit number based on the newton-metre torque output, rounded to the nearest 50. A letter can be added to the end based on the type of powertrain, so naturally aspirated engines get no letter, turbocharged engines get a T, and while it hasn’t been confirmed, EVs will likely get an E.
It’ll be interesting to see how American consumers respond to the new structure, and whether it proves useful in its plan to grow outside the States. Ultimately, as with Audi’s badging, bigger generally means better. However, Cadillac sales staff across America should probably prepare for some confused customers…