The new new vice president for Cadillac Europe, Andreas Schaaf, starts on 1 July, reporting to Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen with operational responsibility for the European business unit. Schaaf comes to Cadillac from BMW

The new new vice president for Cadillac Europe, Andreas Schaaf, starts on 1 July, reporting to Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen with operational responsibility for the European business unit. Schaaf comes to Cadillac from BMW

While Cadillac’s goal of evolving into a global luxury brand is dependent on the US and China, Europe remains part of the long-term equation for the brand, GM insists. The brand has only a nominal presence in Europe, but that low presence is allied to strong brand recognition. That means the region can serve as a relatively low risk test bed for the brand’s customer experience approaches, according to an automotive industry analyst.

"Cadillac’s current European presence is nominal, but the brand does have long-range ambitions for achieving credibility as a luxury brand in Europe as well as in the US and China," said IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley in a research note. 

General Motors has appointed a new vice president for Cadillac Europe. Andreas Schaaf will start on 1 July, reporting to Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen with operational responsibility for the European business unit. Schaaf comes to Cadillac via BMW, where he held management and leadership positions in Asia, Pacific, Africa and Eastern Europe, including India and South Korea.

GM has, meanwhile, reassigned Chevrolet wind down responsibilities to Thomas Sedran, the current president and managing director of Chevrolet and Cadillac in Europe, but he steps down on 30 June.

Brinley said Sedran’s departure had been expected [in a statement (click on 'Press Release' below) GM said Sedran had "elected to leave General Motors to pursue outside opportunities" - ed] and the company has been working on pulling Chevrolet out of the region for about a year.

"Cadillac has selected a BMW executive experienced in selling to luxury buyers in a broad range of markets, including Europe," she wrote.

"With more than 18 years of experience in key global and regional roles in sales and marketing for premium automotive brands, [Schaaf] is a great addition to the Cadillac leadership team. He will help us to further refine our global retail and customer experience strategy, as well as set up Europe for future growth,” de Nysschen said in a GM statement.

Les Turton, sales manager of Chevrolet Europe and managing director of Chevrolet UK, will take over Sedran’s responsibility for the Chevrolet re-organisation in western and central Europe.

Brinley noted that at the Geneva motor show earlier this month the brand introduced its new 'Dare Greatly' ad campaign and the ATS-V and CTS-V performance sedans to the European market.

"De Nysschen candidly discussed the brand's efforts to become a truly global luxury brand, as well as the role of the European market in that equation. While the immediate focus is on the US and Chinese luxury markets, de Nysschen is looking [for Cadillac] to become a respected luxury marque in Europe as well, including having an eye toward developing Euro-friendly products, eventually," she wrote.

De Nysschen told IHS: "We cannot claim to be a global player unless we also have a reasonable presence in Europe. However, I also am under no illusion that… my counterparts at BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz [will] invite us into their backyard. It will be a brutal war. And if you need to go to war, you better make sure you have the right weaponry and you have deep coffers."

Cadillac intends to develop right hand drive and diesel powertrains for some future Cadillac models - though those may not reach showrooms until about 2020, he said.

"We need to come to the market with cars that also are going to be appealing to Europeans. As we develop our next generation of cars and even the new ones that will expand our lineup, some of them will also be earmarked for Europe, with development for RHD and diesel power. We have about five years," he added.

De Nysschen also identified a second significant problem holding the brand back in Europe - the existing distribution network which is only 46 dealers strong. However, IHS said, he wants to use the combination of the light dealer footprint and time gap for Euro-appropriate product to turn the European operations into an innovation incubator for Cadillac’s future sales and customer service processes.

"I want to use the fact that we have a clean sheet opportunity to say: 'How can we challenge that conventional paradigm of what the retail distribution looks like?' The challenge I have put to my team is: How do we use the five years that we have available to us in Europe to be an incubator for new ideas? How do we utiliise the fact that we are a small boutique brand, but a luxury brand, to give the customers an experience that our competitors are too big to deliver?" De Nysschen told IHS.

Specifically, he’d like to test a network that includes both physical stores and virtual dealerships, Brinley noted. He also spoke of a possible network where customers see Cadillac first in virtual dealerships, but then the company is able to "bring the store to the customer, so to speak… We bring the cars, like a concierge service, letting him experience what he wants. If he or she chooses to buy the car, let that whole experience be so value-adding and differentiating that it begins to be a reason why they are attracted to us."

According to Brinley, de Nysschen sees leveraging the GM service and distribution network for handling vehicle service issues but with the customer’s vehicle being picked up at their convenience, a loaner left, and the customer's car returned after repair. He acknowledged the transaction costs would be higher but sees that expense offset by the reduction in real estate and bricks and mortar outlet investment, enabling dealers to keep their overhead costs low - particularly at this stage, when Cadillac’s presence in Europe truly is nominal.

"A far better approach, I think, to enter the market that way and let your volume grow. And as your volumes grow, you might be able to afford more conventional stores, if you need them, as opposed to the other way round. This is why I am glad we have some time to prepare.”

Part of the exploration of the boutique or virtual dealer approach is driven by the recognition that, according to de Nysschen, Generation X and millennial buyers will account for 80% of luxury car buyers by the year 2020 - and that they are typically much more comfortable with "experiencing the world in the virtual space".

When IHS asked at what point he sees the brand as having reached a level to be considered a rightful luxury brand in the region, de Nysschen stressed volume is not the first priority.

"Volume for us, whether we talk of Europe or the US or the global basis, is the result of the process. You can’t start your plan with volume, because then you get everything the wrong way round. You’ve got to have the right cars, have to distribute them well, you have to market them well, meanwhile you have to create that 'emotionalisation' of the brand. You get all that right, sales will follow."

He also said that "an important first landing point for Europe will be if we can get ourselves on an annual basis to be in the 20,000 to 30,000 zone" - though he did not specify when that number might be reached.

Cadillac’s past sales in Europe have been minimal; most years from 2000 to today, sales have been below the 1,000 unit mark.

According to European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) data, Cadillac, lumped in with 'Other GM' sold a mere 162 units across Europe last year, down 36.2% year on year. Volume at the doomed Chevrolet nameplate, fell almost 74% to 36,128.

The SMMT no longer tracks Cadillac sales because the marque has been axed here but Chevrolet sales last year fell 76% to 2,774.

Brinley wrote: "The brand has had several stops and starts in the region; while the Escalade does have a following, GM has not been consistently committed to establishing Cadillac as a contender in the region - and, prior to ATS and CTS, arguably has not had the right product.

"De Nysschen’s selection of Schaaf to run Cadillac of Europe seems tangible support of the comments he made at the Geneva show. Schaaf’s job over the next five years will certainly involve exploring new ways to approach selling and distributing cars that can be applied in Europe and elsewhere, while at the same time ensuring the Cadillac brand is being properly communicated, lining it up with the eventual Euro-centric product portfolio and supporting the current lineup.

"Schaaf brings experience with selling to luxury buyers in a broad range of markets, including Europe, and the company will use that expertise in refining the experience that it provides to luxury buyers going forward.

"When asked if he expected the new dealer models that will eventually be tested in Europe would be used elsewhere, de Nysschen said, 'Once we’ve perfected the model and have good learnings, of course we can deploy that internationally as well. Absolutely so.'

"In that sense, Schaaf’s appointment has potential to impact Cadillac dealer operations and sales models globally."

IHS Automotive forecasts sales below 1,000 units through 2018, growing to about 2,300 units in 2019, when a new C segment SUV and the next generation ATS arrive in Europe. Beyond that, Cadillac is not forecast to include sales of more than 3,000 units a year in Europe throughout the forecast period.

"The road to a 20,000 unit year is very long," Brinley said. "The full impact of Schaaf’s appointment on improving Cadillac’s fate in Europe is unlikely to be tangible until well into the next decade, though if he provides innovation to the dealership/sales process, that could be felt sooner."

Show the press release

Cadillac Europe announces Dr. Andreas Schaaf as new Vice President

Zurich – Effective July 1, 2015, Dr. Andreas Schaaf has been appointed as Cadillac Vice President Europe, reporting to Johan de Nysschen, President Cadillac. In addition to his international role, Schaaf will have operational responsibility for the European business unit.

Andreas Schaaf (44) is joining global Cadillac from BMW AG.

“With more than 18 years of experience in key global and regional roles in sales and marketing for premium automotive brands, Andreas is a great addition to the Cadillac leadership team. He will help us to further refine our global retail and customer experience strategy, as well as set up Europe for future growth,” said Johan de Nysschen.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join Cadillac and I am looking forward to working closely with the team and our retail partners on building a solid business foundation for the Cadillac brand internationally and here in Europe.” said Andreas Schaaf.

Effective June 30 2015, Dr. Thomas Sedran (50), President and Managing Director, Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe, has elected to leave General Motors to pursue outside opportunities.

"We would like to thank Thomas for his important contributions to General Motors in Europe", said Dan Ammann, President of General Motors. "As interim CEO of Opel, he was one of the key architects of the Opel Drive 2022! growth plan. In his role as President and Managing Director of Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe he led the successful wind-down of the Chevrolet new car sales operations in Western and Central Europe, while developing the future growth strategy for the Cadillac and Chevrolet Iconic brands in Europe."

Les Turton, Sales Manager, Chevrolet Europe and Managing Director, Chevrolet UK, will assume Sedran’s responsibilities for the Chevrolet re-organization in Western and Central Europe.

About Dr. Andreas Schaaf:

Dr. Andreas Schaaf (44) started his career at BMW AG in 1996 in product controlling, product management and strategy. He then moved on to management and leadership positions in central marketing and sales for the regions Asia, Pacific, Africa and Eastern Europe. From April 2010 to November of 2012 he was President of the BMW Group in India, introducing the MINI brand on the sub-continent. He had moved to India from South Korea, where he was Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for the BMW Group.

Original source: GM Europe