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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,590
    That's a big grille.

    I'm very interested to see this new car, both inside and out.
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    There probably isn't one standard of the world in everything, but Mercedes, BMW and Lexus are a lot closer to being such than Cadillac is.
    As far as build quality, Mercedes & BMW both suck!!! Look at initial quality rankings for 2006.
    They finished 26 & 28 in the JD Power rankings. Lexus & Cadillac were 2 & 7. A Saturn or Kia has less problems per car.
    Lexus: .93 problems per vehicle
    Cadillac: 1.17 problems per vehicle
    Average: 1.24 problems per vehicle
    Mercedes: 1.39 problems per vehicle
    BMW: 1.42 problems per vehicle
    They start to add up when you multiply by 200,000. For every 200k BMW & Cadillac's sold, the BMW's got 50,000 more service repairs.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,707
    Just remember that JD powers doesn't quantify those problems. Suppose off those problems BMW's have are very minor and the problems Lexus (Lexi?) have are all major?

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,590
    Lots of people aren't won over by JDP and their oftentimes arbitrary methodology.

    "As far as build quality, Mercedes & BMW both suck!!!"

    You can't be serious.

    "Problems per vehicle" has no definite relation to "build quality".
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,707
    You can't be serious.

    I think he is, their quality has suffered in recent years. One of the reasons we passed on a reasonably good deal om a MB a while back.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    I know those numbers aren't a perfect measure of vehicle Quality, but if you multiply by per 200,000 cars you get a general idea about a cars quality.
    These numbers aren't new.
    The Germans have lagged for years in overall quality.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Apparently you don't know the difference between build quality and reliability. This is what happens when one depends on surveys to convey to them what a simple hands on examination of a car could tell them. That survey has squat to do with build quality.

    Again, Cadillac doesn't lead or standout in anything, your post only shows that they have better reliability per the surveys than the German brands. Lexus beats them all, making them a leader in at least one aspect, Cadillac doesn't lead in anything.

    M
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    Thats a heavy anti Cadillac slant.
    Would you rather be ranked 7th, 26th, or 28th?
    Build quality + Engineering quality = Reliability
    Build quality is how often a nut or bolt isn't tightened down.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    But Build quality, that goes to Lexus. And Cadillac may even be a little better.

    Please explain? Sure in the past years Lexus yes, but a CLS, SL, CL or S are built as good as any Lexus or better. Cadillac doesn't even compare to MB or Lexus in build quality.

    Audi is usually seen as the industry standard though, not Lexus.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Build quality + Engineering quality = Reliability

    = misinformed at best.

    Audis have for years been considered the best built cars in the industry, physical build quality, but their reliability has been horrible for an equal amount of years.

    If you can't see that then you simply don't know the difference between physical build quality and reliability, they aren't the same thing and one doesn't always indicate how the other will be.

    I'm still waiting on someone here to tell me what Cadillac leads in or what they do better than anyone else. They need something in order to start even thinking about trying to be the "standard of the world" again.

    M
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    Build quality is every time you go to a dealership with a loose nut or something not installed correctly. JD Powers is measuring everything. Blown motor, loose visor, uneven dash piece, front squeak, short in wire, Alignment off, are all part of either Build or Engineering quality. Build quality example: If you get a short, and your taillight keeps popping. Someone at the Assembly plant cut the wire when chasing it through the frame.
  • pch101pch101 Posts: 582
    I believe that there is some disagreement on the semantics here, i.e. what is the definition of "build quality".

    Some would measure it in terms of reliability. In that case, your defects per unit measure would make sense.

    Those who disagree with you regard "build quality" as a measure of tight tolerances, quality of materials, advanced use of technology, etc. It's in the sheen of the plastics, feel of the leather, the panel gaps, etc. These are the je ne sais quoi qualities that distinguish a high-end marque from a more common one.

    If you measure Cadillac by the former metric, then it's pretty good. If you measure it by the latter, it falls flat. No one deals with panel gaps like Lexus, you'd be hard pressed to find more luxury than you would in your typical Benz (excepting Rolls, Bentley, etc.), Audi is tough to beat for top-notch interiors, etc., while Cadillac doesn't seem to have anything in particular that would justify including it on such a list.

    Cadillac's problem is that while it has done well with the former, people who buy luxury cars often require the latter. Reliability is a basic expectation of common vehicles. The luxury buyer may or may not demand reliability -- it depends on the customer -- but the luxury buyer definitely demands something special.

    Caddy tends to disappoint those looking for that something special. All jokes aside, it does seem to have found a niche in the African-American community that, quite frankly, might be one worth continuing. It's a niche that is largely not considered by other automakers, so if GM has an edge with that group, I see no reason not to take advantage of it.
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    If you go to a dealership for an unscheduled service call. Its either an Engineering problem or a assembly problem. It was either designed wrong or put together wrong. That's what JD Powers is measuring. Not whether you like the color of the radio knobs or how tight your seams are.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    "...whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work...in art...in literature...in music...in industry...the reward and the punishment are always the same..."

    ---2, January 1915. From the "Penalty of Leadership" Cadillac advertisment.

    That year in 1915, when Cadillac was fighting for position and reputation then---having won the Dewar Trophy twice and developed its Cadillac "30" V8---against formidable rivals, now long gone as Packard, Pierce, or other long established marques as Rolls-Royce and Mercedes, Cadillac was preparing itself for a battle against future marques as Duesenberg and Lincoln...

    All one has to do is look at Cadillac's past to see what is possible in the future.

    When the decision was taken up by Owen Nacker, and Alfred Sloan, to build cars that have become part of Cadillac lore----the V12 and V16---Cadillac was not "first" in the marketplace, having sold 36,369 cars in 1927. It main rivals, Packard sold 36,909 cars that year, and Lincoln 7,149. Prior to the introduction of the V12 and V16 for 1930, at the height of the 'Roaring Twenties' and a boom market for luxury products, Cadillac would sell a scant 18,004 Model 341B's, with a total of 40,965 Cadllac-LaSalle in 1929.

    Upon introduction of the V12/V16 on December 10, 1929, Cadillac would sell 5,725 V12 chassis and 3,251 V16's in its first year through 1930! Cadillac-LaSalle sales increased that year to 55,770. The 8,976 V12/V16 sales represented 45% of sales beyond the LaSalle range, selling only 11,005 V8 chassis. V12/V16 sales alone surpassed all of Lincoln at 7,641 chassis in 1929, and 3,212 in 1930---the last year of their L chassis. Packard still retained a "leadership" position: selling 47,855 chassis in 1929 and 28,386 in 1930. Introduction of the high end Cadillac's thus brought the marque within 65% of Packard's sales...totalling 19,981 chassis---effectively doubling their market and capturing new buyers.

    By contrast, Duesenberg would have their best year with the J chassis---taking 253 orders the first ten months of 1929! Chrysler's Imperial had not arrived, Pierce-Arrow sold less cars combined that the high range Cadillac's at 6,795 chassis. Between the wars, because of the 25-33% tarriff concurrent in 1929-30 (lowered to 10-15% in 1933) only sixteen (16) foreign brand or "imported" automobile came into the U.S. per state on average (800 cars per annum) so the chance to see a Mercedes, Issotta-Fraschini, Hispano-Suiza among others, really was a rare occassion---and a very expensive proposition. We forget too, that Rolls-Royce sold an average of 250 chassis per year built from their Springfield, Massachuesettes plant, which had opened in 1919, in addition to the few RHD Derby chassis exported from Britain.

    The V12/16 not only became a "bargain", with prices beginning at $5,950 and rising above $8,750 inclusive of coachwork, but proved quite profitable for GM. Duesenberg chassis prices started at $8,500 without coachwork. Rolls-Royce prices started at $13,865 for the chassis and rose to $19,665 for a "Trouville Town Car". In 1929 Rolls-Royce enjoyed one of its best years in America prior to WWII: selling 350 cars, and making a net profit of $134,764 or $380 per vehicle, (in 1929 dollars, when a good weeks' pay was $62.50! and $2.50 a day was a good wage!) Packard made a net $25Mn profit in 1929, or $458 per car sold, when Cadillac countered. In 1930 when Cadillac sales increased, Rolls-Royce and Duesenberg both suffered as the onset of the depression began to bite, with R-R Springfield selling 212 cars, and Duesenberg down to 151 cars.

    It cost GM a $54Mn investment in 1920's dollars to develop the V12-V16, and amortising against the first years' sales that meant each car cost about $6,018---and most were sold above that threshold in the first year for an "average estimated profit" of $450 per car---better or equal to the competition. Over the long haul as the Depression wore on, the story would change, but Cadillac executives and engineers could not forsee that when they engaged to design and build the V12/V16. It was the risk and heights they took on and attempted to attain that matters, even today.

    If Cadillac could introduce such a car against stiff entrenched foreign and domestic competition in a tariff bounded market and win---even at the very onset of the Great Depression---in today's open global market, given even tougher entrenched competition, and a domestic reputation far different from that of eighty years ago (with many Americans now biased against domestic products) Cadillac has the choice and opportunity to attain that reputation again---this time finishing the success story they once began so long ago.

    If you think it can't done again, guess again. The "uphill" battle is the same, but this time the stakes are higher. GM is still "#1" in terms of sales, but Cadillac must regain its position as much as it was making it in 1929-30. Thus it falls upon the leadership of GM and Cadillac, to Mr. Wagoner and Mr. Lutz, to rise to the occassion. They possess the same advantage today Mr. Nacker and Mr. Sloan did then: few people beyond the corporate confines of GM expect them to succeed. Thus the element of surprise and achievement is working in their favor---just as it was December 10, 1929 when Lawrence P. Fisher introduced the V12 and V16 Cadillacs. When the better Cadillac is built, people will buy them, thus fulfilling the words of Mr. McManus, who wrote 'Penalty of Leadership:

    "That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial---that which deserves to live, lives!"

    ...thus it can be so again for Cadillac---especially so as the domestic competition regroups and reorganises itself, whether or not Lincoln survives or Imperial returns.

    DouglasR

    (Sources: 'Any Color so Long as its Black', Peter Roberts, Wm Morrow & Co NY 1976; 'Sixteen Cylinder Motorcars', Roy A Schneider, Heritage House, Acadia Ca, 1974; 'Packard' Beverly Rae Kines, Automobile Quarterly, Kutztown Pa, 2002; 'Rolls-Royce in America', John Webb de Campi, Dalton-Watson, London, 1975; U.S. Government, Bureau of Foreign Commerce and Navigation 1918-1942, Washington D.C.)
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    chevy598,

    You do make a great argument. I agree the build materials of a Cadillac, isn't quite as good as say a typical Mercedes. I will also say I've seen some MB's with some shoddy material quality issues myself. I believe it was in the early 2000's when some MB models raised a few eyebrows in material quality execution. Audi, I agree has some of the best interiors but the color of wood and design of the most recent models have raised my eyebrows. Lexus, probably has the best interior quality of any car made. Rolls and Bentley have some nice interiors but I've even seen chick let size buttons in some of those models. I don't think its unreasonable to assume GM, will have a competitive interior on the next generation of automobiles. I'm a huge fan of the Escalades interior and in all honesty I don't see anything wrong with the Slades interior. I often wonder how in the world could a S-class Mercedes costing nearly and over 6-digits could be outdone in the interior department by Lexus ? The best car interior I've seen under 6-digits with perhaps the exception of the LS is the new 2007' Volvo S80. Acura, has a great interior also for the money also. Cadillac, needs to be at least in the Volvo's league for interior quality. I also think "gadgetology" can enhance a cars interior perception when it can dazzle the driver and passengers with comfort convenience

    Rocky
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Build quality is every time you go to a dealership with a loose nut or something not installed correctly.

    True and how many times do you think a person has to take a new car in 2006 back to the dealer for a loose bolt or nut? Ridiculous and absurd at best.

    JD Powers is measuring everything.

    No they don't. No survey can tell you everything about a car. That is really telling if you think that.

    Like I said before you seem not to have a clue as to what build quality is vs reliability. You're trying to link the two together like they're inseperable. They are related sure, but they aren't the same thing either.

    If you think that just because a GM car scores higher in a 90 day survey on "quality" it is better "built" than a high-end European car you just don't get it at all.

    A Hyundai is more trouble free than cars that cost 2-3 times more yet anyone with common sense can look at and examine the two cars and know which car is physically built better. Same thing goes for a Cadillac compared to a BMW/Lexus/Audi/Mercedes.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    If you go to a dealership for an unscheduled service call. Its either an Engineering problem or a assembly problem. It was either designed wrong or put together wrong. That's what JD Powers is measuring. Not whether you like the color of the radio knobs or how tight your seams are.

    Yet all these things are a part of build quality, not just the things that get cheaply built, but more "reliable" Cadillacs ahead in a survey. Seams, fits, finish, robustness of materials is all a part of build quality. This about color and radio knobs is nonsense and no one suggest that such things comprise "build quality".

    M
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    You're the one who doesn't know the difference between design quality & build quality.
    Jd Powers is measuring how many times it takes a crap on you. Not whether the dash looks pretty, but whether its going to fall apart on you. Every Time something is broke and you go to the dealer to have it fixed. Build quality is how often the guy putting it together falls asleep on the job.
    Design quality is about fit, finish, and seams.
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    True and how many times do you think a person has to take a new car in 2006 back to the dealer for a loose bolt or nut? Ridiculous and absurd at best.

    There's over 30,000 individual parts on every automobile, and workers miss them all the time. Do your job right 99.9% of the time, and build 1,500 cars a week. Thats 1.5 mistakes a week per person on that line. Most are caught, but some make it out the door. Thats how mass production works.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Jd Powers is measuring how many times it takes a crap on you.

    Well duh, that is what I just said a few posts ago, that is reliability not build quality. If JD Powers doesn't measure "whether the dash looks pretty, but whether its going to fall apart on you" then you (with the latter part of that, not how pretty the dash looks) just proved my point. THEY DON'T MEAUSURE BUILD QUALITY. This is per your posts, because I believe they do indeed ask questions about how well a buyer thinks a car is physically built.

    Design quality is not how well something fits together or how well it is painted, that is how it is built. Design is how well it works, functions etc. You've let surveys tell you things you should already know for yourself.

    This all boils down to one thing, a Cadillac isn't built as well as a Mercedes, Audi, BMW or Lexus when it comes to materials and fit and finish. You can keep harping about what JD Powers measures all day long. It really is sad to see someone rely upon these surveys to the point of confusion.

    Go to your local dealers row and examine all these brands up close for yourself and come back and let us know what you find.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    There's over 30,000 individual parts on every automobile, and workers miss them all the time. Do your job right 99.9% of the time, and build 1,500 cars a week. Thats 1.5 mistakes a week per person on that line. Most are caught, but some make it out the door. Thats how mass production works.

    An this has what to do with anything being talked about here?

    M
  • chevy598chevy598 Posts: 162
    Here's a link to the production version of the CTS. Front end only.

    Detroit News
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,707
    If you measure Cadillac by the former metric, then it's pretty good. If you measure it by the latter, it falls flat.

    Here in lies the issue, a lot of the latter is tainted by perception. Especially when it comes to qualifying "quality of materials" and "the sheen of the plastics" and "feel of the leather". Those are very subjective and tends to be at the mercy of biases. I strongly feel that if you put the same interior in a Lexus and in a Cadillac many would proclaim the Cadillac interior inferior on all parts. This tends to come from a segment that believes US car companies cannot do anything right.

    Caddy tends to disappoint those looking for that something special.

    Oh I don't know, I was looking for something special and found it in my Caddy. It was BMW that really disappointed me.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,153
    You gotta get over that fear of "torque-steer" in FWD cars. I have a 2002 Seville STS which is FWD and I barely notice any torque steer. Now, my friend's old 1980 Chevrolet Citation had such bad torque steer it felt that the wheel would rip your arms off at the elbows. Heck, even my 1988 Buick Park Avenue isn't that bad. Personally, I would prefer the DTS be RWD/AWD, but FWD won't deter me from buying the car.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,153
    Shoot, I gave a co-worker a ride to work who thought my Cadillac was a foreign make!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,087
    >Especially when it comes to qualifying "quality of materials" and "the sheen of the plastics" and "feel of the leather". Those are very subjective and tends to be at the mercy of biases.

    Agree. Didn't GM disguise a Toyota (Camry)as a GM test vehicle years ago and have people test it and got a lot of negative feedback because the testers showed their bias?
  • pch101pch101 Posts: 582
    Here in lies the issue, a lot of the latter is tainted by perception. Especially when it comes to qualifying "quality of materials" and "the sheen of the plastics" and "feel of the leather".

    Subjective or not, it's still in the automaker's interest to build products that are considered by car buyers to have those qualities.

    We can argue all day long what "cheap plastic" means, but ultimately, there is enough agreement about what this means that there isn't any excuse for a luxury automaker to use it, at least in places where its customers will notice it. GM and all the other automakers better damn well figure out the difference between stylish and cheap if they want someone other than Hertz and Avis to buy their cars.
  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    Cadillac like every other manufacturer does not build them majority of their cars. The suppliers do. GM builds roughly 27-34% of its cars, the balance coming from hundreds of suppliers, some of them 'just-in-time' and located conveniently near the assembly plant.

    When you talk about build quality, especially at Cadillac, the entire interior of the car is manufacturered by a company called Intier. GM design staff work closely with the supplier, who also does a great deal of the work developing the modeling for the parts. What you "see" may have been the work of part of the GM Cadillac design staff, but what is put in the car that we feel-touch-use-wear is coordinated by people far removed from the assembly floor. Part of what Inteir does it make sure that the pieces fit before they get to the factory.

    Currently there is no real "index" for build quality available to the public about each car. J.D. Power and firms like them, measure failures per x number of vehicles and come up with a statistical score and rank the cars accordingly. A problem can range from the failure of a part to whether or not someone likes the size of the cup-holder, or location of a particular knob. Considering that electronic devices exist that are hand-held and can measure sheen of the paint, it is possible to find a method to measure 'built quality'. Surely the manufacturers measure their own cars randomly using in-house systems. But they would not want to publish unfavorable indexes or results---plus raw data would have to "mean" something to the customer. Thus scores like J.D. Power have now become part of the "quality" lexicon of auto sales.

    Mercedes-Benz uses a similar supplier arrangement for many of their cars, so it is entirely possible to better their "quality". The same holds for Cadillac's competitors---no matter whom they might be.

    It is the integration of the manufacturers designs and the suppliers parts at the factory floor that ultimately determines if a car turns out to be awful, good, or a great one. Given the realities of cad-cam, and many other types of design and finite analysis before the parts are made, build quality can be dialed in prior to 'Job 1'.

    VWAG has a holographic competer aided room where engineers can literally 'step into' projections of parts to see how they fit together before they are built. VWAG helped develop the computer program that makes this possible. GM and other companies are working with like-minded programs.

    That is why parts tolerances are now so much higher and fit together to a greater degree of accuracy than ever before. It is the executives decisions about how far to dial in that quality and what parameters they make the parts that ultimately determine the build quality and the tactile sense of the car.

    When they built V12 and V16 Cadillacs that sense was measured with Johnason gauges, eyeballs and fingertips. Now it can be scanned electronically and measured to a precise degree here-to-fore impossible for each part made. But the WILL to make a great car remains.

    Cadillac has the same advantage now they did in the 1920's in terms of public perception and product. But Mr. Lutz and his crew have the means at hand to make a car that far surpasses anything ever built by Cadillac in the past. Some of their competitors like Lincoln and Bill Ford are sleeping, so the chance to strike is now. And with quality you can shut the door on.

    DouglasR
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    pch101: We can argue all day long what "cheap plastic" means, but ultimately, there is enough agreement about what this means that there isn't any excuse for a luxury automaker to use it, at least in places where its customers will notice it.

    The "quality is all subjective" argument is a non-starter, as you noted. People CAN tell the difference - unfortunately for GM in general and Cadillac in particular.

    When Mr. Lutz joined GM, he said specifically said that GM needed to work on its interiors. This is as straight from the horse's mouth as it can get on this subject, so I wonder why some people continue to deny the obvious.

    I attended the official introduction of the Lexus LS460 for the Harrisburg market at the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum in late October. All of the Lexus lineup was on display. The superior level of assembly quality (panel gaps, etc.), higher quality interior materials, and smooth, lustrous paint (absolutely no orange peel) when compared to most vehicles - including Cadillacs - was readily apparent.

    If people prefer Cadillacs (or BMWs or Audis or Lincolns) to a Lexus for another reason, that is fine. The cars strike me as rather boring, to be honest. But they are tops for assembly quality and workmanship.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    One thing that Cadillac does is make larger low end luxury models at a lower price. J. D. Powers also has a "dependability survey" for 3 year old vehicles. Lexus is on top, but Cadillac and Buick are very near the top.
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