We almost got The General's luxury flagship brand in 2009. Now, it's on the table again.
General Motors (GM) hasn't ruled out another tilt at bringing Cadillac to Australia, suggesting its entire product cupboard is open to our market, provided the business case stacks up.
Speaking with media in Port Melbourne, Mark Reuss, General Motors vice president and head of global product, said head office is "certainly capable" of putting right-hand drive Cadillacs on Australian roads.
"When I was here, we had to make some really tough decisions on a cash basis," he said, referencing his tenure as Holden MD in 2008/09.
"We actually had Cadillacs on the ground here that were right-hand drive, once in a while you might see one around."
A local launch for Cadillac was within touching distance in 2009, before the Global Financial Crisis killed – sorry, 'indefinitely delayed' – the plans. A batch of Caddies made it to Holden dealers in New Zealand, and a media drive was scheduled for the CTS in Australia, before the rug was pulled at the 11th hour.
"We weren't able to 100 per cent do the brand justice," Reuss, then managing director of Holden, said at the time. "We only have one chance to launch the brand in Australia."
That chance could come under Dave Buttner, who yesterday put the entire General Motors catalogue on the table for Australia... well, sort of. Although the usual business constraints apply, the new Holden managing director seemed open to interesting products from across the broad GM portfolio.
"We have to look at every option," Buttner said, speaking at the same press conference.
"Without declaring the future, we need to understand what resonates with Australian consumers, what's relevant in terms of the relationship to what we want to be as a Holden brand, and ensure we have those correct products in place."
"I'm not taking anything off the table."
If it were to launch in Australia, the Cadillac brand would be fighting a general downturn in luxury car sales. Mercedes-Benz is down 7.0 per cent, BMW has shed 2.7 per cent, and Audi has dropped 6.6 per cent on 2017. Although it has the XT5 SUV and super-sized Escalade, Cadillac is also primarily a passenger car brand, and passenger cars are on the nose right now.
Of course, having everything on the table isn't a guarantee we'll actually get to enjoy the forbidden fruits of North America, despite the pleas of car enthusiasts. Australians have been crying out for the Chevrolet Camaro, for example, but if demand for the HSV-converted car is poor, the next-generation car is unlikely to come in right-hand drive from the factory.
It's a similar story with the Silverado, also headed to market in HSV-converted form. GM is willing to develop product for our roads – we're the only right-hand drive takers for the Equinox and Acadia – but not on a whim.
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