2003 CADILLAC CTS
2003 CADILLAC CTS
General Motors Vice President of Global Design, Ed Welburn, had some dismissive words for a certain cross-town luxury brand during an interview with Car and Driver. When asked about his thoughts on Lincoln, Welburn deflected, before saying, "I don't consider Lincoln to be a competitor for Cadillac."
"They're not a global luxury brand. I don't consider them a competitor. Are they a competitor for Buick? Quite possibly. But not for Cadillac," GM's head designer explained. Welburn, who's been at the helm of GM Design North America since 2003 and is the first to hold the position of VP of Global Design, has been instrumental in the styling renaissance at GM, so predictably, Car and Driver's interview with him focused on the design aspect of cars.
During the interview, Welburn explicitly denied plans for a reborn Cadillac XLR, even as a new Chevrolet Corvette is hitting the market and strides are being made with Cadillac's V-Series performance arm saying, "We have a lot of cars that we're working on for the Cadillac brand. The XLR is not one of them right now."
There is widespread agreement across the industry that Cadillac needs a proper, rear-drive flagship sedan that completes legitimately with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series.
Fortunately, the same view is held within the company, and just such a car - possibly dubbed LTS - is under development. According to a high-level source at Cadillac, the new four-door, which is said to incorporate design cues from the marque's celebrated Elmiraj coupe concept, will debut at the New York Auto Show next April.
If the car needs a cheerleader, surely incoming president Johan de Nysschen is just such a person. De Nysschen doesn't arrive at Cadillac until late in the month, but certainly he will want a proper flagship to do battle with his old foes at Mercedes-Benz and BMW and old friends at Audi and Infiniti.
According to new Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, it will take between 10 and 15 years to elevate GM's top brand, which was once hailed as "The Standard Of The World," back to prominence in the minds of American customers. And to hear the executive talk of it, the brand is going to have to be willing to see sales falter in the near-term before they recover:
"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."
In other words, sales will fall before they rise, and the brand has to be okay with that. Notice, too, that de Nysschen speaks of "a fair price" for Cadillac cars and utility vehicles. In this case, "fair" means more than many of the brand's traditional buyers are accustomed to, and roughly in line with the brands and machines Cadillac believes it is competing against. For instance, the newly enlarged 2014 CTS carries a suggested retail price that is over $6,000 higher than it was in 2013, and some trim levels boast an even higher price premium over the models they replace.