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Is Cadillac's Image Dying and Does Anyone Care?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,992
    The "straw man" defense doesn't really work for Cadillac....it has to OUTSELL Lexus. Everything else about this anecdote, or that good review is irrelevant to a car company. The bottom line is: "will Americans buy it or not?"

    Some of our most magnificent collectible/classic American cars were made by companies that soon after went out of business.

    RE: PROBLEMS PER 100 VEHICLES:

    do they define what a "problem" is exactly?

    Is my Lexus window regulator problem equal to your Cadillac transmission problem or somebody else's Mercury with the bad dome light? How does this work?

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  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,343
    Good point on problems per 100 vehicles.

    My Honda had a power seat that acted up a bit, window moldings/trim that rippled, and a rattle in the center console pocket storage door. (of course all of these we're covered under warranty and didn't cost me a dime)!

    My Dodge had transmission failures, head gaskets leak, broken serpentine belts (for no reason and well maintained), bad corroding battery terminals and starter cables, wires), bad parking brake, bad Orings and seals, leaky gas tank, (all of which cost me big time $$$ money after warranty).

    Which problems are worse?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,992
    I tried to look this up at JD Power but their website is malfunctioning...LOL!

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  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    2. Build a BMW 3-Series competitor. This is your "entry-level" Cadillac for new buyers


    This would be like Bentley making a $100K entry-level car. There's no practical reason for Cadillac to try to compete here.

    First off, all it does is cheapen their image. Mercedes won't bring their A class to the U.S. for precisely this reason. They learned the hard way with Chrysler that you need to protect your niche and learn to live within your means.

    Secondly, if they want to move themselves UP into the luxury market, they need more top-end cars and less filler for the masses. The idea of every make being a full line is very 1970s/1980s thinking.

    Third, GM knows it can't make a better car than the M3 - it's a waste of money, R&D, and effort, because it would have to be twice as good at less cost to win BMW owners over.

    So they just don't bother. There will BE no small Cadillac in the U.S. If you want a small GM luxury car in the U.S., buy a Saab.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,547
    >The "straw man" defense doesn't

    I don't understand straw man reference. I posted the problems per 100 vehicles or whatever the rating system is.

    People can kvetch as much as they want over what a problem is rated by JD Powers. I suspect they are intelligent enough to consider a rattle different from a transmission failing at 1000 miles as in some recent vehicles.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    The Cimarron fiasco:

    Here are excepts from two extemporaneous Time Magazine articles about the Cimarron; I apologize for the length of the first, but it tells the story

    Detroit is fighting back (page 2 of the article) May 1981

    1. Like the successful X-car series that GM launched in the spring of 1979, the J-cars (Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac J2000 and Cadillac Cimarron) are designed for the new era of scarce and expensive energy. The four-passenger subcompacts, which replace models like the Chevrolet Monza and Pontiac Sunbird, fall in size between the bigger X-cars and the smaller Chevrolet Chevette. Powered by four-cylinder engines, the new autos are expected to get about 26 m.p.g. in the city and 43 m.p.g. on the highway. While the economy and styling of the J-cars are appealing, the prices are likely to be shocking to buyers who have not recently been in an automobile showroom. The Cavalier will carry a base sticker price of about $7,000. The J2000 will cost several hundred dollars more.

    The most startling version of the J-car is the Cadillac Cimarron. For years the Cadillac name has equated luxury with size, and buyers have spent $20,000 or more for opulent, lengthy Fleetwoods and Eldorados. The Cimarron represents a bold attempt to transfer that 78-year-old image to a car that is 4 ft. shorter than the now standard Cadillac and nearly the same size as a Toyota Celica. The mini-Caddie will carry the expected gewgaws and gimcracks, including electric remote-controlled side-view mirrors, an array of interior lamps and leather upholstery. But it will also have some unusual features for a Cadillac, like a tachometer, usually found only in sports cars. Price of the car: about $13,000.
    The Cimarron represents a major gamble for Cadillac, which hopes to sell 30,000 of them in the first year. Asks one skeptical competitor: "Can you hang a Cadillac name plate on something as thinly veiled as the Cimarron? I doubt it." The new model is designed to appeal mainly to a new Cadillac customer: well-heeled younger drivers who can afford a $12,900 BMW 3201 or an $11,100 Audi 4000. But will a sports sedan customer be attracted to a car that has traditionally been synonymous with conspicuous consumption? And will he pay several thousand dollars more for a Cadillac than for a similarly equipped Pontiac J2000 that is built in the same plant? Admits one GM executive: "It will be a real test for the Cadillac name plate."

    Mr. Smith shakes up Detroit May 1984

    2. When the company began building smaller models—the X-, J-and A-cars—in the late 1970s, it ordered its divisions to use the same basic models to save money. The most egregious instance was the J-car, which was forced into service for all five divisions. Recently a Cadillac engineer was asked to explain the principal difference between the Cadillac Cimarron and the Chevrolet Cavalier, two J-cars. His reply: "Oh, about $5,000."
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    First off, all it does is cheapen their image.

    Cheapen the image? In my eyes (I am in my mid 20s) Cadillac is about as luxurious as Acura and Infiniti. It isn't as prestigeous as BMW, MB and Lexus.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    And how much worse would their image be if they came out with a half Saab/half Cadillac joke like the BLS?

    Right - it would slip down instead of rising upwards like the new CTS will help it do.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    No, it won't slip a bit. As matter of fact its image will stay where it is with the additional capability to lure in younger buyers.

    The new CTS won't help to raise Caddy's image because its flagship is still the pathetic DTS.

    Caddy will be in the win-"no loss" situation with an entry model serves as the 3er/C fighter. Move the CTS up to mid size (which the new one apparently is) and redesign the next STS to be its flagship.

    Then what happen to the DTS you ask? I got two words for you: Buick Lucerne.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    While digging through the Time Magazine archives for the Cadillac articles I quoted in my post above, I stumbled across this article

    The Rattles in the Engine
    G.M.'s Chevrolet division has been in trouble for some time, and last July G.M. turned it over to ex-Pontiac Boss Elliott ("Pete") Estes for some quick fixes. Chevy's styling was a bit bulgy, and its workmanship gave rise to widespread customer complaints about ill-fitting upholstery, rattling doors and leaking windows. Estes visited every one of Chevy's assembly plants, test-drove cars straight off the assembly line, and ordered repairs on the spot.

    Quality control is an old and chronic industry headache. Ford, which works at quality control more conscientiously than any other automaker, has 11,000 people directly concerned with it. There are up to 15,000 parts per car, and some of them have as many as 100 "critical" characteristics. Human error is as inevitable as sin. Ford had to recall 3,218 cars to correct "brake-fluid contamination" because one worker confused a brown barrel of windshield-washer fluid with a yellow barrel of brake fluid. The company thought it had ironed out bugs in the electrical system by teaching workers to marry red wires with red wires and black with black and then had to repair many cars because an assembler was colorblind. It is a fact widely recognized in the industry that cars made on Mondays are prone to defects. Reason: plant absenteeism runs high on that day, and managers are obliged to put second-string men on the line.


    Care to guess the year? 1966
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,992
    Bingo! A 3 series sporty Cadillac coupe/sedan will get the younger buyer in earlier to the Cadillac family.

    This is exactly what Toyota does...they walk you in from your first car as a college kid, your $12,000 Scion, up to your first young family sedan, your Camry, and as you prosper up through your Lexus 300 series to your ultimate Benz/Cadillac/BMW equivalent, your Lexus 460. Toyota is also clever enough to badge their cars as Lexus at the certain price point where "entry-level luxury" starts.

    Besides, Cadillac is already at the other luxury makes "entry-level" price point. It's already "cheap". What it isn't, is sporty or youthful in its products (yet).

    Cheapest BMW -- $32,400 MSRP

    Cheapest Lexus 33,470

    Cheapest Cadillac $29,825

    Cheapest Benz -- $29,650

    So the idea would be to convince a young buyer that a Cadillac can be exciting to drive, and then work them up the ladder as they prosper.

    Or, a second strategy would be the Lexus approach, where you get outstanding reliability and luxury for a good price. By "outstanding", that means better than anyone else, not 3rd or 5th.

    I think Lexus has won the Longterm Dependability Award for what....12 years in a row, something like that?

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  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    BEFORE the Oil Shock by two years:

    President Nixon has long been worried that the U.S. is losing out in world markets because domestic labor costs are inflating so fast and kicking prices up so high. With that in mind, he stretched his usual hands-off approach to private pricing matters just a bit last week and called into the White House leaders of the two sides in the current steel-labor negotiations. He gave them both an innocuous pep talk, urging them to make a settlement that would allow the steel industry to remain at least somewhat competitive in the world. Budget Chief George Shultz assured newsmen that the President "wasn't trying to tell them what to settle for." The Administration is resigned to a steel deal that will push up labor costs by at least 10% a year—and give workers in other industries another inflationary target to aim for.

    Several key indicators show just how badly these inflationary settlements are hurting the U.S. Items: > Steel imports in May hit1,800,000 tons—an amount equal to 16% of the nation's overall steel market. The total was the second highest in history, topped only in August 1968, when customers were also hedging against a strike. > Sales of imported cars in June surged to a historic high of 149,000, capturing 16.1% of the U.S. market, or well over one-quarter more than a year ago. In the year's first six months, sales of Volkswagens dipped slightly to 289,000, but that decline was more than made up by the incredible rise of Japanese cars. Toyotas rode up 57%, to 140,000 cars sold, and Datsuns jumped 136%, to 99,000. Japanese cars are selling fast because of high quality and low price, and their manufacturers benefit notably from the relatively moderate cost of Japanese steel (automaking steel sells for an average of $156 a ton in Japan v. $200 a ton in the U.S.).


    What U.S. Producers are up against
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    These are the people who probably have issues but either don't want to mention it, or Toyota tells them it is normal breakage/maintenance.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,547
    That LS400 should have good reliability. There's nothing left to fail that hasn't been replaced? No wonder Lexus does well on reliability-you already replaced everything!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    If you don't mind squeaks, rattles, stalling on the freeway, sludge, defective brakes now and then, buy a Toyota. All problems that dealers have looked at and told the owners it was normal. These all from posts here on Edmund's. We still have not heard from a Caddy owner with a problem in the last 5 years. They all must be out on the road with a big grin on their face. While those with Toyotas are busy GM bashing, while their car is in the shop.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,992
    To quote Abe Lincoln when told by his cabinet that General Grant was a no-good drunk, he replied: "Then give all the other generals whatever he's been drinking".

    Maybe GM should install sludge at the factory? It might help sales, if it works for Toyota ;)

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    The engine and transmission are rock solid. It was struts, brakes, leaky valve covers, gas gauge module, airbag sensor, water pump, rear view mirror etc etc. Yes $1200 to replace a defective rear view mirror. $1200 to replace a gas gauge sending module. I think I will scan them all in and post on my Carspace. For those that think that Lexus is perfection. Just turned 88k miles. I believe she had under 10k miles when the 3 year warranty ran out. That's when they start getting those $$$$ in their eyes at a ToyLex dealer.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    You deny that Toyota covered up a serious steering issue last year on close to a million vehicles? Why are they exempt from your wrath?
    I have not figured out your angle yet. I am just here to keep you GM Bashers at bay until Rocky gets back online :)

    I cannot imagine myself plunking down my cash on a Lexus or Cadillac sedan. I just like the local Caddy dealer as much as I despise the Lexus dealer. That and Escalade is much roomier, tows more, hauls more, gets better mileage and is a LOT faster than the LX470. Oh, and not as overpriced. The Escalade could be considered the "Standard of Excellence" in SUVs.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    We still have not heard from a Caddy owner with a problem in the last 5 years.

    Just stop the nonsense please....

    Got to the CTS CTS-V forum and do a search on the word "Problem"

    CTS CTS-V forum

    10 pages worth of CTS/CTS-V posts with the word problem. I'd post the search link directly, but the software here won't do it.

    In my trade we have a saying "Accusation of the accuser does not prove the innocence of the accused".

    To paraphrase it in car terms, "Saying that Toyotas aren't so great doesn't make GM cars any better".

    Tell us what you think that GM can do to increase sales and stop whining about Toyota. Chanting "Toyota ain't so great -they're just as bad as GM" isn't going to sell any cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,992
    I'm just saying that Toyota is tremendously successful and who can argue with that?

    Encouraging a company to excellence isn't "bashing", or if it is, then god bless America. :P

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  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    Well, since you insist on comparing Cadillac Warranties to Cadillac warranties

    Business Week March 7 2007 Cadillac Warranties

    And regarding your statement on your personal experience on Lexus warranty:

    The engine and transmission are rock solid. It was struts, brakes, leaky valve covers, gas gauge module, airbag sensor, water pump, rear view mirror etc etcYes $1200 to replace a defective rear view mirror. $1200 to replace a gas gauge sending module. I think I will scan them all in and post on my Carspace. For those that think that Lexus is perfection. Just turned 88k miles. I believe she had under 10k miles when the 3 year warranty ran out.

    Are you sure you bought it from LEXUS? Because the warranty information doesn't seem to match up with your story somehow....

    LEXUS SPECIFIC

    Bumper to Bumper Warranty
    The coverage lasts for 48 months or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Wheel alignment and balancing, however, are covered for 12 months or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first.

    This warranty covers repairs and adjustments needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship of any part supplied by Lexus

    Powertrain Warranty
    The Lexus Powertrain Warranty lasts 72 months or 70,000 miles, whichever comes first. Except for the situations listed on the Basic Warranty page, this warranty covers repairs needed to fix defects in materials or workmanship of any component listed below:

    Engine
    Cylinder block and head and all internal parts, timing belt and cover, flywheel, oil pan, water pump, fuel pump, engine mounts, engine control computer, seals and gaskets.

    Transmission and Transaxle
    Case and all internal parts, torque converter, clutch cover, mounts, engine control computer, seals and gaskets.

    Front-Wheel-Drive System
    Driveshafts, axle, hub, bearings, seals and gaskets.

    Rear-Wheel-Drive System
    Differential carrier assembly, driveshaft, axle carrier, axle case, axle bearing, axle shaft, seals and gaskets.
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    That may soon change with the new LX570 on the way.

    Um I think that the QX56 or Armada should be the Standard of Excellence in Luxurious SUVs.

    I like the Escalade and all but 60k to leave to 65lb seats at home is ridiculous. Why not just buy the QX-56 or Navigator which both have Power folding 3rd row seats and similar Blingage (Navigator) or features (QX56 has standard Nav w/ backup camera).

    Please don't say the whole American thing because the Lincoln is a ford product and the QX56 is built in Canton, Mississippi and you cant get more southern than that(unless moving to Florida...) and no offense.

    -Cj
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    You are right it was 4 yrs 50k miles. That must have made her feel real good with the first big expense at 46837 miles. The AC went out. Cost to repair with rebuilt parts $2327.67. Not everyone buys a car to drive a lot of miles. It would be nice if they had some longevity to go along with the mileage. I will post the dealer invoice later. For the skeptics on the forum. I have a folder an inch thick here from when it was delivered 10/02/89. Lots of warranty work on the suspension. My wife told me she almost gave it back the first year because it handled so poorly.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    I have not checked out the QX56 yet. Not thrilled with the pictures. I would pull the third row as I did with my Suburban and store it until I sold the vehicle. The Armada is ugly to both my wife and myself. I never gave the Navigator much thought. Our first choice is still the MB GL320 CDI. And my wife likes it. The only problem is it is made in America. :( We wanted to do the European delivery.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    Ok, I must take back some of my rant. I have now gone back in this pile of invoices from Bob Baker Lexus. This file is no less than an inch thick with dates & times the LS400 was at the dealer. You may consider it OK that it went 10 years and 47k miles with out a major repair. There were many $300 to $400 service charges over that 10 years. All the struts and shocks were replaced under warranty. Plus several pieces I could not ID on the invoices. When I came on to the scene my wife had a list from Bob Baker Lexus of items they claimed needed replacement. It was over $5000 on a 12 year old car. Nothing major, airbag sensor, fuel gauge module, rearview mirror, a front strut. I went on the search for an independent and found TLC in San Diego. They did all that was needed for $1100. You may think it is OK that the dealer was willing to take advantage of a widow like that. I DON'T! So Excuse me if I am not a fan of Lexus and their dealer network. It gets better. The brakes were not working smoothly. We took it into TLC and had all pads, bushings and rotors turned for $470. Guess what Bob Baker did the last brake job with after market parts. Not genuine Lexus pads and bushings.
    PS
    My wife thought they were honest and that was the price to keep her car in good shape.

    If Cadillac dealers treat their customers like our Lexus dealer they deserve to go broke.

    image
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,992
    This is an interesting article about Cadillac. It's a bit dated, but that's good because then we get to see in hindsight which predictions did and didn't happen. But the "vision" for the company, some of the historical recollections, and the discussions about challenges for Cadillac are as good today as they were in 1999 when the article was written.

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3165/is_1999_Sept/ai_57165169/pg_1

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  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,776
    And how much worse would their image be if they came out with a half Saab/half Cadillac joke like the BLS?

    I actually kink of like the looks of the BLS. It's not the size that's the issue, it is the quality of the car. My Audi A4 was a great car. If Caddy could make a car that had the same interior quality and handling as the Audi it would do wonders for their image.

    But you're probably right, I suspect that the current BLS is not up to that level. Too bad.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,776
    My wife told me she almost gave it back the first year because it handled so poorly.

    Why in the world would anybody buy a Toyota or Lexus for good handling?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,209
    Holy smoke! $1,200 for a rearview mirror? Which rearview mirror - the one on the door or the inside one?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,176
    The inside mirror. I think Bob Baker has this $1200 fixation. They wanted the same amount to repair the airbag warning and the fuel gauge module. That was when I found this great independent shop. Unlike Bob Baker he uses all Lexus OEM parts. And charges less than half the price. OH, and the airbag warning was just in need of a computer reset.

    As far as handling goes. My wife owned all German cars up to that time. She wanted to try the new Lexus. It was advertised as being better. Lexus was responsive to her wishes and changed much of the suspension as I am seeing in the file she has kept. The car handles nicely. Though not in a class with the 2005 Passat I had.

    Because this thread has become a comparison of Cadillac to the other luxury brands I felt it was necessary to keep things in perspective. All car makers have faltered from time to time. Even the mighty Mercedes is fighting to regain the respect it once had.

    From reading many posts on Edmund's I get the impression that most folks think that a car is good if it lasts 5 years and 100k miles. To me a good car is one that lasts 20 years and 100k miles without spending a fortune to maintain it.

    I assume your "89" Cadillac is in good condition. How much have you spent over the years keeping it that way?
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