Despite all my jibes about them selling just seven units in a month in Sweden, the fact is that Cadillac has sold over 3,000 vehicles in Europe this year, which is up 30% on the SFA it sold in the prior year (can you tell I’m grumpy this morning?).
Most of the sales increase has come from Russia, Austria, Denmark, Spain and Italy. Someone please check Vlad Putin’s garage.
Meanwhile, Saab sales have stalled in Western Europe this year, but GME tells us that they’ve grown in the East and South. No specific figures or countries mentioned, however.
The line that we’ve always received from GM about Cadillac and Saab is they’re not a threat to each other. That they’re not cross-shopped in any way and therefore the two brands can co-exist happily. I’m starting to think that that line should be filed with the one about the Epsilon platform not being able to accept AWD.
GM showrooms in Europe are set to go along a similar line that we’re going to see almost everywhere else – Cadillac and Saab shown in the same buildings. Sometimes there’ll be Opels in there with them and sometimes it’ll be Hummer.
Add to that scenario the news filtering through from GM-UAW contract talks that GM are planning on a new smaller RWD Cadillac to fit in under the current base model CTS and all of a sudden you’ve got very direct Saab-segment competition.
Alpha will be for Cadillac’s entry-level model. According to a knowledgeable source, it will be aimed at the near-luxury segment once occupied by the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C class, when those nameplates were smaller and cheaper.
Cadillac’s own chairman was against the idea of a smaller Cadillac, as was their previous marketing man, Mark LaNeve. Guess who trumped them:
Lutz favored it, arguing that it would help Cadillac in overseas markets.
This, of course, follows on from the half-baked BLS. Once again GM have had to learn the hard way that half-doing a car will lead to less-than-half-satisfactory sales and zero addition to reputation.
And now, instead of feeling like Saab has a real future with the investment that it needs, I can’t help but feel that the growth of Cadillac in Europe is an at-all-costs goal for the nodding heads in Detroit.
Any investment in Saab is realistically most likely to be an offshoot of decisions based on whether Cadillac can benefit as well. As far as I know there’s no Caddy planned for Epsilon II, but now that XWD is available I’d suggest you watch this space.
All this bile is based on the fact that I really believe that Saab have heaps of growth potential, and if GME want to add 100,000 sales per year by around 2012 or thereabouts, that investing in Saab would be a better way to go. They’ve got recognition in Europe and a loyal base elsewhere. Cadillac have cachet in the US only and are largely regarded as a flamboyant excess elsewhere.
Adding an entry-luxury Caddy to the lineup worldwide is a real and deliberate incursion on Saab’s supposed terrirtory. Saab may benefit via some crumbs from the General’s table, but I can’t help but feel that GM’s sole interest in Saab is stripping its engineering expertise and a little gravy by way of sales it would have otherwise missed.
Actually caring about the brand and the cars – that’s a job for someone who cares.