Cadillac CT6: A Game Changer
As a collision repairer, what will you need to know to work on this vehicle’s advanced mixed material structure?
Cadillac will expand and elevate its portfolio with the upcoming launch of its new top-of-the-range model, the 2016 Cadillac CT6. A new, high-tech formula for the luxury sedan, this car also represents a new milestone for the collision repair industry.
Unveiled on March 31 at the New York International Auto Show, the Cadillac CT6 marks the automaker’s return to an elite world of prestige. The car promises to be a technological tour de force — with new systems aimed at efficiency, performance, agility and safety not typically seen in the category of large sedans. The CT6 is equipped with systems that expand driver vision, chassis systems that enhance control regardless of road conditions, a 4-wheel steering system and a muscular new twin-turbo engine — just to name a few of its dozens of new techniques.
But for collision repair professionals, the most intriguing aspect of this new range-topping car is its unique and advanced structure.
You’ve probably already heard about the Cadillac CT6’s state-of-the-art, aluminum-intensive architecture. The body structure is lighter and stiffer than similar vehicles in its class. The dimensions and spaciousness of the Cadillac CT6 are on par with other vehicles in this class, but with the approximate weight, agility and efficiency of the smaller Cadillac CTS, it is lighter.
According to Leo Gruzas, manager of Customer Care & Aftersales, Body/Exterior Service Engineering, the new architecture is actually a mixed-material structure, with all-aluminum exterior body panels and 13 high-pressure aluminum die castings in the lower body construction, along with aluminum sheets and extrusions designed to reduce complexity and mass, while increasing strength and rigidity.
“Sixty-four percent of the Cadillac CT6 body structure is aluminum,” Gruzas notes, “including all exterior body panels. The mixed-material approach shaves off approximately 218 pounds, compared to a vehicle constructed predominantly of high-strength steel.”
Gruzas says that advanced fabrication techniques, including proprietary aluminum spot-welding technology that’s more efficient and helps reduce weight, is used to fabricate the structure. GM employs laser welding, flow drill fasteners and self-piercing rivets, along with about 591 feet of new structural adhesives.
But, the new Cadillac is not as simple as taking a steel structure and transitioning to aluminum.High-strength steel reinforces the body structure and, in conjunction with high-strength aluminum, forms the safety cage around the occupants.
To aid a passenger’s access to the interior of the CT6, as well as boost visibility and cabin quietness, the structural portion of the B-pillar is constructed completely of high-strength steel. The automaker also adds a high-strength aluminum impact bar to the rear of the vehicle and a combination of high-strength aluminum and steel for front- and side-impact zones to increase safety in the event of collisions.
Yes, accidents happen. “But owners can take comfort knowing that Cadillac will introduce an authorized aluminum repair network specific to the CT6,” Gruzas says. “Considering the technology and advanced materials that we’ve used to create this vehicle, it’s important to have collision repair facilities trained and ready to repair.”
Because of those advanced materials and the “unique” joining processes used to build the car, the company is stressing to collision repair professionals the importance of understanding how they’re interlaced within the design and construction of the vehicle. That’s why GM is requiring that only authorized repairers — those who have proper training and specific types of tools — work on the Cadillac CT6.
Recognizing the time and financial commitment that repairers incur for training, GM is developing a training program that will meet the demands of both the vehicle and the collision repair industry. Training will be Web-based, primarily, and managed through a combined effort between GM and I-CAR. Depending on the repairers’ current training and certifications, GM will determine if their level of training meets the demands of the car.
“We understand that many repairers already have made an investment in necessary tools and facilities,” Gruzas says. “So we’ll release our required specifications for tools instead of forcing a particular make or model on repairers. Some examples of tools repairers will need to work on the CT6 include an aluminum welder, structural repair bench (with fixtures), ventilation/aluminum particulate extraction system, self-pierce rivet gun and an aluminum isolation bay or curtain.
According to Gruzas, the company will distribute collision repair information at no charge to independent shops, including technical documents, service bulletins, paint information, warranty information and VIN information when the vehicle goes on sale.
ASA members and other interested independent shop owners have a great opportunity to get a bit of advance training at the NACE | CARS Expo & Conference, running from July 21-25 at Cobo Center in Detroit. According to Dan Risley, ASA president/executive director, the show has added a lot of training to this year’s content. And a lot of it is OEM-focused.
“We’ve had OEM training in the past,” Risley says, “but we’ve never had the amount of OEM training that we’re having this year, including from Volkswagen, Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford and, of course, GM.” Risley says this year’s show will feature the debut of cutting-edge repair processes and training applied to the latest vehicle models, including Honda’s Certified Repair Program and Chrysler’s carbon fiber repairs. GM’s two aluminum-repair classes hold promise as the most closely watched sessions among collision repair professionals.
Brian Nessen, of the show’s management team at Stone Fort Group, says that sort of hands-on training, as well as live demos and celebrity appearances, have been the reasons for thousands of ASA members and other shop owners flocking to the event from 26 other countries outside the United States and Canada. Still, he sees the real draw of the convention as coming from the industry itself and its hunger to stay current and ahead of the game.
“In so doing, they attract their peers – other shop owners, other multi-shop operators, other stakeholders – to come grow their business through education and knowledge of the new technology and the latest advancements in repair.”
GM promises more information on how to become part of the Cadillac CT6 authorized repair network in the coming weeks. To register now for NACE | CARS Expo & Conference, because no other event brings together this level and amount of OEM training under one roof, visit www.NACEexpo.com or www.CARSevent.com to sign up or get more information. Book your rooms soon! Expected attendance is up more than double from last year at this time.