Robert Lutz says the best size for a Cadillac ultraluxury flagship vehicle would be "a little bigger than the STS."
But a car to compete in the same league as the Maybach and Rolls-Royce Phantom - which sell for $300,000-plus - is out of the question.
"We still have the dream of the ultraluxury flagship at the top of the Cadillac lineup; something that would do 1,000 units a year," said Lutz, who was interviewed last month at the Paris auto show.
But "when we look at the success of Maybach and Rolls-Royce, I think we would probably be less enthusiastic about a $300,000 car than we were perhaps two years ago."
Maybach and Rolls-Royce have failed to reach global sales expectations.
Lutz said there is no approved product program to develop a six-figure flagship for Cadillac. In terms of pricing, he said, "I think we could make a nice car and a good business proposition at roughly $110,000, $120,000."
Lutz said the right size of car for Cadillac would be "a little bigger than the STS with a different engine configuration." It would not be "long-wheelbase, Maybach-sized."
GM is not the only company thinking of developing a car that would be priced above $100,000.
In July, Yukitoshi Funo, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., said that a $100,000 car is high on Lexus' wish list. But he said that a $300,000 vehicle was out of the question.
While GM favors a sedan, Toyota executives have not reached a consensus on whether such a vehicle should be a sedan or sports car. It also could be a gasoline-electric hybrid-powered vehicle.
One star of the 2003 Detroit auto show was the Cadillac Sixteen concept, a sleek, rear-drive four-door with a long hood. The Sixteen was powered by a 16-cylinder engine.
GM executives said that low-volume production might be considered.
A sticker price that might rival that of the Maybach 57 - $307,500 - or the Rolls-Royce Phantom - $324,000 - was speculated. But the demand for those exotic sedans has failed to reach projections.
For example, Rolls-Royce wants to sell 1,000 Phantom sedans worldwide this year. Through July, just 358 had been sold.
DaimlerChrysler plans to build 800 Maybachs this year in Sindelfingen, Germany. That is just over half the annual production rate forecast when the project was launched in the late 1990s.
But one engineering element that Cadillac may need to compete in the $100,000-plus category is missing. Maybach, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and a few other automakers have V-12 engines.
While GM has said that it is developing a V-12, it has given no timetable or told of vehicle applications.
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]