LOS ANGELES — The mission for Cadillac's first global head of styling is simple: Create a bold American design that draws inspiration from the current theme and make that design consistent across all models.
Although Clay Dean will be based in suburban Detroit, General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said Dean will be able to use resources at Cadillac's Advanced Styling Studio in the United Kingdom and GM's Advanced Design Studio in California.
"While he will not be in charge of these studios, Dean will be able to draw on design talent," Lutz said last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The first vehicle that will represent Dean's influence is expected to be a large sedan arriving around 2011. It will be developed on GM's global rear-drive vehicle architecture.
"Back in the old days, I don't think we had quite enough internal design consistency between, say, a CTS, an STS or a DTS," said Lutz. "One of Clay's objectives is going to be to make sure that we have a very consistent, unique and very advanced Cadillac design signature on everything that is Cadillac."
Lutz said Dean also needs to make sure Cadillac is distinct from other luxury cars and other General Motors products.
"We cannot compete effectively if Cadillac is one more iteration of the smooth, slab-sided sort of BMW, Mercedes, Acura, Lexus appearance," Lutz said. "We have to be distinctive and got to be boldly American, but in a very good way."
Lutz said he does not expect a radical departure from the Cadillac style seen today.
"The character has to remain consistent over time," he said. "We will keep refining it and refreshing it in the way that the current CTS is very clearly related to the last CTS but is a much bolder design."
Dean, 46, previously had been GM design director for small and mid-sized cars since 2004. Among the designs he led were the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, Saturn Aura and the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. He was named to this new position this summer.