Jerry Flint gets on Caddy’s case

Jerry Flint’s latest column in Forbes Magazine gets well-and-truly on the case of Cadillac and GM Europe:

I would like to call your attention to what seems to be a blunder by General Motors – the European Cadillac, called the BLS. GM builds this new model in Sweden from a Saab platform. The company does not sell this car in the U.S. Sad to say, it barely sells it in Europe, either.

In the six months–April through September–that the BLS has been on the market in Europe, Cadillac sold only 820 units. That is fewer than 150 sales a month, and that spells failure in any language.

Jerry goes on to spell out his plan, being the patriotic American that he is. He reckons they should stop building these phony, smaller Caddies and just export and discount real made-in-USA Caddies to build market share in Europe.

If he loves them, why shouldn’t everyone else?

I agree that GM should stop pouring money into Cadillac for Europe. It’s a bottomless pit that’s going to turn around and bite someone on the arse as soon as someone admits to the gargantuan blunder they’ve made.

All that money they’re wasting on Cadillac could be going into further development for Saab – a brand that has a firm footing in Europe, no gas-guzzling preconceptions to overcome and huge potential upside.

Memo to anyone from GM Europe reading this – whilst walking around the corridors today, if you happen to pass anyone that you know is partially responsible for Cadillac’s presence in Europe (you know who they are) – then slap them upside round the head and tell them “that one’s from Swade”.

Saab could have a heck of a future. Stop pouring money down a tasteless hole for a market that doesn’t want your product.


And Jerry Flint, when you say that GM has no global luxury brand, try and focus your squinty old eyes beyond your own backyard.

Saab, once again, is GM’s best contender for a global premium brand. Just give them the resources they need and monitor the way they spend. I’m sure you’ll be astounded at the results.

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  1. I think Caddy can have a future in Europe, GM just has to make sure it doesn’t compete versus Saab. Let Caddy get after BMW, Mercedes, Jag, and the big Audis; let Saab get after Volvo, the small Audis, VW, etc. And that goes for the US too.

  2. I thought that diplomatic and military sales to U.S. personnel had to be U.S.-specification cars — at least they have to be if you want the U.S. Government to ship your car home at the end of your tour. Does such a thing as a U.S.-spec BLS exist?

  3. I can understand GM’s desire to have global brand names, rather than US only and Europe only brands. But I think that building SAABs in Sweden that look sort of like a Cadillac is the wrong way to go about it. Like you said, that money could have been better spent on developing and promoting SAABs.

    Go easy on Jerry Flint. In my experience he is one of the better commentators on the auto industry, even though as you point out, his focus it USA centric.

  4. The main problem with selling Caddys here in Sweden is that you cant buy them at your local Saab dealer. Most new Saabs and Volvos in Sweden are fleet cars, usually you can chose between Saab, Volvo, VW, Audi and maybe BMW…when the Caddy isn’t sold at the Saab dealer it just isn’t an option… The collegue sitting right next to me wanted a BLS as his new company car but because it wasn’t sold at the Saab dealership it wasn’t possible. Instead he went with a 9-5 SC 2.3 Biopower that he takes delivery of tomorrow. Another problem with selling Caddys in Europe is that 95% of the drivers see a Caddy as a huge gasguzzler car that handles poorly and is driven by elderly americans. In America, driving a Caddillac might be a sign of success, over here you drive a BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes instead.

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