Caddy in Australia

Our national newspaper, The Australian, has a pretty interesting article covering the dilemma that GM Australia find themselves in here.

Cadillac is being thrust up on them. Some markets around the world will find that Cadillac provides a product that extends their existing range. It does the same thing here in Australia, but to a much smaller extent. Holden already have a large, RWD sedan range, which extends into a luxury range that provides critically acclaimed performance and value compared to the European competition.

GM’s global guys want to make Caddy a global brand, but risk cannibalising Holden here in Australia, and have already met stern resistance in Europe.

The other argument that I’ve been making for a long time now on this website is that forcing Cadillac on markets where it’s not wanted or needed is that it divides the resources available to promote Saab. Here in Australia, Cadillac will come uner the GM Premium Brands umbrella. What was once merely Saab Australia now includes Hummer and will soon include Cadillac.

They’ve tripled the brand portfolio. Do you think they’ll triple the staff or the financial resources available?

Not likely.

It’s a very interesting read, written about the Australian market but applicable to all.


There was one line that I found most interesting.

Whenever I’ve queried the push of Cadillac into Saab territory I’ve always received a GM response that buyers for each of these brands are highly unlikely to cross-shop them. Despite the fact that in many instances – and even more in the future – they’re to be sold from the same showrooms, and both are in the (near) premium class. To a certain extent, I can accept this. One is FWD and the other is RWD and they’re different in terms of styling – American and European. But they’re both a premium product and I’ve always maintained that if presented together then customers would look at both.

Here in Australia the Cadillac CTS will have a direct competitor in the Holden range. The Holden Calais is available as either a V6 or a V8 and pricing starts at around $45,000. It’s a large-ish rear-wheel drive sedan that’s well appointed and made to look pretty sharp. It’s even got a V-series model.

Despite all this, someone from Holden is compelled to wheel out the same company line:

Holden denies it is competing against its own locally built line-up and insists, somewhat vaguely, that the cars will attract different buyers.

….which doesn’t escape the attention of the writer at the end of the article:

Holden will need all the varieties of CTS it can get, because the one thing it can’t afford is for Cadillac to fail. From a GM standpoint, this time its flagship is definitely going global. Can you imagine the poor local executive who had to explain to Detroit why Cadillac wasn’t working in Australia?

“We tried selling Caddies Down Under, but Aussies just don’t seem to go for large, rear-drive performance sedans.”

Why do they insist on taking Caddy global?

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  1. Hehehehe.

    GM reminds me of one of those rich mothers who keeps trying to foist her homely daughter on unwilling victims.

    Go on, kiss her.

    One difference I see between Ford and GM is that Ford seems to play it pretty even between all of it’s brands while GM seems to look at itself as Cadillac and others. I think you are voicing a very valid concern.

  2. Ironically, the Calais used to be a Cadillac model.

    And an Oldsmobile trim level for one of their many, many Cutlasses, but that’s not ironic at all in this context.

  3. Also, Rod, the reason why GM looks at Cadillac like they’re more important is because they’re more important, once you get past bread-and-butter stuff like Chevy.

  4. Anyone got a tally on those BLS sales recently? That seems to be obvious to me to have been an extremely failed experiment that GM insists on sticking with. They even announced a next-gen BLS. I mean, why?

    I was told the BLS was just used as a quick and dirty way to start a dealer network in Europe to sell the CTS when it’s ready (this year). So why go on putting money into the BLS?

    It’s like watching a train wreck. We all know taking Cadillac global will be a complete failure, but the executives who make millions of dollars a year in salary seem to be deluded enough to think it will work. Either that or they know it will fail and just don’t care as long as they keep getting their salary…

  5. The Holden Calais “V” series? I just checked that out on the Holden site and that has the same powertrain combination as the CTS here in that states – so is that the same platform? Generation IV Corvette V8 or high feature V6, GM really is going global.

    Well, Pontiac is getting the G8 this fall so I guess we are getting yet another rebadged Holden over here. Again I will point – the Pontiac GTO bombed for the most part even though it was a pretty decent rear wheel drive performance car.

    Does Australia want the new Chevrolet Camaro that is coming out in a year or so as well?

  6. The Camaro is on the same platform as the G8 and Commodore. With Holden Special Vehicles in Australia, and plenty of high performance vehicles under that banner, you would think there wasn’t room for a Camaro, but who knows.

    I personally don’t think Hummer or Cadillac are smart moves either.

  7. To me it looks like the whole Cadillac oddessey is about selling off production. GM has too much production and too many employees in this area but they can’t get rid of them – at least not quickly. So they need to sell more widgets. Sorry, Cadillacs.

    I work for a european based company that has a weird element to its internal culture where the factories have somehow assumed the role of customers. We don’t often get products that are designed for the local market. Instead, we are privileged to sell what the factory is generous enough to sell to us. Any discussion about making local adjustments is a quick way to get some eyes glazing over in the boardroom. Can you follow? I see a lot of parallels in GM unfortunately.

    Rick Wagoner is a smart dude and he’s doing a fair job of avoiding a train wreck but down in the details, its getting weird. Launching Cadillac in Australia and claiming that it won’t cannibalise Holden sales is weird , naive and clearly misplaced commercial acumen.

    Good luck Parveen, better get a new hat-rack.

  8. We all knew it was coming…

    Holden has fleet sales as its back bone, Caddy doesnt, this is a huge plus for Holden..

    GM premium had better works it arse off as this is going to be a tuff sale..
    Hummer and Saab i understand, too different brands selling to different markets fine, but Saab and Cadillac man.. what a cluster F**K that will be..

  9. Artsy (or a jelly bean with dents):


    Forget me:

    And for God’s sake, why?:

    Why do they insist on taking the brand global? Because the brand works in the States and the Cadillac product management has the power and prestige within GM corporate due to successes in the North American market? If it sells overseas, it makes the case for Cadillac in the North American market that Cadillac is truly competitve with the eurocruisers?

  10. seeing cadillacs on the ANA showroom floor and watching them being made in the trollhattan factory is very sad. Its been a major dissapointment to me but as long as GM is still keeping the brand alive thats all that matters.

  11. Tedjs – IMO The GTO bombed because it had the most painfully-boring exterior styling I’ve seen on a performance car in a long time. I mean, seriously, it looked like one of those Godawful pre-redesign 4th-gen Mustangs.

  12. Jeff – I agree. To me the GTO looked almost exactly like the 1997 – 2003 Grand Prix coupe and that is what Pontiac should have called it since the GP went through a design change at that time. The coupe was fairly popular and the GP name might have ‘appealed’ to the masses.

    At any rate calling the car the GTO alienated the traditionalists who owned the classic muscle car and nobody else really knew what to make of it. Don’t get me wrong – it was a fun car to drive, but I would never own one – it was too much of a ‘dude’ car.

    We will see how the G8 does.

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