CADIL­LAC FOR OZ?

Holden is keen to get its paws on GM’S Yank pre­mium brand

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - TOBY HAGON

Holden boss sniffs a golden op­por­tu­nity for pre­mium Yank brand Down Un­der

CADIL­LAC is back on the radar for Aus­tralia. Weeks into the daunt­ing role of re­viv­ing Holden, re­cently ap­pointed chief Dave Buttner is eval­u­at­ing the strength and breadth of the iconic Amer­i­can brand with the view to in­tro­duc­ing it Down Un­der as early as 2021.

Gen­eral Mo­tors prod­uct de­vel­op­ment boss Mark Reuss has prised the door open to es­tab­lish Cadil­lac lo­cally dur­ing a re­cent trip to Aus­tralia, in­struct­ing Buttner to un­dergo an ap­praisal.

“It’s up to Dave but we’re cer­tainly ca­pa­ble of do­ing that,” said Reuss when asked about the prospects for the Amer­i­can lux­ury brand, hint­ing cru­cial right­hand-drive en­gi­neer­ing work is un­der way, adding, “it could be an op­por­tu­nity for us.”

Com­mit­ting to driv­ing some of the dozens of de­vel­op­ment Cadil­lacs at Holden’s Lang Lang prov­ing ground, Buttner told Wheels he will take the fight di­rectly to Detroit.

“When I go to Detroit in mid­septem­ber I’m go­ing spend time with Mike [Sim­coe] at the de­sign cen­tre so I can get my head around the plethora of prod­ucts,” he said. “We need to un­der­stand what res­onates with Aus­tralian con­sumers, what’s rel­e­vant in terms of the re­la­tion­ship with what we want to be as a Holden brand, and en­sure that we have those cor­rect prod­ucts in place.”

Key to any dis­cus­sion will be se­cur­ing a com­pet­i­tive range of ve­hi­cles, cur­rently ham­pered by a lack of right-hand-drive op­tions.

While Cadil­lac’s fo­cus is Amer­ica and China, it also has Europe on its growth radar, some­thing that would re­quire right-hook cars for the UK – open­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for an Aus­tralian rein­tro­duc­tion.

Rather than the failed 2009 at­tempt to launch the CTS lo­cally, the new Holden won’t launch with a sin­gle Cadil­lac model, in­stead se­cur­ing a de­cent spread to tempt buy­ers of the pre­mium Ger­man brands to con­sider Amer­i­can.

As part of a 10-year rein­ven­tion plan im­ple­mented by re­cently ousted Cadil­lac boss Jo­han de Nyss­chen, Cadil­lac is set to wind back its tra­di­tional sedan of­fer­ings and con­dense the ATS and CTS to a sin­gle model. It will in­stead bol­ster its lack­lus­tre SUV line-up and de­velop an elec­tri­fied hero model that draws in­spi­ra­tion from the stun­ning Es­cala con­cept, de­vel­oped un­der the guid­ance of Aussie de­sign head An­drew Smith.

Cur­rently Cadil­lac SUVS amount to the Es­calade, XT4 and XT5, but there’s more to come, in­clud­ing larger SUVS.

Buttner is aware of the chal­lenges; he was at Toy­ota when the Ja­panese gi­ant poured bil­lions into es­tab­lish­ing the Lexus brand. Decades later, it’s still fifth in the lux­ury sales race.

Ul­ti­mately, prod­uct is cru­cial to any lo­cal Cadil­lac am­bi­tions.

FOR CADIL­LAC TO HAVE A CHANCE IN AUS­TRALIA, FIRST THE RHD IS­SUE NEEDS TO BE RE­SOLVED, THEN THE SUV LINE-UP NEEDS TO BE BOL­STERED

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