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Cadillac return to Oz still up in air

Come back: Cadillac Global Design executive director Andrew Smith is supportive of Cadillac returning to Australian shores.

Global Cadillac design boss keen on return to Australia, but still no confirmation

3 Apr 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in NEW YORK

CADILLAC appears no closer to relaunching Down Under, but global design chief Andrew Smith says he would love to see the iconic American brand return to Australia.

Speaking with GoAuto on the Cadillac stand at last week’s New York motor show, Mr Smith, who is an Australian, said he was in favour of Cadillac returning to this market.

“I am the biggest fan for bringing it there,” he said. “I have been on the record in the past for saying that I think it would be a perfect fit there. I can’t say much more than that right now, but I would love to see it there.” It is unclear if parent company General Motors is actively working on a business case to bring Cadillac to the Australian market.

As GoAuto has reported, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen said at last year’ s Geneva motor show that the brand was focussing on shoring up its business in China, the United States and Europe before expanding into new territories.

“Not discounting the importance of 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 place to unlock the volume is with the two biggest markets,” Mr de Nysschen said at the time.

GM was all set to reintroduce Cadillac to Australia in 2009, but former Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss pulled the pin at the last minute because of the impact of the global financial crisis which eventually forced GM to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Mr Smith was on hand at the New York show for the reveal of the updated Cadillac CT6 sedan, a model he was responsible for designing.

Asked if there was any involvement from the Melbourne-based GM Design Australia team in the look of the CT6, Mr Smith did not specify if they were involved, but highlighted the many other Australian executives associated with the project.

“Well, there are lots of Australians involved in the vehicle. In fact what’s interesting is the executive chief engineer who began this vehicle, Travis Hester, is an Australian. (GM global design chief) Mike Simcoe is an Australian. Sharon Gauci who was in charge of colour and trim is an Australian. So there are lots and lots of product development people from Australia,” he said.

“We still work very closely with the studio in Australia on advanced work. They are a great source for us to work on vision work – future stuff. I have a regular weekly meeting with them. It’s been really good. They are over here a lot as well.” Mr Smith said hailing from another country allowed him to look at Cadillac design in an objective way.

“When they offered me the role in Cadillac, it was really a chance to kind of step back and say, ‘Okay, what is it about Cadillac I want to amplify?’ I do think even though it is an iconic American brand, being from another country gives you somewhat of an objective view, where you kind of look at it and say, ‘What is it about America that we want to show off?’ “And ultimately it comes down to optimism and the idea that you can do pretty much whatever you want. And that is really what we want Cadillac to be. It is not a ‘me too’ brand, it is about who you are and making you the best that you can be.” Mr Smith added that the shift to driverless technology provided an opportunity from a design perspective to enhance the experience of the occupants.

“I think it is more exciting. It is opening up possibilities. It is interesting if you think about autonomy. How do you give the driver, or the passenger I guess, a relaxing experience where they feel like they are in control when they are not in control? So that is a design challenge. But it is going to be fun,” he said.

Mr Smith took on the role of head of Cadillac and Buick design in September 2013, but this role was split in mid-2015 so he could focus on Cadillac. He started his career with GM in 1992 as a designer at Holden, working on the VT Commodore.

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