Marketing boss spits in Cadillac's alphabet soup

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Cadillac's alphabetic naming structure -- CTS, SRX, ELR and so on -- has its share of critics. Count new marketing boss Uwe Ellinghaus among them.

"There's no doubt with an expanding product portfolio we need to revise our entire nomenclature," Ellinghaus told journalists at the Geneva auto show.

For about a decade, Cadillac's sedan lineup has followed the (insert-a-letter)-T-S formula. The first letter in each nameplate is based on the car's size and place in Caddy's lineup. Small cars, such as the ATS, get a letter toward the front of the alphabet; big ones, such as the XTS, get a letter toward the end.

Cadillac's nonsedans -- the SRX crossover or the ELR plug-in hybrid coupe -- don't seem to follow any pattern. Ditto for the Escalade.

Ellinghaus, a former BMW executive who took over as Cadillac's chief marketing officer in January, worries that Cadillac's nameplates will become even more muddled as its lineup expands. Cadillac "might lose customers who simply do not know where the car fits," he said.

He didn't hint at how Cadillac might change it, beyond saying that it wouldn't copy BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

"I'm on the case," he said. "We are aware that this is currently a weakness of the Cadillac brand."

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