Cadillac changes product to compete with imports


Looking at the luxury car market these days, you get the impression that Cadillac is out on a limb and that foreign luxury carmakers are slowly sawing it off.

General Motors' luxury car division always has attracted older car buyers, but industry officials say future growth lies in attracting young, affluent buyers, baby boomers who are moving into their peak earning years.

This is territory that European and Japanese car companies now dominate.

But in 1992, Cadillac plans a big change. The division hopes to grab a share of that market segment with the redesigned Seville and Eldorado. If successful, the move could mark a prosperous turning point in Cadillac's history.

Before the influx of foreign luxury cars, Cadillac could come out with a new car and it would be a success simply because it was a Cadillac. Those days are gone.

The slew of Japanese entries into the luxury car field as well as changing tastes and other factors has turned the market upside down. That's why the stakes for Cadillac are so high: The two new cars are GM's first attempt to battle the luxury imports with products it considers world-class.

The Seville, starting at $35,575, and the Eldorado, base-priced at $33,070, are priced several thousand dollars less than the comparable imports, and they are not subject to gas guzzler taxes like many of the foreign cars.

Cadillac is betting the Eldorado and Seville will attract younger buyers who probably would never consider a Cadillac but instead would choose an import, like a Lexus LS 400 or a Mercedes-Benz.

The cars will shock die-hard Cadillac fans. The gaudy vinyl roofs, massive chrome grilles and superfluous ornamentation that festooned previous Cadillacs are gone.

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