31st January 2009

It’s not over yet for Cadillac

There’s a very small crack in the window of opportunity for the luxury Cadillac brand.

Although put on hold `indefinitely’ last week, GM-Holden chairman, Mark Reuss, has not ruled out the premium GM brand being sold here at some point in the future.

Announcing the decision last week to delay the Cadillac launch, Reuss says the brand is still on the company’s books.

“We’ll revisit it on a month-to-month basis,” he said.

Reuss believes that when the car market picks up, possibly at the end of this year or early next year, the Cadillac file will then be dragged out again.

GM-Holden was just weeks away from launching the CTS sedan, to be followed by a wagon, coupe and possibly four-wheel drive.

They would have been part of GM-Holden’s Premium Brands, which includes the troubled Hummer and Saab brands.

Reuss says the Cadillac decision was taken because of the global car crisis.

“It was a tough decision personally because in my prior life I had a lot to do with developing what is now the Cadillac portfolio as an engineer and development engineer,” he says.

“The reaction at the Sydney motor show was very positive when we showed the sedan and the coupe.”

Reuss says GM-Holden was not “100 per cent able” to do the brand or the car justice in a tough market and tough global economy.

“So we’re electing not to launch Cadillac with the risk of things happening that would not be as positive as we would like for the car and the brand here,” he says.

Reuss says the company had one shot at doing Cadillac well.

“We have to be able to do it from both a human and finance resource standpoint that the brand and the car deserves and right now we aren’t able to do that.”

General Motors is facing a tough road ahead and Reuss admits that this is following through to GM-Holden.

“So we have to make some tough calls and good calls on where we focus the resources we have,” he says.

“In Australia we are focusing everything we have on our core fundamental activities.”

GM Holden had already appointed 14 dealers nationally and three in New Zealand to handle the Cadillac franchise.

Reuss said discussions are being held with two dealers over compensation for some of their investment.

“We’re prepared to work through those issues with the dealers,” he said.

GM-Holden had already certifyied 89 CTS sedans for sale but these cars will now be on-sold into other right-hand drive markets.

The Cadillac delay may leave the way open for a third-party grey importer to bring some cars in.

But Reuss says he is not keen on that idea.

“This is our flagship,” he says.

“It’s not a boutique brand.”

 

- Herald Sun

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