Launching a new luxury brand is no easy task – much like Nissan did about Infiniti – but what about launching an old luxury brand?
Cadillac has been around for over 100 years, but has not been in an official capacity in Australia for over 80 years. For those with a good memory, General Motors came very close in 2008 by attracting 16 dealers and even importing 89 units of its CTS sedan before management decided to abolish the program at 11 o’clock due to the global financial crisis .
But with Holden gone, replaced by the smaller General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) operation, it seems the time is right for Cadillac to try its hand in Australia.
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Even in 2008, Cadillac was already under pressure in its home market. The combination of the German giants Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi and challengers such as Lexus and Volvo made things difficult for Cadillac.
Whenever an Australian journalist asked GM and Cadillac about the prospects for the marque’s return to this market for a number of years, there was hesitation about the vehicles it had to offer.
Reading between the lines, Cadillac knew it had reacted too slowly to the SUV boom and needed to get its act together before it could think about expansion.
But something has changed in recent years, as Cadillac introduces a range of new SUVs to match more polished sedans to create a stylish and sophisticated lineup of models. Cadillac’s current offering has suitable rivals to measure up to the best Germany has to offer.
For example, the SUV trio of XT4, XT5 and XT6 to give it SUVs that can compete with the likes of the BMW X3, X5 and X7. Then you can add the Escalade to that, as well as the passenger cars including the CT5-V sports sedan for an extensive range of luxury vehicles.
But just because a car company has a nice range of cars doesn’t mean launching a brand new brand in Australia would be a good idea. After all, Nissan thought the time was right for Infiniti, but it didn’t have much staying power in the market.
However, there is an alternative example that should give those in the GM and Cadillac boardrooms reason to seriously consider an Australian expansion: Genesis.
Hyundai’s luxury marque got off to a slow start in Australia, selling only a handful of its G70 and G80 sedans in its first few years. However, the arrival of the brand’s first SUVs – the GV70 and GV80 – has changed its fortunes and shows that a slow and steady approach with the right model mix has potential.
Make no mistake, Genesis is still a small brand coming from a very low base, but sales are up 101.6 per cent in the first four months of 2022 and are already close to Jaguar’s sales figures; a much more established brand in this market.
Importantly, Cadillac has a number of models that seemingly have great potential in the local market. For starters, the Escalade looks like an ideal candidate for a market that has a love affair with large SUVs like the Toyota LandCruiser and the luxury Range Rover, BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.
Caddy recently unveiled the all-new Escalade-V, a high-performance variant with a 508kW 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that would be a new addition to the growing number of red-hot SUVs on sale in Australia, such as the BMW X5 M , Mercedes-AMG GLE63 and Range Rover Sport SVR.
The marque’s other performance hero is the CT5-V Blackwing, which is also powered by a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 and would make an ideal (and long-awaited) replacement for HSV’s sports saloon – rivaling that of the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63.
At the other end of these petrol-powered performance models is perhaps the most suitable model to lead any possible Cadillac entry into Australia – the Lyriq electric SUV.
This all-new battery-powered luxury SUV would be a promising rival to the likes of the Audi e-tron, BMW iX3 and Mercedes-Benz EQC. It’s a sharp-looking model built on GM’s latest Ultium EV technology, which includes both modular motors and batteries.
It would be an ideal model to enter the local market, placing Cadillac at the top of the growing EV market and opening the door for future GMSV electric models such as the Chevrolet Silverado EV and possibly the GMC Hummer.
Of course, all this takes the dollars and cents to add up for the bean counters at Cadillac’s headquarters, but if they decide to try the Australian market again, there might not be a better time than now.