Re: GM Saving $10.7 Billion Means Cash for Trucks, 2010 Profit Goal

Businessweek has a nice opinion piece about GM’s plans: GM Saving $10.7 Billion Means Cash for Trucks, 2010 Profit Goal – BusinessWeek.

Overall theme?  GM has cut the budget and is spending the money on improved products (good).

I found this opinion a good sign going forward but very sad looking back:

GM has come to the realization that customers are more perceptive than the old GM used to think,” said Eric Noble, president of CarLab, an Orange, California-based automotive consultant that specializes in product planning. “The only way to win is to gain an advantage in product quality.”

Here are the details of interest to me:

  • Truck redesign to include more efficient engines and lighter materials (Including Cadillac Escalade)
  • Cadillac XTS planned for production, perhaps to be in showrooms by 2013
  • Cadillac XTS will probably include a plug-in hybrid

All of this seems like good news that GM and Cadillac are on the right path — hopefully 2010 will be a shining year for execution — good production, good sales — that will lay the ground work for continued development and future products that we can all enjoy.

Cadillac still needs to solve the equation of how to sell their current sedans.  It is terrific that the SRX is such a hit, but it puts in even greater contrast the sales performance of the sedans.  Yes, the CTS Coupe will sell well when it arrives this summer.  BUT they need to get the DTS and CTS sales moving or it will be a long year.

Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept: “unexpected innovation in the most artful expression possible”

Cadillac Design Director Clay Dean introduced the new Cadillac XTS Concept car at the recent North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Here is the video, and following the video is the spoken transcript:

Spoken Transcript: [With my comments – Bruce]

The XTS is the next expression of Cadillac’s Art and Science Philosophy demonstrated in a premium luxury sedan.

It’s about artfully exceeding the Customer’s daily needs, while updating the genre for a modern sensibility.  Understanding those needs led us to design the XTS from the inside out.   What we are suggesting is a personal headquarters.   An exquisitely crafted, spacious environment that provides gracious comfort and amenities for all passengers. Generous head, hip, and leg room are provided in both the front and rear compartments, so there is no need to apologize for your guests in the back seat.  They even get their own self-rising infotainment screens, and their own connectivity options.

The prevailing light creme color interior adds to the overall feeling of spaciousness and is contrasted with darker, richer element such as the steering wheel, the IP (instrument panel), the full length overhead console, and the center console.

The Platinum designation means that every detail was attended to with hand crafted perfection.  Intricate layers of rich materials build on each other throughout the cabin, interacting in a precise manner for enhanced overall effect.  Laser etched suedes and aniline leathers, satin metals, and burled birch wood — they all work together in a beautiful harmony.

[Aniline leathers are leathers treated with aniline, (an organic chemical) resulting in delicate, soft, supple leather]

We have also imagined a new way of interacting with the information control systems of the vehicle.  It’s a visionary interface that uses touch screens that are intuitive, and that are pleasing to use while embracing the latest technology.  A twelve inch organic LED screen (OLED) is reconfigurable, projecting driver information and state of the art graphics.

[This has a lot of interesting possibilities for bringing out additional information to the Driver.   Terrific flexibility in display]

XTS Platinum even acknowledges your arrival by illuminating the door handles with pools of light at the doors when you get into close proximity of the car, reinforcing the signature Cadillac light technology and instrumentation.

The exterior design reflects the evolution of Cadillac’s form and surface philosophy, with more emphasis put on the Art side of Art & Science, with graceful flowing forms and surfaces. Its sleek and elegant, with our attention turned to form and shape working in concert with line and edge.  And we see that in the overall profile of the car, which really provides a feeling of spaciousness with a contemporary but progressive flow.   The body side is also flowing and elegant, and even a little bit sensual, and it is all designed to evolve Cadillac’s form language and to appeal to the Premium Customer.

[Some pundits would like to see a longer hood.  I was expecting a longer wheelbase]

The familiar shield grill and the vertical light signatures in both the front and rear which are key elements to Cadillac’s identity are apparent on the XTS.  The large, 20″ wheels, and long wheelbase, and wide track all help to evoke spaciousness, stability, and build a strong presence, reinforcing this evolved form language for the next generation of Cadillac.  At the same time, XTS challenges the notion of traditional luxury by suggesting a replacement for the large displacement power-train: a plug-in, two-mode hybrid V6.

[This power train is basically available NOW, so bringing it to market in 2 years seems quite believable.  Cadillac has not confirmed production or a production date for the XTS but it is expected to go into production in 2012 as a 2013 model.  A hybrid version may or may not be available then.]

And All wheel drive makes the XTS name very appropriate.

[Technically, no.  BMW and others use X to indicate AWD; previously Cadillac had used X to suggest eXperimental, as in XLS, for Experimental Luxury Roadster, a car never made in AWD form]

The XTS Platinum Concept represents our desire to deliver unexpected innovation in the most artful expressions possible.

#Cadillac & the 2-mode #Hybrid: #Green #Luxury

The Cadillac Escalade uses a 6L V8 engine with a 2-mode Hybrid power train.  With Cadillac thinking of releasing a 2-mode hybrid + 3.6L DI V6 in the upcoming XTS Platinum, let’s review how the 2-mode Hybrid system works.

2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

Operation:  In a 2-mode hybrid, compact and powerful electric motors are integrated into the transmission and work with traditional transmission gears and electronic controls to provide two modes or ranges of infinitely variable gear ratios. The input split mode is used for launching the vehicle from a stop, driving at low speeds and providing superior performance and moderate load trailer towing. The compound split mode is used primarily when the vehicle is at higher speeds to provide efficient cruising.

The drive modes alternate seamlessly between the input split mode and a compound split mode. In the input split mode the vehicle can operate on electric, mechanical or a combination of the two. The vehicle operates as a full hybrid when the engine is shut off at low speed and light loads, as leaving the engine off for extended periods of time and moving under electric power is key to reducing fuel consumption in stop and go traffic.

So, in other words, the vehicle can operate in electric-only mode at low speeds, or with light loads, or gasoline only mode for cruising, often with cylinder deactivation and other complementary technologies.  The hybrid powerplant uses regenerative braking and other techniques to recharge on the go.  A plug-in 2-mode hybrid can also recharge using standard wall current when available.

Under the hood shot of hybrid powerpack

A key contributor to the Escalade Hybrid’s fuel economy is the gasoline engine’s Auto Stop mode. Once the vehicle reaches 0 mph, the gasoline engine is automatically shut down. By leaving the engine off and allowing the vehicle to move only under electric power, such as during heavy stop-and-go traffic, fuel consumption is greatly reduced.

However, when extra power is required, such as for wide-open-throttle acceleration from a standing stop, the Vortec 6.0L V-8 is seamlessly restarted so it can deliver the necessary power and torque. In this case, the engine is restarted effortlessly from the Auto Stop mode using the EVT’s powerful internal electric motors; there is no traditional starter motor.

A 2-mode hybrid has a smaller powerpack than an extended range electric vehicle such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt or Cadillac Converj.  Press conjecture is that the Hybrid XTS concept may have enough powerplant to drive for 10 miles between recharges; the Volt or Converj should be able to go 40 miles between charges.  My daily commute of around 1 mile would be gas-free with a 2-mode hybrid XTS.

The mild-hybrid system in the Chevrolet Malibu offers a 4 mpg improvement over the non-hybrid Malibu.  So although Cadillac has not released any projections, the Cadillac XTS perhaps will get over 30 mpg on the highway EPA cycle — quite an achievement for a fullsize performance luxury sedan.

A plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle differs from non-plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles by offering extended electric-only propulsion, additional battery capacity and the ability to be recharged from an external electrical outlet.

When ready for production, the Lithium Ion energy storage system will be replenished when the battery charge is depleted to a specified level by utilizing the 2-mode hybrid system’s electric motors and regenerative braking systems. When the vehicle is parked, the battery can be recharged using a common household exterior 110-volt plug-in outlet.

2010 Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept with Plug-in Hybrid and DI 3.6L V6

The 2-mode hybrid system will be altered for use with plug-in technology. It maintains two driving modes — one for city driving, the other for highway driving. In addition, special controls will be utilized to enable higher speeds during electric-only propulsion and maintain electric- only propulsion for longer periods of time.

GM has also stated the desire to produce a 2-mode hybrid or extended range electric version of the SRX.