Caddy relies on model updates over product development

Automotive News reports on Cadillac model updates.

Automotive News

Cadillac's wings have been clipped.

While General Motors wrestles with financial problems and analyzes higher fuel economy rules, the automaker has put on hold plans to develop a stylish Cadillac competitor to the mid-sized Mercedes-Benz E class, as well as the future of the Escalade SUV.

On the plus side, the CTS car will get more versions, a redesigned SRX crossover is on the horizon, and GM's high-mileage Volt technology likely will filter over to Cadillac.

Small sedan: Second time's the charm? The BLS sedan and wagon, developed on the front-drive Saab 9-3 platform, are sold in Europe but have been dismal failures. Few luxury-car buyers in Europe equate Cadillac with Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

Cadillac's next luxury small car will be built on GM's new rear-drive Alpha vehicle architecture. And this time, the BLS, if the name is kept, will be sold in North America.

The small Cadillac sedan will arrive late in 2010.

CTS: The 2009 and 2010 model years are all about creating a CTS model line. The 556-hp 2009 CTS-V sedan -- V is Cadillac's performance designation -- packs a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that generates 551 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The 2010 models will debut in the spring, highlighted by the CTS sport wagon. The 2010 CTS coupe will go on sale in the late summer or early fall of 2009. The coupe concept debuted at the 2008 Detroit auto show. A CTS restyling is not expected until possibly the 2012 model year.

DTS: GM had planned to end DTS and STS production around the 2010 model year, when a new flagship sedan was due. But that plan is on hold, so the DTS will "soldier on," as one source put it.

STS: Like the DTS, the STS will stay in the lineup unchanged.

Big sedan: Eventually the DTS and STS will be replaced by one model, a rwd sedan that will be more competitive with the Mercedes E class and BMW 5 series. While the car is certain, the timing is not -- it may appear around the 2013 model year.

XLR: GM executives are debating the future of Cadillac's two-passenger sports car. Blame CAFE, high gasoline prices and disappointing sales of the current model. The XLR has been freshened for the 2009 model year, but the planned redesign for the 2012 model year is uncertain.

Plug-in hybrid: Sources say GM is studying the possibility of Cadillac's sharing GM's Chevrolet Volt technology, scheduled to debut in late 2010.

The Volt will use an electric motor to propel the vehicle. Unlike a conventional hybrid, a plug-in can be recharged overnight by connecting the batteries to a power outlet. If the owner drives no more than 40 to 50 miles a day, a plug-in can run solely on its battery pack. If additional distance is needed, a small engine recharges the lithium ion batteries while the vehicle is in motion.

GM thinks Cadillac buyers are more likely to accept the steep price, estimated at $40,000 for the Chevrolet model. The car is penciled in for the 2011 model year.

SRX: The redesigned crossover will debut roughly in mid-2009 for the 2010 model year. It will be smaller -- between the 2009 SRX and the Saturn Vue -- and seat five instead of seven, as the current model does.

The redesigned SRX essentially will be a production version of the Provoq concept, introduced at the 2008 Detroit auto show. Unlike the fuel-cell-powered concept, the production version will have a V-6 engine.

The 2010 SRX will be developed on a blend of GM's new Theta and Epsilon vehicle architectures, called Theta Premium. Unlike the current SRX, developed on a rear-drive architecture, the redesigned vehicle is on a front-drive platform. Saab's new crossover also will be developed on this architecture.

Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT: GM's Two Mode hybrid powertrain is available for the 2009 Escalade and is identical to that offered in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids. But the hybrid powertrain is not offered on the Escalade ESV or EXT.

The Escalade family's future is on hold until GM determines how the new regulations for corporate average fuel economy will affect GM's GMT900 truck program.

One option: By the 2013 model year, one or two of the Escalade versions on GMT900 could be replaced by a model or two developed on GM's fwd Lambda platform. The Lambda architecture -- now used for GM's mid-sized crossovers, such as the Buick Enclave -- would be stretched to develop any new models.

Rick Kranz contributed to this report

 

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