Were Mark Twain covering the auto beat he might begin by declaring that reports of the death of Cadillac’s planned “halo” car have been greatly exaggerated.
There’ve been several widely discussed stories over the past few days suggesting that Cadillac has given up on a planned $100,000 “show-stopper,” possibly based on the Cadillac Ciel concept vehicle because General Motors bean-counters couldn’t pencil in an appropriate business case to justify the necessary investment.
TheDetroitBureau.com has been advised that, indeed, a “large luxury” model has been scrapped from the Cadillac plan. But several sources have stressed that the decision had more to do with the potential for that specific design than anything else.
That does not impact the ongoing development of a large, rear-wheel-drive model that will sit atop the current Caddy lineup-topping XTS model. And preliminary work continues on several other possible halo vehicles that would be based off that big car’s platform.
It’s likely the luxury maker will reveal more when it unveils a large luxury concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.
“There is still (an) awfully good chance another idea in the bullpen will fill that spot,” opened up by the decision to drop the ultra-luxury model that had been under development, noted one well-placed Cadillac source. While “one particular idea gained momentum,” they stressed that “there are several ideas under study, always more than you can pursue.”
(Cadillac looks at several halo car options. Click Herefor the story.)
While the cost issue was clearly something that weighed into the decision to kill the halo model that had been under development, it also reflects the fact that Cadillac doesn’t want to offer what a source described as a “Noah’s Ark” of different models, a less-than-subtle jab at the U.S. maker’s German counterparts who have been flooding the market with new niche products.
Nonetheless, Cadillac clearly knows it can’t restrict itself to the line-up it currently has, even as it rejigs the CTS to better challenge the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6. The days when only a handful of models will satisfy potential buyers is long gone. The question is how many more products it will take, and what white space in the broad, luxury spectrum to fill.
(Cadillac, Lincoln struggle to reinvent themselves. Click Here.)
Along with the all-new update of the CTS, Cadillac will add the ELR plug-in hybrid next year. A smaller crossover apparently continues in the works, while the full-size rear-drive premium luxury model is still on the books for around 2015, sources confirmed.
But simply entering that high end of the luxury market requires some careful thinking. The real growth segments have migrated down to the low end, where the upcoming crossover and the new ATS compete. Demand for high-line models like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series has been stable, at best, even with more offerings and variants niching the market.
That could require a creative alternative that isn’t just a conventional spin-off. Indeed, one of the reasons the previously planned halo car was abandoned, TheDetroitBureau.com learned, was that it may have just been too conservative and conventional to generate enough demand to cover its development, production and marketing costs.
If anything, insisted another Caddy insider, “In the past, we would have gone ahead with this and only then realized we made a mistake when we started losing a lot of money on it.”
(First Look: Cadillac Ciel Concept. Click Here.)
Cadillac fans will likely breathe a sigh of relief to learn the big sedan remains a go – and that a halo project is still moving forward, albeit cautiously.
The Detroit luxury brand has had a number of false starts over the years, notably with the well-received Cadillac Sixteen revealed at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show and then with the Caddy Ciel unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance two years ago.
A hint of what could be in store is expected to be revealed at this year’s Concours where a high-end concept vehicle is planned for display.