Cadillac is being a bit mysterious about the launch of the new Lyricits first-ever all-electric vehicle. Back in late June, word got out that Cadillac was offering select Lyriq customers $5,500 discounts but no one knew who would get them or why. It’s still unknown who’s receiving the discounts, or which criteria needs to be met, but according to the Detroit Free Pressit seems they’re being given to customers who are willing to sign an NDA and agree to let Cadillac track their usage.
It’s extremely unusual for a car company to ask customers to sign non-disclosure agreements when buying a car. However, it seems that Cadillac wants to closely monitor select customer experiences, without those customers sharing their opinions with anyone else. According to Cadillac spokesperson Michael Albano, the ‘Cadillac Lyriq Targeted Private Offer’ program exists and was created out of Cadillac’s desire to learn from its customers.
“As we transform our business, the launch of our first all-electric vehicle, Lyriq, provides Cadillac some unique learning opportunities,” Albano told the Free Press. “Therefore, we have engaged a small group of early customers who agree to share their vehicle information and customer behaviors. Cadillac will use these learnings to elevate the experience for all our customers.”
Albano told the Free Press that there are 20 participants in the program but wouldn’t say how they were chosen. Although, he did say that most of them live in big cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Detroit, but that’s all he would tell the Free Press. “We will use the program to learn more about customer behaviors and their vehicles. Beyond that, the details of the program are a private agreement between the customer and Cadillac.”
This is an unprecedented program in the auto industry. However, it’s one that Erik Gordon, business professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, actually understands. He feels that using customers, rather than employees, to test a car in public can be beneficial. “You come out with a new product and new platform. You like to gather data. I think it’s more realistic to gather data from nonemployees; you get a wider variety of people and people who are not so gung-ho. You get real world date.” he told the Free Press. Gordon also understands the NDA, as it prevents customers from publicly discussing the experience unfairly.
Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds, who previously worked in product planning for American Honda Motor Co., is on board with this sort of program, too. “With data they collect through the vehicle, they can actually verify things. If they are looking through a true lens — then this is the way to go,” Drury told the Free Press.
Even Cadillac dealers seem to agree with the program. They feel that it offers GM a chance to fix any bugs that might exist as quickly as possible, to potentially avoid a recall. Gordon agrees. “A recall is expensive, and it hurts the brand.”
There’s no word on what sort of penalty customers who’ve signed the NDA face if they discuss their experience publicly, nor are there any specifics about what sort of data Cadillac is looking for. It’s easy to assume some of those data points, such as range used, charging locations, and charge times, to name just a few. While such a program isn’t sinister, it’s highly unusual and it does feel a bit weird. All brands hold focus groups with customers, to poll their experiences to try and improve future products. But this is the first time a car company has actually had customers sign NDAs and agree to live data tracking to improve a vehicle in real time. It will be interesting to see if other brands follow Caddy’s lead and offer NDA programs of their own.
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