General Motor’s luxury brand Cadillac is gearing up for an Australia launch with its upcoming range of new vehicles that are engineered for right-hand drive.
Speaking to CarAdvice at today’s New York auto show, the brand’s director of global marketing, Jim Vurpillat, confirmed the brand’s intentions to enter right-hand drive markets, such as Australia, by 2020.
“It’s really in the end of 2020, that we feel we will have a broad enough portfolio and diversity of powertrain choices to be able to go into right hand drive markets, Australia being one and obviously UK,” Vurpillat said.
“Where in the past we have thought about entering the market, we didn’t have the breadth of portfolio; in that time frame [by 2020] we should have the breadth of portfolio to cover the market not just with right-hand drive but the right powertrains as well.”
Cadillac was previously set for an Australian launch in 2008 – dealers were appointed and cars had arrived but the decision to import the American luxury marque was reversed in the final hour – and is now awaiting the arrival of a new generation of vehicles before it embarks on its aggressive global expansion plan.
“[We need] to be able to bring a significant enough portfolio offering because we might not have every single entry, like the Escalade doesn’t have right-hand drive. But a broad enough portfolio and significant enough of a footprint for the brand that people get to experience the whole brand, it’s more than having just one car or two cars.”
Asked why the current crop of Cadillacs are not being produced for right-hand drive, despite their underpinnings permitting, Vurpillat said it's best to launch with a new range of cars.
“I think the best time to do [RHD] is instead of bringing over cars late in the end of their lifecycle, it’s to bring over cars at the beginning of their lifecycle."
"What we are doing is looking at the next generation of our core line-up of vehicles, what you really want is a compact luxury, ATS for us, a mid-sized [model], couple of crossovers - that represents the core of the market.”
Currently Cadillac produces cars in North America and China. Whether we will get our cars from China – which currently only manufactures for the local market, though that is expected to change with an announcement at the Shanghai show – remains to be seen.
Asked if China would have the ability to supply Australia, Vurpillat said: “Sure they do, but will we? I don’t really know, you really have to get out an export strategy of where we would do that at.”
The current strength of the US dollar is also unlikely to help Cadillac's pricing unless the cars are produced in China.
Cadillac’s previous aborted launch leaves many questions unanswered and Vurpillat wasn’t willing to 100 per cent commit to the brand’s launch before 2020, even if it's all but confirmed.
"Things can change economically - but you know what? I can’t imagine us producing right-hand drive cars and not coming to Australia."
Cadillac also believes that its current and new range of cars are perfectly suited to Australian drivers.
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