Cadillac CTS gets killer “infotainment” system - and who cares?
Cadillac yesterday demonstrated the killer “infotainment” system which they’re going to make available for the 2008 CTS. Specifically designed to provide the younger car buyer with absolutely everything he or she could desire in electronics, the system includes a 40G Toshiba hard drive, complete iPod integration, USB and aux cable ports, the requisite Bose radio and speakers — and, a TiVo like feature that allows recording an hour of audio for replay at the driver’s convenience. That’s not all: XM, of course, plus a navication system with a retractable screen, 3D display of landmarks and real-time traffic date.
The CTS will also be available with Bluetooth technology. But it won’t be from the factory. Bluetooth will be a dealer-installed option, though GM says it’s an easy addition. GM has previously indicated that it was dubious about the benefits of Bluetooth in the automotive environment. That may seem to some – Jalopnik in particular – like the General’s behind the curve.
Jalopnik may be right, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
It’s not just the failure to appreciate that Bluetooth is important to a certain segment of the buying populace. Or, even, to appreciate that whether it actually is a worthwhile improvement doesn’t much matter, so long as it is perceived that you’re at the cutting edge. (That’s why, of course, BMW was so quick to integrate the iPhone into their United States models. Though the iPhone is still questionably useful technology, it sure is something people want. If you want them you want your car, you want them to understand what you want.)
But is Jalopnik is missing the bigger picture?
As well as GM?
Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it.
Navigation systems have become passé, as auto buyers have voted for the Garmins, not the factory in-builts.
The retention rate for XM and Sirius has been so poor that the two companies are currently attempting to merge in an effort to keep both alive, in some form.
While sound systems, particularly those that allow integration of the iPod into the system, remain important to car buyers, the core of the current car buyer’s interest in automotive sound is speakers – they’ll supply the music, thank-you.
Over and over, car buyers in the premium segment make it crystal clear that they want two things: performance and quality. Audi, in particular, has been able to increase its sales by delivering on these two points. The Audi interior is acknowledged to be the epitome of design and tactile sensation. Though BMW used to be the benchmark for performance and handling, it’s star has dimmed because it has produced a series of incredibly ugly cars – a move that has opened the door for Audi’s unimaginative and bland vehicles to gain market share. Meantime, the effort of both BMW and Mercedes-Benz to computerize everything about the car has diminished the reputation of both for being quality, driver-friendly cars.
Though the manufacturers seem fascinated with the technology they can incorporate into a platform, the buyers of cars seem far more interested in the things they expect from the automobile than they are with the things they expect from a telephone or an iPod. That is, they want the thing to handle, go fast, and stop quick. And, they’d just as soon it didn’t break, either.
The CTS will live or die on those criteria.
Expensive “infotainment” systems are just a sop to the dealers, a fancy way to ratchet up the profit margin for both GM and those who sell their cars.
If this is really where GM concentrated the money on the new CTS, they made a huge mistake.