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Cadillac serious about Australian debut

Startling: The Evoq concept car shattered many comfortable illusions of Cadillac as an old man's car and is a sign of the imminent rejuvenation of the venerable brand.

Cadillac aims to return to Australia in the near future with an all-new range of luxury limousines, perhaps in concert with Saab

20 Jan 2000

GENERAL Motors' Cadillac division is nursing medium-term hopes of introducing the brand into Australia.

Cadillac has been holding on-going discussions with GM management in Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore and with Holden management in Melbourne about the launch of the brand Down Under.

Assessments have been under way for about 18 months.

Cadillac is presently expanding into Europe and Japan as part of a strategy to take on Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar outside North America.

By confining its sights inside the North American continent and catering to middle American tastes for so long, Cadillac has been looking over its shoulder at Lincoln and allowed the European luxury marques to establish themselves as aspirational cars worldwide.

Cadillac recognises that the bulk of world luxury car sales are outside the US.

They are especially strong in Europe and, in market share terms, in Australia.

The vice-president and general manager of the Cadillac Motor Division, Mr John F. Smith, said Cadillac was watching the success of the European luxury car-makers in Australia and believed it could get a foothold in the market by building on the existing Saab or Holden distribution networks.

Mr Smith was commenting at a Cadillac presentation limited to European, Japanese and Australian journalists. Cadillac is working hard to impress Japanese and European journalists - the two markets where its expansion plans are strongest.

It was significant that the Australian media was included in the program.

Mr Smith said it would make sense to use the Saab network to launch the brand in Australia.

"Saab makes sense because we linked with Saab in Japan." He said the potential for Saab to be Cadillac's launching pad had increased following GM's agreement to buy all of Saab's shares.

"Outright GM ownership of Saab clearly changes the role of Saab," he said.

If Cadillac comes to Australia it would field more than one car line.

Mr Smith said Cadillac was planning several new rear-drive models in the next few years "that will separate Cadillac from Holden".

"We are looking ahead to what we will have that will be complimentary to Holden and we will have products that will separate from Holden," he said.

These include a new Catera (based on the Opel Omega) in 2002, a leisure activities vehicle called the LAV in 2003 and a new rear drive/all-wheel drive Seville in 2004.

All will be styled along the lines of the Cadillac Evoq concept car being used to create the styling theme for all future Cadillacs.

But the chairman and managing director of Holden Limited, Mr Peter Hanenberger, said he did not think the time was quite ripe for Cadillac in Australia.

He said Holden would want to ensure sales of the Australian-made Statesman and Caprice were not affected by the Cadillac line-up and that Cadillac did not confuse Saab's role in Australia.

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