Among the 45,000 jobs threatened by the blue chips yesterday are the 40 production workers on the Cadillac XLR assembly line. The range-topping, two-seat roadster - built alongside the Corvette in Bowling Green, Ky. - will be gone come spring.
The Bowling Green Daily News reported General Motors will fire 154 workers at the famous plant, which has produced the fiberglass Corvette since 1953 and is now temporarily closed along with several other plants.
Cadillac sold 1,250 XLR roadsters in the United States last year, a 28.6 percent drop from 2007. Meanwhile, Lexus sales of the SC 430 roadster sank 49.6 percent in 2008, to just 1,986. The icon Cadillac had chased from the very beginning - the Mercedes-Benz SL - sold 5,464 units last year and fell only 10.8 percent.
Based on the sixth-generation Corvette, the XLR, with its chiseled, fiberglass body and 320 horsepower V-8, was a design standout when it debuted in 2004. But the car drew early criticism for its semi-lackluster interior and substandard performance as compared to the SL500 (which at the time, was only about $10,000 more than a base $76,200 XLR).
Still, the XLR sported impressive hardware, such as the world's first electromagnetic shocks, which change stiffness in a claimed millisecond and were later offered on the Corvette Z06 and other Cadillac models (it remains the fastest-reacting active suspension, according to GM). The XLR-V model, supercharged to 443 horsepower, provided much more excitement, but Cadillac had - and has, at least for another month or so - a problem justifying its $100,000 price next to an AMG SL, 911 Cabriolet, or even the Corvette itself.
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