Cadillac ATS Wish List Item No. 10: Self-Deploying Headlamp Washers

You’re really pigeonholing yourself all over the place here, CC Clarke. I don’t really know why you feel the need to assume as much as you do, but your entire comment is off the mark. Allow me to explain why:

1. Regarding “showing my true colors”: you see that big blue part right at the beginning of the article on this page? It clearly and openly states the vehicles that I own and the purpose of the Wish List series. You didn’t make some big discovery.

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Strike one.

2. Regarding the ATS being “entry level”: there isn’t a question whether or not the ATS is the least expensive Cadillac model. But did you stop and consider the fact that the feature discussed here (headlamp washers) is not available on ANY Cadillac model? Not on the ATS, not on the Escalade or the CT6. It is a Cadillac-wide problem. It’s not an entry-level problem

Your rhetoric on this continues to be put under question when you ask yourself: if Cadillac is the only full-line luxury automaker *not* to offer this feature on its *entry level models*. What does that tell you? It tells you that it’s not serious about competing. Or it’s trying to compete in a half-assed manner.

And finally: the ATS (and its CT#) replacement will not be “entry level” for much longer, as there will be a model that slots underneath it in the near future. Currently, this space is owned by true “entry level” models (from a price standpoint), such as the Audi A3/S3 and MBZ CLA-Class. Guess what? Both offer deployable headlight washers.

So, as you can clearly see, this isn’t a problem of the ATS being an entry-level model. It’s a problem that impacts Cadillac across the board, from entry-level to flagship.

Strike two.

3. Then you assume that I own a “lower” ATS “trim level version”. First of all, it’s called “trim level”. Not “trim level version”. But man are you wrong about that: if you, once again, read the big blue part at the beginning of this very article, you will see that mine is the Premium trim. In case you’re not familiar, that’s the range-topper. So you’re totally off about that as well.

Strike three. But looks like you haven’t had enough just yet, so let us continue.

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4. “You have to pay to play in the luxury car segment Alex.”

Thank you for imparting that wisdom on me, dear CC Clarke. I’m sure you will be pleased to know that my ATS topped out at $50k, which is roughly the ceiling of where an ATS will top out. Had the washers been part of any options package or trim level, I would have bought it/them.

Strike four!

5. “Lack of a HUD and an archaic half-moon cluster wouldn’t get a second notice from me, but others could care less about these features and enjoy saving money by not including them.”

To use your own eloquence: You have to pay to play in the luxury car segment, CC Clarke.

If you primary concern is saving money, you shouldn’t be playing in the luxury segment. Or simply buy a car that doesn’t have these features. Heck, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar (to name a few) offer the washers as part of a package. Don’t want them? Don’t buy the package. Cadillac can and should do the same.

Can you tell me where we are with the strikes now? I’ve lost count.

6. Cadillac’s sales methodology isn’t hard to fathom. Goodies cost more and GM has to keep lower trim lines as affordable as possible to reach the largest customer base. In time, if they upgrade to another Cadillac, they might option a higher level model.

You’re very much incorrect about this for two reasons:

– Despite having already been told that zero Cadillac models offer the feature, you continue to make the same error in insisting to suggest that other Cadillac models offer it. They do not. Hence, this is a problem that applies to Cadillac across the board (across its entire product portfolio).

– You should familiarize yourself with the basics of fixed and variable costs before trying to make rudimentary business conclusions such as the above. Allow me to deliver some much-needed education: offering or not offering the headlamp washer feature is purely a decision of two factors: the first is R&D cost (sunk cost that applies to all models regardless of equipment/features) and the second is variable cost (which applies to those models equipped with the feature).

Now, the first item — the R&D cost, is negligible. It is factored into and spread across all models. Engineering the feature like this one into a vehicle program isn’t and won’t be reflected on the final program tally (officially referred to as a vehicle line balance sheet).

Where the feature does shoe itself from a dollars and cents standpoint is the variable cost. It costs roughly $10 to get such a feature into a vehicle. However, the feature is sold at a price of $250. That’s a 96% profit margin. And it’s actually higher when it gets bundled into a package, such as a cold weather package offered by the German and European automakers.

All in all, your point about this being a burden or a cost or an unnecessary expense is pure BS. Moot. Poppycock. Pure and utter rubbish. Not only does including the headlamp washer feature not cost anything to build into a vehicle program, but it actually presents Cadillac with the opportunity to make more money per vehicle, thereby increasing its revenue, profit, and profit margins. And as it so happens, Cadillac is targeting to do all three of those things:

Cadillac sales target:

http://gmauthority.com/blog/2014/11/cadillac-outlines-goal-to-sell-500000-units-by-2020/

Cadillac margin taget:

http://gmauthority.com/blog/2016/05/cadillac-shooting-for-11-percent-operating-margin-in-10-years/

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And, of course, offering this feature allows Cadillac to attract customers and actually sell vehicles.

Are we at strike six already? Sheesh. This is not looking good for you, my friend.

7. “The next time you shop Alex, spring for the options you miss now and you’ll enjoy your next car even more.”

Please revisit item #4 in my list, where I state that not only is my ATS is of the loaded variety (Premium trim level), but that the feature we are discussing here isn’t available on any ATS model or on any Cadillac in North America. Now, if I would have bought a BMW, MBZ, Audi, Jaguar or a Volvo, I would have had them. Do you not see the basic problem this presents in the marketplace?

This is just getting embarrassing for you. I mean… seven strikes is quite a bit, wouldn’t you say?

Allow me to do a quick summary here:

First and foremost, you should know that the purpose of this wish list isn’t for me to toot my own horn or advance some kind of personal agenda. Assuming that the purpose of the ATS wish list is me not having purchased the car that I wanted or a trim level that would have had the features I wanted is pure and utter nonsense: I bought the best that was available. Headlamp washers were not and still are not an option on the ATS, or on any other Cadillac model. This would have been true if I got the ATS in the (base) Standard trim. You should know that the other items on the GM Authority ATS wish list are also not available on the ATS, period.

As I touch on in the blue section at the top of this article, the purpose of the wish list is my pure, heartfelt desire as a Cadillac and GM enthusiast to advance the Cadillac brand and the model lineup to be more competitive with the well-established rivals from Europe. The hope is that owners, enthusiasts, and Cadillac executives and employees read it and at least consider the suggestions and, at best, implement them.

Trying to be competitive in the luxury space is so much more than about having a well-balanced RWD car that looks decent. No, you need the proper features, brand image, and desirability characteristics to compete and then to win. Cadillac lacks in many of those areas today and the only way in which Cadillac will come close to overtaking its rivals, now and in the future, is by being better than them. And having the right mix of features (like this one) is one of the ways to accomplish its objectives.

PS: lest you continue erring in thinking that this is some personal agenda for me — there will be wish lists for other models, as well. You just stay tuned!

Cheers! 🙂 [external_footer]