Cadillac’s global marketing boss has shed more light on his aspirations to sell cars in Australia.

Following his admission in January that General Motors’ luxury division was once again eyeing our market, Cadillac chief marketing officer Uwe Ellinghaus told CarAdvice at the Geneva motor show a local introduction remains some years off, but believes the iconic American brand could “easily flourish” in our crowded market in the future.

“I know that in Australia and in many other countries there are car lovers with an appreciation for the brand, and of course this is a great asset to build a viable strategy on,” Ellinghaus began.

“[The] goodwill that the Cadillac brand has is such a good starting base that once we get proper volume commitment and a dealer network behind it we can easily flourish.”

He said an Australian launch would not come before Cadillac pursued what he calls ‘low-hanging fruit markets’ however – those which promise higher sales, lower investment costs and fewer engineering changes.

“We see the opportunity [in Australia] and we want to expand into as many markets as we can afford, but it’s also fair to say we have so much growth potential unexploited in China, even in the US, Canada, Russia, Dubai, Mexico… This is the lower-hanging fruit.”

“We have limited resources and great opportunities elsewhere that we need to make a very careful plan when to enter which market.”

Cadillac-CTS

Asked which models he believed had the most potential to sell well in Australia, Ellinghaus alluded to the hole that will be left in GM’s Australian performance car portfolio when production of the homegrown Holden Commodore ends in 2017.

“This is something that I can envisage very well,” he confirmed. “This is exactly the spot of the market that I have in mind when it comes to Australia.

“I know about the appreciation that Australians have for high-performance vehicles, and these vehicles are high-performance vehicles.”

He said offering Cadillacs at Commodore prices would not be possible, however, and rather pointed towards Germany’s performance divisions as a guide of what could be expected of its go-fast models.

“[Matching Commodore prices would be] difficult given the investment we’ve made in the products, and the business case logic that requires a certain return on the capital employed. Clearly the price must reflect the increased product substance.

“In this regard I see Cadillac almost more on the level of BMW M or Mercedes AMG.”

Cadillac-Escalade

Asked about other cars with potential for our market, Ellinghaus immediately pointed towards SUVs such as the SRX and Escalade (pictured above), and also acknowledged the large CTS sedan.

“I think both SUVs could do really, really well given the appreciation for SUVs,” he said.

“Of course the [BMW] 5 Series and [Mercedes-Benz] E-Class are very successful in Australia, so people might get a little bored as they are ubiquitous, everybody in the neighbourhood has them, and we could be the distinctive face in the crowd.”

Ellinghaus said he saw potential for “almost all cars in the current portfolio”, but said any Australian introduction would start with one or two models and expand from there.

A local launch appears unlikely until closer to the end of the decade at the earliest, however, with the brand still yet to manufacture any of its vehicles in right-hand drive.

“We are of course on the case and want to offer right-hand drive. We have plans underway [but] it’s definitely nothing that will come in the next two or three years for sure.

“In this regard, for some of the cars in the current portfolio we look at the next generation, like the SRX for example. But it depends, for some it might still be in the current [generation].”

Cadillac attempted to launch into Australia in 2008, and went as far as appointing dealers and importing cars, but reversed its decision at the 11th hour.




  • gfys

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – Albert Einstein

    I can’t help but feel Cadillac has tried this before

  • Pauly

    Having the attitude this guy has, will lead to failure in Australia.

    Cadilac seeing themselves as a BMW/Merc/Audi/Lexus competitor might work in the USA. But it will not cut it here.

    Infiniti is learning this as we speak in Australia. Cadilac will need to come in and priced a good $15K-$20K less then their competition if they wish to see any sort of decent sales.

    If they are going to come to Australia with any sort of arrogance behind them and their prices, they will be gone quicker then Opel came and left.

    • ben

      wrong
      i believe “arrogance” is exactly what they need to succeed here. why the Germans sell well? yes they make good cars but infinity and Lexus also make good cars. it is the “arrogance” factor that Infinity lacks

      • genesis

        UMMM…inifiti’s price was very arrogant??? nothing to do with arrogance factor. it’s more to do with “oh it’s european” compared to “ah it’s asian”. just like asians guys r never seen as big eyed/big boned. because they’re aren’t! (per average)

    • Kd

      Learn the difference between ‘then’ and ‘than’.

    • Phil

      He thinks they can pick up buyers from those marques because they are in the main stylistically conservative and increasingly common. That’s not competing head on, that’s angling for a niche. Seems pretty realistic to me.

  • quivive

    I would have thought the Opel experience would be ringing in their (GMs) ears.

  • ben

    i love CTS, exterior design is close to perfect, interior design is close to high end Europeans, performance is good and price is reasonable

  • Golfschwein

    Bring them and keep them! It’s an ideal choice for when the Caprice leaves.

  • Gx

    That chromy black thing may sell 10 max per annum. The sedans 150 cars per annum max. Not nice but niche! Very niche. Why bother?

    • Robert Ryan

      Completely agree. It appears GMNA is completely out of touch with what works in Australia. Opel will look like a success story compared to Cadillac

  • Buckeye

    I think it will at least out sell the Chrysler 300.

  • Golfschwein

    The red coupe’s a fine looking thing.

  • Tin

    The hole that will be left is the hole that GM has chosen to create. The whole plan was to get rid of Australian jobs to make more American jobs. If you support this strategy, buy GM product.

    • Robert Ryan

      Correct

      • p gs

        agree with you
        I was expecting something along these lines. Will appeal to all of those who enjoy poorly conceived and built American cars

  • Buckeye

    Would a marketing boss say anything less?

  • Shak

    It may be a good idea to replace the Calais/Caprice when the Commodore is killed. But they will need to understand their place in the overly-crowded Australian marketplace. They may THINK they compete with the Germans and Lexus, but in the minds of the cynical Aussie buyer they do not. They will need to grovel, and work their way up the ladder to have any hope of selling at German prices, and German volumes. Start at the bottom and work your way up, is the only way for GM to have any hope of success with Cadillac. It’ll be sad to see another GM brand fail, especially one that finally has some competitive and worthwhile product.