Cadillac moves on up at Detroit show

The Cadillac display takes shape at Cobo Center. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

DETROIT -- Cadillac wants buyers to see the brand in the same light as juggernaut German luxury automakers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi. At the auto show here next week, they will.

For the first time in many years, Cadillac's stand at its hometown show will be separate from its General Motors sibling brands, Buick, GMC and Chevrolet.

Cadillac will occupy real estate in Cobo Center's affluent enclave. Neighbors will include Mercedes, Jaguar-Land Rover, Ferrari and Audi. It's a brisk five-minute walk to get to GM's other brands.

Cadillac has long wanted stand-alone billing in the mix with its luxury rivals, but Detroit show logistics have prevented its relocation. Making the move this year is well-timed and is thick with symbolism.

Cadillac is counting on the ELR, camouflaged during recent testing in Southern California, to provide some buzz in its new digs at Cobo Center.

Cadillac has aspired to compete with the Germans for years. But as recently as last year's show, Cadillac's lineup -- while much improved -- was threadbare, down to just three vehicles and one sedan, the CTS.

Now, Caddy can strut into its new stand with a little swagger -- most notably the ATS sedan that was unveiled at last year's show and is now a finalist for North American Car of the Year. And the ELR plug-in hyrbrid sports coupe should provide some buzz in Caddy's new space.

"We need to be grouped with the luxury competitors," Bob Ferguson, Cadillac global vice president, told me this week. "This had to happen."

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