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HAS CADDY TURNED THE CORNER?
I have received numerous inquiries from your readership concerning "A Caddy that's not for Daddy" (The Corporation, Dec. 18). Despite considerable disclosure of facts and open discussion, your author chose to include her opinions and the clearly biased opinions of our competitors without including any of our perspective.
With regard to our reduction in sales volume: Cadillac's planned and profitable reduction of daily rental fleet sales accounts for much of the reduction in the division's sales from 1989 to 1995. While we chose not to foreshadow our 1995 calendar year forecasts to competitors by providing them for this story, we did provide a yearly accounting of our daily rental fleet reduction statistics (from 32% of total sales in 1991 to 18% in 1994). We expected that disclosure of this plan and accompanying performance would not be omitted from your review of our sales performance.
As for our dealers, you characterized the perception of them as "salesmen in white belts and plaid sport coats" and continued to perpetrate a disservice to our very professional dealer personnel. Our dealers consistently earn high customer-satisfaction scores and were once again rated No.1 domestic luxury nameplate in a recent J.D. Power & Associates Inc. Sales Satisfaction Survey, second only to Infiniti and ahead of Lexus, Mercedes, Lincoln, BMW, and all other luxury brands.
You also raise questions about our customer demographics. Fundamental changes in our owner demographic profile have resulted from the introduction of the 1992 Seville, Seville Touring Sedan, and Eldorado models. The author accurately quoted the average age of "some model" owners at nearly 70. Specifically, this model is the Fleetwood, which we are eliminating from the model line this year. A fair accounting of our progress would also have noted that the average age of Seville STS owners is 52 years, an average age that has been reduced by six years since the introduction of this model in 1991.
Regarding side air bags, we were disappointed to note that your author chose to omit the rollout of air bags in the 1997 DeVille model, mentioning only the introduction for Catera in mid-1997 and again creating the appearance that Cadillac was behind other luxury manufacturers in the implementation of this technology. The introduction of the side air bags at the beginning of the 1997 model year on the DeVille was made very clear in our interview.
Finally, you refer to us as "an industry joke." In spite of the fact that nine new models have been added to the luxury market from two all-new manufacturers (Lexus and Infiniti) since 1989, Cadillac continues as volume leader in the U.S. luxury market--a title held for the last 46 years. The DeVille remains America's most-purchased luxury sedan--a title held for the past nine years. The Northstar-powered Seville STS is a recognized technology tour de force among automotive critics and enthusiastic owners. The all-new Catera has been reviewed favorably by all of the author's colleagues.
The above-listed facts and many other positive points concerning Cadillac's overall performance were omitted from your story. Our market leadership and product leadership makes preposterous the notion that Cadillac is the brunt of jokes in the industry. To the contrary, our product technology and large loyal owner base are the envy of the industry.
John O. Grettenberger
Cadillac Motor Car Div.
Editor's note: Cadillac supplied numbers on fleet sales only through 1994 and acknowledged that it expected total sales to decline by 15% in 1995. Our description of the negative perception of Cadillac dealers focused on younger buyers it hopes to attract with the Catera and matches the Catera team's own characterization of its consumer research.
Your story on the Catera missed the mark. As I see it, Catera is yet another encouraging step as Cadillac transforms itself. Why keep harping on the Cimarron, unquestionably a Stone Age disaster? Cadillac left the Stone Age long ago. Why not mention the Seville Touring Sedan, Detroit's most exciting world car? What about the national Baldrige Quality Award Cadillac received in recognition of quality and changes in culture? And what about the Northstar system? You're much too bleak. At 57, I am most certainly a Daddy. But Catera just may be the Caddy I've been waiting for--and my boomer son, too.
St. Paul, Minn.
Regarding General Motors Corp.'s plans for the new Catera, your article left out a few more mistakes that the Cadillac Div. has made in past years besides the Cimarron and the Allante. How about the 8-6-4 engines and the early model Sevilles?
Cadillac had better be satisfied with its grandfather image, because any middle-aged luxury-car buff worth his salt would not even think about a new Cadillac, considering the company's track record for the past 15 years. Especially with introductory models.
Mt. Vernon, N.Y.Return to top