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.”
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.
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