CYPHER AVE ESSENTIALS: Cadillac Unveils Convertible Hybrid Concept Car
Without saying “retro,” General Motors chief designer Ed Welburn described the Ciel’s “hint of a fin.” The striking show car touches on its heritage while providing a vision of where Cadillac design might be headed in the near future. GM claims the open-top four-seater could be powered by a twin-turbocharged version of the company’s “3.6-liter direct injection V-6 engine, paired with a hybrid system using lithium-ion battery technology.
Long the leader of the luxury market, Cadillac sales now lag behind overseas rivals like BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. But Cadillac has regained ground on competitors in recent years with a renewed focus on distinctive design. Confident there’s an opportunity for growth, GM management has given Caddy the green light to add a variety of new models, including the ELR plug-in hybrid, approved just this week, as well as the small Cadillac ATS and larger XTS. (more images click on “read more”)
The Ciel show car also borrows a bit from Caddy’s traditional competitor, Lincoln, with the long, somewhat slab-sided shape split by both traditional front and rear “suicide” doors. Modern motorists might recognize the look from the Lincoln Continental convertible used on the HBO TV series, Entourage. In fact, were the Ciel to go into production it would be the first four-door convertible since that Lincoln left production close to a half century ago.
Will Cadillac build the new Ciel? For the moment, officials stress that there isn’t even a platform in the corporate portfolio to build it on. But “it’s a statement car,” according to its lead designer, and one intended to say that Cadillac is making a comeback. That message would largely be lost if Ciel were just another in a long line of show cars that never see the showroom.
The good news for those who like the design is that GM has been considering its options for a flagship car that’s even larger than the upcoming XTS. A senior Cadillac source says that a go/no-go decision will likely be made within a matter of months.
A positive response for the Ciel, which will now make its way to the auto show circuit, would help nudge the project forward. Expect GM to measure potential demand not only in the U.S. but in other markets, including the aforementioned China. That’s where the Buick brand began its turnaround, noted Welburn, and Caddy is counting on building demand there as well.
If that happens, that’s no guarantee the Ciel itself would reach market. But according to Dean, Cadillac definitely wants and needs “an open-air car.” The prototype would almost certainly be altered for production, but considering Cadillac’s assertion that distinctive styling is critical to its future, some of the Ciel’s more attractive elements had better make it to market.
I know I would love to see this on the roads one day.
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