Saab sold around 136,000 vehicles worldwide in 2006.
Cadillac sold less than twice that amount – 227,000 vehicles in the Unites States last year and around 3,500 vehicles in Europe. A few more sales would have no doubt been picked up in Canada and perhaps the Middle East, but I’d say Caddy would top out at around 240,000 vehicles worldwide.
Worldwide, Saab has a model range comprising two models that are reasonably similar in dimensions and engine size, and one of these models (the 9-5) is around 10 years old. It has one other model marketed full-time in North America only, the 9-7x.
Cadillac, has six models for sale, primarily in North America, and also markets the BLS in Europe, where it sold seven units in August in its country of manufacture.
Cadillac ‘relaunched’ in Europe around three years ago with a sales target of 20,000 vehicles for all of Europe by 2010. That figure has been revised down to less than 10,000 now and they won’t reach that, either.
I’m sure Cadillac contribute something as well, but Saab leads GM divisions in turbocharging technology, has used that to lead effective application of flex-fuel technology, and is now also the leader in adapting the new XWD system that will be expanded to other GM brands in the future.
Saab is also the manufacturer of the safest GM cars your money can buy.
From Automotive News, yesterday:
I remember the day General Motors Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz stood in a new, gleaming Kroymans dealership on the north side of Munich beaming like a proud parent. “This is only the beginning of better days for Cadillac,” he told me, his hand pressed against the side of a shiny new Cadillac BLS. “I am convinced that we’re going to get it right this time.”
When it comes to the success of GM’s premium-vehicle brand in Europe, at some point this time always becomes next time. Cadillac relaunches. Sales flutter upward a moment, then slam back to earth. Until the next time.
Privately, I wonder if Lutz has run out of patience with GM’s American brands in Europe. Word is that the automaker is seriously considering taking back importing, marketing and distribution operations from the Kroymans Group, its Dutch-based distributor.
A year ago, GM appointed a boss from Brussels to make sure everything at Kroymans was running smoothly. Taking complete control would be the final step. And maybe it’s time. Globally, GM is finally working as one entity, merging all functions. Why not in Europe? What’s out of sync?
Why has Cadillac sold only 1,576 cars through June, far from a one-time goal of 20,000? Why are Corvette sales down? Why is Hummer still an unknown on these shores?
I would say it’s a lack of focus, a lack of product and a lack of market awareness. Initially, Cadillac didn’t even offer the BLS with a diesel option — in a market where diesels take more than half of all sales. And, Cadillac simply put an American skin on a Saab architecture. If you decide to compete against a BMW 3 series or Mercedes C class, you can’t go halfway.
Whatever happens on the product side, GM must run as one operation in Europe the same as it does in Asia, South America and the US. I’m not knocking Kroymans. They are very good at what they do. But do they know what a customer in Munich or Monaco wants? GM does.
If Cadillac is GM’s pinnacle, the carmaker needs a fresh approach at every level. Uniquely European cars. Dedicated distribution, sales and marketing operations. And a reinvention.
GM is proving elsewhere it can get it right. GM can get Cadillac right in Europe too. What they need is time. If they have any left.
I’m not going to knock the writer’s thoughts too much here. I think he makes his case pretty well, except for the last point:
If Cadillac is GM’s pinnacle, the carmaker needs a fresh approach at every level. Uniquely European cars.
Cadillac need uniquely European cars? I thought Cadillac was supposed to be the epitome of American design and – let’s face it – ostentation.
So the author is suggesting that rather build up a brand (i.e. Saab) that’s already known and accepted in many parts of Europe – a brand that’s already distinctly European and is now contributing much to GM’s engineering and powertrain divisions – GM should invest (how many millions of?) dollars into making distinctly European Cadillacs?
I think this guy might just be ripe for a seat on GM’s board of directors.
How about this:
Despite a massive multi-million pound investment in nine dealerships by retailer Pendragon Group, Cadillac BLS sales barely surpassed 200 units in the last year.
A multi-million pound investment. And that’s in the UK alone. What would the cost be for all of Europe? What could Saab have achieved with that investment? In terms of both sales now and enhanced model development for the next couple of years.
All this is just another reason why someone should just cut the cord on Cadillac in Europe. Stop throwing good money after bad and allow Cadillac to build truly American cars and grow an organic niche brand in Europe without this major marketing push that’s going nowhere.
Cadillac has it’s place and it should be grown further in a way that’s true to its heritage. It’s not an every-man car and never will be, especially in a location that’s so philosophically different from the US (i.e. in Europe).
Market Saab more aggressively in Europe where it’s already got a name for itself and a European heritage and identity. Give it the same level of support you’ve given Cadillac in that region and watch it grow!