By on September 16, 2014

ATS-side-550x412

Cadillac’s aggressive pricing strategy is here to stay, according to the brand’s new chief, Johan De Nysschen, and if he has his way, there won’t be major incentives to help juice sales either.

Speaking to Automotive News, De Nysschen said

“We cannot deny the fact that we are leaving behind our traditional customer base…It will take several years before a sufficiently large part of the audience who until now have been concentrating on the German brands will find us in their consideration set. Either you have to bring your volume aspirations into alignment with reality and accept that you will sell fewer cars, or you have to drop the price and continue to transact at the prices where you were historically. I think the logical conclusion is that it’s better to build off a very solid base in terms of [product] credibility, charge a fair price for the car and realize you have to wait until the volume comes,”

 

De Nysschen’s strategy is partly based on the playbook he used at Audi, where he oversaw a gradual, deliberate climb from an obscure luxury arm of Volkswagen into Tier 1 luxury brand status, through a combination of engineering, marketing and a focus on interior and exterior design.

The story of Audi is unique due to the fact that it stands in stark contrast to the desire for rapid short-term results in many corners of the auto industry. It’s tempting to think of Audi as an overnight success story, but the reality could not be more different. De Nysschen is hoping to emulate that same pattern of growth, but that will require a fair amount of latitude from GM management, and the commitment to a longer-term vision that has not always been present at the auto maker. De Nysschen also confirmed that some functions will move to New York City, though details were unclear.

According to De Nysschen, he will have a hand in all functions of the brand, from engineering to design to product planning to dealer development. In the short-term, he must deal with relatively poor sales for the brand’s ATS and CTS sedans, ballooning inventories and a pricing strategy that has the new sedans competing head to head with the German brands in terms of sticker price. De Nysschen is willing to play the long game on this last front – but he’ll have to count on GM’s buy-in at every step of the way for it to work.

 

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137 Comments on “De Nysschen Says Cadillac Will Stick With Pricing Strategy, Confirms New York City Move...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    You are so fired.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      The insight that Audi leveraged so effectively was that there was a large segment of the (near-) luxury market that cared more about interior design and quality than about ‘ultimate driving machine’ performance. And their interiors reflected that focus in that they were logically laid out and filled with quality materials that hold up over time.

      What is Cadillac’s insight? What is that Unique Selling Proposition that differentiates the brand and strikes a chord with the luxury buyer? With such a diverse product line and unfocused branding strategy, I simply don’t know what that is.

      If De Nysschen can fix that, he will be very successful.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Caddilac has historically had bad car interiors, and of course the ats engines aren’t all that great and its a cramped car. The xts seems to have a nice interior, but the car is ungainly awkwardly perched on a too short wheelbase.

        • 0 avatar
          carguy

          @nickoo: You may have that the other way round. The ATS has a great interior but the XTS is just an Impala with lipstick and it shows inside and out.

        • 0 avatar
          tekdemon

          I think the ATS can still be salvaged if they 1)dump the 2.5L-it’s hard to take you as serious competition for the 3 series and A4 when you put a completely noncompetitive motor in, 2)redo the rear end so that there’s actual legroom and trunk space-the easiest thing would be to just bring the ATS-L over and do a quick refresh (and by refresh I do not mean to put the hideous new logo all over the grille Cadillac), 3)improve the pieces in the interior that aren’t up to snuff. Do all that and people might actually pay the higher prices, but in the meantime it’s insane to expect customers to just show up for a car that’s both less prestigious and less practical.

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            And stop pushing fleet sales. Seeing a row of ATS stripper rentals for $59/day does not make me want to own one.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I learned this morning Mercedes CLA is $39/day to rent, Cadillac needs to work harder if its going to cut it in the rental game.

            From MIA, the Benz CLA is $39.00/day and is LESS than the CHEVY CRUZE at $39.59/day. Camry 45/day, and ATS 79/day.

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-increases-production-to-meet-us-cla-demand/#comment-3858538

          • 0 avatar

            That’s why second generation updates exist. If first generation was perfect there would be no incentive to develop the second generation. Consider 1st gen Taurus. It was a perfect car and redefined midsize segment. And the second gen came only 10 later (you can consider ’92 Camry as a second gen Taurus though).

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Audi would have done just as well w/o him.

      No mention of his work at Infiniti. I suspect that Cadillac will not be another Audi-type success story either.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        If we agree that it takes at least a decade to develop a luxury car brand, then De Nysschen’s tenure at Infiniti was too short to properly evaluate.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          My dad had two Audi 5000’s in the 1980’s. It was the best-selling import luxury sedan at the time. The interiors then were better than the austere contemporary Mercs and BMWs.

          I remember a German exchange student who stayed w/ us saying that Audis in Germany did not have such nice interiors. The latter 5000 got caught in the fabricated 60 minutes smear. The exterior design was also considered better than either of the above and the “inspiration” for the Taurus. That was before Ford was “inspired” by Aston Martin.

          So, nicer interiors and exteriors were always in Audi’s playbook, or at least pre-date this guy.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Ford’s present-day aping of Aston is pretty shameless, but that’s not what happened in the ’80s. The Taurus/Sable was preceded by other “aero” models: the Thunderbird/Cougar and Tempo/Topaz. The aero Thunderbird hit the market at almost the exact same time as the C3 5000 (both ’83 models).

            This was a case of convergent evolution, not copying.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Comparing the aero Thunderbird to a 5000 is a fallacy in modernity. That Thunderbird was still blocky and not really all that aero.

            0.35 coefficient of drag for the Thunderbird.

            0.30 coefficient for the 5000. Along with flush mounted glass and other innovations.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ Corey

            *This* is blocky: http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Ford_Thunderbird/1982_Ford_Thunderbird/1982%20Thunderbird.jpg

            This is not: http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Design/Gartman/D_Casestudy/1983_thunderbird.gif

            It was a huge paradigm shift, and the timing was too early to have resulted from copying Audi. Arguing degrees doesn’t change that point.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “it’s better to build off a very solid base in terms of [product] credibility”

    If you believe that, then kill the ELR immediately.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    De Nysschen was given extraordinary latitude in Audi of America’s operations and had extensive support in Ingolstadt.

    Of course, it helps that the higher ups in Germany were on the same page: Audi has been (re)building its brand worldwide for the better part of the last 25 years and the people calling the shots at the time took the long view. Wish their compatriots in Wolfsburg would take a similar approach to American operations, but I digress…

    One would assume that he took the job with Cadillac with the stipulation that GM understands and fully backs his long-term play. He has to know what he’s jumping into and again, I have to imagine he would never have taken the position without some extensive support behind him. This is a long game that has to be played – and he’s right for not cutting prices. He just needs to be sure that the product and the marketing can match the pricing realities.

    • 0 avatar

      Unlike Americans Germans think long term like thousand years of world domination. Americans think in terms of quarterly results or in best case two year period leading to the next elections. I cannot imagine him to survive at GM for too – it is simply too good to be true. He could not survive Japanese regime either.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        @Inside Looking Out – please read the book “Volkswagen of America management turnover and product plans c.1998-2014” for some insights into the ‘long term thinking’ of German executives.

        It’s not an ethnocentric thing, it’s whether your company has a long term focus as part of its DNA. General Motors in particular has never demonstrated much long term determination in the last 30 years, always gunning for the quarterly and annual numbers to the detriment of product.

        Going back to the Audi comparison – De Nysschen was lucky when he was at Audi in that his vision meshed with the higher ups in Ingolstadt. Audi has always run as a very autonomous group, with its own board of directors and financials, and is the major profit center of the VW group. As a result there is more latitude to operate and during De Nysschen’s run with Audi he not only demonstrated a keen understanding of the US market, but received a lot of support as the sales numbers backed his strategy. The key was support from the executive team – and if he gets it from GM he may be successful.

        • 0 avatar
          Eiriksmal

          He has a point, though. Germany’s Mittelstand has learned to focus on development over years that us Americans can’t even comprehend. 150-year-old family owned companies now in their 10th+ generation of ownership? America’s got nothing like that.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelstand#Mittelstand_model

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Yep. I said about three weeks ago: “It’s a long game. Cadillac is trying to ape Audi, which wasn’t always one of ‘the Germans.\'”

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lexus-topped-premium-brands-u-s-july/#comment-3729873

    They need a couple more products to do it, though. To help their image, they need the flagship sedan now, and they need to get the Slade competitive in its segment, particularly with respect to ride quality and refinement.

    To sell actual cars in the interim while they wait for their image to improve they need more crossovers. They need a three-row crossover above the SRX yesterday; a Lambda derivative with Slade-like styling and the TT 3.6 would fit the bill nicely. They might also do a nice niche business with a FX/X5 competitor, built on Alpha and positioned as a driving enthusiast’s alternative to the Lambda beast of burden.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      +1!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      What you described above the SRX is currently sold as the Buick Enclave. In order to truly make it unique vs Enclave would involve using a transverse V8 or some other kind of unique drivetrain. Both are non starters, and you can’t just make AWD the differentiating factor because oops Enclave offers it already. GM is wise to not clone a fourth Lambda, however I agree with an Alpha CUV which is something I brought up in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        TT 3.6 (which would drop right in), maybe a 2″ wheelbase stretch, current electronics, and Cadillac-like, not Buick-like, styling inside and out. It would look more like a blinged-up Acadia Denali than an Enclave.

        Cadillac has no problem differentiating the XTS from the LaCrosse, and that’s even in a segment where an FWD-based product doesn’t work as well as it does for three-row crossovers.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I see your point, but the XTS was also a mistake but it was done to try to recapture Deville volume after MY11. By the time money is spent to develop a Cadillac “Enclave” the sales it takes from Buick/GMC won’t make it any more profitable for the company as a whole.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I disagree; I think it could bring in a bunch of new customers who wouldn’t consider an Enclave, at a much higher ($65k) price point. MDX/QX60 buyers looking for more bling on the low end and ML customers looking for the same swagger with more room on the high end. None of those people would ever consider an Enclave, but give the product two snails, more presence, and a real luxury badge and they’d consider it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve never met a QX60 buyer and Mercedes people tend not to stray far from the three pointed star, however I could see merit in those shopping Lexus/Acura giving Cadillac a consideration. I suppose it would depend on how much money it would cost to put the model together and then what were the sales projections. Cadillac’s overall sales volume is very low (and something like 50% was SRX) but if the model you describe could increase volume while not hurting the other three brands too much, it may be workable. I still think the Alpha based CUV is better bang for the buck.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The XTS was clearly a placeholder car. The DTS was so dead in the market they couldn’t refresh it any longer, and they needed a “big” car for older buyers.

            Personally, I think they’ve done a damn nice job making the XTS into what it is – the problem is, you can only go so far with the Epsilon platform.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @FreedMike

            Deville sold 11,589 examples in MY11, its twin Buick Lucerne sold 20,358, for a combined total of 31947 units on a “dead” platform. For some contrast, the MY13 Sigma CTS sold 32,343 units, down from 55K units in MY11. XTS, the replacement, sold 15,049 units in MY12 and 32,559 in MY13.

            Personally I am not familiar with the costs of running a factory, but I would have dropped Northstar, replaced it was a transverse 3.6, and kept Deville until the real replacement was ready. Sure they sold 45K units on a new platform, but how much did it cost to develop this platform a opposed to riding out an amortized one even at 1/3 volume?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_DTS
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buick_Lucerne
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_CTS
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_XTS

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      While a flagship sedan is nice, wouldn’t make a dent in sales like a full lineup of CUVs would for Cadillac (which is lagging in that dept. compared to the competition).

      The CTS, while not selling as good as Cadillac has hoped, is still in the 3rd spot behind the E Class and 5 Series in sales and with the XTS, Cadillac sells way more sedans in that price-range than Audi, Lexus or Infiniti.

      The main problem aside from the lack of CUVs is the ATS which is too small and needs an updated powertrain.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    “I think the logical conclusion is that it’s better to build off a very solid base in terms of [product] credibility, charge a fair price for the car and realize you have to wait until the volume comes”

    There is so much wrong with this statement regarding the current state of Cadillac, it hurts my head. Cadillac will never have volume again, those days are behind them, and this guy knows it. His thought is keep building lackluster things like ATS, keep prices sky high, ignore a customer’s resale, and attempt to get the branding to a new level where you can put out a Cruze based Cimmaron and *people eat it up*. Now all he has to do it get the product to the point where its so unreliable you can’t own it out of warranty and the circle is complete.

    RenCen seriously, either get your heads out of your collective asses or just nuke the Cadillac brand.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Cadillac should have never had volume in the first place. Chasing volume is what turned the brand into crap, that and cheapening the cars in chase of profit.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree, but as I stated I don’t see the volume coming back because the product and branding does not warrant it. The reason I think he even brings up volume is the same problem(s) Lincoln has: a separate distribution channel and standalone dealers. In hindsight Sergio was right to consolidate his Chrysler brands under one roof. Cadillac should be rolled in with either the BPG dealers or Chevrolet, and focus on building expensive/exclusive product worth buying (so not what they build now).

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I disagree that they should roll Cadillac closer to other GM brands. If anything, GM should want as many people as possible to be surprised to find out Cadillac is even part of GM.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s the trap though. Standalone dealers need to make money, and they need revolving product. Revolving product is accomplished through volume models. Volume diminished Cadillac’s standing and it will diminish zee Germans over time. PrincipalDan and I are arguing against volume. The only way I see a “non-volume” focused Cadillac succeeding for its dealers is another revenue stream either as part of another GM volume brand or as being part of another volume brand.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Complete standalone dealers selling Cadillacs aren’t really feasible at the moment, but separate showrooms with seprate staff and devoted service lanes aren’t a bad idea.

            Volume is fine as long as it’s supported by enough demand to keep prices high. Cadillac had high volume AND prices in the 70’s when Cadillac was considered far and wide to be the top of the aspirational order. At this point, as De Nysschen points out, tehy’ll have to suffer through some lower than comfortable for GM volume while they focus on getting transaction prices up and more credible product out along with a premium brand experience to match.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You make valid points but I’m still bearish on the plan. Between legendary beancounters, gov’t interference, and general ineptitude I doubt GM will put together credible product worthy of higher transaction prices. The “Omega” may change the trend so I’ll be watching.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Honestly now, when has GM maintained a solid focus on one thing for -any- of it’s brands for the time necessary to do the sort of thing Audi did?

            And what’s more, Audi rebuilt rep at a time when Lexus/Acura/Infiniti didn’t exist to the extent they do today. There were no multiple CUVs splitting up share. There weren’t tons of old Audis around with falling off trim and saggy suspensions and blinged grilles over puddles of oil in front of crap apartment buildings and Northstar blowups. Audi had much less tragedy in the American consumer’s mind and recent memory than Cadillac.

            VW left Audi alone to do more independent things. They were not giving them a Jetta platform, and saying “Hey, we have three CUVs and a sedan on this, make the luxury version.”

            This plan will not work. The cachet is not there and the wounds are too new, and the market is too fragmented.

            And the rent is still too damn high.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            “when has GM maintained a solid focus on one thing for -any- of it’s brands for the time necessary to do the sort of thing Audi did?”

            I feel as if GMC does a good job of it. I always thought of them as the ‘DeWalt’ of trucks – a bit pricy, but well built, with qualities appreciated by the trades.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Audi nearly went out of business in the US due to the “unintended acceleration” debacle, their saving grace lie in the fact they did not have fifteen years worth of bad press (ie Northstar, Catera, Cimmaron, 4100 etc) prior to the 60 minutes piece. The story of the two brands is not one in the same, and it never will be.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “You make valid points but I’m still bearish on the plan. Between legendary beancounters, gov’t interference, and general ineptitude I doubt GM will put together credible product worthy of higher transaction prices. The “Omega” may change the trend so I’ll be watching.”

            I those concerns mirror my own aside from the products. The new Caddies really are good cars, I would take one over their bland BMW counterparts any day of the week. They have to build the rest of the brand to match the expecation of customers. A little customr fellatiation goes a long way to making the whole experience with the car seem a lot more rosy.

            Honestly, from someone who has worked at several different auto manufacturers(foreign and domestic) and regularly drives different cars from different brands, I am consistently amazed at how the reality of certain products doesn’t live up to the hype. Cadillac didn’t let me down with their latest cars. As opposed to hopping into a similarly priced BMW where I look around the interior and wonder what all the fuss is about.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      28-cars, the ATS isn’t lackluster – the problem is that it is typical GM/Cadillac: 80% of the way there, but that last 20% really makes you think twice about buying it. All Cadillac needs to do with the ATS is polish it up and revamp their marketing. It’s not a horrible product – far from it. In fact, I’d take an ATS over a CLA any day of the week.

      The problem is that brands matter and when you’re competing with BMW, Merc and Audi it’s not enough to have a product that is “as good as” the others. There has to be a competitive advantage. Price might be that advantage, and Audi used that for the better part of the last twenty years. It’s only in the last year or two that Audi has started to get close to having pricing power parity with BMW and Mercedes.

      The Cadillac wreath doesn’t mean anything any longer – it has no power like the three pointed star or roundel, or even the four rings.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The wreath is gone, replaced by a melted transformers abomination.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have had ten minutes in one so I try not to judge it too harshly, but the reality is its not selling well, has sad resale valuation, and other unbiased folks have pointed out its flaws (read: not MSM). You point out the typical GM weakness, get it 80% there and charge a 100% price, which also sounds like it is in play. I too would take an ATS over a CLA, but it is only because a *real* Mercedes or *real* Cadillac is either not available or beyond my financial reach.

        • 0 avatar

          You forget though, that for a long time the A4 was the same. Good looks, nice interior, but it didn’t drive as well as the others. Slowly, Audi improved on these elements until both the product and brand were as strong, at least, as the others.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve driven several A4s in my life, from the mid 90s to about MY03 in all shapes from like new to high miles. The A4 sucked. Period. I’d rather have an Audi 90 vs the ones I drove. I haven’t driven one since the MY03 period so I can’t say how much they have improved or not improved. The current gen Audis certainly look nice, to their credit, but this doesn’t mean they are worth my time or money.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            As a former owner of an Audi 90S 2.8, I approve this message.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            90S? Very nice. I was wary of the early 2.8 due to the issues we had with late 100s/early A6s and would prefer the VW sourced I5.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Actually, a Bing image search of 1993 90S brought up MY car, and a photo I put on Wikipedia long ago, since removed, but apparently is still on German wikipedia, and was used in an article on some other website.

            So here she is at my parent’s house. The ugly grey house has since been torn down and turned into lawn.

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/White_1993_Audi_90S.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s hilarious. The interwebs never forgets…

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Doesn’t matter what they want to chase, there selling volume products at upper luxury pricing.

      They only have 1 quintessential cadillac product, and they treat it like its not a big deal but turn around and charge 90k for it.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    “The story of Audi is unique” = editorial please.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s not unique inasmuch as it’s luck and pigheadedness. Any other European brand could have done the same (and BMW did, a few years earlier) only most of them gave up (Renault, Citroen, Fiat, Alfa) or were acquired and sabotaged (Saab, Volvo).

      Audi just won a war of attrition.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    You can’t argue with his logic. Lower end Audis were (and are) spiffier VWs that share the same engines. The higher end Audis (100, 5000, A6 etc) were unique to Audi.

    My sense of cars has a hard time equating Audi with BMW or Mercedes. However, objectively comparing them, the Audis are comparable. So, Audi has gotten relatively better with each iteration, while BMW and Mercedes, in relative terms, have not. I need to move beyond the Reagan era, when BMW 3 was THE sports coupe/sedan, and Mercedes was engineered like not other car (vs current Benzes that are like every other 300 hp V6).

    The Cadillacs share corporate powertrains, but are unique. If a future high-end Caddy has a unique Cadillac engine, would help.

    Personally, I think GM should have benchmarked BMW 3-series prices and had sticker prices of $2500 less for the new ATS. And the base engine should have been the turbo 4. This would’ve gotten a better launch, and the buzz would perpetuate itself. As the German car BUYERS went in for their next BMW/Merc/Audi, they might think, gee, the ATS drives better, looks good, and costs a little less, and not every other person has one….

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Gotta respect a man who knows his stated mission is inevitably destined for utter failure, yet marches confidently on, with the full support of his company behind him.

    Or not.

    The ATS isn’t worthy of a $30,000 starting price, and to be perfectly honest, in terms of gauges, exterior build/paint quality, and the sound & NVH of its 4 banger motors, actually harkens back to bad GM.

    To add salt to the wounds, based on a 5 1/2 day, 800 mile rental of one of these, I have zero confidence in their long term durability/reliability.

    Its two good qualities, being its chassis & steering, are far from enough to save the baby from being discarded with the scummy bathwater.

    If GM doesn’t want to see ATS & CTS continue to absolutely pile up on Cadillac Dealer lots in your neighborhood, they’re going to have to a) massively cut production, or b) do the $0 down, $259/$289 maintenance free leases to not-so-well qualified buyers (they have already begun this with the ATS).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I was thinking of your recent review when I was crafting my posts above.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Just because some will accuse me of being a “hater,” since I bothered to express what I consider to be an honest assessment of the ATS (A grade steering and A grade chassis, B to Ds on the motor, D on the transmission, F on interior space, C- on build quality, C on ride quality F on price), surf over to the Cadillac forums, where even the Cadillac brand loyal are lambasting the ATS for a diminutive interior, major quality control/reliability problems, and half-arsed 4 banger motors paired with a garbage slushbox).

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Sounds as if it was a good idea plagued by poor execution (and beancounters, and gov’t interference).

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          They can build a sweet Corvette but, somehow, they can’t build a proper Cadillac.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The Corvette is unique as the basic idea and platform haven’t changed much, they have simply been refined since 1984. I would also venture to guess the engineering team and assembly folks at Bowling Green are highly experienced at this point, so they are truly turning out top grade product. Other plants, teams, products etc, not so much.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Building a street legal race car while minimizing cost and maximizing durability is a much more understandable and objective mission than building a prestige luxury brand.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Yes and no. You could take the same philosophy and simply apply gobs of whatever is perceived as luxury around it.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          Where is the review? I read a lot of your scattered comments and was on the lookout for your review, but i think i missed it. Did it come out here?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It’s on the way.

            I thought I had it nailed, but then re-did it twice…so far…

            I’m trying hard to be objective, especially given my displeasure with where BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Acura are going with their entry products, on a relative basis.

            I may be Mr. P!ss & Vinegar, but I am nothing if not a fair & complete b!tcher.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “the sound & NVH of its 4 banger motors, actually harkens back to bad GM”

      Having rented one a few months back, I have to say that statement makes me think you’re being dishonest.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You’re just disagreeing with me, but in this case, the majority of those who’ve sampled either 4 banger in the ATS (but particularly the 2.5).

        GM still is way behind in fielding competitive 4 cylinder motors.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    De Nysschen has the right plan, but will the GM bureaucrats let him execute it?

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Want to differentiate? Pull a page from the Korean playbook and offer 100,000 mile factory warranties.

    That’s one place the Germans will not dare to tread. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Cadillac needs a 100K bumper to bumper warranty without an expiration date if they want to price them at the same level as BMW and MB.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Why not simply build a reliable luxury car without need of a 100K warranty?

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          I agree with 28-Cars on this one. The last thing Cadillac needs is for one of its dealers to be saying to customers “Hey, we’re just as good as Kia; we offer a 100K warranty too!”

          Not to mention the fact that it would bankrupt GM to make good on such a long term promise, unless they fill the warranty with fine print exclusions, in which case their customers will hate them, so what’s the point?

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Given that the compact and midsize luxury fields are dominated by the 24-36 month lease ‘n flip, a 100k mile warranty doesn’t mean squat. And in reality, neither do base prices. “What’ll she lease for, Mister” is the key to this segment, sadly.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Matching the established players on price doesn’t work when you’re the upstart. This problem also afflicts Lincoln; the MKZ and MKC are handsome, competent cars that are overpriced a solid $5k.

    The first-gen A4/A6/A8 et al undercut the prices of their German competition while including more standard features; to some extent, Audi still offers more “value” (standard leather, etc.) than BMW/Mercedes.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I think his LONG TERM strategy is sound, if Cadillac can produce the proper products, but in the near term, this will absolutely kill Cadillac sales volume. They need to cut the prices now, then as they did with Audi, slowly, gradually, raise them as the Cadillac brand image improves to warrant BMW-Mercedes like pricing. Cadillac sales will continue to tank because they they are priced like Tier 1 luxury cars, but have a Tier 2 brand image. The opposite strategy works much better, just ask the folks at Lexus.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Just don’t give a f_ck. Do Spyker level interiors. Put on a stainless hood like Rolls. Put on reverse spinner wheel caps like Rolls. Nobody fundamentally cares about the Burger King Ring in this market (as opposed to Corvette or Cayman buyers), you just have to give the buyers a better p_ssing contest on which to focus. Put in a twin turbo pushrod V8 with more torque than a dually, like a real Bentley. Put up bespoke options that put the Germans to shame, but with consultants so that nobody makes it look too stupid. Make the Escalade so amazing that people stop buying Denalis instead. Call it the Pinnacle, “Escalade” sounds too aspirational. Make a V16 car that can run on any number of pistons or electric only. Double f_ck you from the buyers, I have a V16 but I’m being too environmetally concious to use it.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      Lmao picturing someone pimping out an XTS in hot pink padded leather while a “consultant” tries to argue the case for beige. This sounds like Saint’s Row: The Dealership

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Cadillac really needs to focus more on their core product, the Escalade. More standard features, more marketing.

    Also for pete’s sake, would it kill them to pump out a decent crossover? The SRX is older than dirt and based on the less than specatcular Equinox. The need a CTS or ATS based SUV ASAP.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      They had a CUV based on the previous CTS — the old SRX. It was a niche product because most CUV buyers care more about packaging than RWD. They could bring one back, but it would be a niche product. The volume product will always be the FWD-based, well-packaged product. They need an update to the SRX (which is only a distant relative of the Equinox) and a larger FWD-based crossover above it.

      The Escalade doesn’t need more features; it has every feature under the sun. It needs refinement comparable to a Range Rover or a GL-Class. Today, the driving experience is very similar to a Suburban — no quieter, and with only a marginally better ride. It just doesn’t feel like a luxury product, while the competition does.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I haven’t been in a K2xx escalade, and have doubts you have, but the GMT900 suburbans are far from uncomfortable and are extremely quite.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I have now — my first ride in a K2XX airport shuttle was about two weeks ago.

          It still feels like a truck. In the back seat you’re still completely conscious of that big old live axle bouncing around, and you still hear the small-block noise. (It’s also surprisingly cramped — the K2XX floor is very high). MRC helps with wheel control but it’s not magic.

          It’s just not in the same league for either ride or quietness as its competition, the GL-Class and the full-size Range Rover. Those SUVs have true luxury-car quiet and ride almost as well as full-size luxury sedans. You’re just not going to get that level of refinement out of a pickup-truck chassis. It’s fine for a vehicle positioned like a Suburban but it’s not on par at $90,000.

          (Side note: thinking back on it, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a GM SUV that didn’t have a black interior. Shows you where I get my experience of them.)

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            But I think the GL is signficantly more expensive, and the Range Rover is significantly more expensive and catches fire a lot.

            They might improve the ride a little bit by removing the live axle, but I doubt most people would notice aside from the towing guys, and I bet the towing guys make up a not insignificant portion of Escalade buyers. Go hand out on I90 outside Chicago on 4th of July weekend or Presidents Day weekend, and stand in awe at the number of Escalades towing ski boats or snow mobiles heading north.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The GL is in the $70k (GL450) to $90k (GL550). That’s square on top of the Slade’s price range. Only the GL63 is more expensive than a Slade.

            The Range is indeed more expensive, but there’s a bit of overlap — the bottom of its range (with the supercharged V6) overlaps with the top of the Escalade ESV Platinum range in the ballpark of $90k. V8 Rangies are above $100k (sometimes significantly) but the Slade should aspire to compete in that space too. There’s no way it can on the current platform.

            If they want to keep selling to the guys towing the ski boats then they’ll never move their brand upmarket and they’ll never make the product truly luxurious. See VenomV12’s comment below. They should leave that audience to Yukon Denalis.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Aren’t escalades outselling the rangies?

            If so, why would they want to move “up” market? There already making 50+k per unit

            Getting rid of the solid or the truck frame means lost sales. I know no one wants to admit it here, but look what happened to the competition when they went to IRS.

            The winning strategy is for cadillac to make the escalade the brands halo car, and build competent vehicles around that, a large crossover is basically what you want, that may sell, but don’t screw up the cash cow when it carries the brand.

            This is like the fold flat third row deal, everyone bched and complained about the third row having to be removed for a flat floor. So in response they royally screwed up cargo space all together. Don’t ask for GM to change something that works, it ends poorly.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            @Hummer

            The Escalade is outselling the Range Rover because they don’t make as many Range Rovers and they don’t have them on the lots. You have to order them and they take 3 months to come in and they sell at full price if you order them and for above sticker if you buy them used and that is with prices much higher than the Escalade and no executive or employee or friends and family purchases, leases or discounts.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            The local rover dealer is stocked with everything, Raleigh’s not even that big of a range demo.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Here in Seattle, a decent RR market, you have two choices if you want to buy a full-size Rangie:

            1) Pay $15k-$30k over sticker (with the highest premium for Autobiography models) for one of about 10 in stock, between all of the local LR dealers; or
            2) Wait 6 months and then pay $5k-$10k over sticker.

            Are you sure you were looking at the full-size RR and not the RR Sport?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Hummer, a Suburban-based truck is never going to be a halo car for a true luxury brand. If they really want to sell a truck, they should sell it alongside a halo SUV, the same way they will shortly be selling the XTS alongside their full-size flagship.

            I do want them to build a three-row CUV but, to be clear, that’s not what I think their top two-box model should be. I think it should be a unibody SUV exactly along the lines of the GL-Class or Range Rover. Those vehicles still have the trucky image, and can still go off-road and (especially the GL) tow heavy stuff, but they also have the refinement the luxury market demands, and they clearly aren’t just chromey Suburbans. You’ll never sell an Escalade for $150,000, but Rover is managing just fine, and I think Caddy could get there with the right utility vehicle.

            Here’s how I would plan their utility lineup:

            1. SRX – two-row CUV competing with RX 350, RDX, GLK, Q5, etc.
            2. New CTS-based, RWD-biased two-row CUV competing with X3/X5, QX70, and RR Sport, reinforcing the driver-centered part of the brand
            3. Lambda-based, twin-turbo three-row CUV competing with MDX, QX60, ML-Class, Q7, and GL 450 intenders
            4. Very large unibody, IRS three-row SUV competing directly with Range Rover and GL550/63. This is the halo vehicle.

            Honestly, I don’t really see room in there for a Suburban derivative.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            If it wasn’t for the corvette, the suburban would probably be Chevys Halo car, its been built for what 78 years now?
            I think Cadillac can pull it off as a Halo car, it is after all the only Cadillac product halfway true to the brand.

            I really doubt GM will get another SUV, maybe a crossover, but the escalade is probably it as far as SUVs.
            You can call a unibody vehicle anything you want, but SUV is not what it is, I can take an old convertible Buick offroad and it will do fine. But to call it an offroad vehicle is rediculous, I wouldn’t take something offroad that had no frame to support the vehicle when it comes down hard on a rock.

            I never thought the escalade could reach 6 figures, we’re all over it, and there selling extremely well.
            Range Rover probably needs that extra 50k to fix warranty problems with each vehicle.

            Similarly the XTS will probably be gone once the flagship arrives, its an embarrassment.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Hummer, the argument that a unibody vehicle can’t be capable offroad is just flat ridiculous, and lots of Range Rovers/Land Rovers (along with ye olde XJ Cherokee) serve as proof. I’d much rather have an LR4 off road than a Suburban, and with a change of tires I’d much rather have a Range Rover off road than an Escalade.

            And I repeat: there is no physical way to make a Suburban derivative luxurious enough to be a luxury brand’s halo car. If you think otherwise, you really, really need to ride in an Escalade and a full-size Range Rover back to back. On-road, one feels like a truck, and the other feels like a luxury sedan.

            The Cadillac brand used to be all about ride. That’s a major reason their flagship went FWD way back in the ’60s. There’s nothing Cadillac about a bouncy live-axle ride in the back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Theta is going away completely a new platform, that is being called Delta III (but I don’t know if that is the real name) is replacing Delta II and Theta.

      So it isn’t a giant leap to say a new SRX is coming.

      I believe the new Buick midsizer CUV is based on the new Delta III platform, and is the first vehicle being built on it.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Well this story has already elicited a lot of errr, passion from the B&B.

    The opinions expressed when it comes to GM is pretty fascinating.

    As GM was emerging from 2009 and the pricing strategy on a number of models rolled out, the wails of, “it will never sell,” largely didn’t come to be. The Cruze sold and hasn’t had to rely on fat stacks of cash or low ATP to move (yes there are incentives but not Cobalt grade incentives – and ATP is way higher in the class). The Encore would never sell because it was an over priced ugly little wart of a useless CUV. Instead it created a whole new category that others are moving to fill in.

    The Verano, if you do a search on TTAC, which also would never sell the B&B screamed, basically owned the segment it lived in. The CLA has probably changed that, but it is still a strong seller for the class it sits in (and that’s not me saying it is in the same class as the CLA, that is TTAC in an earlier story on the compact near-luxury segment)

    Cadillac’s rebirth started about 15 years ago with the release of the Escalade and the CTS. One has to look at these first offerings through the same filter as one would look at the Grand Am to the G6 — or the Grand Prix to the G8.

    Was the first gen CTS the standard of the world? No – not even close. Was it a giant leap forward from previous Cadillac offerings sold to those who were stale, male, and pale? Yes – absolutely. Ditto for the Escalade.

    With each successive generation the CTS has gotten better. GM bean counters still seem to have a tight grip on interior materials, but GM has definitely created two cars that can run with the best in their class (run as in literally run) – the ATS and the CTS.

    I don’t think many from the B&B would turn up their noses to a 6-speed manual CTS-V wagon showing up in their driveway and someone saying, “here are the keys, have fun.”

    One can look at the 2015 Lincoln Navigator and the 2015 Cadillac Escalade and see the two brands are taking very different paths. The Lincoln seriously undercuts the Escalade, is offered in 2WD configurations, and lacks a number of tech items that the Escalade has or offers.

    I see Cadillac’s strategy as risky.

    In the late 90’s they turned their back on their existing stale, male, and pale base. They had to. When your demographic is so old that their next vehicle has a fair chance of being the short bus at the nursing home, you’ve got problems.

    So in less than a decade they shaved almost two-decades off of their average buyer demographic, and created products and a pricing strategy that appeals to a younger market.

    In the ATS they are building a product that still appeals to that segment, and even younger, but have priced it in a spot that competes with the real winners from a brand equity stand point.

    We can argue quality all day long, but one has to admit that Audi, Mercedes, and in the last 5 or so years BMW, aren’t exactly hallmarks of quality (insert but my BMW has 150K miles and replacing the entire front end, fuel pumps and turbos are just regular maintenance for everyone here). With some of the backward steps on interior goodies taken by BMW to go more mainstream (which isn’t to poo poo the strategy) things aren’t quite what they use to be. And lets remember how much brands like Mercedes charge for fake leather (cough, cough, cough high grade vinyl, cough) seats.

    But the ATS suffers from a cheap interior. The CTS is probably closer to what should compete against Japan and Germany, but suffers from a price point that their current group of buyers, that they spent the last 15 years cultivating. That’s the dangerous part. It takes a good 20 to 30 years to rehabilitate an automotive brand. Cadillac is at the half-way point. The new chief is basically hitting the reset button, abandoning the group they cultivated and going right after Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes buyers.

    In principal fine – but they don’t have the “goods.”

    The ATS instrument cluster is an abomination for starters. along with interior materials.

    The ELR is incredibly overpriced. Despite the wails of the B&B it is no badge job (still waiting for pictures of that Volt coupe) and platform sharing is not the same as a badge job. If using the same drive line in a mainstream model invalidates a luxury offering, hello, Audi and Lexus — congrats on using VW and Toyota motors and trannies in your, ehem luxury offerings.

    I just don’t see GM in the position to take the losses and spending the billions to spend another 20 to 30 years to rehab Cadillac into what it was 60 or 70 years ago.

    I get that this strategy gives Buick more room to breathe, and becomes a true “near luxury” brand, which it is evolving very well into. Buick’s rehabilitation is about 10 years old now, and moving probably faster than anyone expected (including me).

    GM has said many times in the past, we’re sticking to the pricing strategy and we aren’t going to put cash on the hood – to cut prices and put cash on the hood.

    We’ll see if it holds – but Cadillac needs to invest more money in their interiors to really compete. They are that screw up kid. The one who got into trouble at 14 and had to, ehem, “go away,” for a while. They’ve come back clean, happy, and straight. But the stain of reputation is there and they have to work twice as hard for the class to acknowledge they are better.

    Crap fit and finish on the inside, poor seat and interior design, and instrumentation taken from a 1984 Cavalier isn’t going to cut it if this is the path they are going to take.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I basically agree w/your assessment of current Cadillac, but I disagree that the 1st gen CTS (or 2nd gen, for that matter) were as much improved as you do; they were still unrefined, cheaply finished, unreliable, overpriced cars.

      But the ATS is EVEN WORSE, not because it’s a worse car, but because –

      – and I mean this literally, not as hyperbole –

      – GM engineers came in and obsessed over the chassis strength and balance, and achieved an excellent one (I’d dare say up there as top ost the class for its segment, though the ATS segment is a tough one to precisely pinpoint), and furthermore, they obsessed over and actually achieved world class steering feel (I’m serious; in this day and age of electrically assisted steering, the feel in the ATS is as good as one will find in anything under 85k true sport coupes) –

      – and then, it literally seems as if someone sabotaged the entire car, from the interior plastics, to the gauge cluster (awful), to the road noise levels, to the ride quality (I blame this on the size and type of tires as well as quality of stock suspension parts versus geometry/design), to the transmission (horrid), and finally, the real bizarre one, the back seat space and trunk space (I am not joking when I proclaim that many 12k compacts have much more trunk and rear seat space).

      Why build such a magnificent chassis, equip the car with magnificent steering, obsess over the critical details that few do anymore, and then essentially urinate on the design from there on in?

      And why price it, at a level that most of us can agree on is “rich,” if not excessive, even compared to well-heeled Germans and Leis?

      And why even bother with a 2.5 liter base motor that is far worse in terms of refinement/quality than what one would find in a 22k Accord or even GM’s other, less expensive products? (I know that you addressed this).

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        p.s. – Finally, and this is a hunch at this point, but I am going to research this; I “feel” a lot of subpar Chinese fabricated parts in the ATS, regardless as to where the specific, major components are assembled (i.e. the 2.5 liter could have literally been pulled out of a domestic market Chinese vehicle based on quality of internals and lack of refinement, even though I know that it’s assembled in one of two U.S. facilities – some will claim this of some of the competition, too, but it feels so wrong in a 35k to 45k vehicle – regardless that the base ATS is being sold for 28k and leased cheap.)

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          I was car shopping 20 months ago. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted. In an afternoon, I tested the Taurus, Fusion, ATS, 3-series, Jetta and Accord.

          I absolutely loved the way the ATS drove — the chassis and steering feel really come through in a test drive. But the rest of the package, including that tight rear seat, were just meh.

          Afterwards, I tested the Accord, and for $15K less, got way more car.

          I think if Caddy were to put their attention to an MCE for the ATS the way Honda did with the 2012 Civic, and just fix the glaring interior material issues and update CUE, they would have an excellent vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            There’s a reason Honda sold 51,000 Accords last month. A lot of car for the money and you can drive it for 10 plus years or more with little to no problems. You kind of make money owning one long term.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @Venom12…

            … you can drive it for 10 plus years or more with little to no problems…

            Previous owners of V6 5-speed autos would have a very different view on the unassailable reliability of the Accord.

            Ya I know, no more 5-speed autos – but everyone holds Honda up on this perfect pedestal, self-destructing automatic transmissions and shrapnel in the airbags and grossly premature wearing brakes and…

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            APAgTTh,
            You’re right about Honda’s reputation consumer expectations. I have owned mostly Hondas and Acuras for close to 30 years now, with excellent reliability.

            Until recently. Our 2012 Odyssey has had some real issues, and I am not sure whether the issue is (1) the additional complexity of a much larger vehicle; (2) all the new electronics that cars have these days (3) just a matter of chance – all types of vehicles have defects. Maybe I was just lucky with the first 4 vehicles, and not so much this this one.

            All that said, Honda – along with a couple of other manufacturers – do on average come out way more reliable than average. That’s been shown again and again in quality surveys, from CR, Power, and especially Karesh.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “was it a giant leap forward from previous Cadillac offerings sold to those who were stale, male, and pale? Yes – absolutely. Ditto for the Escalade.”

      I’ve owned a few C-body 4.5 and 4.9s and I’ve driven several K-body Devilles of the “previous” period, all were very nice cars and pleasurable to drive. We also had a number of issues on 4yo K-body Sevilles (gen 2, 98-03) which were the result of either excessive abuse by owners, poor parts quality or both (steering racks, steering columns, control arms, suspension issues etc). While the Devilles seemed much better assembled, all Cadillacs of the period were cursed with Northstar. If GM had simply offered a better motor, we would not be having this conversation. Going full stupid 180 degrees in the other direction was not the correct move for the brand and market share reflects this.

      “I don’t think many from the B&B would turn up their noses to a 6-speed manual CTS-V wagon showing up in their driveway and someone
      saying, “here are the keys, have fun.”

      These cars barely exist, its almost akin to “Mark Reuss shows up with the Elmiraj and asks you to take it for a spin” – of course it would be awesome. Simply because Cadillac can build something awesome does not mean they are building awesome product. Try the same logic with the rental grade ATS Deadweight experienced and see how in love with it you are then.

      “In the ATS they are building a product that still appeals to that segment, and even younger, but have priced it in a spot that competes with the real winners from a brand equity stand point.”

      Somebody forgot to tell the auction market apparently about all of the brand equity.

      “That’s the dangerous part. It takes a good 20 to 30 years to rehabilitate an automotive brand. Cadillac is at the half-way point. The new chief is basically hitting the reset button, abandoning the group they cultivated and going right after Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes buyers.”

      I’m not going to disagree with you because I know you are very educated on the subject of marketing and advertising. However all Cadillac ever had to do was this: don’t build cars that suck. Period. No blow up motors, no broken transmissions, no cancer in the paint, no shoddy steel, real V8 power, room enough for human beings, and keep it comfortable. That’s it. They did this on and off for thirty years with varying success depending on year and model. I drove an ’11 CTS V6 AWD for a few miles last spring (old boss’ car) and aside from feeling heavy, the overall fit and finish screamed Oldsmobile to me. Did it suck? Not from what I can tell, so in that respect its an improvement. But is it worth the price of admission? Remains to be seen for me.

      “They’ve come back clean, happy, and straight. But the stain of reputation is there and they have to work twice as hard for the class to acknowledge they are better.”

      Very much agreed on this point.

  • avatar
    dwford

    People talk about how Cadillac will be a long term play, emulating Audi. Everyone forgets that the first STS came out around 1992 with the Northstar V8, and that Cadillac has been focussed on RWD sportier luxury cars for at least 10 years since the first CTS came out. So Cadillac has already been chasing respectability for over 20 years… How much longer is it going to take?

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    GMs buyers are Cadillac’s worst nightmare.

    I am going to address some points and it will make some people mad but it is the truth, but before I go into them, I will address De Nysschen’s strategy and logic. Audi was never really lower tier, my godfather is a dentist and I remember he had a 5000CS back in the day before the debacle happened. Even so, although Audi’s numbers have improved over the years, they still don’t sell the way Mercedes and BMW do. This guy came from Infiniti which employed the same strategy of prices on par with Mercedes and BMW and look how well that turned out.

    Now to the meat and potatoes, assuming that Cadillac has the quality and amenities its competitors did, which it does not, the fact is it is still a GM vehicle. Most of the dealerships I have seen share the lots with Chevy and GMC vehicles also. The average Mercedes or BMW buyer does not want to share a showroom, waiting area or be associated with the guy covered in dirt, wearing a Browning ball cap, jeans and a Duck Dynasty shirt. You might argue that Lexus comes from Toyota and Audi from VW, but the buyers of those cars tend to be a very different caliber than those of Chevys and GMs. Also, even though the Escalade sells well, look at the perception it has from people about the kind of people that buy them even though it is incorrect. Mention Escalade and the first words you hear are rapper, gangster, thug, drug dealers.

    Another very important factor that people don’t like to bring up is immigrant buyers. If you come from a family that is from another country whether it be from India, the Middle East, some part of Africa, Asia or even Eastern Europe, Mercedes is considered the best first with BMW a distant second. Immigrants tend to earn more money also on average. If you drive by a party, at least in my neighborhood and area that is being held at an Indian’s or Arab’s house, you will see most of the cars are Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus,Land Rover, Toyota or Honda. If you drive by a similar party at a white person’s house, you will see a lot of Tahoes, Chevys and Fords, pickup trucks etc. For Cadillac to really sell a lot more cars they have to convince immigrant families that their brand is more prestigious than Mercedes, hell BMW or Lexus and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    If you look at how good the new Genesis and Sonata are, probably the only thing stopping them from completely killing it right now is the fact they did not go the Toyota route and setup a completely separate luxury brand.

    GM will never truly appeal to upper class buyers, no matter how good they make their cars and there is good reason for that. Take the Corvette for example, it is an excellent car for a good price, right? OK, go to the auto show or any car show, look at the guys that own Corvettes, jeans, overweight, old, Chevy ball cap, and those hideous tacky looking Corvette “leather” jackets with some sort of giant logo emblazoned on it. Now look at the guys that buy Porsches, slim and trim, groomed, nice dress slacks and dress shoes, dress shirt with a cashmere sweater over it with a Patek Phillipe on the wrist. Completely different people. Never the twain shall meet.

    My Indian urologist neighbor is the perfect example of the kind of buyer Cadillac really wants but will probably never get. He drives a BMW 750Li, his wife a Mercedes GL450 and his weekend car is a Porsche 911 convertible. It will probably stay like that for the rest of his life with the only changes maybe being the BMW might become an S Class and the Porsche maybe a Ferrari.

    It would be interesting to subtract the GM employee buyers and the other people that got huge discounts from the mix of Cadillac buyers and see what the true sales numbers are.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …The average Mercedes or BMW buyer does not want to share a showroom, waiting area or be associated with the guy covered in dirt, wearing a Browning ball cap, jeans and a Duck Dynasty shirt…

      I agree with that. The irony in that is the 2500 series 4WD that guy is waiting for in service cost more than the lease special 5-series BMW.

      Snobbery is amazing.

      …assuming that Cadillac has the quality and amenities its competitors did, which it does not,…

      Here I might disagree. If “quality” means reliability, I disagree. BMW, Mercedes and Audi are hardly the poster children of reliability. I’d buy a used Cadillac way before I would buy a used Audi, BMW or Mercedes (especially Audi and Mercedes). Admittedly for Audi and Mercedes recently, fortunes are changing.

      If quality is to mean “quality of materials and fit and finish,” here I agree with you.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        Yes, it would be leaning more towards the quality of materials, fit and finish.

        You can mash the argument of snobbery up a million different ways, but in the end it fundamentally comes down different classes and we are talking about two very different classes of people that don’t really want to coexist with each other. I have a guy in my neighborhood who is one of the richest guys in here, with the largest house, but he is complete and utter white trash. Didn’t make it past 8th grade, drives the most garish vehicles like Hummers, Escalades, Corvettes, Vipers etc but custom painted in horrible bright colors, his house is tacky too, he brings work vehicles, and other large vehicles and parks them in the front of his house sometimes too, cops have been to his house numerous times when he and his wife have fought. There have been numerous complaints about him, some neighbors have sued him, he has been trying to sell for years but the house is so tacky no one wants it. He is the perfect example of the kind of guy that drives people with money away from from the American luxury brands, they don’t want to be associated with that kind of guy.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “You can mash the argument of snobbery up a million different ways, but in the end it fundamentally comes down different classes and we are talking about two very different classes of people that don’t really want to coexist with each other.”

          Absolutely agree with that, and it goes both directions. The wreath is poison to snobs for every reason you’ve laid out. Simultaneously, Cadillac’s branding and product overture towards those snobs is every bit the same poison to the people who used to buy Cadillacs.

          That branding isn’t set in stone. Cadillac’s retiree and livery image is just about gone, in favor of urban trash putting subs and dubs on cars now three owners removed from retirees and livery, which is even worse. In time they can lose that one too.

          But meanwhile they’re in no man’s land.

  • avatar
    cltwxguy

    Cadillac is a has been, there’s no brand equity left in the Cadillac name. No one aspires to drive a Cadillac these days. Two years ago I heard commercials on the radio saying “I never dreamed I could afford a Cadillac with my credit!”

  • avatar
    mjz

    Cadillac currently has a product strategy that is flawed. First of all, they are concentrating on sedans in a market that has just seen C/SUV sales overtake sedans for the first time. They have two big holes in their product line that need to be filled ASAP. One being a bigger than SRX model ( now rumored to be built off the new flagship Omega platform instead of Lambda ), a second sub SRX model based off the ATS platform. This alone could easily add significant sales volume. Secondly, Cadillac’s strategy of trying to out German the German is doomed to fail. Why buy a BMW/Mercedes wannabe when you can just buy the real thing.for the same money? The most successful current Cadillac is the Escalade because it most closely adheres to the traditional Cadillac brand strategy of stylish, blingy and glitzy American luxury. Cadillac needs to refocus on that, not chasing the tail of BMW and Mercedes with German clone cars.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I just love the Cadillac hate-fest that appears every time the brand is mentioned.

    Now I hate to be a contrarian, but Mysshen may be right: The climb of the prestige ladder is slow and the very first thing you have to do build your owner base is to protect their resale values. Discounting your cars in order to generate sales volume is the fastest way to alienate your customer base and kill the brand. That is how Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Audi do and so should Cadillac.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Cadillac also needs to drastically improve their dealership experience. Case in point. A friend recently had to replace his rapidly dying Accord, and decided to treat himself to a luxury car. He stopped by a local Detroit area Cadillac dealer with the intent of getting a CTS ( previous gen ). It was a Saturday, not busy. No one greeted him. He sat in several cars. Still NO ONE ever even approached him. He left. Cadillac lost a customer who NEEDED a new car and was willing to hand them $40k. He them went to the Lexus dealer where they kissed his a$$. He left THERE with an ES. When he takes it in for service, he says it’s like getting a massage with a happy ending, they treat him so well. Cadillac has long way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Then there are guys like me who dream of being able to glance in the direction of a car in the lot or in the showroom without a swarm of dealers wanting to know “how can I put you in this car TODAY????”

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’m with S2K, if someone approaches me on a car lot, unless I’m really interested, I’m leaving and going somewhere I can get close and personal without having some shark over my shoulder.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Yep, Lexus and Porsche by far have the best new car shopping experience. I remember when I test drove the ATS last year, the salesman I was with was swearing up a storm, granted I kind of knew the guy but still it was uncomfortable and unprofessional.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Well I read somwhere that while they aren’t cutting prices, they are going to either add content to the current packages at no extra charge or “unbundle” some of the options, so for instance, you don’t have to upgrade to the $5k Ultra Premium Plutonium Package just to get seat heaters to keep your a$$ warm in the cold weather. Note to de Nyssche: start by making heated LEATHER seats standard on ALL models. Get rid of that vinyl $hit. This is a Cadillac, not a VW.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Nope – going to have to disagree here.

      Other “luxury” makes don’t offer heated seats standard on certain “luxury” models. Heck the Germans make a fortune charging ridiculous prices for features that should just be included on a luxury car. Oh sure, the vinyl seats in Mercedes are AWESOME, but they are still sticking it to you for very very nice plastic – ditto BMW.

      Everyone does bundling – the days of ordering the check list on what you want is long over.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I agree with the comments on the ATS, not even so sure about the steering. Chassis is great the rest crap.

    Then take the cue system in any number of current cadillacs. Any company that could seriously produce this and think they were offering naything other than pain to customers is so far off base you have to wonder about he rest of the vehicle. The Gm screens in general are punishemnt for 70% of us and cue is worse. Lest face it a screen controlling everything is (a) harder to use liek for changign volume ans stations and (b) its cheaper to produce, so thst why you did it, dont call that luxury, more like cynical marketing by boobs who think customers are stupid..

    I would posit the following. GM cars are still comitee products with different gorups vying for attention/budget. Maybe the chassis powertrain people used up all their political coins on the chgasis and had to suffer crapo motors. maybe the inetrior people supported them so they had to keep their mouths shut about cue.
    Its really the fiero all over again. great bones crap execution because of cheapness.

    What i am certain of is if the people at the top, the ones makign the final decsision really understood good cars then the teams developing the ATS would have each had a superlative task to accomplish that had to pass muster, as opposed to pelasing a budget boss.

    Barnds can re-arise, but they need product. or in the imortal words of Carlos Ghosen, there is not problem at car company good product cant fix.

    So cadillac, you need great inetriors, forget about fooling people with gimicks like cue or now self drive. You need smooth powerful motors, and they need to be happy to rev and sound good, blare does not cut it. I know tall gearing and lockup tq converters that hold on too long make the epa happy, but it means your cars lack refinement.

    Refinement means noise ride and feel in everthign touched.

    I wont even comment on the fake pastic chrome strips all over, esp the stearing wheel, maybe that was cool in detroit in 1977 but things have moved on.

    I firmly believ GM has the talent in terms of engineering, but pretty much everythign else from a managemnt/product perspective is missing. Whereas at Audi they sort of knew how to biuld agood car.

    As to relaiobility, yes Gm gets good marks, but peopel buying new cadillacs dont keep then poast 5 years anyway,.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      That was true of older Cadillacs but no longer of the ATS or CTS. Both have better interiors than their BMW counterparts. I agree that CUE could do with a major makeover but the rest of interior is just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        “That was true of older Cadillacs but no longer of the ATS or CTS. Both have better interiors than their BMW counterparts.”

        They really don’t, and this is one oft-repeated fallacy that really needs to die. GM may have a VERY slight edge in materials and (extremely arguably) design, but BMW still manages to line things up and screw things together far better.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        They do not have better interiors, that is a complete lie. From the ATS on up to a $90,000 Escalade I have seen a myriad of unacceptably cheap parts. I will go as far as to say that I think the new Impala feels more premium to me than any of the new Cadillacs. I will make an exception for the poor maligned ELR, it does have a somewhat nicer interior than the rest, but it should, not much car to work with. The XTS’s quality appearance wise seems to be markedly better than that of the ATS, CTS and Escalade also

        Here is a baseline test for quality on any luxury car. Go pull on the door handles. Do it on the Cadillac’s, then go do it on the new Genesis and you will see a major difference in the feel and that is just the beginning. Then go pull the door handle on the Impala, it is better than the Cadillac’s.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Offer a non touch screen option, I don’t care if the product is 15k or 100k, I simply will not buy a car that is centered on a touch screen computer in the dash.
    Completely garish, unsophisticated, and embarrassingly cheap method of manipulating controls.

    I graduated in the 00s, I’m not a Luddite, I’ve been around just long enough to know when I see something cheap.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    OK. There’s a consensus then. Cadillac needs to do the opposite of every single thing it has ever done in living memory.

  • avatar
    Ihatejalops

    Anyone know if they’re hiring some product planners for this gig? Crap, I’d love a chance to work on getting this brand back to meaning something again. Wouldn’t you? Shame, since it still has so much potential. If they want to charge as much as ze Germans, they need to start up, not down as like the ATS. Oh vell.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The Alpha platform was a mistake.

    GM should have slapped a new face and interior on the existing CTS like Infiniti did with the G37 -> Q50. Then make a bunch of Escalade style CUVs with a Caddy Evoque on the low end. And make a midsize luxury plug in hybrid with styling like the IMAJ. Nobody cares about anything Cadillac is trying to do now. They either put their eggs in the wrong basket (luxury market doesn’t care about Ring times) or they botched stuff people ACTUALLY care about (interfacing, rear seat room, value, style/conspicuity). ATS/CTS are so non-descript… I am blown away by how boring they look every time I see them. Germans can get away with that… they can get away with anything, they can get away with the X6. Caddy made a grave error thinking they could play the German’s game

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Take a look at the interior of the new C-class. THAT is where Cadillac needs to be if they want to get some attention from the market. The new C looks like it costs twice as much as it does. The ATS looks like it costs $5K less than it does.

    Whoever is responsible for that IP in the ATS should be fired. It looks like it was pulled from one of the old GM dustbuster minivans. Half circle speedos are not sporty. PERIOD. A half circle, center mounted speedo to me just screams minivan.

    Whoever is responsible for the black plastic slab center stacks full of buggy, unresponsive touch buttons should be fired. TODAY. Touch buttons “like a phone!!!!” are NOT luxury. Anyone with half a braincell could look at the knobs that Audi uses for its HVAC controls, and then look at Cadillac’s touch buttons which might work the third time you attempt to press them. Maybe. Which one feels like it belongs in a luxury product?

    Considering how good the new C-class is on the inside, I would be scared to death about how nice the new E-class will likely be, let alone the third generation CLS. Mercedes is clearly out for blood.

    Again the new C-class is the perfect example of what to do. Execute, execute, execute, and they did. The C-class was always the runt of the M-B litter. They’ve had dirt cheap interiors and crappy, left-over uncompetitive engines for decades. Sound familiar? You always got the sense that M-B built the C-class because they had to, and the execs didn’t really care that the 3 series and A4 stomped all over it.

    That’s all done. The new C’s engines will take on anybody. The interior makes “design king” Audi’s A4 look like a Jetta on the inside. Steering feel and chassis performance are great from an enthusiast stand point, but enthusiasts don’t buy cars. At least not new ones. BMW knows where the money is, that’s why the 3 and 5 have turned into Buicks. They want to sell cars.

    Another thing that nobody has mentioned yet – Bose. Dump Bose. Mercedes and Porsche offer Burmester systems in their cars, one of Germany’s elite hi-fi brands that sells $20K+ amplifiers and speakers. Bose sells glorified boom boxes to idiots. You can get a Bose stereo in a Mazda or Nissan. Audi was smart enough to offer a high-end B&O option, hell even Acura knew enough to dump Bose for the ELS and Krell systems they have now.

    One of the smartest moves Lexus made way back when was going from Nakamichi, a brand almost nobody outside of Japan has ever heard of, to Mark Levinson, which especially at the time was one of the US’s premier audio brands. In an age when you can get leather, NAV, heated front and ventilated seats, etc in a Kia, you need something to differentiate your product. A high-end badge for your stereo system is a great way to do that. Leave Bose for Buick.

    Mercedes and Porsche have Burmester, Jag and Bentley have Meridian and Naim. Get a US brand in the same league like Audio Research to design your stereo. Instant prestige boost.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      While I know a good audio system from a mediocre one, I really don’t think that the majority of luxury auto buyers, especially in the entry-level segment, care much about the branding of the audio system in their car.

      Further, outside of Bose, B&O is is the only one one that really has any mainstream name recognition – and that’s pretty limited knowledge, anyhow. And yes, I agree that Bose is crap – the Monsoon system in my old R32 was lightyears better than the ‘advanced Bose speaker system’ found in my A3.

      Back to the ATS – in many ways, the ATS is what happens when you let enthusiasts build a car who has mass market goals to meet: they built a fantastic chassis and great steering that make enthusiasts happy. They gave it (subjectively) a great exterior design. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Things That Matter to Real Buyers, Cadillac dropped the ball. No need to reiterate those interior choices again.

      What Audi did right back in the day, and still does today, is to focus on The Things that Matter to Real Buyers: great touch points in the interior, comfort, etc. Audi realized a while ago that most buyers didn’t care if the car came with a 3.2V6 or a 2.0T, so long as the NVH was within reason and the MPGs were better than the 3.2, the 2.0T won hands down. Audi knew their buyers (and most buyers) don’t care about RWD versus FWD or 50/50 weight distribution.

      It’s the Appleization of the automobile industry: nobody cares about technical specifications any longer. Nobody asks what processor their iPhone has, or how much RAM is in their iPad. They simply care about storage space, screen size and price. Everything else is assumed to be there.

      Cadillac needs to make the ‘user experience’ much better and add some kind of Cadillac advantage to the equation. That’s what the big boys get paid big bucks to determine. ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        They also need to work on the dealer body. It’s significant that in Automobile magazine’s final wrap-up of their long-term ATS, one of the things they criticized was the uneven level of service they received from different Cadillac dealers for warranty issues.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Out of curiosity, how many non-service (i.e. something broke) visits to the stealership did they have to make?

          Regardless as to the merits/demerits of the ATS, just based on my 6500 miles on the odometer specimen, I would never buy the car because I could never trust its long term reliability/durability.


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