It's no secret: General Motors (NYSE:GM) has some big new Cadillacs on the way. But will a new Eldorado be among them?
It's looking more and more possible. One of GM's top executives recently hinted that a model based on last summer's Elmiraj show car, shown above, could see production.
But is a big expensive two-door really the car that GM should be focusing on right now?
An Eldorado in all but name
A car based on the Cadillac Elmiraj show car might not be called "Eldorado," of course. GM has moved away from Cadillac's traditional model names, going instead to the alphabet-soup names favored by Cadillac's German rivals.
Why? Because names like "ATS" and "CTS" don't get messed up when translated into other languages. GM wants Cadillac to be a global rival to BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) and Mercedes-Benz, and it's spending big to make that happen. Having a single set of model names that work all over the world is important.
But it's clear that the Cadillac Elmiraj was conceived as a modern take on the Eldorado. The Eldorado, one of GM's iconic models, was a big (and usually expensive) two-door produced from 1953 until 2002.
But big expensive two-doors don't sell all that well, nowadays. You'd think that GM, which is still working on recovering from its 2009 bankruptcy, would have higher priorities.
I think it does. But I think the company's plans might very well include an Eldorado. Here's why.
Why a big Cadillac coupe could make a lot of sense
As I said above, it's no secret that there are bigger Cadillacs on the way. GM is known to be working on an all-new vehicle architecture, code-named "Omega," that will underpin a new full-sized Cadillac sedan sometime soon, probably before 2016.
That full-sized Cadillac will be a high-end rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan, bigger than the current XTS sedan, that will go head-to-head with the top sedans from the German automakers: BMW's 7-Series, Audi's A8, and Mercedes-Benz's S-Class.
But new vehicle architectures, or "platforms," are expensive. GM will want to base several cars on the Omega platform.
GM could always do a big new Buick sedan on the Omega platform, of course. And that might well happen. But I think they'll also choose to build a coupe like the Elmiraj. Big coupes might not sell in huge numbers, but BMW's 6-Series, and Mercedes' CL-Class coupes, are very profitable, high-profile products.
A Cadillac that rivals them could add prestige to the brand's lineup and some nice additional profits to the Omega program, without requiring a huge investment.
GM's brass is hinting that it's coming
It's clear that some of GM's top executives are thinking along similar lines. GM's North America chief Mark Reuss told USA Today last week that the Elmiraj, or something like it, is "the car Cadillac needs."
"You make a statement with a coupe. You don't make a statement with a sedan," he told the newspaper.
That doesn't mean the sedan isn't coming. Other executives -- including Reuss' boss, GM CEO Dan Akerson -- have all but confirmed that Cadillac's S-Class rival is well along in development.
But Reuss's hints -- and the ongoing popularity of the gorgeous Elmiraj -- suggest that GM might be gearing up to make a coupe-shaped statement along with its new big Cadillac sedan.