Cadillac Hoping Russian Demand Becomes Strong Like Bear

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
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  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Jul 17, 2017

    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.

    • See 2 previous
    • Bd2 Bd2 on Jul 18, 2017

      @DeadWeight 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.

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jul 18, 2017

    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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Once e-mail was adopted by my former employer, we were coached about malice software as early as the 90's. We called it "worms" back then.They were separating the computers that ran the power plants from the rest of the system in the early 00's. One plant supervisor loaded vacation pictures from a thumb drive on his work PC. His PC was immediately isolated and the supervisor in question was made an example of via a disciplinary notice. Word spread quickly!!Last I heard, they still had their own data center!! Cloud Computing, what's that?!?! 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
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  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉