I’m just guessing here, but there seems to be little other reason to slow down the development of the next 9-5 and the ensuing Saab range other than the fact that GM’s got ‘better’ things to do with its money. It’s basic economics. You have finite resources and you have to make decisions about where to best use those resources.
In the case of GM Europe, you have small but loyalty-inspiring brand called Saab and you have an aspiration to compete in the higher-end of the market. You can either invest in Saab, which has a distinct European heritage and environmental and technological credentials. Or you can try to establish an American luxury brand – Cadillac.
I’ve written plenty on this before, but a news article today in the Detroit News takes the argument against Cadillac in Europe to a whole new level. Here’s just a few salient points:
….the recent launch here in Spain of three new gas-guzzling leviathans suggests that GM’s attempt to sell in Europe’s premium sector with Cadillacs, Corvette sports cars and Hummers is more of an attempt to sell a few more cars into niche sectors with high margins, rather than a serious attempt to storm the luxury citadel owned jointly by BMW, Mercedes and Audi…..
…..Cadillac said from the start that to build its brand in Europe would take time, and it was careful to post modest targets….. the BLS is stumbling – sales reached about 1,300 in 2006 after the launch in April….. Although CCHE staunchly stands by its 20,000 by 2010 target, automotive consultancies are crunching their numbers and finding that less than half this is likely…..
The CCHE they’re talking about there is Cadillac, Corvette Hummer Europe, a Dutch operation set up to market the three brands.
Some of CCHE’s range for Europe. Three motoring Pavarottis and not a diesel amongst them.
…..Walt Madeira, British-based Europe Sales Forecast Manager for CSM Worldwide, believes Cadillac sales will reach between 7,000 and 8,000 by 2010…..
…..Jonathon Poskill, Senior Analyst, Europe, for J.D.Power Automotive Forecasting, has slashed his forecast again. Last year J.D. Power reckoned Cadillac would sell 16,000 vehicles by 2010; now this has been more than halved to between 6,000 and 7,000.
These industry experts forecast a best-case scenario for all of Europe that totals 8,000 units a year by 2010. Saab sells more than this in their home market in Sweden, one of the smaller populated countries in all of Europe.
Allow me to ask the big question once again – how much is GM spending on the launch and development of vehicles for Cadillac in Europe? A market that apparently deems them to be “comically inappropriate gas guzzlers and …. irresponsible examples of conspicuous consumption.”
Saab was spoken of as GM’s global premium brand by GM themselves as recently as 18 months ago and yet in their own native market they seem to be treated like second class citizens. I know there’s some good work being done on new models and I’m sure we’ll all be chuffed with the new Saab range…….eventually.
But as good as a car like the 9-5 is (and the new BioPower 9-5 I drove last week in Brisbane was just magnificent) there’s little doubt that in order to stand proudly amongst the Germans and succeed, it needs replacing. That takes investment and right now GM seem content to expend funds on Cadillac in a manner similar to how they expect their EuroCaddy customers to spent money on fuel.
As noted in the article, the motoring game involves a long-term outlook. I can’t believe, however, that Cadillac has a potentially brighter future in markets outside the US than Saab. And Saab could definitely benefit more within the US market itself with a fresh new lineup that utilises some well-placed R&D funds.
When I am king, Cadillac will be first against the wall.