Cadillac was once a maker of massive land-yachts to rival Rolls-Royce as the last word in excess. These were called the Eldorado and the Fleetwood Brougham. As gas prices rose, Cadillac's fortunes fell, and a new wave of German luxury cars swept the market. Following a dismal period for the brand, GM restructured the Cadillac portfolio, creating rivals for those luxury imports.
A massive 1970 Cadillac DeVille - the last word in American luxury excess
Those new cars were designed to compete directly with the imports, and so shared much of the same philosophy - including the names. Brands like Mercedes and BMW have traditionally used alphanumeric model names, with a combination of letters and numbers. Cadillac matched that first with the CTS and SRX in the early 2000s. By 2014, all Cadillac models, except the Escalade, were standardized to numbers by then-Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen.
The 2004 Cadillac CTS was the introduction of alphanumeric naming for the brand
Now, though, customers overwhelmingly prefer models that stand out with real names instead of numbers. Lincoln, which had also moved to alphanumeric naming around the same time as Cadillac, has gone back to names, and has seen a noticeable sales rise. So, it appears, Cadillac will follow soon enough.
Cadillac president Steve Carlisle said that "the rollout of the electric vehicles is the time we'll start to move back toward naming." He pinpointed the naming change to happen around 2030, by which point, he said, the majority of Cadillacs sold will be electric vehicles. However, this change might be progressive, and the upcoming all-electric crossover might be the first to get its own name.