General Motors' luxury brand Cadillac has confirmed that building right-hand-drive vehicles is very much part of it future game plan, once it has further established itself a global player.
Talking to the Australian media at the Geneva motor show today, Cadillac’s executive vice president and president, Johan de Nysschen, told the press that right-hand drive will be a necessary part of the brand’s future if it is to take its entry into Europe seriously.
“Our RHD strategy is very closely interlinked without European strategy, for that I would say that we want to come to Europe with more ambitious intentions for volume growth than we are capable of delivering today.” Nysschen said.
“Once we move into Europe, then we have the opportunity to start addressing right-hand drive. It’s almost inconceivable that you want to come to Europe and be more than a boutique player without considering the UK.
"When you go into right-hand drive for UK, that opens opportunity for RHD markets elsewhere in the world, because you obviously want to generate the economies of scale.”
Nonetheless, the expansion to right-hand drive will only come once Cadillac has secured the necessary volume and consequent financial gain from big markets such as North American and China.
“We will only be able to expand our footprint in Europe when we are able to bring the right products to this market. That is our major prioritisation now, to create the two great volume hubs for Cadillac globally through the US and china.
"Not discounting the importance of the other markets, but we need to build up the product portfolio. You can’t invest in all the vehicles unless you have the volume, and the quickest way to unlock the volume is through the two biggest markets.”
The strategy to build right-hand drive vehicles has already started, with all new Cadillac vehicles already engineered to be right-hand drive compatible, so that when the go-ahead is given, the existing vehicle range can be converted much easier.
“What we are doing in the development of our new products, is we are developing them with right-hand drive in mind, so they are right hand drive enabled," he said.
"So the idea is that we want to synchronise the rollout of right-hand drive versions so that if we do decide to enter a market, such as for example Australia, we would be able to give the dealer network a full showroom, as opposed to entering one car at a time as that’s not a feasible way to establish a network.”
So when are we likely to see Cadillac have another go at establishing itself as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi competitor in Australia?
“We will have about a two-year window early in the next decade where we will be able to synchronise the expansion of our portfolio in a relatively short space of time and embrace more right-hand drive interest. Therefore, it’s not in the immediate time horizon, but very much part of the future game plan.
“We have no particular year in mind yet, we must recognise that there is always a cost of entry into new markets and really our nearer-term focus is on investment into new products and new technologies and developing our major volume markets.
"When we feel that we have the financial wherewithal to go and attack a sophisticated market like Australia with a strong and sustainable and winning strategy, we will make that call, but certainly we envisage that as part of our future plan.”
We would suspect that a Cadillac entry into the Australian market is likely around 2021-2022, if the brand has managed to meet its financial goals in the bigger global markets.