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A thought I had about Cadillac

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Some automakers begin a new design direction with their flagship model (example: Bangled BMW 7-series). Cadillac does not do this. They began their new design evolution with the entry level CTS model.

Do you think that Cadillac should have began the new edgy design with a top line model or the entry level car like they did back in 2003 with the CTS (as a 2004 model)?

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Some automakers begin a new design direction with their flagship model (example: Bangled BMW 7-series). Cadillac does not do this. They began their new design evolution with the entry level CTS model.

Do you think that Cadillac should have began the new edgy design with a top line model or the entry level car like they did back in 2003 with the CTS (as a 2004 model)?

I think we're comparing apples and oranges here. I'd venture to say that most 3-series owners would buy a 7-series if they could afford it. Cadillac, on the other hand - how many CTS owners could you see buying a DTS??

I think the upper and lower branches of Cadillac have more divergent markets than the upper and lower branches of BMW. So for BMW it makes more sense to go for uniformity, and to redesign from the top down. For Cadillac, I don't think it matters too much.

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I think the CTS has been a big sales success, and it's not a bad idea to keep it at the forefront. For the last 5 years or so, all eyes have been on the CTS and Escalade, while the other Caddys are just kind of there selling to people who have other needs. Doesn't hurt to make the change where it'll get seen the most, IMO.

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I think we're comparing apples and oranges here. I'd venture to say that most 3-series owners would buy a 7-series if they could afford it. Cadillac, on the other hand - how many CTS owners could you see buying a DTS??

I think the upper and lower branches of Cadillac have more divergent markets than the upper and lower branches of BMW. So for BMW it makes more sense to go for uniformity, and to redesign from the top down. For Cadillac, I don't think it matters too much.

I'm sure this decision was made with a lot of analysis. The market for the CTS is much more trendy and responds positively to product redesign. It also responds rapidly and negatively to product stagnation whereas (at least currently) the DTS market is much more forgiving. Keep in mind, prior to the current generation CTS, there was nothing, (I won't even mention the Catera) so they also probably decided to "keep a good thing going."

Let's face it: they need to shorten their product refresh cycle. They need a new DTS but it needs the RWD platform to have any chance of being competitive (and as a result justify the engineering expense.) This will take serious time.

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Great discussion here guy. My point with starting the new design at the flagship model is that other models of the same design would trickle down, whereas Cadillac design language is trickling up, making STS owners upset that the new CTS now outclasses their STS. When you begin with the flagship and trickle down, I dont think this happens.

Let's keep the discussion going.

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I think that technology-wise it should start with the Cadillac flagship and then trickle down to other Cadillac models and other GM brands. Regarding design, the flagship-to-'lesser'-models should also apply in each of the brands.

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Arguably, Cadillac started this new, more edgy styling on the Escalade, the true top dog at that division. For lack of a true S or 7 competitor, they put the edgier grille on the Escalade first. I think it's dumb and very 'Detroit' of them to start thier styling on a truck.

Should we consider Escalade Cadillac's flagship? It certainly is the biggest and most expensive of the non V or XLR Cadillacs. And it's Cadillac's highest profile model and it's IT car of this century. It also signifies what Cadillac and GM for that matter can do right. I think that makes it the flagship.

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I see your point, I've had that same thought.

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Arguably, Cadillac started this new, more edgy styling on the Escalade, the true top dog at that division. For lack of a true S or 7 competitor, they put the edgier grille on the Escalade first. I think it's dumb and very 'Detroit' of them to start thier styling on a truck.

Should we consider Escalade Cadillac's flagship? It certainly is the biggest and most expensive of the non V or XLR Cadillacs. And it's Cadillac's highest profile model and it's IT car of this century. It also signifies what Cadillac and GM for that matter can do right. I think that makes it the flagship.

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I never thought of that. hmmmmmmmmmm Interesting view.

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arguably the sixteen and the cien are cadillacs flagships...

just like the z06 for chevy...

but the dreams of cadillac are to big and to bold for the buying public... that hate it or live it styling goes farther then just the cts... but gm deamed cadillac, the luxuary for all... and be your own crittic as to whether that is an ideal world for gm and cadillac...

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Here's my theory... and it's just that... but I believe a manufacturer should introduce a new style on the entry-level model in the Premium/luxury market. It's a more cautious approach. This allows time for the look to become recognizable, build momentum/popularity, and be refined before the more expensive models adopt the styling. It's acceptable for entry level vehicles to carry half-baked styling or ideas as long as it evolves, matures, and manifests throughout the rest of the line-up.

If you start with the flagship, everything is just downhill from there. If the look doesn't catch on, what do you do? You can't change it too much because the flagship would become alienated (while simultaneously admitting the design was a failure.) You can't add content with new models to bolster sales, because the flagship already has the latest technology and features over any other vehicle in the lineup. Your hands are tied for an entire generation of products as you spread a lack-luster look across the portfolio. Even if you do add similar content (to recoup the costs of development and/or to save face for the slow selling flagship) buyers may not want it... such as iDrive.

Recent examples of 'starting at the top' that either failed or received a luke warm reception:

Oldsmobile - Aurora

BMW - Bangled 7-Series

Chrysler - 300

Volvo - C70/S80

Saturn - Aura

Recent examples of successfully reviving a brand from the bottom up:

Audi - the original A4

Infiniti - G35

Lexus - IS250/350

Cadillac - CTS

Acura - TSX/TL

Even if a vehicle isn't universally accepted with the new look (Acura RL, Cadillac STS, 1st gen A8) - the brand's reinvigorated image remained untarished.

This is one of the reasons why I'm very thankful for Buick's situation. The LaCrosse will be replaced prior to the Lucerne.

This is also one reason why I'm not too optimistic for Pontiac. Pontiac is receiving the G8 before the G6 replacement.

Making a false step at the top didn't destroy bulletproof BMW, but it did make BMW reevaluate its design strategy. What could a blunder like this do to a non-bulletproof brand? I doubt it would be as fortunate. Oldsmobile anyone? When you go all-in on a last ditch effort, I definitely recommend taking the more cautious route. Start at the bottom with the volume models and work your way up.

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You wrote about the 7-Series, yet this article (it's a little old, I know) states the Bangled 7-Series is the most successful 7-Series ever sales-wise.

I think the 7-Series design risk was a good move. Yes, the design was toned down in the other models and the 7-Series itself was renewed (and will be getting a new front-end soon), but the flagship did what it is supposed to do: set a new styling direction that matured over time. Family looks should never mean that a 3-Series equals a 'honey-I-shrunk-the-7Series' car.

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The fact that the SIXTEEN did not make it into production will always be a thorn in my side.

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arguably the sixteen and the cien are cadillacs flagships...

Those never made it to production, though....as far as real flagships, the XLR is the current Cadillac flagship.

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Here's my theory... and it's just that... but I believe a manufacturer should introduce a new style on the entry-level model in the Premium/luxury market. It's a more cautious approach. This allows time for the look to become recognizable, build momentum/popularity, and be refined before the more expensive models adopt the styling. It's acceptable for entry level vehicles to carry half-baked styling or ideas as long as it evolves, matures, and manifests throughout the rest of the line-up.

If you start with the flagship, everything is just downhill from there. If the look doesn't catch on, what do you do? You can't change it too much because the flagship would become alienated (while simultaneously admitting the design was a failure.) You can't add content with new models to bolster sales, because the flagship already has the latest technology and features over any other vehicle in the lineup. Your hands are tied for an entire generation of products as you spread a lack-luster look across the portfolio. Even if you do add similar content (to recoup the costs of development and/or to save face for the slow selling flagship) buyers may not want it... such as iDrive.

Recent examples of 'starting at the top' that either failed or received a luke warm reception:

Oldsmobile - Aurora

BMW - Bangled 7-Series

Chrysler - 300

Volvo - C70/S80

Saturn - Aura

Recent examples of successfully reviving a brand from the bottom up:

Audi - the original A4

Infiniti - G35

Lexus - IS250/350

Cadillac - CTS

Acura - TSX/TL

Even if a vehicle isn't universally accepted with the new look (Acura RL, Cadillac STS, 1st gen A8) - the brand's reinvigorated image remained untarished.

This is one of the reasons why I'm very thankful for Buick's situation. The LaCrosse will be replaced prior to the Lucerne.

This is also one reason why I'm not too optimistic for Pontiac. Pontiac is receiving the G8 before the G6 replacement.

Making a false step at the top didn't destroy bulletproof BMW, but it did make BMW reevaluate its design strategy. What could a blunder like this do to a non-bulletproof brand? I doubt it would be as fortunate. Oldsmobile anyone? When you go all-in on a last ditch effort, I definitely recommend taking the more cautious route. Start at the bottom with the volume models and work your way up.

I don't agree with this at all and is one of the reasons the Company is where it is - WAY too conservative. The flagship product should be bold and exciting. How else are you going to get people to plunk down the big coin on it?

I don't even agree with your examples of "failed" introductions:

Oldsmobile - Aurora

BMW - Bangled 7-Series

Chrysler - 300

Volvo - C70/S80

Saturn - Aura

The Aurora failed not because of poor product and design - but because of poor marketing strategy. It died with the whole division. The product was great.

The 7 was already a discussed on this thread elsewhere.

I've never heard the 300 (C?) held up as an example of a a failed product. They sold a ton of them. What am I missing?

Volvo - I have no comment - don't follow their stuff.

The Aura? Read my comments about the Aurora - same argument. Great car - piss poor marketing. See a theme?

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I have to also disagree about the 300. The LX cars revived full size, rear wheel drive sedans in the U.S. market place. They have sold a ton of them and spun off the program with the Charger and upcoming Challenger.

The Aura is not a failure yet. It's going into its second year in production, so don't give up on it too quickly. It's a competent car and it takes time to overcome a bad reputation that is, in my opinion, unearned. Saturn is an upcoming brand, and the critical acclaim of the car will begin to get it noticed. I see commercials for Saturn quite often, and the Rethink American tagline is great. The story is not over for the Aura just yet.

Volvo is a money maker for Ford, so I don't see the failing there.

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I think Ven has a great point about more riding on a flagship car than an entry level car. But where is there more risk? Entry level cars have much higher sales and are the big money makers of the brand, so if a new design is unsuccessful, the automaker will lose more, however if the flagship car comes out with the new design language and it flops, fewer sales will be lost.

Any thoughts on this?

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I think Ven has a great point about more riding on a flagship car than an entry level car. But where is there more risk? Entry level cars have much higher sales and are the big money makers of the brand, so if a new design is unsuccessful, the automaker will lose more, however if the flagship car comes out with the new design language and it flops, fewer sales will be lost.

Any thoughts on this?

Here we go again. When you say "much higher sales" you'll need to clarify what you mean. If you mean "unit sales" there's no argument. Even if you mean $$$$ you'll be correct. From here it's much more complicated. On a "per unit" basis, the profit on entry level cars is much lower than it is on flagship products. (This is actually one of the reasons GM continues to make and sell the DeVille/DTS product. It's a big money maker.) Having an entry level product fail from a design standpoint isn't a huge risk. Look at the Corolla. It does not inspire excitement in any way but it continues to sell. Contrast this to the '08 CTS (which is not really entry level other than its place in the brand lineup) which can't help but cause excitement.

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I think several of you missed my point. I am referring to a bigger picture than the "flagship vehicle" itself.

The 300 was successful, but the Chrysler brand wasn't successful carrying that through to the rest of the brand as it remodeled each vehicle below it.

The Aurora was generally considered a success, however all the showroom attention it brought in had little effect. Why? Someone attracted to an Aurora, but couldn't afford it, wasn't going to leave the dealership in an Achieva or Ciera. Nor were they going to consider an 88 or 98 as an option if the Aurora was just slightly "over the top." By the time Intrigue and Alero arrived to round out the line-up, the Aurora's mystique had worn off. What Oldsmobile was left with was two lower tiered sedans that had Aurora-inspired styling but nothing exceptional to draw the crowds back in. I feel Oldsmobile would have experienced a much different result if the Alero came out first, then Intrigue, and then finally... the Flagship Aurora.

BMW rushed to give the bangled 7-Series an expensive face-lift one year after it came out, and has since given it another one. BMW made mistakes with the Bangled 7-Series and it's well documented.

The Cadillac CTS was anything but cautious in its striking design, but the strategy still is. It allows you to test the waters with a new look without committing your entire line-up to it. If A&S would have dropped dead in the water like the Catera's styling, Cadillac still had the Deville and Seville formula to maintain the brand until Cadillac could refresh the CTS or come out with another entry level vehicle with better styling.

Lexus would have been stupid to expose the LS buying crowd to the new look of Lexus until piloting L-Finesse on the IS. If L-Finesse had killed the IS, Lexus could have delayed any proceeding vehicle to make changes as necessary.

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