Another Set Of Meaningless Alphanumerics, This Time From Cadillac

The very informative website GM Authority, reports Cadillac has a new naming scheme. And it’s terrible.

1995 Cadillac Fleetwood, a name that meant something and still
1995 Cadillac Fleetwood, a name that meant something and still does. Image source:

It’s very simple: CT2 through to CT8 designates the cars, coupes and estates. XT2 through to XT8 will be names for CUVs and SUVs. As with Lincoln’s hopeless MK-naming system, a large part of the names are made up of uninformative prefixes.

What does CT tell you? The C might mean “Cadillac” in the CT vehicles but what then does the X tell you in the XT vehicles’ names? What purpose does the T serve? Perhaps if they had kept it to C and X that might have worked but then you have the problem of Europe where C1 through C5 are already in use. I suggest GM contacts Lexicon Branding who have had some success with OnStar, BlackBerry, Colgate Wisp and Scion.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “Another Set Of Meaningless Alphanumerics, This Time From Cadillac”

  1. This is what happens when you put an ex-BMW executive in charge of marketing (Uwe Ellinghaus, official bio here: and hire an ex-Audi executive (via Infiniti, which always liked its alphanumeric soup but where everything is a Q car now) as brand president (Johan de Nysschen

    Apart from hiring executives from German premium brands, I wonder if another reason for alphanumerics is that they make name translations easier in different markets – CT6 would be easier to render in Chinese than ‘Fleetwood Brougham’ for instance. On the other hand Rolls Royce and Bentley have not switched from Phantom to RR12 or Continental GT Speed to BC8, even with BMW and VW ownership respectively. GM could have been braver.

  2. Yes, why not something like this today (including a name)? It’s really timeless. But please add another 10 cm of wheelbase, so it doesn’t look as if the wheel is directly below the rear bench.

  3. The rot and confusion began when Cadillac first went to short alphabetic strings.

    Seville became STS.

    Deville, once a submodel Coupe deVille, became DTS

    Catera, once an Opel, became CTS.

    I think the TS suffix is an acronym for Touring Sedan.

    And then came the SRX, originally a Chevrolet Equinox, later a CTS variant, and now an Equinox again.

    Interestingly, the Escalade, a Chevy Tahoe/Suburban (= long wheelbase Tahoe) wasn’t renamed in the new scheme. ETS? ETC? EXX? ERX?

    Let’s not forget the XLR, an inferior Corvette.

    GM’s did a good imitation of a drowning man flailing around before bankruptcy and rescue, seems to be floundering still. In the fullness of time the good ship GM may well fill with eels.

  4. Whilst I understand why Cadillac are pandering to what they believe to be the demands of younger customers, it saddens me that their flagship is no longer a big comfortable couch of a sedan with plenty of give in the dampers. Both Rolls Royce and the Mercedes S-Class serve a top end market that demands a pillow-soft ride, as long as that is allied to sufficient body control, and I do not see why Cadillac could not do the same (were their brand not cheapened by years of below par products, of course).

    1. Cadillac have gone after the German model of sports saloon. In so doing they have alienated their core customers and will not convince their competitors´customers that they can offer a comparable product.
      As it stands, Hyundai are doing nicely with their Genesis V8 which has been getting good reviews and costs only €38,000 (and upwards). It´s still not as cushy as I would like but it does major on ride quality and calm. I assume quite a few potential Buick and Cadillac drivers are circling Hyundai´s lots on a daily basis.

      Somebody has to redefine luxury in a car that means something other than a reformulation of Cadillac´s Victorian style or the “hardness” of current cars. I would want something that is as good a great room interior and with all those busy doors and dashboards reduced to nothing but walls of soft-looking fabrics and rich colours. I´d look to Scaninavian or Italian furnishings and see how little “car” I´d bring into the picture.

  5. The initials STS had a certain allure when attached to a name. The Seville STS, for example. When TS is appended to everything it loses its meaning; so, they are all touring sedans. That´s a silly way of writing “car” in my view. Seville is a super name for a car, even it´s Spanish and Cadillac is a French name originally.
    Your explanation shows how Cadillac was thinking, though. I didn´t know that.

    1. Seville STS is redundant.

      GM’s been quite silly for decades. Unless they’re much much smarter than I am, which is very possible. If the profits are in pickup trucks and station wagons on pickup truck chassis then GM and Chrysler have things very very right and the rest of the industry has things wrong. Cars, especially small ones, indeed!

  6. Doesn´t the STS in Seville STS stand for Sports Touring Sedan? That´s sounds okay to me though I´d prever the Seville DVR (Driving Very Relaxed) model instead.
    A good model porfolio is spread across sizes and prices, roughly. It´s a mistake to think that only small cars or only large cars are the “right ones”. By and large, by the time for one trend to become clear it´s too late to cash in on it. So, if you are focused on big cars and small cars become more popular, then by the time you are making small cars the trend has stopped. But if you produce a broad range of cars, then it´s easy enough to increase the production volumes or decrease them. I am so cautious..

  7. If you take the long view focusing only on what’s most profitable right now can seem risky. On the other hand, if the widespread belief that US firms are run by people who are rewarded mainly for current profits or share prices is correct, I can see why the people running GM work harder on high margin products than on low margin ones. Follow incentives’ structure and the arithmetic …

    Again, I could be mistaken. The margins on pickups and derivatives could be much lower than I think.

  8. Fred: behind this discussion is hiding a debate on approaches to business. I think mine is small “c” conservative in that I’d see my goals in the long view and would be happiest with steady, secure profit. Another approach is GM’s which seems to involve lurching opportunistically from bonanza to bonanza.
    That produces big profits or big losses.

    1. Agreed and I think you’re right about wanting steady secure profit instead of a sequence of booms and busts. If you’re an MBA you’re a disgrace to the tribe.

      The GM approach you described can work, but survival with it requires continued development work on replacements for today’s cash cows. GM, for whatever reason, hasn’t often been ready for the next big thing. Chrysler pre-Mercedes was even worse.

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