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Cadillac: 115 years of innovation and leadership milestones

While the origins of the automotive industry are rooted in the development of the internal combustion engine in the 1860s and ‘70s, principally in France and Germany, the USA had joined in earnest by the early 1900s. Since Cadillac’s beginnings in 1902, the brand has forged a solid reputation for achieving automotive engineering firsts.

Establishing the spirit of innovation and daring that has sustained Cadillac for over a century, Model A, which was introduced during the 1903 New York Automobile show, had an overhead valve engine, rack and pinion steering and split-core fasteners which didn’t require lock washers.

The brand’s early years focused on the pursuit of refinement to enhance its leadership status. Cadillac’s tradition of industry firsts began in 1912 and the following highlights demonstrate that this was only the very start of over a century of bold design and ingenious technology.

  1. 1. In 1912, Cadillac’s award-winning, sophisticated Delco electrical system integrates self-starting, ignition and lighting functions for the first time.

  2. Cadillac unveils the first regular production V8 engine in 1915. This is a significant innovation with thermostatic control of cooling-water-circulation for the 70-horsepower side-valve design.

  3. The world’s first V16 engine for passenger-car use is introduced in 1930 by Cadillac, with overhead valves, hydraulic lash adjusters, twin carburetors, dual exhaust and a beautifully-finished exterior design. The 7.4-liter engine produces 160-horsepower at 3,400 rpm with a top speed of 100 mph.

  4. Comfort control is introduced by Cadillac in 1964, providing customers with the very first thermostatically regulated heating, ventilating and air conditioning system in the industry. ​​

  5. The Cadillac Allanté, a two-door, two-seater roadster, launched in 1990, becomes the first front-wheel-drive vehicle with electronic traction control, managing wheel spin by adjusting the application of the front brakes and reducing engine power by cutting off the fuel supply to individual cylinders.

  6. The very first automotive application of adaptive seating is debuted on the four-door Seville STS sedan in 1998. Using a network of 10 air cells in the seat cushion, back and side supports, pressure is measured for optimum comfort and support.

  7. Night Vision, the first automotive application of infrared technology is debuted in 2000 on the Cadillac DeVille. The technology helps to improve driving safety by enhancing the driver’s ability to detect previously unviewable situations beyond the range of the headlamps.

  8. Cadillac becomes the first automaker in the world to offer XM Satellite Radio as a factory-installed option in 2002, on Deville and Seville models. The new revolutionary band of radio capitalizes on direct satellite-to-receiver broadcasting technology providing listeners with up to 100 channels. ​​

  9. Cadillac User Experience debuts in 2012 with Proximity Sensing, which enables users to wave a hand near a Cadillac’s LCD screen and fully customizable command icons to appear. In addition, the technology introduces Multi-Touch Hand Gestures to scroll, zoom and search on the screen.

  10. Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, unveiled in 2012, is the industry’s first car to use directional tactile sensation – vibrations of the driver’s seat bottom – to warn of crash threats while driving and parking.

  11. The Cadillac CT6 prestige sedan, in 2016, is the first vehicle to include an industry-first surround-vision video recording system designed to enhance situational awareness and safety for the driver.

  12. Cadillac embarks on the first official hands-free drive on freeways across the USA, from New York to California, in 2017, using the industry-leading ‘Super Cruise’ technology.

Each of Cadillac’s milestones has led to the evolution of the brand’s design and previewed the craftsmanship and technology developed for future models. The latest concept from Cadillac, Escala, showcases future design and technical systems. Driving the next phase of Cadillac’s ongoing expansion into the new chapter of its 115-year history, Escala Concept will make its first appearance in the Middle East at this year’s Dubai International Motor Show.

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