A big sedan seems certain for Cadillac.
The Cadillac brand’s US sales are down by nearly 1 percent through the first seven months of July 2014, in a market where some of its competitors are enjoying double-digit increases. While this trend is certainly not something GM is happy about, the long-term outlook for Cadillac seems bright.
In the interim, Cadillac has gained an all-new ATS Coupe, the next generation Escalade and a mild refreshing for the CTS sedan. Based on these changes its sales fortunes will most certainly reverse.
Flagship Cadillac LTS Sedan
What may be most significant for GM’s luxury brand are the persistent rumors about an all-new flagship sedan, one that could be based on the Cadillac Elmiraj concept coupe that headlined the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. With the 2014 Pebble Beach show coming up this weekend, rumors are once again heating up.
Such rumors have the so-called Cadillac LTS debuting at the 2015 New York International Auto Show next April. The auto blogs point to an unnamed source high up in the GM management chain as confirming the findings (maybe the “source” is a clerk working at RenCen).
Before we look at the possibility of a Cadillac LTS we need to examine the market. That market is dominated by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class with the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Lexus LS among its chief competitors. Mercedes prices its flagship from $92,000, much higher than the starting price for its competitors, which generally start in the $75,000 range.
Prestige and Profits
Flagship models provide two attributes: prestige and profits. These are not simply “halo” models, but are the faces for their respective brands. A good “looker” at the top of the brand attracts customers who may aspire to someday own a top end model or at least enjoy the association. As for profits flagship luxury sedans provide profits that rival pickup trucks. That would give GM an edge that neither Ford nor Chrysler has.
The Cadillac LTS or similar model would be built on the upcoming Omega rear-wheel-drive platform, complementing the Alpha platform that underpins both the ATS and CTS. GM would spread the Omega’s cost across other brands with Buick (Riviera?) and Holden (Commodore?) also likely recipients. Badge engineering, thankfully, seems dead as News Hub observed.
Possible Technical Specifications
The LTS would most likely offer an all-wheel-drive option. The base engine could be the same twin-turbo 3.6-liter found in the Cadillac XTS. A new generation of V-8 engines seems possible as well. And with GM committing to supplying more diesels to the US market, that option also seems possible. An 8-speed automatic transmission would be standard across the model line.
As far as interior amenities go, all the goodies found in current Cadillac models would be included and then some. The latest iteration of magnetic ride control might be introduced and the LTS could be outfitted with more autonomous features than any Cadillac model to date. These “goodies” are not based on mere speculation, but are among the auto trends we’ve been seeing within Cadillac.
Placeholder Cadillac XTS
As far as the future of the XTS, its alleged role as a “placeholder” may not be true. There may still be room for this model in the Cadillac line up despite the XTS’ size rivaling the CTS. The XTS might offer an appealing “step” from a more moderately-priced CTS to a full-blown Cadillac LTS.
Another argument for preserving the XTS is that it shares its platform with the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse, therefore its costs have been wrung out across three model lines. XTS sales are down in the US, but were up by 58 percent in China this July. An ATS-CTS-XTS-LTS line up could prove a powerful punch to once again elevate Cadillac to world-class status.
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