Friday, September 16, 2016


Despite incredibly positive, and overwhelmingly good public feedback from its recent showing in Monterey, it appears the GM bean counters have decreed that Cadillac will NOT be building the Escala (Spanish for ‘Scale’), any time soon.

Cadillac Design Chief Andrew Smith in Carmel
Cadillac executives present in Monterey were thrilled with the excellent public reaction to the Escala at its launch event on a private, hilltop estate in Carmel in August, and its subsequent appearance on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

But apparently the word from high atop the Renaissance Center in Detroit is a thumbs down for Escala, from the corporate bean counters.

This is a great pity, because the design themes encapsulated in the concept car were the most promising ideas Cadillac has produced in decades.

Two young Cadillac designers, Frank Wu and Aaron Riggs submitted their ideas to Cadillac Design Chief Andrew Smith, and Exterior Design Manager Taki Karras. With the thumbs up, Cadillac concept engineers then produced a full running prototype for the Monterey event.

Good friends who saw the Escala at Pebble Beach said it certainly does look like a big car, it’s about a foot longer than the current CT6; but they also commented that it was a very sleek, low profile design, with a very commanding presence.

Frank Wu sketch (top) and Aaron Riggs sketch (below).

The front end features a strong stance emphasized by the simple grille, with a laser-etched Cadillac shield; and a fastback rear.

One of Cadillac’s senior executives told me he spoke to the new, Australian-born global GM design director, Mike Simcoe in Monterey, who said very nice things about the car.

Hopefully, common sense will prevail. Escala could not only lead a design renaissance for Cadillac, but could massively boost President Johan de Nyschen’s ambitious plans to turn around GM’s ailing prestige division.

The real problem is the GM corporate mindset. Cadillac had a very good chance of having both a product line, and a new V8 engine developed for the brand, exclusively. But, that’s not how the GM Board thinks. It would be more interested if they could leverage a few other models off the Cadillac platform, and rebadge the engine for a Buick.

I’m afraid GM management is again pissing away any opportunity for Cadillac to regain any semblance of its former glory, as an innovative and prestige nameplate, which won its spurs by being high quality, and different.

Devolving the badge and brand name to just Trucks and SUVs may be a money spinner, but it doesn’t do the great Cadillac heritage any favours. I'll admit the whole problem is very chicken-and-egg. The bean counters want Cadillac to make money, before committing to a huge investment in some unknown car concept. That means sell lots of trucks and SUVs, and maybe we'll splash out on a new sedan!

I think Escala is the right way to go. A true ‘halo’ model which would give Cadillac prestige and presence. It might not sell in huge numbers, but it would anchor the brand image. That’s an investment worth making.

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