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Does Bailout Money End Up Killing GM?

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It’s been a busy weekend. President Obama is preparing his speech to the country about the future needs of automakers. And, before the dawn breaks on Monday, it’s already being reported that GM boss Rick Wagoner is done. According to sources within GM and quoted by mainstream media, CEO Rick Wagoner will step down at the request of the Obama administration. Does Wagner leaving improve GM’s chances for survival, or was the self-inflicted damage back in November, combined with taking money from the Feds the ultimate undoing of the nation’s largest automaker?


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2009 NAIAS: Cadillac Converj

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GM’s 2009 Sunday press conference packed a powerful punch, with several production vehicles and a hint of what a Cadillac based on the Chevrolet Volt architecture might look like. Introduced by Bob Lutz himself, the Cadillac Converj is likely to see light of day as a production vehicle down the road, though Cadillac is also just as likely to find an alphanumeric name. Though Cadillac did not specify launch timing, a logical expectation would be that the vehicle arrive about 2013MY.
Aside from distinctive Cadillac styling, the Converj gave GM a chance to discuss the next stage for their Voltec system (the new corporate name for their range-extended electric vehicle powertrain archicture). The 161HP Converj is, like Volt, a front-drive application, though a two-door coupe with seating for four.

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Perhaps the current concerns about fuel efficiency, the allure of an ultra-cool-sounding powertrain, and the fact that Cadillac styling is strong across the range will be strong enough for the Cadillac brand to support an entry-level product like this, but the brand’s history with brand cloning and small, front-drive entries is not good. Remember Catera? Cimarron?
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In the meantime, follow the jump for the official Cadillac details and a few more photos.


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2009 NAIAS: 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

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Cadillac’s CTS expands the range. This car was formally introduced in Paris, and some attendees of the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance caught a look, but this is the first U.S. auto-show circuit showing. With the goodness of the CTS for a base, it should be no surprise that Cadillac has created a Euro-style, sexy-but-practical wagon.

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Follow the jump for more photos and the full Cadillac press release.


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2009 NAIAS: 2010 Cadillac SRX

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Cadillac’s first-generation SRX was weakly received, to put it mildly, and never quite met Cadillac’s expectations. The successor has turned to the front-drive, unibody architecture of the crossovers consumers are buying these days. When they are buying at all, that is.

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More photos and Cadillac’s full release are below the jump.


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Exhaust Notes #32: More Detroit Merger Talk

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Are we nearing the end of Chrysler? Or the beginning of a new blended family? Or just another day at the rumor mill?
Late on Friday, the first stories began appearing about GM and Chrysler in possible merger talks. And at least in Detroit, dominated the weekend news cycle. GM’s stock went up this morning, but given that the Dow was up 5.6% and GM went up only about 3%, the stock bump might have happened without merger talk. GM closed on Friday at $4.89, a number some say is actually less than the company would be worth in capital assets alone.

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All of this merger talk, whether these deals are realistic or not, does nothing good for public perception. The economy is weak, last week’s events on the stock market don’t reassure anyone, and talking about GM and Chrysler perhaps needing to merge to survive only further erodes confidence in American business. While GM and Chrysler LLC, as well as any other maker in trouble right now, needs to consider even unthinkable options and test our common assumptions as they get out of this trouble, this merger does not inspire hope.


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Cadillac Escalade Wins 2008 AutoPacific Motorist Choice Award® for Premium Luxury SUV

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AutoPacific: Cadillac Escalade owners gave then vehicle high ratings for styling and image, which may not come as any surprise, but they also gave high marks to the feel of Escalade’s interior fabrics and materials. Adding to Escalade’s 2008 Motorist Choice Award® win were strong ratings for reliability, vehicle ride, interior controls, driver’s seat visibility and instrumentation.
IntelliChoice: The Cadillac Escalade has best-in-class maintenance costs, strong retained value and does not underperform in any one area.

Posted in: Awards, Cadillac

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Cadillac DTS Wins 2008 AutoPacific Motorist Choice Award® for Large Luxury Car

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AutoPacific: Despite tough competition in the large luxury car segment from vehicles such as Chrysler 300, Mercury Grand Marquis and Toyota Avalon, the Cadillac DTS took home a 2008 Motorist Choice Award®. Owners pointed to how quiet the DTS was from inside the vehicle and gave high marks to its ride, handling and braking. Contributing to the DTS win were the car’s exterior size and innovative technology.
IntelliChoice: The Cadillac DTS was among the best in overall ownership costs and has best-in-class insurance costs. Combined with its first-place ranking in the AutoPacific survey, that makes the Cadillac DTS a 2008 Motorist Choice Award® winner.

Posted in: Awards, Cadillac

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2008 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance

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On August 3, I finally returned to one of my favorite summer events, the annual Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. Held the first weekend of August every year since 1979, this Concours is one of the premier events of its type. Not quite as prestigious as the Pebble Beach Concours happening the weekend of August 16 (yes, the same weekend as Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise), Meadow Brook has earned a strong reputation. For me, it’s simply a chance to wander among cars from storied brands of today and yesterday. Delahaye, Packard, Auburn, Duesenburg, Pierce-Arrow, Studebaker, Peugeot, Ferrari, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Rolls-Royce, the list goes on and on.

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As you enter the Concours d’Elegance, the show starts.

Meadow Brook is home to a mansion of the same name built by the widow of John Dodge, one of the two Dodge brothers that helped establish the automotive industry we know today. The home and its property now belongs to Oakland University. Aside from the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating the automobile as an art from, the event’s purpose is to raise funds for upkeep of the 88,000-square-foot mansion and its grounds. Seems a fitting choice of fundraising event.
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Top Brands in Vehicle Satisfaction for 2008

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Each year AutoPacific identifies the Brand and individual vehicles that top all others in vehicle satisfaction: The Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck. Owner satisfaction is measured across 46 specific areas related to a vehicle’s operation, comfort, safety and the overall purchase/lease experience. The 2008 ratings reflect input from 33,500 buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September through December 2007.

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2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award top brand honors went to Cadillac, while other luxury brands such as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche also had strong showings. But what does it mean to have a top brand? Though calculations single out one brand as having the highest overall score, each individual attribute also has its own top scorer. Sometimes the detail underneath it all can have just as much, if not more, meaning than the final outcome.


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Exhaust Note #19: Is GM Breaking Up?

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After a lovely 4th of July weekend, doing my best to focus energies on anything not related to work (something I hear is easy for most people to do, but I’ve never quite got the knack of), I started my usual workday morning routine at my local Bally Total Fitness. And, sure enough, as soon as I get near the gym TV, there’s the news, dragging me right back to 5:15 am Monday morning reality.
The 5 am scoop in Detroit was the rumor GM is considering dumping more brands, one way or another, and firing more mid-management white-collar employees. (No, UAW, you do not have the corner on losing jobs. I swear.) Of course, by time I was in the office and caught up with e-mail, GM has flatly denied that any brand, other than Hummer, is up for review. We’ll only know the truth of that if GM manages to hold onto the seven remaining brands, and assuming Hummer is sold. Here’s the thing: If GM is not considering reducing their brand count, they should be.

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Rumors actually surfaced on this subject last week. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was on my way home to enjoy said holiday weekend that I heard an automotive journalist being interviewed for his opinions on the rumors and what GM should do opine that Saab and Saturn are the likeliest brands to go. Monday morning and it’s groundhog day again. Between that interview and Monday morning, it turned into “news” that GM is considering selling those two brands. Says a lot about how quickly (and recklessly) rumors and speculation fly in this industry, but that’s a story for another day.


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