California Autos Examiner

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cadillac: Future concept promises many innovations

Clay Dean, Global Design Director for Cadillac

I was given the opportunity yesterday, while attending the press days at the Los Angeles Auto Show, to speak with Bryan Nesbitt, Cadillac's new general manager and Clay Dean, Global Design Director for Cadillac regarding the brand and its future plans.

You can view a nice gallery of 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe images taken from the show floor in this linked slideshow.

I always enjoy my interviews with Clay Dean because he has an excellent take on the luxury car market and has the enviable job of helping Cadillac chart its future course. In my last interview with Mr. Dean at the January Detroit show, we had discussed the newly introduced Cadillac Converj concept and how its interior innovations might impact production Cadillacs. I followed up with Clay on how things were going. It turns out that Cadillac is about to show us some very tasty innovations in a forthcoming concept that pulls a lot from the Converj.

What will Cadillac be showing us? For example, look at the strong vertical elements in both the front and the rear designs of the Converj. Future Cadillacs will have narrower, taller daytime running lights and headlights that can be easy recognized from afar and separates the brand from the circles and squiggles of its German competitors. The same goes for the rear, where the fin-like tail lamps will continue to be emphasized. Moving to the interior, look for high tech control surfaces that feature feature configurability, capacitive touch screens and haptic feedback. While the center stack will be high tech, both Dean and Nesbitt emphasized that they do not want to introduce the competition's confusing controls that have been the target of so many critics. Cadillac controls will be simple, easy to use with minimal complexity that do not have to be explained over and over again.

With regards to the forthcoming Alpha project (click here for an outside artist's guess at what the Alpha sedan might look like) that will slot beneath the Cadillac CTS in size, look for many of these innovations. You can view a slideshow of the Converj's interior in this link to gain a better idea of what Alpha might offer. In additional, look for a wider color palate. Many of today's car interiors feature three color options: gray, white and black. Many German luxury marques offer a wider variety of colors and Cadillac will be looking to the same. The issue is what customers will be willing to pay for and keeping in mind that adding additional colors adds complexity which in turn adds cost. The Alpha will be another jumping off point for Cadillac and will try move the needle much like the CTS did before it.

In part two of this interview series, we will find out what Cadillac has in store for its marketing efforts. What the brand is thinking when it comes to a new large sedan and just what might be coming (and surprising) folks at next year's Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

General Motors covered some of my expenses to attend the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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