Cadillac ATS pricing gap shows brand edge of BMW

Article by Anita Panait, on August 6, 2013

Although executives at General Motors set the pricing of the Cadillac ATS at a level similar to the BMW's 3 series last year, it turned out that the GM model hasn’t commanded those prices at dealerships, according to research data by Edmunds.com. Through the first six months of 2013, the average transaction price on the ATS was $39,459, while for the 3 series the average transaction price was $44,764.

Research also showed that the Cadillac ATS had larger incentives at $4,088 per unit, compared to $3,555 per unit for the BMW 3 series. This pricing gap underlines the fact that BMW as well as other German luxury carmakers still possess competitive advantage against Cadillac, as its dealers have to lower prices just to make its vehicles more attractive to consumers.

Likewise, the pricing gap shows BMW's edge in brand cachet despite critical praise for the Cadillac ATS, Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book, told Automotive News.

He said that the gap shows “what German engineering and the strength of the BMW brand is buying them.GM launched the ATS as a new nameplate in September 2012 was part of its bid to get a grip in the compact segment, considered as the largest category by volume in the luxury market.

GM has been vocal in its aim of enticing BMW customers, and has even cited 3 series in some Cadillac ads. According to Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell, ATS is achieving the goal of attracting new, younger consumers to the GM brand. He remarked that around 74 percent of ATS buyers are new to the brand while 20 percent of buyers are under age 35.

One of the guiding principles and basic goals for the new Cadillac ATS was to make it one of the lightest cars in its segment. Of course, Cadillac has made sure that the lightweight model is still able to provide a refined driving experience.

David Masch, ATS chief engineer, remarked the low weight of the Cadillac ATS doesn’t only make it nimbler and easier to control, but also helps optimize the performance and efficiency of its engine. Masch added that they took extra care in managing the sedan’s weight while maintaining Cadillac's signature levels of refinement.

Cadillac was able to optimize the mass of the ATS by pursuing a four-pronged philosophy: strict adherence to original architectural goals; measured load management; benchmarking components to determine if lighter solutions could be availed; and weighing the mass of every component against every aspect of development.

The low overall mass of the ATS was thanks to a number of smart solutions like the adoption of an aluminum hood and magnesium engine mount brackets natural-fiber door trim panels. The use of these lightweight materials well reflects the systematic approach of evaluating every gram that went into the new ATS. Of course, engineers have determined that weight could be both beneficial and essential for an enjoyable driving experience. For instance, a cast iron differential results to better fuel economy that a lighter aluminum version.

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