By on September 26, 2018

2017 Cadillac Escalade

It tried to make it in the big city but, after a few years on its own in New York, the Cadillac brand is headed home to mom and pop.

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle, who took over from Johan de Nysschen in April, confirmed the return in a Wall Street Journal interview. The brand’s abandonment of its high-class SoHo office space ends a strange and tumultuous period in Cadillac history.

Carlisle says the move aims to place executives in close proximity to General Motors’ design and engineering hub in Warren, Michigan. There’s a product offensive underway, the first vehicle of which is the just-launched AT4 compact crossover. Two sedans and another crossover will follow in short order.

“We have a huge number of launches ahead of us,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to think about how we take inefficiencies out of the communication process between the Cadillac team and the GM partners.”

We’d be curious to hear what Carlisle and other Cadillac brass say off the record. The decision to move Cadillac’s HQ away from GM and into the tony center of America’s largest, wealthiest, and most culturally diverse city shocked many, including native Detroiters and Cadillac purists, but there rationale provided wasn’t threadbare. Cadillac had a modern, upscale image to cultivate, and a stigma to shed. It also wanted to distance itself from GM brass.

2019 Cadillac XT4

de Nysschen, known for his hard-headed approach, hoped that distancing the brand from the automaker would help its product in two ways: GM wouldn’t interfere so much, and Cadillac employees would could gain insight into the luxury market (and buyers) by leaving the Midwest behind. Talent would join customers in gravitating towards to the brand.


Product was slow to come, which isn’t New York’s fault. In the meantime, Cadillac sales slipped, dragged down by the increasingly slow-selling ATS and CTS models, despite the XT5 being a hit. During this foray into the city, observers questioned the utility (and optics) of Cadillac House, situated on the ground floor of the brand’s Soho offices. To many, the Cadillac brand oozes America, all of America, which is something that can’t be captured by displaying a car model in a rotating gallery and café. The brand stood to gain, but also to lose.

The Book by Cadillac subscription service, formed during the NYC jaunt, remains a work in progress, and its former head — “Dare Greatly” marketing guru Melody Lee — resigned in early August.

Despite the brand’s impending return to Detroit, Cadillac House will remain open, Carlisle said, providing influential New Yorkers with exposure to the brand’s vehicles and heritage. We’re likely to see a different backdrop in marketing materials, however.

As for Cadillac’s HQ, the suburban life awaits. Carlisle said the brand has secured space near the Warren development hub.

[Images: General Motors]

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84 Comments on “Cadillac Packing Its Bags, Heading Back to Detroit...”

  • avatar

    Ah, the schadenfreude.

  • avatar

    “Cadillac Packing Its Bags”

    … and what trendy designer bags they are courtesy of Melody Lee

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    “It also wanted to distance itself from GM brass.”

    You have to go farther than that. Spring Hill, TN wasn’t far enough to keep the GM nonsense away either.

  • avatar

    I’m batting 100% on Cadillac predictions, making this like 12 out of 12, now.

    They should just accept my offer of $12,000,000 per year to consult with them and help them turn their titanic.

    • 0 avatar

      (With $12,00,000 being the amount Johan wrested from clueless Mary Barra regarding the Cadillac Division’s 2020 Plan under his guidance).

      What will become of the Cadillac Haus Du Cafe?

      Where in the world are Melody Lee and Uwe Ellinghaus?

      • 0 avatar

        Cadillac’s upcoming product lineup (formulated bu JdN) is promising, which is why Reuss and Carlisle have stuck to it – aside from watering down some things and canceling projects like a flagship RWD crossover.

        Look forward to more cost-cutting and discounting (as Cadillac reverts back to the old GM ways).

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Maison? ….. Haus?

      • 0 avatar

        The could move the Haus Du Cafe to Warren by the White Castle and the K-Mart on Twelve Mile road. Lovely town.

        • 0 avatar

          Actually, Warren/Sterling Heights is a literal tour de force of automotive, engineering, IT, R&D, and defense contractor manufacturing and research – advanced tank and advanced armored vehicle systems – TACOM, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, and many more, as well as drone and missile research, autonomous driving research, etc.

          On the Van Dyke and Mound Road corridors in Warren and Sterling Heights, which runs from about 1-696 to M-59 (9 mile stretch south-to-north), there is about cumulative 80 billion $ worth of investment, including the aforementioned entities, and GM’s global engineering HQ, an over 300 acre campus that
          hosts everything from GM’s global chassis and powertrain
          development, to their most secretive hybrid and electrical vehicle and battery facilities, including work they do for the defense department.

          I took a helicopter tour about a year ago of that general stretch of area, and there are certain areas that are so sensitive, it’s restricted airspace.

          FCA builds HD RAM at Mound facility in Warren, with about a billion in upgrades coming, FCA builds next gen RAM at 15/Van Dyke Facility (SHAP) that received 1.4 billion in retooling and upgrades, GM just invested 1.5 billion in Technical Center, there is extremely advanced manufacturing zone at 17/Van Dyke, Ford/GM have joint 10-speed transmission facility on 12 mike Road, Ford has massive trim and parts manufacturing facility at 18/Van Site, and there are a whole slew of other automotive and defense firms instant area working on high tech, high margin production, engineering and R&D.

          It took me over 2 months to research the area for a scouting report.

          Warren alone, not including Sterling Heights, has the largest industrial/R&D/manufacturing tax base in the state of Michigan (one of the largest in the nation), and overtook Auburn Hills (an area I’m more familiar with, and an area that I live about 10 miles from, near Oakland University, that has a massive manufacturing/tech/engineering are
          tax base) in 2017.

          • 0 avatar

            Where, exactly, is the restricted airspace over Warren or Sterling? On my current aviation chart, the closet thing I can see to it are the R-5502 A & B areas northeast of Sandusky, Ohio almost 50 nautical miles away.

          • 0 avatar

            Bunkie – I’m not into aviation (though I’ve dabbled lately with the idea of getting light aircraft instruction and certification), so I’m not sure if those areas were “officially” off limits via the government, or otherwise.

            All that I know is that the pilot avoided flying directly over the GM Technical Center Campus that is a square mile between Van Dyke and Mound, the TACOM Facility on Van Dyke, and both and huge BAE Systems (UK Defense Company) site on Van Dyke and huge General Dynamics site on Mound.

            He (the pilot) mentioned something about sensitive airspace or something to one if the other passengers on the helicopter.

    • 0 avatar

      Delusion is a terrible thing to waste.

    • 0 avatar

      Here it is, on this exact topic; one of so many correct predictions that I can’t name them all –

      April 18th, 2018 at 11:49 pm

      Cadillac’s HQ should be moved back to Michigan, where there’s great substance and depth in engineering talent and an abundance of high quality suppliers, even if GM has thus far failed to tap into the right pool of talent in terms of competent individuals or choosing the top notch suppliers (the whole “[Y]ou can’t beat our low-bid supply contracts from Chinese suppliers and can’t wait 120-180 days for payment?” bullsh!t with GM is crazy and needs to stop, especially when it comes to Cadillac).

      If Cadillac wants to be taken seriously in flyover country (it’s not) AND on the coasts (it’s definitely not), it needs to seriously up every aspect of its product line, in terms of differentiation, and in putting out seriously bold, refined, high’quality vehicles, that aren’t viewed any longer as giant pieces of typical, rebadged General Motors sh!t, serviced by middling (at best) or rat-tat dealerships.

      Cadillac, before and during JdN’s tenure, tried to market instead of make its way out of its rat hole, viewing its issues far more as a perception rather than engineering issue (even when the Cadillac in question had a unique chassis/architecture, it was riddled with quality control issues, plagued by lack of refinement in NVH and ride quality, and suffered serious reliability woes, in addition to suffering pricing and packaging – interior space and bundled options – issues).

      Cadillac is one of the least reliable makes of vehicles according to the best and most comprehensive/credible surveys.

      Given their current pricing (way too high, particularly on leases) and reputation (extremely poor), fixing this problem should be a priority.

      They then can tackle the other things referenced, such as top-notch materials, best-in-class NVH and ride attributes,’cutting edge aesthetic design and ergonomics, and engine choices that put them at an advantage versus their desired competition (Mercedes, Lexus, Audi and BMW).”

      • 0 avatar

        When the guy is right, you have to give it to him. DW was right on.

        • 0 avatar

          DW has been WRONG on so many things about Cadillac.

          Even when CORRECTED, he still repeats his nonsense.

          For example (as stated numerous times before), JdN wanted an all-RWD lineup for Cadillac but had to give that up (note – the current Cadillac regime has already canceled a flagship RWD crossover that JdN had on the drawing board).

          RenCen wasn’t even willing to fund the XT4 and XT6 until JdN came up with a plan showing greater sales forecasts (hence, the aggressive push to grow Cadillac in China).

          JdN was then one who pushed for Cadillac to get its own engines, for improved interiors, improving the horrendous CUE system, etc. – but the cost-cutters at RenCen (led by Reuss) pushed back time and time again.

          • 0 avatar


            Saying JdN pushed for the Cadillac specific engines is far from a positive it seems your trying to make. Cadillac has access to GMs LT engine series which had/has significantly more developement and options for consumers. Switching to all newly designed engines reeks of Northstar failures; especially since they seem to be dialing back the technology and going back to over head cams after GM outright proved OHV to be a more advanced and efficient package.

            Sorry I know it’s only one small part of your post but Reuss would have been smart to throw the red light to that plan.

          • 0 avatar


            1) Cadillac has grown its global volume by accepting drastically lower ATPs in China than North America (it’s unclear if Cadillac is even profitable in China, and this is based on current and past years, before the inevitable big ice sets in).

            2) Cadillac has seen North American sales drop precipitously for the past 15 years, essentially, non-stop, with a very minor bounce in 2018 thus far, in the hottest North American new vehicle sales market over the past 4 years (even the Escalade is now slipping in NA sales YoY).

            3) You are ignorant or a liar. Cadillac’s TOTAL GLOBAL’SALES IN 2017 WERE 356,000, INCLUDING CHINA!

            Cadillac has 900+ (many total garbage) dealerships that GM can’t cut, even though they each, on average, sell 1/6th the number of vehicles that an average Audi dealership sells annually (Audi had 212 U.S. Dealerships selling 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2017!).

            Cadillac had 900+ dealerships in the U.S. in 2017 that sold …. Wait for it…156,000 vehicles in the United States.

            So, just as one example, average Cadillac dealer sells 173 new vehicles annually, while average Audi dealer sells well over 1,000 new vehicles annually. You’re so OBTUSE.

            4) Cadillac has awful reliability, repeat customers, customer service, cut-rate interiors, and shares Chevy and Buick 2.0T Liter and 3.6 Liter motors.

            5) Cadillac can’t even cut 400 dealers as part of Project Pinnacle, withstand final tally something like 29 or 30 that were cut.


          • 0 avatar

            As Hummer says (albeit more sophisticatedly): Smallblock. Smallblock. Smallblock.

            As opposed to the rest to the world, in America buyers of all larger cars want the same engines luxury cars have: Big, slow turning, and with high cylinder count. With some connection to legendaryness and/or racing. There’s no need for Cadillac to differentiate itself in the engine department. Rednecks in Camaros and Tahoes want the AMG engine as well over here, even if it means living on the street to afford the gas bill.

            Instead, focus on tech, opulence, size and, as far as cars go, higher hip points and some ostentatia. Like an American RR.

          • 0 avatar


            Are you saying that GM can’t develop a new engine that’s relatively problem-free?

            Cadillac needed engines across its powertrain lineup that matched the Germans in power, smoothness and efficiency.

            Hardly am the only person who has thought so; review after review had stated that various Cadillac models were lacking in that area.

            The LS/LT is a fine engine but is showing its age in certain areas (plus more suited for a performance vehicle, in specific form, than to power a luxury flagship).

            That’s not to say new engines wouldn’t make their way down to the rest of GM’s lineup, but it’s better for an engine to have been developed w/ the refinement/NV needed for a luxury brand and then using it elsewhere than trying to get a Malibu engine to suit a Cadillac sedan.

          • 0 avatar

            As is all too common, DW projects his own traits/shortcomings onto others.

            1. Cadillac’s ATP has actually RISEN in the US.

            Now, some of it is due to the importance of the Escalade in Cadillac sales, but it is also attributed to higher trim levels of the CTS, CT6, etc. as well as JdN having stood firm w/ lease pricing (which didn’t please the dealers or RenCen).

            Cadillac’s ATP in 2017 was $54,488, UP from $48,752 in 2016 and significantly up (around 25%) from about $44k in 2013.

            From Auto News:

            – Yet most of Cadillac’s growth in pricing has come from the CTS midsize car, which got a significant pricing bump during a 2014 model-year redesign. The average transaction price of the CTS, including a high-performance V-series model that stickers at nearly $90,000, increased to more than $58,000 last year, up 24 percent from 2013, according to KBB. (The lower denominator helps, too: CTS sales fell by more than one-third last year.)

            All of Cadillac’s nameplates except the XTS, down 1.9 percent, have experienced higher transaction prices since 2013, KBB reports, though some eased last year.


            As for China, ATP has risen there as well due to increased sales of the CTS and the additions of the CT6 and XT5.

            Now, prices may have fallen on models that had previously been IMPORTED and hence, hit w/ the 25% import tariff, but now are built at Cadillac’s new China plant.

            2. Yes – Cadillac has seen sales drop, but as explained numerous times, that has been due to 2 primary factors.

            a) lack of crossovers; that is being addressed w/ the addition of the XT4 and XT6 and likely 1 other CUV.

            b) poor packaging/interior space of the ATS and CTS; that is being addressed w/ the CT5 (which replaces the ATS) and CT6 (which will take the spot of the CTS).

            Cadillac is just starting the launch of its product portfolio which largely corrects the ills of the past (which JdN had nothing to do with, but won’t be around to see come to fruition).

            3. I’m hardly the “ignorant” one here, much less the liar.

            2017 was the 2nd best sales year for Cadillac globally; 2018 is project to be the best ever sales year due to increase in sales in China.

            (Yes. US sales is an issue but Cadillac will again see growth when the XT4, XT6, CT4 and CT5 hit the lots.)

            As for Cadillac’s dealership situation, not ideal (which is why JdN tried to buy out the small volume dealerships), but as usual, politics got in the way.

            400 or so dealerships are small volume and are attached to a Chevy/GMC dealership.

            Considering that they are located in rural areas, not really a big deal for them to continue.

            And what really, what do point 4 and 5 have anything to do w/ the topic at hand?

            No one here is denying that Cadillac’s reliability rankings haven’t been good or that the ATS and CTS suffered from poor packaging and interior not up to snuff.

            Those things, however, you have blamed JdN for when he wasn’t the one responsible.

            JdN wasn’t responsible for CUE and after pushing for improvement, the updated CUE system has been getting praise in recent reviews.

      • 0 avatar

        DW – Try not to build up too many callouses from patting yourself on the back too much

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis


      1st Cadillac is moving to Detroit. You said they were moving to China. WRONG!

      2nd Cadillac is on track to sell 450,000 vehicles worldwide. Making this a record sales year. Your only talent seems to be moving your mouth. Arm chair quarterback, backseat driver or male prostitute are careers you would probably excel in.

  • avatar

    That headline image is a really bad photoshop job!

  • avatar

    Time for Cadillac reboot number nine.

  • avatar

    The NYC office merely completed its successful lifecycle.

    BTW, what’s that interior color called? “Suicide cave”? It’s like they designed it specifically for Sisters of Mercy fans.

  • avatar

    As probably the least car-dependent city in the US, New York was a bizarre choice in the first place. There’s a reason Southern California is home to the US design studios of Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Toyota, not to mention the US headquarters of Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, and Kia. Cadillac had an okay idea and bad execution (the branded coffee shop was a particularly cringe-worthy folly).

  • avatar

    With apologies to ole blue eyes:

    Start spreading the news, We’re leaving today.
    We can’t be a part of it, New York, New York.
    While Caddy execs are longing to stay.
    They just don’t have the heart for it, New York, New York.
    They woke up in a city that wasn’t cheap.
    And found themselves under the hill and bottom of the heap.
    Their big city blues will soon melt away.
    They’ll make a brand new start of it in old Detroit.
    If we can’t make it there, we’ll make it elsewhere.
    So it’s goodbye to you, New York, New York.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    Good to see Cadillac accept the reality that it has no rational reason to be in New York.

    Now, GM just needs to realize that Cadillac has no rational reason to be in the luxury automobile market.

    • 0 avatar

      So, where should it go? It can’t move where Buick is and it has nowhere near the clout to head upwards into the rarefied realm of Rolls-Royce, et al. So the only other option is for it to disappear. Is that what you want?

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        I don’t want Cadillac to disappear, but the brand is fighting against literally a half-century of reasons why it is not a viable player in the luxury game.

        Maybe it’s time for GM to cut its losses and offload Caddy to China.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Forging closer conections with New York’s financial institutions and big media companies seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately rogue investors forced GM to sell off or shut down large parts of the company. While Cadillac is still getting hammered in the press.

    The moral of the story is: You don’t feed the dog that bites you.

  • avatar

    it was all about the Cadillac House coffee bar anyway

    over 500 visitors use their plush Manhattan restrooms daily

  • avatar

    As much as I think CA is not a good place to do business, Cadillac should have moved to LA instead.

    There’s a lot of talent in the LA area. For example, Volvo has a design group located just outside of LA. Toyota definitely left some talented folks behind when they moved. Hyundai is down there.

  • avatar

    For two decades Cadillac has been touting that it has once again found its MoJo. No more V8-6-4’s , no more Diesels, no more re-badged Cavaliers. One thing is for sure , after spending multi-millions (billion?) of dollars, Cadillac’s best seller and best money maker is a chromed up Chevy Truck. They are no threat to BMW, Audi, or anyone other than perhaps Buick , and Buick isn’t exactly Excitement personified. The move from Detroit to NYC was dumb , hey , it fits the established pattern.

    • 0 avatar

      Geeze, it takes 3-4 years minimum to get new models on the lots from the drawing board (longer if it involves developing a new platform).

      The upcoming Cadillac products (starting w/ the XT4) over the next 3-4 years are the ones developed under JdN’s watch (JdN was not responsible for the ATS, CTS, CT6, etc.).

      In fact, the person who is responsible for the disasters that are the ATS and CTS (along w/ the ELR) is now the defacto head of Cadillac, Mark Reuss.

      Leave it to the GM top brass to keep promoting Reuss (but Reuss is a GM lifer and knows how to play the “game” at RenCen; plus he’s close w/ Barra).

  • avatar

    So…now that they’ve moved the HQ from New York back to Detroit, if the next Caddy is called “Brougham DeVille D’Pimp,” I’m sure we’re all rushing out to buy one. Right?

  • avatar

    Caddy should have relocated to Ames. No bar, no pinball machines, no bowling alleys.

  • avatar

    How hard is it to understand that building good cars matters, not where you locate your headquarters? Achieving that goal isn’t easy, especially when you are starting from behind, but that it is the goal should be obvious to one and all.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Finally something that makes sense out of Cadillac. This is a good start.

    FWIW, I had a rental XTS this week from the the fine folks at National. I put a couple of 100 miles on it in northern Florida. I didn’t hate it.

    • 0 avatar

      The XTS is a decent, brand-appropriate car and it was a mistake that JdN (and possibly current GM) wanted to kill it.

    • 0 avatar

      Isn’t it amazing?

      Cadillac has the XTS, which is not exactly anything near world class, but which has prob an average new ATP of $46,000 to $48,000, that rides better, is far roomier, and is overall much more in keeping with a relatively refined, comfortable, roomy sedan than the laughably cheap, unreliable, and overpriced 4-banger ATS or 3rd Gen CTS, and the Cadillac wants to execute the XTS even though it sells 3x to 5x as many copies annually as either the ATS or 3rd gen CTS?

      I’ll never buy an XTS or Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors vehicle again, but one COULD DO WAY WORSE AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD CADILLAC RATTY DEALERSHIP than buy an XTS, especially a 18-month old CPO one with under 20,000 miles on it for $25,000.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll whinge again about the 2018(?) refresh: change solely for the sake of change, and it ruined headlight/tail lights that were a nice homage to the ’65 De Ville.

      The XTS strikes me as the spiritual successor to the ’88-’93 (post-4100) De Villes. Truth be told, those were pleasant cars given the huge caveat of going in with open eyes re: price and cachet/lack of cachet. I would never have paid anything close to MSRP for one back in the day; conversely, I enjoyed riding in and driving them (two were in my extended family, and I often drove for a Greatest Generation great-uncle when his eyesight started failing).

  • avatar

    “A product offensive”. This might be the best double entendre I have read on TTAC, even if unintentional. ;)

  • avatar

    Oh to be a young hipster living in Manhattan these last five years and being grossly overpaid by Cadillac.

    I would have been doing fantastic things with branding, images, and soft marketing.

    If only those other “real” hipsters were not whispering snide comments about my Midwest agrarian roots when I was at Starbucks…

  • avatar

    Nobody who buys one knows or cares where Cadillac is headquartered. Stop rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and build small- to medium-sized crossovers that look and feel expensive in a way that pays tribute to American excess, preferably ones that can be leased for $50-$100 a month less than the German equivalent. Put whatever engine in it you want, as long as it’s more powerful than the overseas competition and has more than 4 cylinders. Do not make them sporty. They can *look* sporty, if you want, but they better ride and drive like a Lexus in a vat of Mrs. Butterworths. Since you can’t make your dealers nice, offer sales and service at the customer’s home, office, or wherever else they want. Rinse and repeat until people begin to take you seriously. This will take decades and billions. If you don’t want to do this, close up shop and let Lincoln drain the corporate coffers while you design the next Denali, which has better brand street-cred anyway.

  • avatar
    Drew Cadillac

    This is great news, though not surprising. Carlisle is showing once again that the adults are in charge of Cadillac, instead of the out of touch clown show that was Johan, Uwe, and Melody. No more will we hear about Johan’s beloved “youngest designers ever” ruining the iconic Cadillac vertical taillights and swaddling a luxury interior in cheap black plastic (as they did on the XT4).

    Now Cadillac can go back to being Cadillac, the proud American luxury leader. Perhaps they’ll even go back to real names, bold American designs, roomy and smooth comfortable rides, refinement and reliability. Johan clearly didn’t understand Cadillac, he just wanted to make it an imitator of hard-riding, blandly rounded, European “sports luxury” models. Johan thought New York City was so great, as if they had ever produced a car or even a product of significance.

    Finally Cadillac can be proud again, instead of acting embarrassed about its history. No more Euro-wanna-be imitation. However, Melody Lee must be crying past her pearls and into in her latte.

  • avatar

    Cadillac knows what they have to do- they’ve done it before.

    Now lets get rid of the gottverdammt turbo 4 cyl whatever’s, add a few more V8’s to the produuct line, and avoid any influences that have the words “European” or “Asian”associated with them. Cadillac’s an American icon- that how it sells, and that’s why people buy them.

    And whoever said get rid of the alphabet soup nomenclature had a point too.

  • avatar

    Cadillac the brand sucks. Their cars are ok, their SUVs are ok and the Escalade is cool and big and mean and brash.

    That’s why Cadillac sucks. GM drones believe with all their DNA that the perception of Cadillac is that people cross shop it with Merc and Audi and BMW.

    The brand sucks. The vehicles they make are better than the brand in the mind of most potential customers.

    • 0 avatar

      What you’re saying is that the marketers that run the Cadillac brand are pretentious phoneys and GM lackeys, but the vehicles themselves are nice alternatives to Chevys? So where do you go from there? 24h of Lemans?

  • avatar
    Drew Cadillac

    Cadillac “moved” to New York City, and the result was the disastrous XT4. I believe that the underwhelming averageness of the XT4 not only cost Johan de Nysschen his job, but also highlighted that the NYC move wasn’t working.

    Cadillac’s greatest products came out of Michigan, and now that can happen again. The public never believed that Cadillac was a New York City car, or even that a car from New York City was desirable.

    Johan de Nysschen, Uwe Ellinghaus, and Melody Lee tried to make Cadillac a sniveling Euro-imitator rather respecting its history as a bold American leader. The un-Johaning of Cadillac continues, and that’s a very good thing!

  • avatar

    Back when the NYC corporate HQ was moved, I wrote some stuff that the Extremist put on his Reader Mail. I got a call from Caddy, and actually met Melody Lee. She struck me as a very smart person, with the people skills to navigate the old boy network…..I recall she wanted to meet Mr. DeLorenzo. Don’t dismiss her-she’d be skilled in any corporate situation…she knew cars, but wasn’t a “car guy”….more a marketer based on my short interaction.

    I was amazed/aghast at the showroom/coffee shop. GM dumped cubic F-Tons of Money on NY Real Estate….the location was truly beautiful, and the coffee shop/art gallery attractive. There were the usual Starbucks chair warts with open laptops and slowly sipped coffee. There was a red 50’s Caddy, and the entire line in white, on the “showroom floor”. The old car stood everything else up, huge.

    Meanwhile, any forum for CTS/ATS of any flavor has long threads about the CUE screen spider webbing or refusing to work at all. My FIL has an XTS, which he loves (ok, he is 85), and his CUE screen also crapped, but was under warranty…or a $1300 day.

    Cadillac needs to do something which it will, and cannot…ditch the GM parts bin. The parts last 80-120k, and whether they are on a Cruze or CTS-V, fail. Cadillac has better warranty than anyone else in GM to pave over this problem, but I’ve had a worse time with my Cadillac than my BMW, VW, VW, or my Ford. It will probably be another 28 years before anyone in my family buys a GM again. The designers are good…the engineers are equal to anywhere else in the world, but then the design is built to a lowest common denominator mass market point, which is the achilles’ heel of Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew Cadillac

      Melody Lee, seriously? Of course she had some talent – she was excellent at selling herself, and at creating the dream job for herself at GM’s expense. Where else was Melody going to get the big bucks for sipping lattes and watching fashion shows in NYC, going to five star restaurants (“road to table”) and taking helicopter rides to the Hamptons, all at GM’s expense?

      But what good did Melody or her banal platitudes do Cadillac? If only Melody could sell cars as well as she could sell herself to naïve auto executives. It’s pretty clear that Carlisle realized Melody was a smoke-and-mirrors show masquerading as useful talent, and showed her to the door ASAP.

      I do have to give Melody credit if she wanted to meet with Peter De Lorenzo. He wrote one of the most glorious flames of all time about Melody; truly a classic that should be taught in schools. Maybe Melody thought she could talk her way into De Lorenzo’s good graces, but he strikes me as far too smart to fall for that.

      Melody Lee represented all that was wrong with Cadillac, in having such a prominent job in the first place. Zero qualifications relevant to the car industry, zero understanding of what made Cadillac an American icon, 100% fluff and platitudes. There was no “there” there. The last time I checked LinkedIn, Melody was still unemployed. And if that’s still the case, rightly so. That she departed soon after Carlisle’s arrival says good things about Carlisle, as does the move back to Michigan.

  • avatar

    I know this rant is tiresome, but all the nonsense I’ve read about German cars being dangerous to own out of warranty, etc, is true for my CTS. Five wheel bearings in 80,000 miles. Alternator. Brakes warping. The nav system is beginning show random faults. New spark plug coils. My MDX is an anvil by comparison. I run 30k/year like clock work, wife drives 20k/year. I don’t ding cars for tires/shocks/brakes, or any routine stuff…but the Caddy is just poorly built, no matter how pretty, or how well the multilink suspension holds the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew Cadillac

      That’s because the CTS is an imitator of German cars, so much so that it even imitates the Germans’ lack of reliability. Johan de Nysschen pushed the “Let’s just imitate the Germans” mindset as far as he could. It didn’t work, in part because the luxury market was already saturated with German product. And also because if a customer wanted a German-like experience, they were going to buy a car with a German badge.

      Henry Leland built the Cadillac name on reliability, and that continued until Cadillac decided to start imitating the Germans in the 1980’s. Thanks to a “follow the Germans” strategy, Cadillac was saddled with brand-destroying bombs such as the Cimarron (their “BMW Series 3 fighter”), the V8-6-4 engine (their answer to German efficiency), and the Catera (handles, looks, and has the unreliability of a German car, because it IS a German car, it’s even made in Germany). The irony of ironies was that the Catera being such a bad “Cadillac” actually pushed some former Cadillac buyers into buying German-badged cars.

      I think Carlisle realizes that Cadillac has a greater history than just being an imitator of German cars. I think he also realizes that not everyone in the luxury market wants the German version of luxury (i.e. cramped and hard-riding, tuned for fast times on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, excessively overengineered for gee-whiz coolness and excessive breakdowns). Cadillac didn’t become synonymous with top quality (“The Cadillac of X”) for nothing. Carlisle can revive the brand, not by following Johan’s path of mindless imitation, but by making a true American luxury leader again, including returning to reliability as a feature.

    • 0 avatar

      Speedlaw –

      1) As you know, Cadillac uses a huge % of lowest cost bidder parts in all of their vehicles (as do all of GM’s divisions, and they use this as hammer style leverage to drive price down as in literally telling suppliers (essentially) not to bother even bidding on supply contracts unless they can match or near the lowest-cost bidder for the part/component in question that they can source from China, Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.

      This was once official GM doctrine called the “One World” RFP, and it’s still de facto GM doctrine today.

      2) This is why a) Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors is consistently ranked as the least favorite automaker to do business with in annual surveys by automotive parts manufacturers Tiers I and II, and b) why GM interiors, including Cadillac vehicles, are cut-rate, uncompetitive, and cheap looking and feeling.

      Companies such as Honda do not obsess over such skinflint methods trying to squeeze every last cent out of suppliers, and Honda actually sends teams of engineers to its suppliers to hold full-scale, full-assist sessions as to how to improve quality of all components, and if this can be accomplished while also saving money (or holding costs to Honda in line, that’s a bonus.

      3) Guanhzhou-Guadalajara Motors routinely and systematically is a very late payer of invoices to suppliers, so much so that these suppliers often have to borrow money to cover payroll. I know the owner of a Tier II supplier personally who stopped doing business with Guangzhou Motors in 2014 for this very reason, and his company is in a much better place now, expanding production with a much better roster of clients. He told me that telling GM to get f*cked was the best decision he made, and that he only wished that he did it decades ago.

      This is part of the resin why Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors consistently ranks at the bottom of every *credible* quality and reliability survey.

  • avatar

    products are fine, it is the marketing, absolutely horrible marketing that has drove all GM brands down and is keeping them down.

    at GM the results don’t change, only the excuses.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure I have a real opinion on whether it made sense for Cadillac to have its HQ in NYC. I can grasp the notion of wanting to have the vibe of a particular place as an inspiration and for setting one’s perceptual lenses. And I can certainly understand wanting to have your local management set apart from the corporate office to reduce groupthink.

    But “improving communication with GM partners”? It’s 2018, everyone has Skype, Webex, and bluetooth. Many if not most of these partners are on the other side of the planet, not the other side of of the complex or even the other side of town. Shifting one timezone won’t make it appreciably easier to collaborate.

    Why don’t they just admit they were spending a lot of money on an office that wasn’t giving their mojo a boost and they wanted to redirect that elsewhere?

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