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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cadillac Kills the XLR

DETROIT — The Cadillac XLR, the most expensive vehicle in the luxury brand's lineup, has been killed, Inside Line has confirmed with the automaker. The final XLR, Cadillac's retractable hardtop roadster, will roll off the line in Bowling Green, Kentucky sometime this spring, making 2009 its final model year.

"A specialty sports car like this has a limited life cycle," Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell told Inside Line on Monday. "It is not unusual for them to have a less permanent life cycle. This will be the final year (for XLR). XLR served a very useful purpose for Cadillac and its brand renaissance. "

He added: "There are a lot of brands and manufacturers curtailing plans due to low industry volume."

Caldwell said he did not know the month when XLR production will stop. He said a few dozen jobs are likely to be lost at the Bowling Green plant because of the XLR's demise. The XLR is built in the same plant as the Chevrolet Corvette, but in "its own little shop within the plant," Caldwell said. "The body is assembled apart from the Corvette and done in a non-assembly-line process."

Cadillac sold just 1,250 XLRs in 2008, a 28 percent decline from 2007 sales, Caldwell noted. The XLR went on sale in September 2003. In 2005, Cadillac sold 3,730 XLRs, the high-water mark for its sales.

When it was introduced, the Cadillac XLR was priced around $76,000, but prices rose steadily. For 2009, Cadillac only sold the XLR in its most expensive packages. The 2009 Cadillac XLR Platinum starts at $86,200, including an $840 destination charge. The 2009 Cadillac XLR-V starts at $104,200, including shipping.

The XLR Platinum is equipped with a 320-horsepower 4.6-liter V8. The XLR-V gets a 443-hp 4.4-liter supercharged V8.

Caldwell said Cadillac dealers are placing "their last round-up of orders right now" for the XLR. He said the CTS-V and the CTS Coupe will take the place of the XLR in terms of performance in Cadillac's future lineup. The XLR started life as the Cadillac Evoq concept, which made its debut at the 1999 Detroit Auto Show.

Inside Line says: Cadillac's elite roadster bites the dust, yet another victim of the global economic downturn. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent