By on September 26, 2008

After tearing the Volt a new one last week for being expensive, overhyped and incapable of charging its own batteries, Automotive News Editor David Sedgwick is suffering from what we at TTAC like to call a “bile hangover.” After lunching with the suits at RenCen, Sedgwick is back-peddling furiously. And how exactly does the Volt make sense now? Change the badge to Cadillac, baby! Now, I may not get invited to the RenCen for poached salmon with Cadillac GM Jim Taylor, but I’ve already asked why the $40k-ish Volt isn’t being sold as a Caddy. Sedgwick says that the Caddy Volt concept is fueling internal debate between Cadillac’s futurists (who vote aye) and traditionalists (who want a new STS/DTS flagship). Yes, but– if Caddy it is, GM will have wasted hundreds of PR billable hours trying to convince everyone that a $40k mainstream Chevy isn’t an outlandish proposition. And the Volt’s bailout-fodder status requires some kind of volks wagen appeal; while a $40k Chevy is a tough pill to swallow, a taxpayer-funded Cadillac could create a nasty backlash. Besides, Sedgwick’s claim that the Volt would be “the world’s first green luxury car” conveniently forgets the LS600h in the room. Or am I just jealous that I don’t get invited to lunch with Cadillac honchos?

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23 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 103: You Should Have Been Born A Cadillac!...”


  • avatar
    faster_than_rabbit

    No matter the badge, any $40,000 sedan funded by taxpayer money will be a political problem. But the Volt hasn’t been funded by taxpayers so far, and it probably won’t be in the future unless it’s delayed past 2010.

    Moving to Cadillac would also allow them to restyle the ugly thing.

    PR could be managed by asserting the privilege of the Standard of the World: “we’ve decided the Volt is so good, it has to be a Cadillac.”

    Makes sense to me.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Cadillac VTS, retailing for $40K? Yes, I do believe that makes sense.

    Of course, this is the company that though a truck-based hybrid was a good idea, and that small cars weren’t worth doing, or that it’s a good idea to have eight competing sedans. They’ll never do it.

  • avatar

    It’s much better off as a Chevrolet…

  • avatar
    blindfaith

    “Of course, this is the company that though a truck-based hybrid was a good idea, and that small cars weren’t worth doing, or that it’s a good idea to have eight competing sedans. They’ll never do it.”

    GM thought small cars were worth doing poorly. GM supported and created the idea that small cars were unsafe, uncomfortable, unreliable, and got poor gas mileage. Then the proceeded to build and sell them with these principals.

    I believe the CRUZ will be first GM attempt since the Corvair really to build a nice small car.

    Don not say Saturns. The Saturns were built with no reasonable harmonic balancer and if you proceeded to buy the dual over head cam you ended up with probems of premature head gasket failure and oil burning.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Agreed as Chevy.

    Would a Prius be nearly as popular if it were a Lexus? I kinda think not. Part of the appeal is that it isn’t fancy-pants. The people that drive them like to (well claim to) go low-key. While in reality they like the fact it looks like a hybrid and they want the whole world to know they have a hybrid.

    Maybe a flashy cadillac volt really wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’ll stand out with Caddy styling. Everyone will know you drive a EREV.

    I still think it should be a Chevy. Too much exlusive stigma with it branded a Cadillac. I’d be willing to bet far more people wouldn’t be caught dead in a Cadillac than wouldn’t be caught dead in a Chevy. Heck, I bet lots of Chevy drivers wouldn’t be caught dead in a Cadillac because they’re “too flashy”.

    Oh, I got a great idea….to help spread development costs, they should make a Pontiac, GMC, SAAB, Buick, Opel, Saturn, Vauxhall, and Hummer version. Wait……

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Forgetting about the LS600h is a good idea.
    In fact, I already had until I read this.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    Why is this an either-or proposition? Volt can be a Chevy and a Cadillac. And a Pontiac. And a Saturn. A Saab version? Ja! How ’bout a Hummer? The H7 maybe? A Vauxhall would even be good.

    If the Volt ever gets built, you know it’ll happen.

  • avatar
    jeremyk

    I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare a $40K Chevy Volt with a $40K Cadillac CTS. The CTS doesn’t have a $10K battery pack, electric motor, or any of the high tech electronics that will be required to control the whole system. It’s apples/oranges.

    The Volt is really the first of a new generation of very expensive, but very efficient vehicles. Early adopters are going to pay extra. As battery prices go down, so should the price. However, IF the Volt sells initially at $35K-$45K, then I bet GM will choose to pocket any savings as battery technology becomes less expensive. I would.

  • avatar

    It’s not a Cadillac unless it looks and drives like a luxury car. Talk of “redefining luxury” is BS.

    I’m personally okay with the production car’s styling aside from the goofy blackout paint below the belt. It has overtones of the old TL and current Civic, both of which I also like.

  • avatar
    netrun

    As a Caddy, the Volt would have unimaginable downside risk to Caddy’s rep that GM has spent many billions trying to improve. If the Volt turns out to be a giant fart, Caddy would go down in flames. But if Volt is a spastic Chevy, well, no one would be all that surprised. Plus the Chevy brand wouldn’t even blink after fiasco’s like the Vega.

  • avatar
    Dutchchris

    Caddy Volt? I think not. Remember this car was intended as a response to rising gas prices. With costs spiriling out of hand the Volt has become a seriously expensive way to safe some money on gas.

    However unloading the thing on cadillac is not the answer since people who buy a caddy probably don’t do so to make a statement like “I desperately want to safe some money on gas no matter how much it costs”.

    Nor do I picture the avarage caddy buyer as a treehugger who wants to safe the planet at the cost of an $ 20000,- mark up on his hatch back.

  • avatar

    DutchChris:

    However unloading the thing on cadillac is not the answer since people who buy a caddy probably don’t do so to make a statement like “I desperately want to safe some money on gas no matter how much it costs”.

    You say that, but what about rumors of a Lexus Prius thingie?

    That said, I agree: both ideas suck. Although the Lexus LS600hL.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Caddy Volt? I think not. Remember this car was intended as a response to rising gas prices. With costs spiriling out of hand the Volt has become a seriously expensive way to safe some money on gas.

    GM’s problem with hybrids is that it doesn’t understand who buys them. Fair enough, because outside of the truck market, GM can’t figure out anything with regards to what to make and who would buy it. Product planning is, in my opinion, their worst department.

    The hybrid issue at GM is that it sees them as penny-pinchers (like the Aura and Malibu) or green fashion statements (like the Escalade), not as genuinely practical cars in their own right. This is why Toyota has sold as many Priuses and Camrys as they have: the cars aren’t hairshirts, but nor are they glitterati transport (outside of Lexus). They’re nice cars that appeal to their segment.

    GM. Just. Doesn’t. Get. It.

    The Volt isn’t a bad idea per se, but at 40K, Chevrolet is the wrong channel. I’ve gone on about why I think Saab or Saturn should have been the focus of GM’s hybrid efforts, and this is no different. The demographics work (or did, before GM gutted both brands) and the price point is more sensible.

    Part of the problem is that the Volt started as a Hail Mary along the same lines as the Sequel and HyWire: GM never intended to produce it, and it was originally supposed to be little more than marketing fluff to keep people from buying Priuses. But the market forced their hand and they’re backed into a corner. Between technical prognostications that are biting them in the ass and GM’s incessant (and nauseating) use of flag-wrapping patriotism, they have to do this car as a Chevy, but they’re going to have real trouble getting people to pay for it.

  • avatar
    skygreenleopard

    @ Psar:
    Part of the problem is that the Volt started as a Hail Mary along the same lines as the Sequel and HyWire: GM never intended to produce it, and it was originally supposed to be little more than marketing fluff to keep people from buying Priuses. But the market forced their hand and they’re backed into a corner. Between technical prognostications that are biting them in the ass and GM’s incessant (and nauseating) use of flag-wrapping patriotism, they have to do this car as a Chevy, but they’re going to have real trouble getting people to pay for it.

    You are SO on the mark. It’s true – I think one too many people took a showcar concept too seriously, GM PR took advantage of it, and now they’re about to release something more overpriced than a Prius – with a crappy brand name, no less.

    It might be crazy enough to work, though. Prius convinced people in Silicon Valley who used to drive BMW SUVs to downgrade to a Prius, which is an overpriced Corolla that gets you maybe 7-10 more mpg (the economics make little sense unless you own it, which these people don’t – they’ll lease it then get something new in 3 years). My theory is that if the Prius had been cheaper it wouldn’t have had the weird eco-luxury appeal that it has now. It’s also the reason socially-conscious people didn’t trade in their SUVs for simple compact cars – a lot of them wait to spend $27k or more on one that everyone knows is a hybrid. Tax breaks do save you money and all, especially in California, but for most people a hybrid makes little sense compared to buying a sensible new or used compact car. If you were planning on spending that much anyway, great – it’s awesome that you’re getting a smaller car that kills our planet less. But I have friends who don’t want to drive their old trucks anymore because of gas prices, and want a new hybrid, so they’re going to spend thousands to save hundreds.

    But back to the Volt. Inflating the price to $40k and making it a Cadillac (along with some sharp lines) might actually be crazy enough to work. Half of the hybrid thing has been image so far (with those engines being given codenames like “eco-blue” by Audi, Honda, and Toyota, etc.). Give the Volt a little more pizzazz, and it might make sense as a Cadillac.

    Kinda sad that $40k also buys you an H3, a more or less sensible I-5 SUV that will earn you the same wrath for its image alone. Like I said, truly logical and environmentally conscious people would just buy a small car, not wait for a hybrid SUV or something.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    A Chevy Volt gives the perception to “normal people” that owning an electric vehicle is something that is attainable. A $100,000 Tesla or $50,000 Cadillac will not give that same feeling.

    Also, Cadillac and Saturn will eventually get eFlex cars of their own.

  • avatar
    Dave Skinner

    Cicero :

    Why is this an either-or proposition? Volt can be a Chevy and a Cadillac. And a Pontiac. And a Saturn. A Saab version? Ja! How ’bout a Hummer? The H7 maybe? A Vauxhall would even be good.

    If the Volt ever gets built, you know it’ll happen.

    Exactly right, Cicero. Just like the Chevy Cavalier, I’m sure the Chevy Volt will get a Cadillac grill three years after introduction. For reference, compare a first year Cimarron with any 1984 Cavalier.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    But back to the Volt. Inflating the price to $40k and making it a Cadillac (along with some sharp lines) might actually be crazy enough to work.

    I’ll say it again: it should have been a Saab. Cadillac’s not bad, but the brand image is wrong for a hybrid. Saab’s, prior to GM’s wholesale destruction of it’s “weird” brand in 2003, would have been perfect.

  • avatar
    blindfaith

    The volt whould be a perfectly fine car without the battery pack and would only cost 20k.

    It would be fast and would get 50mpg. The electric engine at 0 rpm would have all the torque that the engine develops immediatly thereby giving great 0 to 60 times as well as weighing about 2200 lbs.

  • avatar

    How about a STS replacement that uses Volt tech? Good idea?

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    It would make sense to make a Caddy version of the Volt at some point. Lexus has three hybrid models; there’s no reason for Caddy not have some (except the fact that GM’s hybrid schemes, including the Volt, are all fairly retarded).

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    skygreenleopard :
    September 26th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    It might be crazy enough to work, though. Prius convinced people in Silicon Valley who used to drive BMW SUVs to downgrade to a Prius, which is an overpriced Corolla that gets you maybe 7-10 more mpg (the economics make little sense unless you own it, which these people don’t – they’ll lease it then get something new in 3 years).

    Well, considering that the resale value of a three-year old Prius is approximately 90% of the original list price, I would imagine one could get a very good deal leasing a Prius.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A Cadillac Volt? Why not, but at least have the guts to call it the Cimarron II :).

  • avatar
    charly

    After some googling i found out that a BMW SUV start around $38.500 so my guess is that people save a lot of money if they choose to drive a prius instead of a bmw x3.
    I think GM is after that market of people who can’t been seen driving in a $20k car (except the prius) but are to cheap/wise to buy a more expensive car


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