I’m moving this back to the top while I go to sleep in order to encourage some more comment and discussion. I’m enjoying the input you’re all having here.
Gunnar has elaborated on his thoughts in comments with a posting on the issue over at Automobiles DeLuxe.
Saab has been mentioned, not only by me but by GM personnel themselves, as “GM’s global premium brand”. But what does ‘premium’ mean?
This question is meant as an extension of the Cadillac post I published the other day, which has drawn numerous comments.
One opinion that I’ve received via email rather than in comments pushes the idea that the 9-5 hasn’t been delayed, but making a competitor to the BMW 5-series and Audi A6 takes time and must be done right. This is absolutely correct. But if this is the territory that the 9-5 is headed for, then where’s the line between premium and luxury? Shouldn’t the ‘5’ and the A6 be Cadillac’s territory according to the GME mantra?
It’s my understanding that the Cadillac range in Europe is intended to be an American alternative to the usual European sedan choices, but where does Saab fit in to that market? Is Saab meant to compete against the lower end of the 3-series and Caddy the higher end?
The common argument that I hear is that Cadillac and Saab buyers will rarely ever cross-shop the brands. If you’re talking about 1950s Caddys and 1950s Saabs then I’ll beleive you. In modern times I’m not so sure.
In America, Caddy’s are definitely placed in a separate market segment. They’re bigger and have huge engines and are aimed at the those with a penchant for some largesse. In Europe however, the BLS is a Saab-sized and Saab-based vehicle using the same engines as the Saab it’s based on. What’s the differentiator? Is it the interior, given Caddy’s position as a luxury contender?
If so, why hold the 9-3 back instead of making it better able to compete by giving it better equipment?
Bob Lutz has also recently been quoted as saying he’d like to see a Cadillac entrant in the premium hatch market eventually (Audi A3, BMW 1 series, etc). This is right where the future Saab 9-1 would be headed by my reckoning. Would the development and final quality of the 9-1 be compromised by having to allow some ceiling space for a Caddy entrant to fill?
These are the questions I’m dealing with in trying to understand why GM would push a brand like Cadillac, at considerable expense, into a market that according to sales figures and industry forecasts – doesn’t want it there.
I’ll be honest, I’m stuck here in Tasmania where Holdens, Fords and Toyotas make up 80% of what you see on the road. Cadillacs are merely a curiosity at nostalgic car shows. Any thoughts from the Americans that see Caddy on a regular basis, or the Europeans who are having Caddy thrust upon them would be welcome.
What is premium? How does it differ from ‘luxury’ and where do the lines blur between Cadillac, Saab and the people with the dollars to choose between them?