Years ago, when General Motors launched the 2014 Cadillac ATS, the premium GM brand made a big to-do about the car’s brand-new magnesium paddle shifters. While not a particularly rare element, magnesium’s total, industry-wide use in automobiles is substantially less than iron, steel, and even aluminum, and the metal is prized for its light weight.
Magnesium is a premium material, and its use in Cadillac paddle shifters starting with the second-model-year ATS showed that the brand was serious about elevating the overall feel of its interiors by incorporating high-quality parts at crucial touch points.
Now, however, Cadillac appears ready to phase out its (presumably costly) magnesium paddle shifters. Starting with the XT5 crossover and CT6 sedan, both launched in early-2016, Cadillac paddle shifters began to shift away from magnesium and toward plastic. The trend continued with the all-new, 2019 Cadillac XT4 crossover unveiled earlier this year.
If some recent spy shots are anything to go by, the forthcoming Cadillac CT5 will also use plastic shift paddles rather than magnesium ones, suggesting that the magnesium shifters’ days are numbered. Two models that still use the lightweight metal pieces – the ATS and CTS – will find themselves on the chopping block after 2019, and the paddle shifters appear likely to die with them.
With that, the question becomes: just how important are aesthetically and tactilely pleasing touch points on an automobile from the standpoint of profitability? It seems to be the dominant sentiment that Cadillac’s interiors lack the same elevated sense of quality as those from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and other premium brands, counting against the brand in customer and press evaluations.
But does the likely extinction of the magnesium Cadillac paddle shifters represent such a loss that the brand will lose buyers? Over the course of a full production run, GM might stand to save a considerable sum. Will that more than offset the cost of any lost business or negative critical reception?
Let us know what you think about the likely disappearance of the magnesium Cadillac paddle shifters in the Comments section below, and stay tuned to GM Authority for all the latest Cadillac CT5 news.