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Economics may push GM to build J-size Caddy

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When the new General Motors J-car hits the road next May, the corporation's top-line auto division, Cadillac, will offer its own version as well, but onlym for limited distribution.

To be known as the Cimarron, the smallest Cadillac of them all is merely a stopgap -- a Chevrolet J-car with a Cadillac facelift -- and no more. The project could, however, continue, according to Edward C. Kennard, general manager of Cadillac. In other words, there may be a real Cadillac J-car down the road as well.

"It'll take us a few years to 'Cadillacize' a J-type car to our own standards ," Mr. Kennard reports, explaining:

"We got into the J-car will replace the Chevrolet Monza and Pontiac Sunbird. Later, Buick and Oldsmobile will get their own versions, probably as 1983-model cars.

Why a Cadillac subcompact?

Simply, Cadillac sees a need to protect its family of exclusive dealerships -- those big-time dealers who sell only Cadillacs and nothing else.

"Our objective is to introduce the Cimarron at the same time as Chevrolet and Pontiac with about 200 of our dealers, all exclusives," asserts Mr. Kennard.

"Our exclusive dealers are the only GM dealers that do not have any downsized protection in the case of a severe energy crunch," he goes on.

The division's other 1,800 dealers also sell other brands, usually GM products, plus Cadillac.

However, introduction of the Cimarron will cause all kinds of marketing problems for Cadillac, Mr. Kennard concedes.

"If we don't give our big exclusive dealers some kind of protection, they'll be forced to go out and sign up with a foreign manufacturer in order to stay in business." It could be a Japanese brand, he suggests.

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