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Cadillac heads Down Under


NEWS
December 14, 2007/7.06


[Cross-posted] Cadillac will head Down Under, according to General Motors–Holden’s boss Chris Gubbey.
   It makes sense: the brand is well known despite not having retailed here postwar, thanks to American media, President Bush and The Matrix Reloaded. GM has been making right-hand-drive Caddys for some time for the Japanese and the British. And with Saab as the only premium GM brand here (if you do not count Hummer) and Holden now retailing Daewoos in most passenger car classes below the Commodore, the American company does lack something in the snob sector.
   Saab is not really for snobs, anyway: they are for people who want a safe, Swedish car on old Opel Vectra platforms. Cadillac will have some cachet, even if American cars tend to have far worse interiors than their European counterparts. In other words, snobbery is all well and good, but even snobs will want good value. Otherwise, I can think of a very nice Audi A4 or A6 that they can consider.
   I have not driven the new CTS, the ?rst model to go on sale here. Maybe the Lutz in?uence means that it has got the interior right, to match the striking exterior (I have loved Cadillac’s design themes this century). We know the car has been extensively tested to make it Euro-friendly. But they said all this the last time and the interior was still godawful.
   Personally, I would be more excited about the Opel Vectra C-based Cadillac BLS, which will at least give BMW 3-series owners an alternative. The Audi A4 is getting older, and now would be a good time to strike. By 2008, Audi’s A4 will grow a lot, and the BLS will look decidedly outclassed. Like the Jaguar X-type.
   However, I still think the Cadillac announcement is positive for GM in these parts. If the quality is right, then even better. If not, then GM should brace itself for another rejection. American cars have traditionally not done well here—Chrysler Neon and Ford Taurus, anyone?—and with such an investment, no brand can shield a product if the quality is not right. Just keep the Escalade at home, OK?

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branding / design / globalization / New Zealand
Filed by Jack Yan

8 thoughts on “Cadillac heads Down Under

  1. I recently saw the CST on display in Las Vegas recently and wouldn’t hold up much hope for quality. Looking past the styling, which I think will date rapidly, the exterior trim had that “cheap” look which the big US makers do so well. Tacky badges, grilles etc

    Looking inside it was similar except the styling was good, especially for a US car. But again plasticy looking leather, wood and plastic(!) let it down. It’s better than any recent Caddy I’ve seen but no BMW/Audi/Merc competitor in terms of design. I didn’t drive it but all the reports I’ve seen have been positive from that point of view.

  2. Interesting. Thanks, Robin. Looks like another heap of promises and total under-delivery. It’s odd that a company with the resources of GM cannot bring a few Audis and BMWs into their design centres and say, ‘Hey, look! We suck!’ Or they do, but nothing happens.

  3. Might be of interest, I saw the cars on display at “Fashion Show Mall” in Las Vegas. Went there to browse and have lunch before heading to the airport. When I walked in there was a full on fashion show – theatre lighting, raised catwalk and large dressing room, designer clothes – going on in the middle of the mall. I went off to find some lunch and returned to find a Caddy display complete with showroom (would fit a couple of cars) and 3 or 4 cars outside it. I thought had come into a different part of the mall but then the cars, and showroom, disappeared and out of the floor emerged the catwalk etc for another show! Apparently it changed every couple of hours… Only in Vegas!

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2174/2100961443_b4aeff43ea_b.jpg

  4. Jack, Further to your comment I think GM, Ford, Chrysler etc have design and manufacturing resource to match the Euro’s. I suspect the real problem is it gets watered down by approval committees, “customer clinics” and the accountants trimming “costs”.
    Cars are emotional products with common sense playing only a small part otherwise we’d all be driving around in Corollas. Committee design kills emotion yet emotion will sell even if some other aspects are compromised.
    Look at Fiat: turned around by a CEO who just let Fiat “be Fiat” rather than trying to be Toyota or VW. OK, so a bundle of GM cash didn’t do any harm but look what GM lost in another brilliant management decision. You could argue about the only clever thing they’ve done recently is retain their Korean links although that’s meant lousy cars for NZ in the short term.
    I wonder how Saab would get on without the constant meddling from it’s GM overlords? Some say it wouldn’t survive but you have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better off with a well funded independent owner and “technical partnerships” where it needs volume suppliers.

  5. It’s true a lot of these come down to leadership, plus the existing structure within the firm. The Americans play politics and can’t-do internally, so you are probably right about why the CTS is such a duffer.
       About the only thing Saab has got from the GM link is the degradation of building Cadillacs in Trollhättan and the Epsilon platform for the Saab 9-3. I do have to wonder how much better off it would be without GM: a tie-up with a German or French firm might not be a bad idea.
       The reality for US survival, for Saab, however, is the presence of an SUV, which it has in the shape of the 9-7X. Purists might hate it, but without it, there would be no Saab in the States. Whomever it partners with must have this model that the Swedes can temporarily badge-engineer till Saab makes its own.

  6. PS.: without emotion I think we’d go worse than Corolla. I think the DDR showed us what was possible; and if cars were commodities we’d choose the cheapest. It’d be a field day for the Lada 2105 and the Daewoo Matiz!

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