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March 2, 2010

GENEVA SHOW: Cadillac at last realistic about Europe

Cadillac Europe has revised its volume ambitions lower than in previous years as it grasps reality and adjusts to a new distribution structure for the continent.

Cadillac Europe has revised its volume ambitions lower than in previous years as it grasps reality and adjusts to a new distribution structure for the continent.

The luxury automaker had previously operated under ambitious targets set by parent GM leading to cost challenges, as newly-appointed Cadillac Europe managing director Wolfgang Schubert told just-auto at the Geneva motor show today (2 March).

“The problem was the volume targets were not fulfilled – this leads to cost structural problems – all the things we don’t want for a premium brand,” he said.

Schubert estimated Cadillac Europe would return to volume of around 3,000 vehicles per year using a “small, lean team” of just 20 people with new vehicles including a successor to the Saab-built BLS which went out of production last June. “It will be a classic,” he said of the planned new model.

Schuberts said the sort of customer he envisaged for the new Cadillac range was different from the traditional American military buyers living in Europe.

“It is people who want to be different, individuals, people from show business, music,” he said. “They have inner strength.”

Although the new dealer network was still being finalised, Schubert said the new Cadillac Europe was using around 110 of the 160 dealers recruited by former importer Kroymans which went bankrupt last year.

“This survival strategy worked out well,” he said, adding: “To sell a Cadillac you have to have your heart in the right place.”

Key markets will be Germany, Switzerland and Italy, while other areas “we are discussing,” Schubert said. “We will have to talk to our dealers to see if there is a business case in that country.”

Schubert was formerly brand leader for Cadillac, Corvette and Hummer for GM Europe. He also headed the European transition team following Kroymans’ insolvency early in 2009.

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