Cadillac Celestiq a Manufacturing Masterpiece

Cadillac created a sensation when it unveiled its bespoke flagship sedan, the $300,000-plus Celestiq. The worth dropped jaws. The styling kicked off a frenzy of critiques. And the sheer audacity of it despatched shockwaves by way of the trade.

This isn’t a automobile that may go quietly into the night time. Everybody who’s into vehicles has one thing to say about it. However let’s set the worth and the styling apart. What caught my eye is the enterprise case constructed across the automobile, and the way it’s manufactured.

Cadillac just isn’t doing the Celestiq to drop billions to the underside line, not less than in a roundabout way. They’re solely going to make about 400 of them a 12 months, so I’d estimate it’s solely going to generate about $140 million a 12 months in income, and possibly $25 million in income. These are rounding errors for an organization the scale of Basic Motors.

No, the rationale they went ahead with this automobile is to rebuild Cadillac’s model picture. Regardless of a world-class lineup of automobiles, the Cadillac model nonetheless doesn’t command the respect of luxurious clients who personal a Mercedes, BMW, or Audi. The Celestiq is tasked with altering their opinions. And if it really works, it’s going to boost the gross sales and profitability of each different Cadillac within the lineup. So, the payoff could possibly be important.

The Celestiq is a automobile that may cater to the whims and tastes of high-wealth clients. They’ll order absolutely anything they need on the automobile, and Cadillac will assign a member of its design group to assist them fulfill their fantasies. For the individuals who plunk down a reservation, it’s going to be a white-glove expertise each step of the way in which.

That’s one purpose why they’re solely going to make about 400 of them a 12 months, or fewer than two a day. Low quantity like that may be sure that clients get a royal reception. However the different purpose it’s a low-volume automobile is that GM goes to hand-build them. That not solely provides to its status, it additionally permits GM to keep away from a giant tooling invoice. GM solely invested $81 million to make the automobile. Chump change.

Delicate instruments are a part of the plan. Nothing new there. However additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, performs a key position. GM goes to print a formidable 115 completely different elements for the Celestiq. And never simply dinky little plastic elements; it is going to make structural and trim items this manner. The steering wheel bezel, for instance, which surrounds the underside half of the middle of the wheel, is printed in metallic.

Basic MotorsCadillac Celestiq rear 3.4.jpg

It’s straightforward to see why GM is printing so many elements. The extra elements you print, the much less tooling you want, and the decrease the funding it’s good to make.

One other 300 elements can be fabricated on the meeting facility, which is in GM’s prototype store positioned on its Tech Middle campus in Warren, MI. Comparable story to the printing. Fabricating elements solely requires some easy jigs and fixtures, not exhausting tooling.

I additionally suspect GM cherry-picked the most effective store staff it employs to make the automobile.

The Celestiq has an fascinating skateboard design, comprised of massive aluminum castings. GM calls them mega-castings, a nod to Tesla’s gigacastings, and so they get rid of a number of hundred stampings.

The front-end module is comprised of two massive wheelhouse castings, left-hand aspect and proper. The identical goes for the rear-end module: left- and right-hand wheelhouse castings. In between the entrance and rear modules is the ground, which is comprised of two massive left-and-right castings, and which home the batteries for this big electrical sedan.

All of them get welded collectively so the construction of the automobile is just about comprised of solely six castings. Whereas I believed Tesla had locked up the worldwide capability for the large molding machines wanted to make castings this massive, GM advised me it’s making them within the Detroit space. They wouldn’t say by who or the place, however they did inform me they’re utilizing 3D printing to make the sand cores for the castings, which I believe is fairly cool.

McElroy SQUARE.jpgThe doorways are composite SMC and the remainder of the physique panels are carbon fiber. They’re utilizing gentle tooling to make these, too. Delicate instruments usually are good for five,000 to 10,000 elements, so at 400 vehicles a 12 months they’re not going to put on them out earlier than somebody at Cadillac decides it’s time for a styling change. GM says it’s additionally capable of get creases and radii within the physique panels that it couldn’t do in metallic in excessive manufacturing.

I’m impressed. I imagine the Celestiq is likely one of the boldest strikes Cadillac has ever taken in its 120-year historical past. I’m satisfied sufficient high-wealth people can be attracted to purchase one thing extraordinarily uncommon that they helped craft. In time I believe it is going to deliver Cadillac’s picture again to its historic standing because the “Commonplace Of The World.”

And all of this was made doable by the way in which the automobile is manufactured. 

John McElroy (pictured, above left) is the President of Blue Sky Productions, which produces “Autoline Every day,”  and “Autoline After Hours” on www.Autoline.television and the Autoline Community on YouTube. The podcast “The Trade” is out there on most podcast platforms.

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