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Top GM Exec Says Cadillac 'Needs' A Giant Car : News

A big Cadillac like the Elmiraj concept coupe should be the next Caddy, according to Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North American operations.

"That's the car Cadillac needs," he said in an interview at the auto show here.

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson told USA TODAY in July there will be a Cadillac bigger than the XTS full-size sedan. But Cadillac has hinted ever since that it'll be a super-large sedan, and the Ciel convertible and Elmiraj coupe concept cars are merely teasers, not harbingers.

But Reuss said, "You make a statement with a coupe. You don't make a statement with a sedan." He's the executive who decides such things, so his remarks carry weight.

Automakers don't like to give away too much about future models, so he could be telling just part of the story.

Cadillac could produce both a coupe and a sedan based on the big-car hardware it is developing. But the market for coupes typically is limited, so the four-door sedan would be the money-maker. The coupe, though profitable, would be a low-volume halo car that sets a strong image for the sedan and other Cadillacs.

Whichever model comes first, it is planned as a rear-drive car and Akerson said it should be out within two years.

It's remarkable that Cadillac is planning such a big rear-drive car -- about 205 inches long, an inch longer than GM's Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV -- because those haven't worked well for Detroit makers.

Ford dumped its full-size Crown Victoria and even bigger Lincoln Town Car, and GM's big sedans are the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS, both based on front-drive chassis, XTS offers all-wheel drive as an option.

Chrysler's 300 big sedan is a rear-drive/all-wheel-drive car that's well-known, but its sales are well off this year.

The big, rear-drive market seems to be the habitat of luxury models, so Cadillac could be hitting the right note. Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S-class, BMW 7-series all are enjoying sales growth.

Elmiraj, shown previously at the Frankfurt show, at a classic car exhibition in tony Pebble Beach in August and shortly after in Ann Arbor, Mich., is a star of the Cadillac brand's display here. It is pitched by Cadillac as the second part of a three-part story leading to the big Caddy.

First part was Ciel, a convertible shown in 2011, intended to signify fun. The name means "sky" in French.

Elmiraj, a closed car with diver-oriented controls and a 500-horsepower V-8, is supposed to emphasize driving satisfaction. The name is homage to the El Mirage dry lake bed in California where top-speed contests are held.

"It is back to the American optimism of the '60s," says Gael Buzyn, who designed the interior.

"It's easy to get wooed by all the action in styling. But this is very clean, not overly adorned," says Niki Smart, in charge of the car's exterior design. "This is for people who've done all their fighting, have earned their stripes," he says.

The third part of the big-Cadillac saga will be "arrival," Caddy says, but isn't specific whether that means the arrival of the production car, or it will be a concept car that makes a big splash when you arrive.

GM made extensive use of 3-D scanners on Elmiraj. Those allow designers to quickly reverse-engineer and update the master computer model. Changes made to the computer model are updated in model that's shaped by milling clay. Thus, the shapes and dimensions stored in the computer match the shapes and dimensions of the full-size clay model.

"Our ability to scan the clay model with speed and precision and go from the digital tools to the hands of a craftsman and vice-versa was extremely valuable," says Frank Saucedo, director of GM's North Hollywood Advanced Design Studio.

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Sources : Top GM Exec Says Cadillac 'Needs' A Giant Car Photo | Top GM Exec Says Cadillac 'Needs' A Giant Car Article


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