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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Afterthoughts: Volkswagen's Comedy of Errors

      The diesel scandal and Volkswagen not understanding the U.S. market

    Over the past six months and numerous articles with the ‘As the Diesel Emits’ in the title, we are no closer to have a fix for the around 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles with illegal emission software. Instead, we have been treated a first-rate performance of ‘How not to handle a crisis’. From Volkswagen’s delay of admitting the illegal software to CEO Matthias Muller seeming very oblivious to what happening in an interview. It seems the German automaker is getting one black eye after another.

     

    The past month or so has seen the crisis cranked up to eleven.

    • New documents revealed that senior managers, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn, were alerted about the U.S. probing some of their TDI models back in 2014
    • This was followed up by a letter from last year alerting Winterkorn that the Volkswagen did use a defeat device in their diesel models - two weeks before the official EPA announcement.
    • A U.S. Federal Judge has given Volkswagen until March 24th to give an answer on where they stand on a possible fix.
    • Volkswagen of America CEO and President Michael Horn suddenly stepped down from his position.
    • With Horn’s departure, dealers want answers as to what happens next or a mutiny could happen.


    Ever since this scandal came to light, there has been a question that has been floating around in my head: Does Volkswagen know how much trouble it is in? On the surface, it seems they do and are trying their best to rectify this issue. But dig a little bit further and there are very troubling signs.

     


    For example, the Associate Press last week learned from a couple people that Volkswagen’s management in Germany resisted the plan set by Horn to offer $1,000 in gift cards to owners as a gesture of goodwill. Thankfully management relented and the program was instituted. Then there was Volkswagen’s first proposal to fix the affected vehicles in the U.S. which got rejected by the California Air Resources Board as it was “incomplete, substantially deficient and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles” to compliance. Since then, Volkswagen has been working on a new solution to present to CARB and the EPA, though we haven’t heard anything about it.

     

    These concerns bring up another question about Volkswagen: Do they know what their place in America is? Last September, Automobile Magazine ran an excellent editorial titled Volkswagen Has Never Understood its Place in the U.S. In the piece, the author argues that Volkswagen is seen by many Americans as something out of the mainstream - original Beetle, Microbus, Golf GTI, and their diesel lineup. Because of this, Volkswagen has a small, but loyal fanbase, But Volkswagen sees themselves as something different; a mass-market brand capable of selling many vehicles around. Except in the U.S.

     

    A few years ago, Volkswagen set an ambitious goal of selling 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. by 2018. To achieve this goal, the automaker decided to build vehicles tailored to the marketplace. What we ended up with was a Passat and Jetta that were appealing as stale bread because that is what the company thought would sell. At first, the strategy worked as sales of Volkswagen vehicles increased. But in the past couple of years, sales have dropped precipitously. The company has been scratching their heads as to why this is happening. It goes back to Volkswagen not understanding their place in the U.S.

     

    That last sentence can be extended further into the diesel emission crisis. The way Volkswagen has handled this crisis is nothing short of disastrous. If you are a company dealing with a massive crisis, the key thing you should be doing is keeping everyone somewhat abreast of what is happening. Volkswagen has barely done this and has given the impression that they are really not doing anything, despite all of the reports saying Volkswagen is conducting an internal investigation and working on a fix.

     

    This one quote from the Automobile Magazine editorial partly sums the predicament Volkswagen finds itself in.

     

    “That left the small clique of devoted enthusiasts, folks who bought Volkswagens because they were Volkswagens, and often because they were Volkswagen “clean” diesels. These are precisely the people Volkswagen just kicked in the teeth.”

     

    They’re not the only group that Volkswagen has caused pain. Dealers who bought into Volkswagen’s vision of being a mass-market brand and spent close to a billion dollars, only to see sales fall apart are not very happy. There also seems to be a disconnect between dealers and Volkswagen as this quote from Bloomberg illustrates,

     

    “The suggestion was startling: Maybe VW should give up on selling cars to America’s masses.

     

    It was late January, at the Detroit auto show, and Herbert Diess, the global chief of Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand, was sounding out U.S. dealers as the company grappled with the biggest crisis in its modern history. Perhaps, Diess wondered aloud, VW should stop trying to compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. in America and go back to focusing on higher-end models.

     

    “It was near crickets in the room,” said Alan Brown, chairman of VW’s U.S. dealer council.”

     

    Volkswagen is now at a crossroads with seemingly everyone angry with them in one form or another. There are so many things the company could have done to be in a better place than they are currently. But the Volkswagen’s mindset and not fully understanding the U.S. put them in a the place where they are now. Whether or not they learn from this experience and make the necessary changes to survive remains to be seen.

     

    The one thing we are sure about is that Volkswagen lost a lot of trust from various groups because of this scandal. As anyone will tell you, regaining trust is a seemingly impossible task.

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    Lovely, I see that the Stockholders have now Sued Class Action ShareHolder lawsuit asking for minimum of 3.7 Billion for lost Value due to the deceit by the board and CEO.


     


    I wonder if VW will be forced to declare bankruptcy?


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    • By William Maley
      Volkswagen's electric car offensive has already started in Europe with the ID.3. The next step is taking on the U.S. with the next electric vehicle, the ID.4 introduced today.
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      Source: Volkswagen
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      Volkswagen unveils the all-new 2021 ID.4 electric SUV
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      “The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package.”
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      The ID.4 sits squarely in the middle of the compact SUV segment, size-wise. It is 4.6 inches shorter than the Volkswagen Tiguan, at 180.5 inches, with a 0.9 inch shorter wheelbase at 108.9 inches. It is 1.9 inches lower than Tiguan at 64.4 inches high for the rear-wheel drive model, and 0.5 inches wider, at 72.9 inches.
      The ID.4 will available in six exterior colors—Glacier White Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, Moonstone Grey, Scale Silver Metallic, Blue Dusk Metallic and King’s Red Metallic. All models come with a body color roof, black roof rails, and 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The Statement package adds a panoramic fixed-glass roof, premium LED projector headlights with Volkswagen’s Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) and power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamp signature, while the Gradient package (sold on top of the Statement package) upgrades to 20-inch wheels, black roof, and silver roof rails and accents.
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      The interior of the ID.4 mirrors the futuristic look of the exterior, with functionality almost completely controlled by touch or voice control. The 5.3-inch ID.Cockpit (digital driver display) replaces the traditional instrument cluster and is operated with touch-sensitive controls on the leather-wrapped multifunction heated steering wheel. Three tiles show the most important information, with the display for battery status and range underneath. The traditional gearshift is replaced by a large rocker switch on the right of the ID.Cockpit, and a control panel to the left of the steering wheel integrates the lighting functions, including automatic headlights.
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      The steering wheel, steering column, and the housings for the display and control panels in the doors are finished in Piano Black. Seats in the ID.4 are finished in black cloth on entry models and Lunar Gray or Galaxy Black leatherette on models with the Statement package. Entry ID.4 models feature six-way adjustable seats with power recline, while the Statement package adds 12-way power seats, with massage lumbar and memory, as well as 30-color ambient lighting.
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      To complete the high-tech package, ID.4 offers standard wireless mobile charging, wireless App-Connect, and Volkswagen Car-Net® with in-car WiFi capability when you subscribe to a data plan. Car-Net Hotspot allows passengers to access the internet with up to four connected devices simultaneously, including tablets, smartphones, laptops, gaming devices, and more—all at 4G LTE-enabled speed.
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      To help protect occupants, the ID.4 provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. It features six airbags as standard—front and side airbags for front passengers, and side curtain airbags for outboard seating positions. Additionally there are a number of electronic safety systems, such as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
      With regards to the battery, an extruded aluminum frame protects the battery system against damage in the event of a crash, and a replaceable aluminum underbody panel protects the battery against the road. Additionally, the battery is also disabled if the vehicle is involved in a serious accident.
      With the standard IQ.DRIVE® advanced driver assistance technology, all ID.4 models include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor (Side Assist); Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist); Travel Assist; and Emergency Assist. In addition to IQ.DRIVE features, the ID.4 includes Dynamic Road Sign Display; Park Distance Control; and High Beam Control (Light Assist).
      Pricing & Sales
      Pricing for the ID.4 starts at $39,995, for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro (available in the first quarter of 2021), before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is applied. With those credits, the entry price of ID.4 is on par with the 2021 Tiguan SEL.  For highly qualified customers through Volkswagen Credit, the monthly lease payment for a 36-month lease with 10,000 miles a year, is $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing, excluding tax, title, license, options and dealer fees.
      Starting later in 2021, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,695) will be available. Both Pro models carry largely the same equipment, with AWD models putting out 302 hp, and adding a heated windshield and tow hitch. These models can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500), which is only offered with Statement.
      The ID.4 launches with a limited-run ID.4 1st Edition (MSRP $43,995). The 1st Edition models feature the same content as the Pro model, and Statement package (minus illuminated VW logo) and Gradient package come standard. These models also include unique features including accelerator and brake pedals with “play” and “pause” logos, the steering wheel and column, radio bezel and door island finished in Electric White, 1st Edition badging, black mirror caps, and a tow hitch.
      Volkswagen plans to offer the ID.4 electric vehicle across all 50 states, and throughout its network of more than 600 dealers. A reservation platform debuts today on VW.com, allowing customers to reserve an ID.4 before it hits dealer showrooms, with a fully refundable $100 reservation fee. As vehicle production starts, reservation holders will be invited to confirm their order with an additional fully refundable $400 vehicle deposit. From placing a reservation, to production and through delivery, the customer can see where they stand and when they can expect their ID. 4 to arrive at their preferred local VW dealer in a simple, transparent process. At that time, the customer can transact with their dealer and complete their purchase.
    • By William Maley
      The news came during dinner last Monday. My mother asked if I would be able to take any time off of work, and I said that I might be able to if the circumstances were considered important. She revealed that my grandfather, her dad passed away that afternoon. It wasn’t from COVID-19, but other complications that had put in him the hospital since early June. After dinner, I needed some time and space to begin processing the news. So I grabbed the keys to my car and went for a drive.
      The past few months have been difficult for all of us in varying degrees with COVID-19. Many places going on lockdown have caused massive disruptions to how we work, travel, and interact with the world. I have been hunkered down at home since mid-March when my employer announced our office would be closed for the time being, and we would be working from home. During the first month or so, I had put a moratorium on driving except for essential places such as the grocery store or pharmacy. Isolating to prevent catching and/or spreading the virus took priority over going for a drive. But after a month of just being in a house with family and doing the same things over and over, I was going stir crazy. 
      I realized that I needed some space to not only prevent myself from losing it, but to give me some room to think about everything floating in my mind. Going for daily walks either by myself or with the dog helped a bit. But I still felt like I needed some more space, more time to myself.
      Back in 2015, I wrote an Afterthoughts column titled The Escape Machine. I talked about how the car for some of us was a way to escape the world for a time. You could go anywhere depending on how much fuel was in the tank and give the space needed to clear or process whatever was on the mind. I ended the piece with these two lines,
      That decision for me came in late April/early May. I would go for long drives, provided that I would wear a mask if I got out to go for a walk. Going for the first drive in over a month was a bit of revelation. Turing the steering wheel, pressing down on the accelerator and brake; and watching the world go past in blur made me realize how much I missed this. This seems like a trope, but you have a newfound appreciation for something you haven’t done in some time. This also gave me the space to begin piecing together various thoughts such as how do I keep myself from falling into the endless pit of despair, what can I do to keep myself from feeling bored, and do I dive back into automotive writing.
      I didn’t know how important this would become in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases increased, the economy would come to a screeching halt; and the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing fallout. Whenever my mind would become overwhelmed or I just get too frustrated, I would hop into my vehicle and go somewhere. It didn’t matter where or how long, just as long as I had some space to think or to calm down, it would be enough.
      Back to last Monday night. As I drove, there was a lot I needed to process in terms of grief and wondering what would happen next: Would there be a funeral, what precautions should I take, will it be a long ceremony, and so on. I didn’t come up with any clear answers to these questions, but having that time to start putting things into perspective helped. 
      It was on the way back that another thought popped into my head. At the moment, we’re all trying to find some sense of normal in a world that isn’t. For auto enthusiasts, that is to drive as it gives some sort of control. It may be a small thing, but they provide some much-needed comfort.
      Like many of us, I don’t what the rest of year holds if it continues to be a landfill fire or somehow begins to contain itself. But I do know that I’ll likely be taking more drives, whether that be my car or one that I’m reviewing. Having something that provides a sense of normal is welcomed.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The news came during dinner last Monday. My mother asked if I would be able to take any time off of work, and I said that I might be able to if the circumstances were considered important. She revealed that my grandfather, her dad passed away that afternoon. It wasn’t from COVID-19, but other complications that had put in him the hospital since early June. After dinner, I needed some time and space to begin processing the news. So I grabbed the keys to my car and went for a drive.
      The past few months have been difficult for all of us in varying degrees with COVID-19. Many places going on lockdown have caused massive disruptions to how we work, travel, and interact with the world. I have been hunkered down at home since mid-March when my employer announced our office would be closed for the time being, and we would be working from home. During the first month or so, I had put a moratorium on driving except for essential places such as the grocery store or pharmacy. Isolating to prevent catching and/or spreading the virus took priority over going for a drive. But after a month of just being in a house with family and doing the same things over and over, I was going stir crazy. 
      I realized that I needed some space to not only prevent myself from losing it, but to give me some room to think about everything floating in my mind. Going for daily walks either by myself or with the dog helped a bit. But I still felt like I needed some more space, more time to myself.
      Back in 2015, I wrote an Afterthoughts column titled The Escape Machine. I talked about how the car for some of us was a way to escape the world for a time. You could go anywhere depending on how much fuel was in the tank and give the space needed to clear or process whatever was on the mind. I ended the piece with these two lines,
      That decision for me came in late April/early May. I would go for long drives, provided that I would wear a mask if I got out to go for a walk. Going for the first drive in over a month was a bit of revelation. Turing the steering wheel, pressing down on the accelerator and brake; and watching the world go past in blur made me realize how much I missed this. This seems like a trope, but you have a newfound appreciation for something you haven’t done in some time. This also gave me the space to begin piecing together various thoughts such as how do I keep myself from falling into the endless pit of despair, what can I do to keep myself from feeling bored, and do I dive back into automotive writing.
      I didn’t know how important this would become in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases increased, the economy would come to a screeching halt; and the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing fallout. Whenever my mind would become overwhelmed or I just get too frustrated, I would hop into my vehicle and go somewhere. It didn’t matter where or how long, just as long as I had some space to think or to calm down, it would be enough.
      Back to last Monday night. As I drove, there was a lot I needed to process in terms of grief and wondering what would happen next: Would there be a funeral, what precautions should I take, will it be a long ceremony, and so on. I didn’t come up with any clear answers to these questions, but having that time to start putting things into perspective helped. 
      It was on the way back that another thought popped into my head. At the moment, we’re all trying to find some sense of normal in a world that isn’t. For auto enthusiasts, that is to drive as it gives some sort of control. It may be a small thing, but they provide some much-needed comfort.
      Like many of us, I don’t what the rest of year holds if it continues to be a landfill fire or somehow begins to contain itself. But I do know that I’ll likely be taking more drives, whether that be my car or one that I’m reviewing. Having something that provides a sense of normal is welcomed.
    • By William Maley
      Volkswagen unveiled an updated 2021 Arteon tonight. Now you might be thinking this is a quick turn around as the Arteon has been on sale in the U.S. for only a year. But you need to keep in mind that Volkswagen has been selling the Arteon in Europe since 2018, so a refresh was in the cards.
      Changes for the exterior are subtile with a more prominent grille, new lighting, updated Volkswagen badging, and new choices for paint and wheels. The interior is a bit more dramatic with updated dash featuring revised air vents and climate control system with touch controls. A new steering wheel with touch controls, improved materials, and the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit becoming standard on all Arteons finishes off the changes.
      Power for the U.S. will remain the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic that routes power to either the front or Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
      There are some versions we'll be missing out on such as a new Shooting Brake (aka wagon), a 315 horsepower R model, and a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
      No word on pricing, but you'll be able to pick up a 2021 Arteon at your Volkswagen dealer sometime in November.
      Source: Volkswagen
      Press Release is on Page 2


      2021 Volkswagen Arteon world premiere

      Jun 23, 2020
      Brand halo is updated inside and out—a new front end impresses with sharpened design elements and available illuminated grille, while inside, a new cockpit offers greater levels of refinement Digital Cockpit standard across lineup European offering includes new Arteon Shooting Brake, as well as plug-in hybrid (160 kW / 218 PS) and Volkswagen R-developed performance (235 kW / 320 PS) powertrains Herndon, VA — The Arteon is Volkswagen’s Gran Turismo—marrying the sleek design of a premium coupe to the space of a midsize sedan. For 2021, Volkswagen is introducing an extensive product line update to the brand halo, including sharpened design elements, interior refinements, and intelligent comfort systems. In Europe, Volkswagen is enhancing the product line with a second version—the new Arteon Shooting Brake—alongside new powertrain options including a plug-in hybrid drivetrain generating 160 kW (218 PS) and Arteon R versions with 235 kW (320 PS).
      For 2021, the U.S. market Volkswagen Arteon features a simplified trim lineup—SE, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line.
      Exterior
      The refreshed Arteon features a refined front end with sharpened design elements. The long, wide hood stretches across the entire front profile to the wheelarches to form the shoulder section. At the front it reaches far down into the grille, emphasizing the ample width of the Arteon with its crossbars. It’s not just avant-garde, it’s also aerodynamic—with a drag coefficient of a mere 0.265.
      For the first time, the Arteon can also be configured with an illuminated grille. On midrange models, new LED daytime running lights (DRLs) connect to form a central light bar in the grille, surrounding the new Volkswagen logo and using light as the new chrome. Consequently, the Arteon has been given a new and unmistakable daytime and night-time lighting signature.
      The lower section of the front profile, the front apron, has also been modified. Up to now, this area featured four chrome bars. These have now been transformed into three significantly more striking chrome bars. The outer and bottom segments of the front apron are always the same color as the vehicle’s paintwork (except the lateral air intake grilles). How the equipment scopes differ: the SE trim now has two additional, separate air intake openings in front of the front wheels, as well as a chrome bar that has been integrated above the front spoiler. In contrast, the R-Line features one larger, continuous, bottom air intake above the front spoiler that is surrounded by a C-shaped section on the outside in front of the front wheels, which has been painted in the main vehicle color.
      As drawn, the character line runs around the entire car. It visually presses the body’s volume downward to the ground, giving it a dynamic appearance. The character line starts in the radiator grille at the front and runs smoothly across the silhouette up to the tail light clusters. At the rear it transforms into a sharp undercut that visually reduces the Arteon’s height and carries the strong shoulder section towards the rear. At the rear, the VW badge and Arteon lettering have been redesigned.
      Three new colors are added for model year 2021—Oryx White, Kings Red Metallic, and Lapiz Blue.
      Interior
      On the inside, Arteon has been equipped with a redesigned cockpit that has been refined to match the model’s exclusive nature. Volkswagen’s interior designers have redesigned the entire dash panel—consisting of surfaces, air outlets, and trims—the center console, including infotainment section and air-conditioning control, and the top sections of the door trims. The fabrics and leather in the vehicle interior have also been upgraded.
      At the dash panel’s top-most level, new leatherette surfaces stand out by having been refined are more pronounced with decorative seams to visually build a bridge to Volkswagen’s luxury-class SUV, the Touareg. On the second level, new aluminum décor graces base models, while midrange models offer translucent aluminum décor with 30-color ambient lighting The air outlets, stretching up to the third dash panel level, have been redesigned and also fully integrated here.
      A new generation of multifunction steering wheels featuring digital touch surfaces are used in the Arteon. In combination with the Travel Assist system (see below), the steering wheel rim additionally features touch-sensitive surfaces which, once Travel Assist has been activated, detect whether the driver has at least one hand on the steering wheel for safety reasons.
      The temperature can now be set intuitively via a touchslider for the optional three-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control. The same applies to the blower function in the manual mode. Seat heating, windscreen and window defrosting functions as well as other air conditioner regulations are also controlled using new touch-sensitive surfaces in the center console.
      The Arteon is equipped with the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, which allows the driver to configure the instrument display. The graphics of the 10.25-inch display are clear and of a high quality. The driver can quickly and easily switch between three basic layouts using a View button on the multifunction steering wheel.
      Arteon adopts the all-new MIB3 infotainment system, integrated in a clearly visible and easy-to-reach position above the new air-conditioning controls. All models come standard with the 8.0-inch Discover Media system with navigation. MIB3 offers natural voice control, multi-phone pairing that can easily switch between devices, and wireless App-Connect. Wireless charging is also new for 2021.
      Volkswagen is also offering a newly developed, high-end sound system made by audio specialists harman/kardon for the very first time. It has been specifically geared towards the Arteon product line. The system uses a 700-watt, 16-channel Ethernet amplifier to power a total of twelve high-performance loudspeakers. One loudspeaker acts as the center speaker in the newly designed dash panel while another operates as a subwoofer in the trunk. The remaining treble, mid-range, and bass loudspeakers have been arranged in the doors. The infotainment system coordinates the individual sound control of the harman/kardon sound system which also provides pre-configured settings, such as Pure, Chill out, Live and Energy.
      Powertrain
      The Arteon is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine, making 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The power is taken to the front wheels via a standard eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic® shifting; 4Motion all-wheel drive is available on SEL R-Line models and standard on SEL Premium R-Line models.

      View full article
  • Posts

    • Thinking about it myself, I think I want to customer order my next car. My Equinox is kinda a rare bird, is that in 19 the Kenetic blue was only thrown a small number of LS trimmed ones (It’s only offered for LT/Premier) Though I did consider ordering mine... My Cavalier was a custom order. I wanted it completely stripped of dealer options so that I could add my own when ready. (Plan was to customize the car) Not sure what the next ride will be, but I would like it to my tastes......
    • So if you're talking top performance model of Model S with Plaid lets talk about the top C7 with the ZR1 with a Ring time of 7:04 so the C8 Z06 will meet or beat that and Zora will crush that time being a 1,000 hp AWD Hybrid Hyper-car. And yes there is word of a Cadillac Halo car that could be based on the C8 or the BEV skateboard architecture. Tesla does have pretty good performance numbers and I'm not taking that away from them like your close minded comments toward GM, like usual. Cadillac Lyriq BEV SUV is coming and it will have a performance version as well. Fewer vehicles sold does not mean less quality or less competitive vehicles, it's usually marketing issues, which Cadillac is known for and it's not a bust because they're still here and very comparable and competitive to the German and Japanese rivals in many ways. 2005 was before the new gen cars, 2008 was the first year of the gen. 2 CTS which was the start of the increase in quality and fit and finish and GM also started offering the high performance V Series that were now actually competitive. It was an increase in quality and fit and finish from the Gen 2 to Gen 3 CTS and it's even better with the CT4 and CT5. The interiors are not sub par in the Gen. 3 CTS or the new CT4 and CT5's. CT5-V Blackwing is going to be on a whole nother level of performance on the track and on the road. 
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