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Cadillac eyeing Australia

Ready to go: Cadillac’s freshly unveiled CT6 has been engineered for right-hand drive markets, as the American brand plans to move into the global market place.

American luxury brand Cadillac looks to Australian presence from 2020

2 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER in NEW YORK

CADILLAC is gearing up for another attempt to enter the Australian luxury market and other regions outside its United States stronghold, with an expanded range of cars developed in both left- and right-hand drive.

The iconic American brand is primarily focusing on China — the largest global luxury market – but says it cannot enter Europe without including United Kingdom and other right-hand drive markets.

Cadillac attempted to enter the Australian market with the CTS in 2009, but its arrival was skittled at the last moment by the global financial crisis when parent company General Motors slid into financial crisis.

Speaking at the global unveiling of Cadillac’s new large luxury CT6 sedan in New York today, GM executive vice president and Cadillac Global president Johan de Nysschen said the expansion plans would ultimately include Australia.

“Cadillac is moving from being a US-centic brand to a global luxury brand,” he said “We are expanding our product range to enter many new market segments where we aren’t present.

“We have to take things one step at a time. The market where we can get the biggest return in terms of expanding our presence is China.

 center imageLeft: General Motors executive vice president and Cadillac Global president Johan de Nysschen.

“It’s now the world’s largest luxury car market and so our primary focus right now is to establish China as the second volume hub for the brand.

“That will keep us busy for a few years but come the other side of 2020 I think we then need to start looking at other markets and of course including Europe, and you cannot play in Europe without being in the UK.

“That means you also need right-hand drive. If you want to invest in generating right-hand driver variants of your cars, you will never finance it with UK volume alone. So where else do we find right-hand drive volume? Japan, Australia, South East Asia and South Africa.

“So it’s definitely in the plan, but in terms of time horizon, I would estimate probably seven or eight years out.

“I’ve heard it suggested to me that there are one or two people in Australia who like high-performance cars so I think we should consider it.”

Mr de Nysschen said careful consideration would have to be given to the exact Australian range but SUVs and sportier models would certainly be included.

“I don’t say that we would necessarily do right-hand drive version of each of our cars, you’d select the ones that are appropriate and where you feel there is a market,” he said.

Mr de Nysschen confirmed the freshly unveiled Cadillac CT6 had been engineered to accommodate a right-hand drive version and that such a car would fit well into the Australian portfolio.

“All our cars under development right now are being conceived around the notion as global cars,” he said.

Mr de Nysschen also explained that the minimal Cadillac SUV range was unusual in the United States area and that up to three new high-riding additions would be considered for the line-up, potentially boosting the Australian offerings.

“Having one kind of SUV and one crossover for an American brand is almost outrageous,” he said.

“I think there is an obvious gap that exists in the range between where the SRX is and the Escalade, and then in the segments below SRX probably at least another two.”

While the American brand is looking to expand its range in existing segments, Mr de Nysschen explained it would not pursue a line-up that obsessively chases sales with niches within niches like some European manufacturers.

“I salute particularly the three German brands that dominate the luxury market today,” he said. “I wish we were as unsuccessful as they were.

“I think they have moved to a point where there is an unhealthy obsession for being number one in the sales game.”“It has lead them down a path where they identify sub-niche after sub-niche as they seek opportunities to generate incremental volume. I think there is a danger that exists where you have invested a whole bunch of engineering resources and marketing money to present one customer with a choice of two cars.

“This does not help you, and Cadillac will not go down that road.”

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