Cadillac targets business sales expansion
16 January 2007
Growing business car sales for Cadillac will be at the heart of moves by senior General Motors Europe execs as they seek to take more direct control of the struggling US luxury brand, which last year registered less than 400 cars in Britain.
Flagging up the strategic shift, Gerard Jansen, chief operating officer of Dutch-based Kroymans Group, European distributors for Cadillac, Corvette and Hummer, said: "The key thing in the UK is the corporate market. We are close to GME with plans to be more effective in that area. It would give us access to pan-European fleet and leasing deals."
Jansen has been frustrated that a European-wide LeasePlan Cadillac contract did not apply in the UK because exclusive franchise holder Pendragon (through Stratstone outlets) majored on fleet business via its Pendragon Contracts division.
Jansen added: "We are investigating how to be more effective with Cadillac in the UK but we will not walk away from Pendragon. All the partners are determined to make it work. Leveraging GM's UK resources would benefit us all."
Cadillac, which disguised its sub-400 unit total sales under the SMMT's "other imports" 2006 listing, will come under the UK and European fleet operations umbrella, the former managed by fleet director Maurice Howkins.
The proposed strategy will be underpinned by significant Cadillac range expansion over the next three years. The most significant business car newcomer will be an estate car counterpart for the Swedish-built BLS, due to debut at the Frankfurt motor show.
The new CTS (sized between BMW's 5 and 7-series) debuted at Detroit and should arrive in the UK in June 2008, with a 3-litre bi-turbo V6 diesel version planned.
CTS estate car and coupe variations are envisaged later, recognising the need for a wider portfolio if Cadillac is to be taken seriously against European premium rivals. Bio-ethanol E85 petrol engines are also in the game plan. A higher-performance V8, 400PS, all-wheel-drive, V-badged coupe flagship is perceived as a rival to BMW's M5, Mercedes AMG models and Audi's RS variant.
Within three years Cadillac and Saab co-operation will extend to a butch 4x4-style vehicle, badged VRX and 9-4, designed to join the burgeoning compact 4x4 sector.
Another proposal involves creating a prestige GM brand group covering Cadillac, Corvette, Saab and Hummer, which is establishing a limited "strategic" three-outlet network this autumn.