Automakers are carefully taking note of consumer preferences in China these days. For GM’s (NYSE:GM) Cadillac, the need for stretch versions of its sporty vehicle line appears to have rung a bell in the luxury brand’s design department. To compete with Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) and BMW (BMAXY.PK) as well as Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), GM is planning a stretched wheelbase version of the ATS to hit the Chinese market later in 2014, China Auto News reports. GM hopes it will provide a further boost to the growing hunger for Cadillacs in China.
The past year proved to be a banner one for GM’s luxury brand. Cadillac showed extensive growth across the globe, but in China, the automaker posted a 67 percent increase over its performance in 2012. At 50,000 vehicles sold, it was hardly enough to claim victory, but the upward trend shows GM is on the right track in the world’s top auto market.
To keep the sales figures increasing, GM has a stretch-wheelbase version of the Cadillac ATS coming. According to China Auto News, the local version will offer about four inches of extra space in the back seat for passengers. In a market where luxury consumers often have drivers, a spacious back seat is often paramount to designing a comfortable ride for the owner.
Cadillac is not alone in adding space to cars that sell in other markets in smaller variants. Volkswagen produces a stretch version of the Audi A4 for China that offers nearly three more inches for back seat passengers, while the BMW 3Li offers more than four extra inches of back seat space compared to standard 3-Series vehicles. Even Tesla has gotten on board.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, announced the electric car maker’s plans to offer an “executive back seat” during an earnings call in August 2013. The Tesla Model S shares a performance heritage with luxury cars from the new Cadillac line, but it will be just as important to take into account the feel of the overall vehicle’s ride — something large American cars always had a knack for doing right.
To expand the options for the Chinese consumer, GM plans to offer three versions of the stretch ATS, which will be called the ATS-L, China Auto News reports. In addition to the imported ATS that packs a 2.0-liter turbo engine capable of 270 horsepower, Cadillac will present a 2.5-liter engine model capable of 200 hp and a 3.6-liter V6 that will power the vehicle on maximum 320 horsepower.
The combination of power and a more spacious, luxury interior is likely to appeal heavily in a market where GM’s Buick brand outsells Chevy and Cadillac combined. In this arena, it’s sometimes not about the driver.
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