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Auto blogTue, 24 Sep 2013 11:57:00 EST
Fixated By Europeans, GM Ensures The Third Time Is A Charm
Few things are better for consumers than competition raising the bar. And no campaign seems fiercer than the one currently underway in the midsize sport-sedan segment now that Cadillac has introduced its all-new 2014 CTS to go head-to-head against the benchmark Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
While the CTS has been on the market for slightly more than a decade, up until this third-generation, Cadillac hasn't truly had the proper high-performance rear-wheel-drive architecture to build a genuine world-class fighter, both inside and out. And now that the American automaker has successfully mirrored Audi, BMW and Mercedes in overall vehicle size, engine output and cabin appointments, the first shots have been fired.
For the first time since 1998, J.D. Power and Associates says its data shows that the average number of problems per 100 cars has increased. The finding is the result of the firm's much-touted annual Vehicle Dependability Study, which charts incidents of problems in new vehicle purchases over three years from 41,000 respondents.
Looking at first-owner cars from the 2011 model year, the study found an average of 133 problems per 100 cars (PP100, for short), up 6 percent from 126 PP100 in last year's study, which covered 2010 model-year vehicles. Disturbingly, the bulk of the increase is being attributed to engine and transmission problems, with a 6 PP100 boost.
Interestingly, JDP notes that "the decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with four-cylinder engines, where problem levels increase by nearly 10 PP100." Its findings also noticed that large diesel engines also tended to be more problematic than most five- and six-cylinder engines.
Cadillac might have its best product mix in recent history, and GM's luxury brand is looking to expand. In fact, it might even be making a trip Down Under, at least according to the company's global marketing chief.
Uwe Ellinghaus spoke with Australian site Car Advice at the Geneva Motor Show and said the brand could be quite successful there. "[The] goodwill that the Cadillac brand has is such a good starting base that once we get proper volume commitment and a dealer network behind it we can easily flourish," he said, though he warned that the plans are still in their earliest stages and years away. First, Cadillac will expand in markets with the highest possible sales, like China and Russia.
Ellinghaus said that the most likely models for Oz would be the SRX, Escalade and CTS; the latter would probably act as a replacement for the Holden Commodore. GM's Australian arm is ending local production in 2017, and there have been many rumors about what is happening to the big sedan. However, Ellinghaus admits exporting cars from the US to Australia is going to mean higher prices. In addition to the expense, Cadillac doesn't currently build any right-hand-drive models. It would likely take until the end of the decade before the Aussie models could be ready.