By on June 6, 2016

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It’s D-Day, so what better time to dish details on Cadillac’s secretive Project Pinnacle?

The luxury automaker plans to completely revamp how its dealers interact with customers — a strategy that even changes how its salespeople dress, according to a draft document obtained by Automotive News.

Under Project Pinnacle — the brainchild of brand president Johan de Nysschen — U.S. dealers will be grouped into five tiers based on expected sales. When the operation kicks off on October 1, car shoppers can expect a higher-end experience at their local Caddy dealership. Get ready to be coddled.

The strategy is part of the same brand overhaul that saw Cadillac open an artsy coffee shop in lower Manhattan last week. De Nysschen launched a similar project when he ran Audi of America.

After all, who wants to be served by a Chevrolet salesperson when you’re shopping for a Cadillac?

Under the plan, top dealers with annual sales of 700 or more will offer customers concierge pickup and drop-off for sales and service customers. Second-tier outfits will add a Cadillac greeter counter, while those on lower rungs will see the addition of a certified Cadillac technology expert, dedicated websites, and tablet use during service inspections.

The controversial part of the plan has to do with dealers’ individual sales targets, which spells out what compensation they can expect from the automaker. Instead of being able to count on a stable flow of cash from the automaker, dealers are now being told they’ll need to earn it. Under the plan, maximum margins increase to 14 percent of sticker price, up from 12.6 percent, with bonuses paid to dealers who meet their targets.

It’s easy to see why some dealers aren’t too keen on the project. Besides the added cost of offering a high-end experience, dealers face financial risk if they don’t meet their sales targets. Moving up a tier for a bigger potential payout means taking on even more cost, with no guarantee of a return on their investment.

“They’re asking us to take on a lot more overhead to make less money,” one Northeast dealer told Automotive News.

[Image: General Motors]

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115 Comments on “‘Project Pinnacle’: Cadillac Promises a New Sales Experience, but Dealers are Wary...”


  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Dear Cadillac Dealers,

    Upgrade your facilities, change your processes, upgrade your people, add amenities, and sell more vehicles. No, we will not be adding more profitable CUVs/SUVs to our lineup. Sell more ATSs and, as always, go [email protected] yourself.

    Sincerely,

    Johan

    • 0 avatar
      TheEndlessEnigma

      Actually the costs at dealers will decrease, they won’t have any actual inventory on the lot…hell there won’t be a lot any more!

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/cadillac-bets-on-virtual-dealerships-1465172482

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        So it’s a huge change and dealers are still starved for product that people actually want to buy. I never said their costs would go up. Just that they we have massive changes.

        • 0 avatar

          This “virtual reality” dealership model – no cars to feel or touch – is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.

          One of the biggest and most important parts the sales process is putting a potential buyer IN THE CAR. “Implied ownership” and “ownership transferal” is an integral part of the sale. The potential customer gets a feel for what it would be like to own it. Virtual can’t do that. Can’t touch the leather. Can’t smell it. Can’t put your hands on the wheel.

          Doesn’t matter what they offer in the way of concierge and loaners if they don’t sell the car in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I agree, it’s so much harder to sell somebody something when they can’t touch/hold it, when it’s an important purchase.

            Think of virtually selling diamonds, a watch, expensive furniture, a puppy.

            Got to let the customer hold it and interact.

          • 0 avatar
            TheEndlessEnigma

            There is an interesting comment in the article in the WSJ, “…Those who do adopt the virtual model will have tester cars on site, which can be loaned to people getting their car serviced or used in test drives, Mr. Churchill said. He said prospective buyers can learn a lot about a Caddy by putting on the virtual-reality goggles. Because Cadillacs are made in the U.S., orders should be quickly filled.”

            Orders should be quickly filled? Apparently Mr. Churchill who is owner of Frank Kent Cadillac in Fort Worth, Texas, and head of Cadillac’s dealer council has never ordered a car. What’s the typical wait time when you order a car 14 – 16 weeks? I’m not sure what his concept of “quickly” is, but 3-4 months is not what I consider to be quick.

            GM will also have to change how they price and incentivize their product, everything nowadays is geared toward “..must take delivery from dealer stock…”

            Good luck Caddy, it’s been fun watching you kill yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            jpolicke

            If I want virtual reality shopping I can stay home and use the website. Either way I won’t know what the seats feel like, or the material quality. Are test drives also virtual?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “This is another step, having nothing to do with the product, that will help to make Cadillac competitive with Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus, and reverse Cadillac’s terminal death fall.”

      Said no one ever.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        As much as you have a disdain for Ford lately, at least someone there has been smart enough to give Lincoln a small CUV (regardless of how you feel about that product) and now a large CUV that doesn’t look like the MkT. Lincoln wil have five model years of MKC sales by the time Johan gets off his a$$ and gets a compact Caddy CUV out there.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          You’re a good dude & bro, but I need to talk you down a bit from Mt. Ford-Everest.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My point is that they at least have a product in a popular luxury segment, but Cadillac won’t have an SUV smaller than the SRX/XT6 until the 2020 model year. I am not commenting on how good the MKC is or is not. I wouldn’t buy one because the 2.3T AWD I had as a loner got worse MPG than my wife’s 360 HP, 5000 pound, AWD CUV.

            I am not as big of a Ford homer as you think. These are the Ford/Lincoln products I would buy new, with my own money: C-Max, Focus/Fiesta ST/RS, Fusion Sport, Flex Ecoboost, F-Series, MKX, Expedition/Navi. That’s basically eight products and some are special trim levels only. I can think of at least three to four products I would buy from almost any car company. Except VW. No VWs.

          • 0 avatar

            Who knows if the crossover trend will continue for another four years? By 2020 the tastes of American women and Chinese businessmen may change.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Ronnie-

            Exactly. Cadillac needs those sales now, not in four years when tastes could be completely different.

      • 0 avatar

        “Those who do adopt the virtual model will have tester cars on site, which can be loaned to people getting their car serviced or used in test drives”

        Oh, sure. “Here’s the key fob to our USED tester/loaner.” I’m not sure driving a used car is the best way to sell the new car. Might have the negative effect of discovering how poorly your new car might age.

        Then there’s the possibility that the last person to drive the car ate beans and whiskey for lunch.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Actually I went to a Cadillac dealer the other day to test drive the new CT6 that is new, fully updated and staffed with great people, a much better experience than the usual crappy dealerships they have. Cadillac’s biggest problem is those awful dealerships that are still out there, especially the ones that are the combo dealerships that sell Cadillac and other GM products. They actually badly need an XT7/3 row crossover to their lineup, they would sell quite a lot of them.

      The XT5 and the CT6 are actually pretty nice, the CT6 is definitely what Cadillac needed for the sedan segment, they should just discontinue the CTS now. Both of them seem to be selling very well in my area, so I wouldn’t bury Cadillac just yet.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        They need the XT7 and XT5 yesterday.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          This reminds me how badly BMW needs the X7, as well. The financial crisis scared them off when they were about to start on it, and it took them too long to get around to it again.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Nothing screams “premium” and “luxury” like the same 2.0 liter 4 bangers and 3.6 liter 6 cylinder motors that Chevy uses in its vehicles, along with Hyundai-level interior plastics and bottom of the barrel reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          VenomV12

          You know me, I was with you on Cadillac all this time, but then I drove the CT6 and looked at the XT5 and now my opinion has changed, I think they have a chance. I would still prefer the CT6 had a V8, but you can live without it. They could fine tune a few things here and there (cheapy door handles), but overall it is a pretty nice car and if you don’t load it up to the moon it’s a decent value. If you want to buy American for a small luxury crossover, then the XT5 is a no-brainer and an XT7 would be similarly so. Cadillac just needs to scorch earth and get rid of the crap dealers and they will be on their way.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @deadweight:
          “Nothing screams “premium” and “luxury” like the same 2.0 liter 4 bangers and 3.6 liter 6 cylinder motors that Chevy uses”

          Having driven a couple of EVs, its hard for me to consider anything with cylinders a luxury car. Explosion engines run rough, even the really nice ones.

          If Cadillac wants my business, they have to beat Tesla to my Model 3 reservation. Or, better yet, beat Tesla to market with a Cadillac Model Y.

          Anything to else is just trying to charge me more for basically the same stuff I already own, except without proper sliding doors. Meh.

      • 0 avatar
        montecarl

        Use the Lambda Platform and make a miniature Escalade…call it the XT7 or something.. price it above the XT5 and below the Escalade of course…

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Upgrading the customer experience isn’t a bad idea. That said,one must have customers to begin with.

    Cadillacs core problem is it charges BMW money for a BMW copycat. Why not buy the real thing at that level?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Because the real thing is beginning to suck?

      • 0 avatar

        Sure, but is ATS/CTS/CT6 a solid alternative?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yes, they are.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            They are, but right now people are moving away from sedans into CUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            NO.

            I test drove the BMW M2 (6 cylinder , manual gearbox) in the same blue exterior color that Bradley reviewed for us last week.

            BMW still has nothing to worry about at all from Cadillac in terms of design, aesthetics, interior quality, power (and the way it’s delivered), handling, etc., etc., etc.

            The BMW I drove, as well as the dealership I dealt with in slingshot, are light years ahead of Cadillac.

            And at a possible sub-48k price for a new, reasonably equipped M2 like I drove, any Mirage that Johan has made anythingbother than a much larger, confused mess of Cadillac is laid bare for any rational human being to testify to.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Cadillacs core problem is it charges BMW money for a BMW copycat. Why not buy the real thing at that level?”

      here’s more evidence Cadillac’s biggest mistake was listening to enthusiasts.

      • 0 avatar
        LS1Fan

        Agreed.

        Cadillac needs to return to their roots. Make big, comfy -and this time, reliable cars- and let the Europeans slug it out for “prestige”. The Cadillacs lay folks remember in my generation are the Big Mafia Cars like the DTS and STS, naturally in Black. The enthusiast cars feel like knockoff BMWs, which would be OK if people bought BMWs for the driving experience.

        As recent events show,for the most part they don’t.

        So Cadillac needs to go back to the La Cosa Nostra lineup with some CUVs to boot. Sure the press will laugh at them , but the press would laugh at GM if they cured cancer and ended world hunger .

        As for us enthusiasts, we are a niche market. Cars we find “fun” the rest of the car buying universe writes off as impossible to live with and brutally impractical.

        • 0 avatar
          Ion

          But….but the B&B says Lincoln need a RWD BMW/Benz/Caddy copy biased off the mustang to get sales.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            CAdillac simply needs to make very comfortable (a la Lexus & Mercedes) good looking (a la Audi), exceptionally well assembled of precise parts/trim/components (a la Lexus), that have excellent reliability and resale value (a la Lexus).

            Forget all this other nonsense and blah blah blah coffee blah blah pinnacle blah blah Johan-Melody-Uwe (talk too much).

            But Cadillac won’t do the simple things, because they literally aren’t capable of it, so Johan-Melody-Uwe will keep blah blah blah coffee-in-SoHo blah blah pinnacle-plan blah blah New York Fashion Week blah blah.

        • 0 avatar
          Spartan

          “The Cadillacs lay folks remember in my generation are the Big Mafia Cars like the DTS and STS, naturally in Black.”

          Ah, yes. The DTS in black. I remember those as funeral procession cars, which is why you hardly ever see them on lots.

          When was the last time you saw a black Deville / DTS that didn’t belong to a funeral home? You can hardly find XTSs in black for the same reason.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        They should have done their market research at the convalescent home, because that’s where most of their customers are found.

        Yeah, I’m exaggerating, but it’s amazing how such an expensive, supposedly exclusive line of vehicles that should knock ’em out of the park keeps swinging and missing, and hitting dribblers.

        Edit: This post ended up entirely in the wrong place on the page. Why does TTAC have to reload the page every time you try to post a comment?
        *** It still ain’t working right, please fix it! ***

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    All of the problems can be fixed with branding and tablets, yep!

    I agree there -should- be a difference in the dealer staff presentation when at Cadillac. Ill-fitting polo shirt doesn’t cut it.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      But the Lands End Business Outfitters site was out of 4X polos so Jim Bob had to buy a 3X.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They FINALLY redid the Cadillac dealership here, and got rid of the brass globe chandelier and brown brick floor tiles from 1978. This is within the past year and a half.

        Man selling Cadillacs should have a suit on at all times.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Society is more casual now. Let us compromise and say pressed button down shirt, pressed wool trousers, matching leather belt and dress shoes, and properly groomed. A matching coat would be better, but at this point, I don’t expect a tie anymore.

          I bought a car from a “luxury” brand dealership, and the sales person was dressed like that. I thought it was fine. They have good service, go the extra mile, and didn’t try to hard sell me. That makes up for no coat/tie.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Fair enough. Ironing clothes is hard.

            You bought your C-Max at a Lincoln dealer didn’t ya.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I bought my C-Max from a Ford dealer. I bought an MkT from a Lincoln dealer. It was used, but the sales person sells new vehicles as well.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Total memory lapse about ye MKT.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Nobody remembers that the MkT exists until they see one driving by as limo, black car, or hearse. Unless you live in the Detroit area. On Friday, went out to Ruth’s Chris for a get together for one of my wife’s coworkers. There were SIX!!!! MkTs in the parking lot. SIX. There may not be six MkTs registered in some states.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            I would forget the MkT exists even in the assembly plant where it was made.

            Everyone hates on them until they actually use it. After the grille was reduced in size, the styling grew on me.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            It’s Oakville’s version of duck, duck, goose.

            “Edge, Edge, Edge, Edge, Edge, MkT!!!”

            My wife loves hers. We were going to eventually replace it with a Navi, but used MkT prices are going to be soooooo good once it’s replaced. I probably won’t be able to pass up a deal on one.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Man selling Cadillacs should moonlight as a funeral home director.

        • 0 avatar
          Truckducken

          You mean they can keep their leisure suits?

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      It’s a tough to split the sales staff when Cadillac is sharing a showroom with Buick or another GM brand. Salesmen won’t want to be restricted to one brand in a multi brand showroom, and customers are not going to want to be told “I can’t show you a Cadillac, you’ll have to wait for one of the Cadillac salesmen.”

  • avatar
    Michael Haz

    Just locate test drive centers in various locations, post the non-negotiable discount prices, and let me order a unit online.

    And let me take my trade-in to a CarMax-like facility where it will be purchased from me.

    Forget the “Dealer experience”, Johan, I don’t have any inclination to get anywhere near a dealer facility. Becauae no matter how cool you make them, they still suck. As do the doofs who will be the same doofs under your plan, but will dress better.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree completely. If Cadillac’s marketing geniuses were really serious about selling cars, they’d have invested in a test drive center right here in the Big Apple, close to Manhattan and with Escalade pickup/drop-off to its pretentious barista facility.

      But NOOOOOOOO……..they stick it to the dealers instead.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        The crappy Cadillac dealers available for Manhattan-based customers is one of the reasons I gave up after having had three Cadillacs. I blame the franchise laws. I’m certain, that despite all the venom DW spews at him, DeNychessen would *love* to deep-six Potemkin and City Cadillac and replace them with a gleaming facility on 11th avenue like the MB or BMW dealerships. Potemkin recently moved from one miserable facility to another miserable facility with a net-zero improvement in customer experience. In fact, it was worse because we had to endure two years of even worse service experiences while they were doing so.

        Conversely, in rust-belt Scranton, PA, of all places, they have a wonderful dealership with a really nice facility, nice people, decent selection, low-pressure sales, and nice loaners. That they can’t match that experience in Manhattan is, frankly, a disgrace.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I bet my local Cadillac dealer is happy they added Lexus a few years ago to their lineup.

    I see a lot more Lexuses (Lexi?) than Cadillacs – mostly the Escalade – in my overpriced neighborhood. BMW, Audi, and Mercedes are still the preferred showboat though to prove to the rest of us that you’ve “made it”.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The brand’s cars are a lot more competitive than they used to be—although the ATS is still cramped and that instrument cluster is a crime. But the fact that it suddenly became “world-class” doesn’t mean it gets to charge world-class prices. The main thing that has caused customers to flee en masse is how expensive the cars have gotten, chiefly the CTS. Add to that the fact that Cadillac can’t afford to subsidize its leases the way Lexus and the Germans can…and it’s no wonder people go to those other brands.

    I look forward to the prospect of a well-equipped 2014 CTS for under $30K in another year or so, although I’d still probably pick a Genesis because it can be had with a V8 and doesn’t include CUE.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      I don’t think Lexus subsidizes the leases – that’s just what the payment looks like when your vehicles retain so much of their value.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        True. I was looking at used GX460 units the other day. May as well just buy a new one…

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Go 3-5 years out on compatible Cadillac and Lexus and based on discounted selling price you’ll be surprised how close they are.

        Personally, I’ll take the cash on the hood now and only have to return for free maintence of the Cadillac every time, than have to to selling time to recoup $6,000, $8,000, or $10,000. Lexus cars and trucks are hideous today!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, this, Kyree. I think Caddy needs to charge a bit less than the competition does. The other stuff isn’t that hard to fix.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      At this point Cadillac indeed should just focus on the Escalade and some CUVs beneath it, because enthusiasts repeatedly demonstrate that they *never* put their money where their mouths are.

      I still giggle when I see Internet Car People whine that Lincoln isn’t making a RWD performance-oriented car. They clearly know damn well that the Internet Bulls**tters complaining about the lack of one wouldn’t buy one anyway.

      (and if you’re going to respond to me with “but I would totes buy one tomorrow,” save it. I know you’re lying your ass off.)

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “I know you’re lying your ass off.”

        Well, I bought one brand new V8 RWD car in the last 24 months so I’d like to think that I have at least *some* credibility when I say I’d buy a new Lincoln Mustang or 5.3L ATS. Although, if the two hypothetically existed together I’d lean to the Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You got your Charger that recently?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I bought it November 2014. So I’ll likely be dumping it late 2017/early 2018.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh okay, for all the issues you’ve had I was thinking you got it in ’12 or something.

            I had a rental Challenger this past week with the 3.6. Like driving round in a bunker, it was. Nice highway ride though, and surprisingly quiet. At highway speed it was more quiet than my Infiniti which is shameful.

            And 34.7 mpg after a bunch of hilly Ohio backroads driving, which is impressive as well. I’m sold on that engine, just not the rest of the car. The driver’s door handle function was sketchy after just 18k miles.

            Transmission seemed to be geared for slow acceleration, as it instantly shifts from 1-2 when you take off, killing all the torque.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I’d buy a Lincoln Mustang new, but not tomorrow. Sometime next year, yes.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          No one is buying the Cadillac Sedans. They’re outgunned by the Germans and Japanese. For every ATS I see, I probably see 200 Escalades and 250 SRXs. The prices are ridiculous for what is offered.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I agree. I think Lincoln is more poised to succeed than Cadillac. Lincoln is building the kinds of cars that people actually buy, not the RWD sport sedans that auto journalist wax poetic about that sit on lots. Even though it has some minor fit-and-finish issues, the new MKX is excellent (but then, so is the new XT5). I think the Continental will do well if Lincoln isn’t too greedy with the incentives. The MKC and MKZ are great also. And the upcoming Navigator should be competitive. A RWD sedan is just not necessary.

        As for Cadillac, it might be worthwhile to turn Escalade into a sub-brand, sort of like Range Rover. Introduce some smaller versions, like you said, and watch the money roll in.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Lincoln will do better, spending 1 billion that Ford has allocated to it, growing or at least somewhat maintaining sales, while Cadillac will continue to suffer and continue its terminal freefall, spending 12 BILLION (12x what Lincoln will spend), as a result of General Motors gross, absolute incompetence coupled with (+) Johan de Nysschen’s shyster ways (plus Melody Lee’s and Uwe “Euro purse puppy” Ellinghaus’s imbecilic ways).

          Johan is already about 4 billion (out of the 12 billion Mary “full retard” Barra has given Johan) into GM HQ for his idiotic SoHo move + failed product (Escalade, an aged product, is subsidizing the entire Cadillac ship) + worst and most expensive Publik Skoolz House ad agency failed marketing campaign in all of automotive history.

          Johan will be gone within 18 to 22 months, max.

          I could save GM 6 to 8 billion dollars, all while making Cadillac a true luxury powerhouse again, and a proud American luxury icon again, but I’d have to get rid of the con artists, imbeciles & incredibly incompetent charlatans now running Cadillac (product development & marketing).

          But GM is too incompetent, with a dreadful CEO, to know what is logical and efficient and good for Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Kyree, I have to agree. For about two months, I’ve been in our 2014 CPO AWD 3.7 MKZ and, despite the fact that it’s not RWD, I really like it as a drivers car. I attribute this to the really nice match between the 3.7 and the transmission. In normal mode, shifts are butter-smooth and the car always seems to be in exactly the right gear to make maximum use of the V6 torque. It never feels out of breath. In sport mode, the steering weights up nicely and it hold the right gear in corners for just the right amount of time to have power available at the apex. It’s also incredibly quiet in the cabin. It really feels like an American luxury car, despite it’s Fusion roots.

          But, again, configuration matters. I’ve driven FWD MKZs that I really hated because of the awful torque steer. The AWD completely solves this problem. Also, I’ve driven a number of Ecoboost models and, for my money, you can keep those at well, it really destroys the luxury feel. Because, to me, an American luxury car needs to feel *effortless*. It should flatten hills without sounding as if it’s really trying. The 3.7 does a very nice job of that.

          Interestingly, this past weekend, I completed the cycle of Mustangs, renting the Ecoboost convertible. I love the new Mustang convertible and can *definitely* see it as an upscale Lincoln (Cougar?). But leave the Ecoboost behind. The car felt badly matched to the transmission. In normal, it felt drugged. In Sport, it just felt confused with harsh and abrupt upshifts in part-throttle situations. The turbo whine sounded as if the car had whooping cough and the low-frequency drumming at 40mph in top gear cruise was really annoying. This car is *so* much better with either the V6 or the Coyote. To top it off, fuel mileage really suffered while trying to have any kind of fun.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Better yet let me buy direct from Cadillac for the price the dealer pays, Adds ATS-V to shopping cart….

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Why would be able to buy an ATS for the same price as the dealer? If manufacturers start going to direct sales, don’t expect them to sell vehicles for dealer cost.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        Because it’s a win-win. The factory won’t need to employ the dealer relations staff so they’ll make more money selling direct and those of us who know exactly what car we want won’t have to pay the price of a bloated dealership.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          GM would still never sell it to you for dealer invoice price. You don’t buy thousands of vehicles from them a year.

          They would have to set up “retail service centers” or whatever Tesla calls them. There is a cost to that. The large auto manufacturers have realized that in the US, it is cheaper for them to sell their products to dealerships and let the dealerships worry about inventory and the retail side of the business.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Exactly. Dealerships take a lot of the risk out of selling cars from the auto manufacturers themselves, especially if—as in the case of Volkswagen’s diesel woes—it’s the dealer who ends up with a bunch of unsellable inventory they’ve purchased or are paying floorplan interest upon.

          • 0 avatar
            yamahog

            Have they realized that? or has the option of vertical integration been legally barred in many states?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Some manufacturers have tried direct sales in the past and lost a bunch of money in the process.

            I don’t particularly like the dealership model, but people will have to change how they buy cars and not haggle if they want direct sales. You won’t necessarily pay less though.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I am sure once DW wakes up from the fall to the floor he will chime in, but upgrading their dealer experience is not a bad thing at all, there are some good dealer but most of them are doing business like it is 1990, you want to be an upscale car company or rep an upscale car company act like one. Now for Caddy, same goes for you act like a upscale car company, do not stop at making a 95% great car and give it a crappy dash or half baked info screen.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “Under the plan, top dealers with annual sales of 700 or more will offer customers concierge pickup and drop-off for sales and service customers. Second-tier outfits will add a Cadillac greeter counter, while those on lower rungs will see the addition of a certified Cadillac technology expert, dedicated websites, and tablet use during service inspections.”

    Aren’t these all things that Hyundai has done for Equus buyers for years?

    • 0 avatar
      JK43123

      So the “customer experience” is based on sales volume not the needs of the customer. Boy that makes sense.

      Will they have the posted on the door? “This a third tier dealer so the experience will suck, have a nice day!”

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    In 10 years, what will a 150k mile ATS be worth? Will it be worth fixing? Will there be an enthusiast base keeping these things alive and kicking?

    Just being competitive is not enough. GM needs to invest in the brand by like Toyota did with Lexus LS400 giving customers cars that are incredibly reliable well beyond a CPO warranty period. A 10 year plan like that is never going to happen at GM since shareholders want quarterly progress.

    Good luck with the coffee shop. The cars will still end up in the cut rate used car lots priced at pennies per pound (right next to all the BMW 7 series) no matter how many lattes Cadillac owners chug or pigs they smash with birds on tablets while waiting for oil changes.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Formal, squared-off C-pillar and a trunk would make a fine American sedan out of that Escalade.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    The weekend after the Cadillac dealership could not give me the time of day to even sit in a CT6 with my dad – who is looking for a replacement for the MKS – I may have moved the whole clan over to Team Honda.

    The dealership experience was the easiest thing ever. Walk around, look at the product, doors unlocked, and they asked me what I wanted – of course, the big V6 – and the sales manager points to a model that was right except for the color (since I had explained this was a prospective, not a planned, trip to see what to buy in the future when the old D3 finally reached its end). What a product – I bet the CT6 is a better car, but, like when they explained I could not get a test drive of a Cruze without buying one, I probably will never return to buying from GM.

    The idea that virtual reality could replace touching the actual product – what are they trying to hide? It must be godawful bad product to not let the customer try it out.

    That EX-L V6, though – that’s an American car.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Yeah, what happened to the days of unlocked cars? I was jiggling the handle of a new $49K Camaro on Saturday. A salesman walked by and said, “You need the key, guy. That’s an SS.” Well, duh. The only reason I was actually jiggling the handle was to see if it would fall off in my hand, because it felt like it was about to.

      I initially just wanted to see if I should cross the car off my shopping list because of the interior, which I didn’t get to look at.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Was the Camaro inside? I get why they lock cars outside. Still, they should unlock them when asked.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          It was parked 15 feet from the front door. I get the need to lock cars, but it was 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

          I was just getting my car serviced down the road, so I was just kicking tires. I didn’t want to jump in the piranha tank and go inside.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        @TMA1, that another problem American car dealers have that turns off buyers. They act like a top of the line Camaro or any Corvette are the Holy Grail and how dare you want to touch them or drive them, while at Porsche they practically force you to drive a 911. I can’t even imagine how many sales they have lost to foreign car companies with that crappy attitude. At my Mercedes dealership, I can’t think of any car that has ever been locked inside the showroom, not even when they had an SLR years ago. Pretty sure I had no problem getting into an LF-A at the Lexus dealership years ago either.

        • 0 avatar

          “Hey, that’s a Ford Gran Torino. You don’t lean on it!” https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1098&bih=602&q=starsky+and+hutch+car&oq=starsky+&gs_l=img.3.1.0l10.2280.4380.0.6361.8.7.0.1.1.0.74.407.6.6.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..1.7.410.xFx4EUQ6Z8w#tbm=isch&tbs=rimg%3ACUksagJBeE84Iji9T-pvz3f8V4q73wZB7E21h49ty_18IfI8y0vvzQrbMqTxnGBIfHZrrz5F-_1wsTPU15JW1sDrt09SoSCb1P6m_1Pd_1xXEf74BrEjsGgdKhIJirvfBkHsTbURscQvCUWPUc4qEgmHj23L_1wh8jxGBECUseSgN2CoSCTLS-_1NCtsypEf0Aa82cJ0GWKhIJPGcYEh8dmusRclox7vOC6EsqEgnPkX7_1CxM9TRF5yokr_1QwxSioSCXklbWwOu3T1EepkSmDhitY2&q=starsky%20and%20hutch%20movie%20%22that%27s%20a%20ford%20gran%20torino%22&hl=en&imgrc=SSxqAkF4TzgsbM%3A

        • 0 avatar

          Because (never start a sentence with because) that is the ONE car on the lot that the dealer can dictate the price on. I recall a Mugen Civic in my dealer a few years back, with $3000 in nonsense and a $10k “market price adjustment”. It was a civic for low 3 series money.

          We got four of them, and our fourth is in a holding zone pending sales targets for the Pilot. By Dog, (never start a sentence with by) we are going to wait for “that guy” to walk through the door…and he will, eventually.

          Also, the guy going to Porsche for a Cayman won’t be too put off by driving a 911. The guy who can sorta afford the Camaro 6 will be reaching for the ZL1 and the dealer won’t want to risk him crashing it on the test drive….better to just wait for “that guy”.

        • 0 avatar
          64andahalf

          Yeah, I was considering getting the Chevy SS for giggles / support the home team and went to test drive at the dealer and I had a guy paradoxically following me everywhere in the dealership but then got the “can’t touch this” treatment regarding the vehicle. And I’m an old dude, so it’s not like I’m 19 and out for a thrill ride with no purchasing interest/ability. In contrast, at Porsche, BMW, and (in my experience, slightly lesser) at Audi, the sales staff let you browse and appear to assume that you are a “player” (AKA possible buyer) and offer the proper level of attention / accommodation. The GM experience made me want to say something, but I decided that my way of returning the “favor” was to leave and not come back.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Cross shopped a Cadillac and Honda?! Pffft!

      If you pulled up in a Redd Fox pickup and expected to get inside a car, I’d hit lock on all the remotes too!

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Eh, I walked from the BMW dealership (2-series, complete with Camaro-jiggly-handle syndrome) next door to look at a V6 Accord at the Honda dealership (none in stock). Them’s pretty comparable in price and performance.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Norm has that square “GM Mark of Excellence” logo (from the old badge on the side) tattooed on his ballsack.

  • avatar
    Yesac13

    I think Cadillac is on the right path about the virtual reality shopping.

    I am surprised I am saying this.

    Really… that model of having huge amount of models sitting on the parking lot… It doesn’t really work for many luxury vehicles that doesn’t sell in large amounts.

    Cadillac gets to keep more dealerships in business by giving them the option of doing virtual reality looking at cars. Mind you, there will still be Cadillacs around so you can sit in for real and for test drives. Also for loaner use, too. Just drive one and get the feel then use virtual reality to see the other color palettes (both inside and out). This is explained in the Wall Street Journal article.

    It is expensive to have cars sitting on the lot. Also – by ordering cars instead of having too many on the parking lots – Cadillac gets to go more crazy on custom details or colors. Cadillac also gets to change models more rapidly.

    Cadillac has to stop trying to be German… Just build good looking big cars that’s cushy. Self driving is coming so good handling, as sad I am to say it, is less important. Look at the Escalade. It looks good. It has presence. That’s a real Cadillac, no wonder why it sells good. 90k for one and it still outsells 50k Cadillacs. That’s a big clue Cadillac management is overlooking…

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Was at the local auto show in March and looking at the Caddys. I can’t remember to model, but I liked the styling and it had a powerful twin-turbo V6. I jumped in and thought the interior looked good, but a few details in materials quality were lacking. Thought to myself, ‘for 55K CAD I’d be quite happy to drive this. Get out, look at the MSRP – $105K CAD! Went over to Lexus and the $67K GS-F looked way better, despite the Predator grille. GM has done some great work with Cadillac and the cars are vastly better than before. I respect their commitment to a design language and how they’ve evolved it. But the quality has to be there and showroom pizazz and well dressed salespeople aren’t enough.

  • avatar
    carsofchaos

    Packard called and said this is a great idea.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well, it seems Caddy view themselves as movers of luxury product. That’s what they seem to be marketing.

    Are the people who run Caddy that stupid they don’t realise they must have a product that is appealing first?

    I mean when you are selling a true luxury product and your best product is a Silverado station wagon, yes, I know it’s fully blinged Silverado.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Unfortunately there was an error in the press release. Somehow it was changed to “Pinnacle”, when we meant “Pinochle”. The dealer experience we were referring to was the experience of the dealer sales staff who find themselves with long stretches of inactivity.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Who gets people to order their products and wait for delivery ?
    Only makers of products that are in high demand and in short supply.
    (Or As-seen-on-TV late night telemarketeers selling off-the-wall oddities.)
    A quick internet check tells me that Cadillac dealers have plenty of NEW 2015s to sell. And 2016s as well.
    And the 2017s are just around the corner. Make sense to clear 2015s & 2016s off the lot first ? Of course.
    But then NOT to restock with new inventory ? Huh ?
    Hey Cadillac- Something does not compute !

  • avatar

    If you ever get to Berlin, go to the BMW Center at the Ku’damm. This is the artsy, virtual environment they are going after. There is art. There is wifi. There is one of each car, and extensive samples of paint, interior and trim.

    This is because in Germany, you order the car to your spec, and wait for the build. The very good looking person in the BMW Center will help you pick out what you want, they know everything about the cars, and they aren’t force selling you, or hearing the ring of a sales manager “one of you won’t last the week…get it ?”.

    This is the polar opposite of “what will it take to get you in the car TODAY”, from a guy with a lot full of cars “sort of like you want”. (no I really want the big brakes, and a sunroof isn’t compensation)

    Here in the big PX, some dealers are a horror, and some do business honorably. My nearby Acura and Caddy dealers are the former, but I have also found the latter…whom I do business with and would go back to.

    The manufacturers should be able to cut loose the bad guys, but they can’t….they can encourage by allocations and bribes, but why can’t they dump the losers ?

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      Here is how it will go… (remember this is still GM)
      !st Tier Dealers have valet parkers and free cookies
      2nd Tier Dealers hire some former Walmart greeters to stand by the entrances and say “Welcome to Cadillac”
      3rd Tier Dealers will hire away a Geek Squad associate from the nearest Best Buy store to explain the ‘infotainment’ systems
      and the 4th Tier Dealers let their customers-in-waiting rooms play X-Box or Playstation, which will only confuse most of them.
      And the salesmen/women will have ill-fitting matching navy blue double-breasted blazers with a Crest/Wreath on the pocket, white shoes and belt, and an off-white Cadillac golf cap.
      Good Grief !
      Whoever thought of this is extremely overpaid and overvalued.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Let’s try anything, absolutely anything, aside from attempting to build good cars and selling them for a good price…….

    The latter would require paying god people to do something useful, after all. Rather than keeping the money amongst us useless hacks….

  • avatar
    seanx37

    What a silly idea. Does Johan not know how his products are sold? Here is a Caddy sale. Someone sees the ad for the $299 a month ATS or the $349 CTS or SRX. They go to the dealer. Some guy in a polo shirt and khakis tries to upsell them. IT doesn’t work. They get the check for the deposit on the ATS, and the customer drives away in one of the 90-100 ATS sitting on the lot. And the car has been sitting there for 4 months or more.

    Or a dope man, and basketball players GF comes in and leases an Escalade.

    For the record, I was at a Caddy dealer 3hrs ago. My dad is on his 4th CTS. He has some real problems with this one, and had to go pick this one up. He was given an ATS loaner. We went to get his car back, and while there drove the CT6. It was nice. Really nice. But not…Lexus nice. Not MB or BMW nice. Or Genesis V8 nice. My dad is of the generation that says a man of a certain age should drive a Caddy. And today he said “When this lease is up, I am getting a Lexus. That GS is pretty cool””

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “For the record, I was at a Caddy dealer 3hrs ago. My dad is on his 4th CTS. He has some real problems with this one, and had to go pick this one up. He was given an ATS loaner. We went to get his car back, and while there drove the CT6.”

      My uncle who had no problems with his prior DTS (Raven Black; beautiful car) regrets buying his 2014 CTS as it’s had suspension problems, an oil leak (taken in 3x now for attempted fix), severe vibration at idle, and big time CUE issues.

      He has a friend at the dealership who has offered to get him into a 2012 XTS with 28,000 miles for $26,000 which he is seriously considering (I’m telling him to make a clean break from General Clueless Motors for good).

      I have touched and seen the CT6. It’s a joke. The interior looks cheap. The front end is hideous. The 2.0T in that car (same 2.0T as in every other GM product) is badge whoring/engineering at its worse. Even the 3.6 liter in the CT6, which takes the price of it well beyond the mid 60k mark (near 70k) is a sick joke.

      They should kill the CTS, replace it with the CT6, and re-price it at the $40,000 (base 2.0T) to $54,000 (loaded V6) price range, and just kill the ATS immediately.

      Cadillac is an absolute disaster.

      Also, the XT5 is mediocre at best, but at least here, the competition isn’t much better and is expensive (most CUVs, no matter the manufacturer, are meh).

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        DeadWeight,
        I normally like what you put down here at TTAC.

        But, for your interest the 3.6 is a Caddy engine. It was designed and engineered in conjunction with GMH.

        It’s just a good engine (for GM) that they decided to use it in a pickup truck, Camaro and even SAAB had a 3 litre turbo version of it.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I think this will be known among the fraternity of Cadillac Dealers as ‘Operation Pinhead’…

  • avatar
    skor

    One of Cadillac’s biggest problems is the average age of new Cadillac buyers….third oldest of any car brand. Cadillac is desperately trying to keep the oxygen bottle, Depends® crowd away from their cars. I know the geezer across the street….hardcore Cadillac buyer….will not drive more than 20 miles for repair/service and will not have anything to do with ‘virtual’ sales.

  • avatar
    redapple

    DeadWeight is back! DeadWeight is Back! Sound the bells !

    I don t know who I enjoy reading more. DW or Peter DeLorenzo.

    Melanie is mad at you.


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