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Cadillac Returns To Australia

Marton Pettendy
9 October 2008
www.goauto.com.au

GM relaunches historic US brand Down Under, but without the CTS sedan to sell.

Holden subsidiary GM Premium Brands (GMPB) may have delayed the retail release of its brash new Cadillac CTS sedan from September to early 2009, but that did not stop it from relaunching the 106-year-old American luxury marque in Australia at today’s opening of the 2008 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

Aided by the debut Australian appearance of the two-door CTS Coupe concept – which debuted at the Detroit motor show in January, was recently confirmed for production by General Motors chief Rick Wagoner and has now been locked in for Australian sales from late 2009 – the Australian Cadillac brand launch will be spearheaded by the four-door CTS, which appeared at Darling Harbour in Australian-specification, right-hand drive guise for the first time.

Pricing and equipment details will not be divulged until nearer to next year’s launch, but the rear-drive CTS sedan will come powered by a direct-injection, variable valve timing-equipped version of the Commodore’s 3.6-litre global V6, which in this case will deliver vastly improved outputs of 227kW and 370Nm of torque on regular unleaded petrol.

The premium-spec petrol V6 will be mated exclusively to an electronically controlled Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control manual mode, but there was no mention of GM’s cylinder-deactivating Active Fuel Management system, the availability of the CTS Coupe’s 2.9-litre turbo-diesel engine or the V8 that powers the V-Spec CTS sedan in the US. A wagon is also expected to eventually join the CTS model range.

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We have already had the launch of the RHD CTS in South Africa. I have ordered a Raven Black CTS sport (light titanium interior) with all available options for R438K (USD 58K)- delivery is expected in two weeks. SA reviews of this car have been glowing- its made people here re-look at cadillac as a viable option to the Germans and Jags.
 

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I was at the opening of the Motorshow tonight and the Cadillac "launch" for want of a better word, was most uninspiring. I think like most Aussies on this forum, we expected the worse and I must say it was delivered. Cadillac is going nowhere here. Seeing two CTS's and the Coupe version "tacked" on to the main Holden stand with no indication they were Cadillacs is not what this whole Premium Brand thing was about.
I heard the US sourced spokesman at the three car section say:"No they do not come with a diesel"; "it is a 3 litre engine" to a man who was not impressed and "They have the same quality now, no rattles or squeaks anymore"
 

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Also there appeared to be a bit of "sibling rivalry". The Cadillac display was near the exit/entrance to the Holden stand, not in the middle as you would expect for the introduction of a new marque/ model. To add insult into injury , Holden had its Coupe 60 demonstrator(on a higher stand as well) almost alongside the the Cadillac Coupe. A case of spot the real Holden. HSV had their versions of the SportsWagon , 427 etc also on display and that added to the watering down of the Cadillac introduction.
 

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Is this really a priority? Is it THAT important to sell a couple hundred cars per year in an isolated market like Australias??! I'd think GM has much more important things to spend their money on.
I don't know that it's a priority, but I do agree that GM needs to leverage a global presence. It's not at all a good plan for Cadillac to rely heavily on one market-in this case the United States-for its sales. A balanced portfolio, which means a full line-up marketed to all countries in which GM operates, is the smart long-term plan. And it needs to start somewhere.

I remember when Lexus USA consisted of the then amazingly competent LS400 complimented with what appeared to be a filler-type model, the ES250, added to make the line-up somewhat fuller. 20 years hence, and with much investment, Lexus is quite formidable. If Cadillac takes this approach, with a special emphasis on investment, it, too, can find long-term success.
 

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I don't know that it's a priority, but I do agree that GM needs to leverage a global presence. It's not at all a good plan for Cadillac to rely heavily on one market-in this case the United States-for its sales. A balanced portfolio, which means a full line-up marketed to all countries in which GM operates, is the smart long-term plan. And it needs to start somewhere.
I agree with this. Its for that reason that I think that GM should continue to push Caddy in markets like Australia, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Japan, South America, and maybe even India.

Fact is that even if GM has a token presence in Western Europe, it shouldn't discount other areas of the world that may not be as nit-picky as Western European customers.

I'm not foolish enough to even think that they'd sell big numbers in those other markets collectively, but every bit helps. And once they introduce products like the BLS replacement - and possibly a sub-BLS product like the on-again/off-again "ATS/ALS/AT1" - Caddy will appeal to a larger number of consumers.
I remember when Lexus USA consisted of the then amazingly competent LS400 complimented with what appeared to be a filler-type model, the ES250, added to make the line-up somewhat fuller. 20 years hence, and with much investment, Lexus is quite formidable. If Cadillac takes this approach, with a special emphasis on investment, it, too, can find long-term success.
I agree, Cadillac could do worse than follow the Lexus example. When Lexus was launched in Europe, no one took them seriously (just as they did in the US). But they stood fast and slowly got a toe-hold in Europe. It isnt' a big toe-hold and they do not sell in huge numbers, but most folks would agree that they are a competent competitor, even if their market share is no threat to the established players. But point is, Toyota knew going in that they weren't going to dominate the market. GM has to take the same attitude: they are not going to dominate in some markets, but at least they'll exist and can always refine their approach and their product offerings.
 

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Is this really a priority? Is it THAT important to sell a couple hundred cars per year in an isolated market like Australias??! I'd think GM has much more important things to spend their money on.
Think of Chevy in the USA, to most people it is just a Chevy *yawn*. YOu can only do some much with the Checy brand before you need something else for premium content (ecluding the Corvette)

Likewise in Australia, a Holden is a Holden, they have flexability in HSV and with the Caprice, but a premium "Commodore" isn't that plausible given the people wouldn' accept the pricing.

Give them Cadillac, something fancy, very different look to the Commodore etc and you do have potential. Following along with the CTS coupe etc and Holden has a viable alternative to the Europeans.

*of note, when I got my 9-3 Aero, i priced the same vehicle in Australia and it was AUS$70k, vs say AUS$45-50k for a fully spec up Commodore. The 9-3 Aero was retail priced at US$35k.
 

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I would say that GM has had plenty of time to prove it's viability in other markets. To my understanding the Holden division has done quiet well in that area. Just wondering (General Motors) did you learn anything from that experience? This will not increase the sales numbers for Cadillac, as other pressing issues have done that.
 

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In for failure.
Agree totally. Bad Timing to release Cadillac now; Local competition from Holden and HSV offshoot too strong; no market precedence that is positive.
On a recent 26 day , 10 country tour of northern , central and eastern europe, I saw 5 Cadillacs and two Corvettes.
 

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Personally I think Caddy could do reasonably well.

No, they won't suddenly sell 5000 or more a year but I think GM could be onto something. You have some ppl who would not step foot inside a Holden showroom, no matter how good the product.

Therefore you have Caddy to look after those ppl ;)
 

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We have already had the launch of the RHD CTS in South Africa. I have ordered a Raven Black CTS sport (light titanium interior) with all available options for R438K (USD 58K)- delivery is expected in two weeks. SA reviews of this car have been glowing- its made people here re-look at cadillac as a viable option to the Germans and Jags.
That's what I love about S'effrica — they'll buy stuff that nobody else seems to want (Toyota Cressida, Cadillac BLS, Tata Indica...) :D And the South African motoring press judge cars fairly and sensibly, unlike the Europeans, who guage family cars using a Porsche 911 as the yardstick, or Americans, who flap about cupholders or how big a boot-they'll-never-fill is...!

I'm glad to see Caddy doing well in my childhood home! Hopefully it'll break the BMW/Merc "herd" mentality that's had a stranglehold on the luxury car market for thirty years. Hopefully someday I'll return and drive through Sandringham or Constantia Kloof (are those still posh areas?) and see some Caddy's zipping alongside all the Beemers, Benzes, and Land Rovers...
 

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That's what I love about S'effrica — they'll buy stuff that nobody else seems to want (Toyota Cressida, Cadillac BLS, Tata Indica...) :D And the South African motoring press judge cars fairly and sensibly, unlike the Europeans, who guage family cars using a Porsche 911 as the yardstick, or Americans, who flap about cupholders or how big a boot-they'll-never-fill is...!

I'm glad to see Caddy doing well in my childhood home! Hopefully it'll break the BMW/Merc "herd" mentality that's had a stranglehold on the luxury car market for thirty years. Hopefully someday I'll return and drive through Sandringham or Constantia Kloof (are those still posh areas?) and see some Caddy's zipping alongside all the Beemers, Benzes, and Land Rovers...
Mercedes sold 6,000 of the new C-Klasse sedans last year, a +33% record year for them in a record year for Australian car sales. Most of them would be well below the proposed price of the CTS and not competitors. Take away >$80K sales also not competitors, and allowing the Cadillac an optimistic 10% of conquest sales in the $60-80K class and you're talking maybe 500 sales a year at a max. There's 3-4-5 times more Euro premium dealers in my state than GM premium dealers in the whole country.

To put this in context, the Hummer H3, which starts at $Au50,000 is fluctuating between 50 and 150 monthly, with the mean being closer to 50. The CTS was mooted for around $70K when the $Oz was ~ US85c (now 64c) and the Luxury Car Tax was 25% (now 33); and before stockbrokers and their clients started jumping off buildings as in 1987.

I wouldn't hold your breath about seeing Cadillac becoming commonplace in Brighton or North Shore. I think it'll struggle to sell more than 1-2 dozen a month through the 14 national dealers. Maybe why they're selling them with Saab - Saab sales (Oz down 30% this year) make anything else look good...
 

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If Cadillac takes this approach, with a special emphasis on investment, it, too, can find long-term success.
That's the problem, GM doesn't have the money, so this is going to be another half-assed effort.

Launching any new brand is is tough, but launching a luxury brand with no real entry-level products is even tougher, and that's not going to work with one competitive model, unattractive prices and a handful of small dealers.
 

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That's what I love about S'effrica — they'll buy stuff that nobody else seems to want (Toyota Cressida, Cadillac BLS, Tata Indica...) :D And the South African motoring press judge cars fairly and sensibly, unlike the Europeans, who guage family cars using a Porsche 911 as the yardstick, or Americans, who flap about cupholders or how big a boot-they'll-never-fill is...!

I'm glad to see Caddy doing well in my childhood home! Hopefully it'll break the BMW/Merc "herd" mentality that's had a stranglehold on the luxury car market for thirty years. Hopefully someday I'll return and drive through Sandringham or Constantia Kloof (are those still posh areas?) and see some Caddy's zipping alongside all the Beemers, Benzes, and Land Rovers...
To put Caddy sales in South Africa in perspective, remember that Caddy is sold via 7 deals nationally, so I'd be surprised if sales exceed a dozen CTS and two dozen BLS per month, although the BLS did mange 95 sales in one month this year. In contrast the C Class, 3 Series and A-4 between the probably account for 2 to 3 thousand sales a month. So Caddy is and will continue to be a small portion of the luxury market- hower its a great thing to be driving in Sandton and passing a BLS or an SRX - I love the variety. And to be honest, one of the reasons the CTS appeals to me so much is that it is so rare- people started at me when I test drove a CTS in Fourways, Joburg. I suppose some stared because they thought the CTS to be ugly, but most seem taken in by the unique arts and science look. But irrespective, the CTS does stand out amongst the herd of look alike German cars (from the side I can now hardly tell the new A-4 from a 3 series or a C-Class!). T-Rex, you should definaterly come back to your homeland- the recently strong dollar makes it affordable plus you will never believe how things have changed- the wealth of the newly emerged black middle-upper class is amazing- they buy a huge portion of the Caddys/ Range Rovers/ S-claases/ lambos etc you see on the road. And if you have an American accent by now, you will pull in the chicks like crazy.. Oh and Sandringham and Constantia Kloof are still posh.
 

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To put Caddy sales in South Africa in perspective, remember that Caddy is sold via 7 deals nationally, so I'd be surprised if sales exceed a dozen CTS and two dozen BLS per month, although the BLS did mange 95 sales in one month this year.
That's still _relatively_ good for the BLS. They sell about 10 BLS/month in Germany for example(including fleet sales), which is much bigger market.
 

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Constantia Kloof? Sounds like a character from a Mel Brooks movie...

Anyhoo, if they actually did like it seems, it might be a good move. They've probably spent AUD 10 on the launch. The Saab dealers will welcome the opportunity to make up for the lost volume, and if they are experienced premium car dealers, they will find a way to put their customers in an exotic Cadillac. GM already builds RHD Cadillacs, so it costs them little to ship them to the Land of Oz, and generate a few more sales.
 
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