CadillaC CT6: The future of automotive manufacturing

Features - Manufacturing

General Motors’ flagship luxury brand features materials and build processes that will become mainstream.

August 17, 2016

When discussions began nearly a year ago about what car to bring to Today’s Technology Center booth #W-20 for IMTS 2016, Cadillac’s CT6 was a clear favorite. Not as flashy as the Chevrolet Corvette that we brought to McCormick Place in 2014, or as radical as the Buckeye Bullet electric speed racer from 2012, the CT6 represents where automotive manufacturing needs to be by 2025 to meet fuel economy standards.

A mixed-metal vehicle with extensive use of high-strength steels, sheet aluminum, extruded aluminum, and several exotic alloys, the CT6 is forcing its manufacturer to explore new production techniques and develop entirely new systems.

It’s the role that Cadillac has often played for GM – a nameplate that sells expensive vehicles that stretch the limits of what engineers can accomplish. And as Cadillac perfects those techniques, they flow down to Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet. For example, when the Cadillac CTS launched in 2003, it featured never-before-used welding techniques such as laser-brazed steel sheets to connect vehicle side panels to the roof – creating a smooth, flat seam between the two. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu uses that technology to create a sharply raked rear deck lid, giving the trunk a spoiler-like look without adding plastic trim.

The materials and processes enhancements don’t end at the vehicle body. Two redesigned V-6 engines feature specialty alloyed steel crankshafts, rather than cast iron, and use polymer-coated pistons and sintered connecting rods.

On the following pages, we’ll discuss what makes the CT6 special, and how its manufacturing technologies are a glimpse at where the world is heading.

Cadillac – General Motors Co.

IMTS 2016 Booth #W-20

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV and can be reached at 216.393.0271 or