DETROIT — When Cadillac rolls out the new CT6 early next year, the aluminum-skinned vehicle will have dedicated factory-certified repair facilities.
Cadillac said last week that it is launching the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network to ensure the lightweight rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan, due in the first quarter, is repaired properly after a crash.
Aluminum vehicles require repair facilities that are sealed off from those used to fix steel-bodied vehicles, dealers need different tools to repair aluminum body panels and technicians need to learn different repair techniques.
With the CT6, Cadillac joins a small but growing group of automakers producing aluminum-intensive cars and light trucks, including Jaguar Land Rover, Tesla, Ford and Audi.
John Eck, Cadillac’s collision manager for wholesale dealer channel, says dealers with no aluminum repair equipment likely will need to spend around $50,000 for the special tools to fix the car.
Cadillac plans to have between 100 and 200 dealerships and independent body shops signed up and trained before the CT6 goes on sale, Eck said. The CT6 uses aluminum outer body panels and a combination of ultra-high-strength steel, cast aluminum parts and extrusions for the unibody. These components are held together by GM’s patented aluminum welding process, self-piercing rivets, screws and adhesives.
Eck said Cadillac won’t follow Ford Motor Co. and ship collision parts with repair instructions from the manual, but it will put repair procedures online and make them available for any body shop, in the program or not. But independent body shops that are not part of the Cadillac repair network will not be able to buy structural repair parts, Eck said.
“Some cosmetic parts are open to anyone in the market, but you have to join the program to get structural parts,” he said. The reason: Cadillac wants to ensure structural repairs bring the car back to factory specifications.
Eck said the CT6 repair procedures were designed to cause as little disruption to dealers and body shops as possible. As long as a tool meets Cadillac’s specifications, it doesn’t matter what brand it is, he said. Also, a dealer can seal off an area of the shop with a tent to repair a CT6 instead of dedicating a separate facility to fix the car.
Eck said dealers and body shops will pay $4,500 a year to join the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network.
The training will be mostly done online and carried out through GM and I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair.