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Cadillac's once hot-selling Night Vision has gotten lost in the haze of changing buyer tastes, cost cuts and sliding demand for the only nameplate on which it is offered.

That's a development few foresaw when the safety system made its debut four years ago on the Cadillac DeVille.

At the heart of the system, which was developed by Raytheon Co. (raytheon.com) and Delphi Corp. (delphi.com), is a camera mounted in the center of the grille.

The camera detects heat-emitting objects as much as 500 yards ahead of the car - beyond the range of headlights - and projects the image onto the lower left portion of the windshield.

Night Vision works in fog and rain and is designed to help drivers see objects - especially people and animals - better in darkness.

In 2000, the first year Night Vision was available, Cadillac expected sales of 2,000 DeVilles equipped with the system.

Instead, about 7,000 buyers spent $2,250 for the option. It was one of the most talked-about technologies that year. Cadillac, with exclusive rights to the system for four model years, had no competition.

But it has been downhill for Night Vision ever since.

Production of Night Vision-equipped-DeVilles slipped to 5,500 in 2001, 3,000 in 2002 and about 2,500 last year. Cadillac (cadillac.com) says it expects to sell about 2,500 this year.

Because of sliding demand, Cadillac executives are deciding whether to offer the system in the next-generation DeVille, due next year.

But for Cadillac the future for Night Vision looks dark.


A camera in the bumper of the Hummer H2 picks up thermal images, which are shown on a heads-up display.
"Most of our customers live in urban areas," says Steve Wynn, Cadillac's manager for sales and marketing. "You'd have to look at that and ask, does it make sense? Rural areas are the most useful application because of the dark roads."

What went wrong

In 2001, Stuart Klapper, director of automotive programs for Raytheon's Commercial Electronics division, predicted that Night Vision systems would be on eight nameplates by this year.

That never happened.

Last year, a version of the system called Nightdriver became available to consumers as a dealer-installed option on Hummers. But no other automaker has made it a factory or dealer option.

In recent years General Motors has launched a number of high-tech options on its vehicles only to see them founder. Part of the problem has been lack of promotion.

"When we launch all-new vehicles at Cadillac, the focus goes to the new vehicles. In 2000, we spent a lot of time, money and effort on the DeVille because it was the newest Cadillac," Wynn says.

Since 2000, Cadillac has reinvented itself with a new line of vehicles - the Escalade, CTS, XLR and SRX - with radically different styling.

As a result, Cadillac is spending less advertising money on the DeVille and Night Vision. Instead, Cadillac has relied on its Web site, dealerships and word of mouth to sell the system. But the Web site doesn't offer details.

Another factor in the decline of Night Vision: DeVille sales have slid from 105,694 in 2000 to 82,076 last year.

Wynn says the DeVille may no longer be the best GM vehicle for Night Vision. It might be better suited on an SUV, such as the Hummer H1 and H2.

But sales of the Nightdriver system on Hummers have been slow, with only a few hundred units sold.

Not all Hummer dealers offer Nightdriver, which adds about $3,200 to the price.

"There's not that much interest," said Jan Yakubisin, sales manager at Fitzpatrick Hummer in Concord, Calif., near San Francisco. "It's an expensive item, and it requires slight modification of the dash. But it's a wonderful thing for hunters," she said.


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Originally posted by nsap@Jun 28 2004, 12:31 PM
AtLast year, a version of the system called Nightdriver became available to consumers as a dealer-installed option on Hummers. But no other automaker has made it a factory or dealer option.

To my knowledge Toyota offers it on the Land Crusier and LX470
but hey what do i know
 

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this is sad.. i am 23, and nightvisionw as one of the main reasons i loved the Deville DTS..

i was hoping it would be pushed onto more cadillacs and made more mainstream, so that hopefully it owuld be on a cheaper vehcile and more mass market when I was hoping to buy my next vehicle.

instead it appears it will just die off :(

hopefully one day i can afford a mint DTS with nightvision, i really want that feature... at night it would help alot, and would also help on long trips i often make through rural illinois... wouldnt help much while in chicago, but would be damn cool and also help a little in terms of seeing people in hard rain and fog.
 

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I do like the Night Vision option, though I do have to admit it is a little "gadgety" , so I can see how some people might view the option as a neat feature, but not something esential to the vehicle. I hope Cadillac does contine to offer the Night Vision system on the DeVille, but I do have some suggestions on how to make it more popular.


1-Make it standard on the DTS version of the DeVille and make it available on the base DeVille, that is possibly on of the biggest barriers to more sales for the Night Vision system, making it available on the base $40,000 DeVille which is the best selling model, instead of just the DHS and DTS models, which circle close to the $50,000 barrier could help to improve Night Vision sales.

2-Make the lens smaller, the current lens is a big circle in the center of the grille, which the relegates the Cadillac wreath and crest to the top of the hood, if the lens is smaller, it can be hidden in the grille a little more easily.

3-Make the grille available in other colors, the Night Vision package forces you to get a flat grey grille, similar to the one that comes on the DHS, making for a little strange looking front on white and silver cars.

4-Combine the Night Vision heads up display unit with a speedometer and other HUD functions such as radio info, fuel, etc..

5-Make the damn thing available on more models...this is another easy solution. Make it available on everything from the CTS an up and standard on the XLR. Night Vision could become a Cadillac trademark, Cadillac offers a navigational system on all its models, so why not Night Vision?
 

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Originally posted by jaorobot@Jun 28 2004, 04:51 PM
this is sad.. i am 23, and nightvisionw as one of the main reasons i loved the Deville DTS..

i was hoping it would be pushed onto more cadillacs and made more mainstream, so that hopefully it owuld be on a cheaper vehcile and more mass market when I was hoping to buy my next vehicle.

instead it appears it will just die off :(

hopefully one day i can afford a mint DTS with nightvision, i really want that feature... at night it would help alot, and would also help on long trips i often make through rural illinois... wouldnt help much while in chicago, but would be damn cool and also help a little in terms of seeing people in hard rain and fog.
I'm with you here; though 23 is how old I was when it first came out. I was so hoping it would make it to other GM cars. I can't tell you how often while driving between cities at night it would have helped to see through fog, see dark animals down the road, and things like that where headlights can't do it for you. Just look at the FLIR images from helicopters that police or military use, and you can imagine the usefulness of the system.
 

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I think this option was cool when it first came out only because it was somehting no other vehcile had to offer, that techonolgy is just old bnews now, nobody is getting excited over it any more.
 
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