General Motors’ mission to return luxury arm Cadillac to “a pre-eminent position among global luxury brands” has taken on a new dimension this week, with the company spinning off its flagship brand into a separate business unit based out of New York, and away from Detroit.
The move, reminiscent of Nissan’s decision to offshore Infiniti to Hong Kong in 2012, is designed to give Cadillac the focus and independence it needs to chase the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the US and abroad, in mooted growth markets such as China.
“With the relentless upward repositioning of successive new-generation Cadillac products, the next logical step is to provide Cadillac more freedom to cultivate the brand in pursuit of further global growth,” GM president Dan Ammann said.
“Cadillac’s mission is to reinstate the brand to a pre-eminent position among global luxury brands, a bold challenge requiring a distinct and focused new organisation. More than a division or brand, Cadillac is becoming a centre of excellence for our company.”
South African native Johan de Nysschen, who joined Cadillac as its new president in August after a stint running Infiniti, will be responsible for the brand’s overall operational performance.
While management of global operations will be located at the new global headquarters in the Big Apple, there will be no change to GM’s technical product development teams located in Michigan, nor does the plan impact existing manufacturing or assembly operations.
This means most Cadillac staffers outside of senior management will remain in Michigan — a PR tick considering that cash-strapped State can hardly afford to lose any more jobs.
Cadillac has operations in more than 40 countries, Australia not included.
The brand’s ongoing growth has been driven by an expanded product portfolio, leading to 28 per cent global growth in 2013 and an increase of about 10 per cent so far this year. Cadillac sales in China have grown 64 per cent year to date, and the brand wants to double sales there in 2015.
The news of Cadillac’s move comes in the same week as the company announced its intention to launch a new flagship model called the CT6 in late 2015. The CT6 will sit above the extant CTS and XTS lines, and will be a rear-drive sedan with advanced lightweight construction and the brief of being the most agile top-level luxury sedan on the market.