By on July 17, 2017

2017 Cadillac Escalade

If Cadillac’s top boss, Johan de Nysschen, had his way, The Hunt for Red October would feature a scene in which Capt. Vasili Borodin describes his dream of seeing the United States in an Escalade, not an recreational vehicle.

While General Motors’ luxury division counts on American and Chinese buyers to keep it flush with cash, there’s still room in the fold for other markets. Assuming, of course, those citizens have a willingness to cast off deep-seated consumer habits and, perhaps, prejudices.

After dropping pedestrian vehicles for an all-prestige lineup, GM’s conquest of the Russian luxury market hasn’t yet occurred, though it’s still early days. Sales are looking up. With a new partner in tow, Cadillac feels confident it can muscle out the Germans on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In 2015, amid a steep Russian economic slump, GM pulled out its low-end models, leaving only the Cadillac brand and high-value Chevrolets like the Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe. At the time, de Nysschen saw a bright future in the country, with plans for reaching 10,000 sales per year.

According to Wards Auto, that plan remains afoot. The automaker recently sealed a deal with Avilon Group, Russia’s top auto retailer, to open a new Cadillac dealer in Moscow. Others should follow as de Nysschen pursues his goal of expanding the network from 12 dealers to 17, backed with a marketing push.

Dodgy economy notwithstanding, there’s another serious roadblock facing GM in Russia. When well-to-do Russians upgrade their ride, it’s the Big German Three’s sale to lose. Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW rule the premium Russian roost. According to Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade analysts, Cadillac just doesn’t project the same level of premium essence, meaning the division must win hearts and minds before rubles roll in.

As it stands now, Cadillac is on the rebound from the depths of the Russian slump. Its best sales year remains 2011, when it sold 2,226 vehicles. Still, the brand posted a 22-percent year-to-date sales increase over the first half of this year, with June sales rising 54 percent compared to the same month last year. Sounds great, but it only spells 726 sales over the course of six months. Compare that to Mercedes-Benz, which sold 17,726 vehicles in Russia over the same time period. BMW sold 14,571, while Audi unloaded 8,408.

Russian Roulette, or a smart, long-range game plan? That’s for the big minds in Detroit and Manhattan to decide.

[Image: General Motors]

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29 Comments on “Cadillac Hoping Russian Demand Becomes Strong Like Bear...”


  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Hold on a second. I’ve been led to believe by very smart people on TV that Putin is worse than Hitler. So why is an American company selling cars to a country led by Hitler Double Plus Bad? For shame GM, for shame!!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      ?

      all Russians are not Vladimir Putin.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Where in the world are you getting your news/commentary from?

    • 0 avatar

      Ask 6 million Jews how Hitler compares to Putin.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        While Putin hasn’t committed the atrocities that Hitler did, he used many of the same tactics to grab, hold and consolidate his power as an authoritarian (just like Turkey’s Erdogan, the Philippines’ Duterte, etc. – and many would say, including our current occupant in the WH).

        Things like uber-nationalism, xenophobia, controlling the media, suppressing opponents/protesters, etc.

        Putin has his version of the “Hitler Youth” where the young are indoctrinated about how the ills facing Russia arise from foreign powers (mainly the US) and not from the corruption, etc. in Putin’s Russia.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Oh and the previous one(s) and one of the more recent candidates whose suspicious death list is a mile long are not? Give it up, the psychopaths are clearly in control.

          “uber-nationalism, xenophobia, controlling the media, suppressing opponents/protesters”

          Christ on a bike man did you sleep through the past twelve months? “News” was proven to be fake again and again. They are clearly engaged in collusion while foreign interests dump money into anti-American anarchist organizations (not the good kind of anarchists, the fascist ones).

          “Putin has his version of the “Hitler Youth” where the young are indoctrinated ”

          …and the youth of the US have not been?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Oh and the previous one(s) and one of the more recent candidates whose suspicious death list is a mile long are not?”

            can you point to a “suspicious death list” which hasn’t been spoon-fed to you by Sean Hannity and Breitbart?

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Gee, talk about being indoctrinated with “fake news”!

            Americans youth have not been indoctrinated by the state (maybe some being misled by certain politicians and “news” programs, but there is nothing resembling anything like “Hitler’s Youth”).

            And speaking of Jews, things haven’t been so great for Jewish people in Russia, as Russian skinheads have felt a lot more freedom to act on their “beliefs.”

            This is in part due to the rise of Russian uber-nationalism, which is now tightly entwined with the Russian Orthodox Church.

            And oh, another similarity btwn Putin and Hitler; the acquisition of territory by military force on the premise that ethnic Russians/Germans are being “oppressed.”

        • 0 avatar

          And Ukrainians are freedom fighters.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The bond forming between the neocons and centrist Democrats is quite disturbing, I will say that. And there is a good argument to be made that it started long before their mutual dislike of Trump brought them together.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    With whale penis leather option, good.

    Without, not so good.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    Maybe they will work better in Russia, I have no idea.

    I was in Nice, France two weeks ago and an Escalade drove by while I was in one of the older parts of town. In the context of the compact streets, pedestrians and small cars everywhere, and the old buildings all around us, it was completely obnoxious and silly looking. I already find it obnoxious, but it seemed exponentially worse there.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Russians love big vehicles and buy one as soon as they can afford one, space is less of a constraint I’d say although parking on Moscow sure sucks. People buying a new Escalade can afford to hire a driver/goon to sit double parked in front of the store/office and fend off “Stop-a-Douchebag” activists (see youtube for context).

    • 0 avatar

      Streets in Moscow are wider than in any American city. Large cars and SUVs are everywhere. So Escalade is welcomed in Moscow and Russia. Take a look at map. Russia size wise will cover US several times, 9 time zones vs 3. What we have in abundance is a space.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    “When well-to-do Russians upgrade their ride, it’s the Big German Three’s sale to lose.”

    You’re missing a HUGE piece of the pie here, and it’s named Toyota Land Cruiser (200 series and Prado). This includes Moscow and St. Pete, but even more so the “regions.” Definitely a favorite car of the successful small business owner.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @gtemnykh
      They were the tenth best selling vehicle in Australia at one stage. Selling Cadillacs to Russians is a tough ask especially when they are far from the best selling luxury vehicle in the US.
      Add in the sanctions the US is trying to impose on Russia as well, not good PR for Cadillac

  • avatar
    TW5

    Seems somewhat silly to push the Cadillac brand in Russia, when the US is aggressively sanctioning the country and belligerently targeting the Russian energy industry. I’m not saying it isn’t warranted, nor am I saying that the Russian elites are not disaffected globalists like every other country, just saying it’s going to take a marketing campaign of epic proportions to convince Russian elites that they really want an American car.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Nixon once gave Brezhnev a Lincoln as a goodwill gesture, maybe Trump can give Putin a Caddy since they are supposedly such good buddies. Or maybe Cadillac should target all the Russians in NYC – since they have that nice coffee-house there – perhaps they can add Russian coffee to the menu – Vodka with just a hint of coffee added.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    From Fortune: “27 Mar 2015 … That’s why it’s closing its massive St. Petersburg assembly plant and taking a $600 million write-off. GM is the first western automaker to call it quits in Russia, though it may not be the last.”

    But Johan and Melody know better.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I wonder how the Russians would like the Caddy if it was offered with a Duramax diesel but detuned a bit to be more civilized. I have a feeling that those Mercedes and BMWs are overwhelmingly diesel.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Finally took a drive in a CT6 3.6 liter (Chevy motor).

    What a total Piece of Sh!t, and that’s judging it against less expensive German and Japanese competitors with far better fit/finish and road manners (Germans) and fit/finish, road manners and reliability (Japanese and Koreans).

    It’s laughable at the 50k price point, let alone anything approaching the 70k or 80k price point.

    I can’t wait until the first HONEST review of that pile of excrement comes out on TTAC.

    CAdillac is down to two vehicles now floating their entire enterprise, to break even (if they are managing to break even, which I doubt,, being the Chevillac Traverse (err XT5) and Escslade.

    The ATS, CTS, and CT6 are all epic disasters (by historic standards, truly), with the XTS (CadImpala) serving as the only “Cadillac” sedan that sells in appreciable quantity (mainly to dental fleets).

    What a total, unmitigated f*cking disaster that Johan, Use & Melody & The SoHo Crew have created for Mary Whimsical Barra back in Detroit.

    Cadillac, The Standard Of Brand/Cache/Goodwill Swirling At Light Speed Down The Toilet.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in the green leafy burbs around NYC, I’ve seen exactly *one* CT6 in the wild. Tesla’s a common car around here, and BMW=Toyota, so…

      I saw an ATS-V coupe on Long Island in traffic. Sharp car, almost unicorn. I saw one other ATS-V in the wild, at a car show in Harriman State Park last year.

      My 85 yo FIL loves his XTS, except that the Cue screen froze. Luckily still in warranty. He bought used as well, so for 25k he’s happy….

      The 3.6 makes 300 hp, and GM puts it into literally everything. I don’t have any complaints about it, other than Genuine GM Parts….I hammer mine every day (OK, I call my CTS the Bitchin’ Camaro) and no, it isn’t the M54 in my BMW (RIP), but nothing else is…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The irony is that the XTS is the closest thing to a proper Cadillac sedan, as far away as ideal from that notion as it is (it’s a comfortable, okay vehicle, but no S class or even E Class or Lexus LS or 5/7 Series or A6/A8 rival), that still exists.

        Which is why it easily outsells the ATS and CTS combined, many times over.

        Which serves as Exhibit 223 as to the body of proof of Johan’s total incompetence (as well as that of the SoHo Crew and that back at RenCen).

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The CT6 doing alright (selling about 1k units/month) despite sharing the full-size market with the XTS (the XTS is selling a bit better, 7.4k YTD vs. 5.4k, but the CT6 has a good bit higher ATP).

          As for the ATS and CTS, their Achilles’ heel is the Alpha platform – which doesn’t allow for the amount of interior space that American buyers generally want.

          Having cramped interior space is usually not a recipe for success in the US market.

          Nevertheless, the CTS is outselling the GS.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Putin was a KGB supervisor in Honeckers honeyland. He witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and has wetted the bed ever since.

    I don’t know if caddy can pull off 10K sales but with respect to American brand acceptance in Russia, Germans weren’t popular in the recent past yet they do well.


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