Cadillac Reboots European Ambitions… Again.

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Given that European luxury brands have generally had their way with Detroit-based competitors in the US market, it should come as no surprise that Cadillac has failed to make any appreciable headway in the European market. The brand has been launched and re-launched in Europe four times in the last twelve years, according to Autocar, and its latest relaunch was supposed to boost sales to 20,000 per year by 2010. Despite that ambitious goal, Cadillac has fallen flat with European buyers, having moved about 1,300 units this year. As a result, the latest re-launch of Cadillac has been accompanied by dramatically scaled-back expectations: 2,500 units per year within the next “several” years (Cadillac expects the new ATS to make up about 1,500 units of this volume). Only limited numbers of CTS sedans and wagons will be converted to right-hand drive for the UK, and diesel engines for the CTS range are on hold. But even with a more modest approach to Europe, Cadillac is widely expected to keep struggling in Europe. After all, Lexus spent some $2.8b attacking the European luxury market, but sales which peaked at 60k in 2007 have retreated to a mere 30k units. As Cadillac gets stuck into its fourth re-launch, analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer is not optimistic

The brand Cadillac has no fascination for Europeans and no customer base. Why should I go from Audi, BMW, Volvo or Mercedes to Cadillac? Lexus has shown us how much investment is needed to do that… My forecast is, they (Cadillac) will not be in the market in Europe by 2020. Some people might buy one in the U.S. and export it to Europe. That’s it
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  • Bridge2farr Bridge2farr on Nov 01, 2010

    "It’s got the poise and refinement of a tractor, is obnoxiously loud and has been beaten with an ugly stick.' "Yeah, maybe that class is the Yoga class or Clogging class at the retirment homes." "The “New Standard of the World” tagline is ridiculously optomistic, it’s insulting to our intelligence." And exactly what "intelligence" is that?

  • Bridge2farr Bridge2farr on Nov 01, 2010

    "but I can garantee you, no-one will consider a Cadillac as an alternative to a Mercedes or BMW. Ever."But of course! Perish the thought! The hallowed problem free Mercedes and BMW are above all others. LOL

    • Zykotec Zykotec on Nov 01, 2010

      I just don't think they fight on the same grounds. Most Mercedes and BMW buyers actually buy quite cheap models. Imagine a Cadillac with the best suspension and best build quality GM can (or honestly can't) offer, but with cloth seats , decent materials in the interior, little extra equipment ,and a 2 litre 140hp engine and a manual transmission, and you will have a good contender for the volume part of the BMW/Mercedes marked. I think Cadillac should go their own way and make something that does not compete directly against the germans, but rather create or, re-create it's own niche. Most german cars aren't problem free at all, but they have a high level of 'perceived' quality. When you sit down in them and touch the interior panels, they feel like they will last, unlike most american cars since, well, the mid 50's?

  • John Williams John Williams on Nov 01, 2010

    "The brand has been launched and re-launched in Europe four times in the last twelve years, according to Autocar, and its latest relaunch was supposed to boost sales to 20,000 per year by 2010." I believe the real decline of Cadillac set in when it started chasing volume. No luxury car manufacturer can afford to do something that a ground-level value brand like Chevy can do with no sweat. Cadillac should just do the following and be better off for it: - Pull out of Europe and become an America-only commodity. If someone from Europe or China wants one, they'll just have to import one. - Cut back on the volume. If GM wants a high-volume luxury car maker, they have Buick. The relative scarcity of the Caddy will go a long way towards building it's exclusiveness. - Up the quality. It'll go a long way towards building it's exclusiveness. - Build a RWD flagship, for crying out loud. - Give a one-finger salute to the CAFE regs, as Porsche and others have done. With Cadillac's new low volume, they'll be able to afford the fines.

    • Vento97 Vento97 on Nov 02, 2010

      Excellent suggestions. Unfortunately, they will fall on the deaf ears of the GM fiefdom...

  • Voyager Voyager on Nov 03, 2011

    "The only thing you can do is try, try and try again with Cadillac in Europe" GM CEO Dan Akerson said on the 2011 Geneva Auto Show. GM spent multi-millions in positioning Cadillac (does anybody have any idea how much?) as an alternative to the German premium brands. What if it had spent the money on Saab instead?