You asked, and Cadillac responded... Here's what the big all-American brand's local representatives had to say in response to some of your questions.
What prompted the decision to sell Cadillac in South Africa, a country where tastes and preferences largely follow that of the Europeans? The majority of readers predict that this decision to sell Cadillac in South Africa will be short-lived. What is GMSA's position on this?
Our own research has shown that South African consumers are looking for alternative premium brands to express their individuality on the road. Many of them travel overseas where they are exposed to brands such as Cadillac and others and some aspire to drive these brands at home too.
Since the early 2000's Cadillac has embarked on a global expansion strategy and South Africa, with its high affinity for premium brands, became a logical market to expand into. Parallel to this Cadillac has adopted a whole new design language to make its vehicles appeal to a truly global, luxury market.
In smaller and mid-size markets Cadillac will be packaged alongside HUMMER and Saab, in line with a global GM strategy. We currently have 5 Cadillac dealers and that number will increase to 9 by the end of this year. By 2010 we want to have 15 dealers country wide. These dealers have invested between R3-12m each. This shows the confidence and commitment for the brand locally - in short Cadillac is here to stay.
What does Cadillac offer that is special enough to tempt buyers away from the established brands? Are you not concerned that the recent dissolution of Chrysler from Daimler will have a negative impact with potential buyers fearing that another "American brand" may falter in the future? Could GMSA not focus on improving the quality and after sales support of its current vehicles instead of increasing its product offerings?
GM has and will always strive to improve its product quality to ensure a satisfying ownership experience. To this end GMSA has adopted a Global Manufacturing System (GMS) with a strong focus on continuous improvement, quality and waste reduction. We have also implemented GM Difference!, a philosophy focused on ensuring high levels of customer service, internally and at our dealers.
Cadillac is a brand that is over 100 years old. During this time it earned the reputation as "The Standard of the world". Today Cadillac still epitomizes Performance Luxury. Last year Cadillac sold just under 250,000 cars world-wide. Thus one is buying into an established brand that has been around for a long time. Global Cadillac sales are rising.
What are your expected sales volumes per month of the models already released? Do you expect the Cadillac brand to be stronger than SAAB's brand in SA? Your products are pitched against BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi products with no reassurance that the resale values will be inline with these competitors in 3-4 years time. Since the BLS is based on the SAAB 9-3, but SAAB does not have any resale value worth mentioning. Will that scenario be the same with regards to Caddie?
GM's policy is not to make its volume forecast public. However, we realise that we are up against strong competition, and we will plan accordingly. We are confident that we will satisfy customer demand, and that every Cadillac owner will be looked after in the best possible way.
The interiors leave very little to be desired compared with their German, Italian and even the Japanese counterparts. Will there be a change in thinking to the design of interiors as well as the materials used? The interior quality and materials are just not up to the qualities expected in these segments.
Frankly we do not share this view. The Cadillac BLS comes with circular instruments with white numerals on black background and red needles. The centre console, which is very neat, has an easy to read analogue clock on centre display. The three spoke steering wheel comes standard with remote control and all automatic transmissions have paddle shift. With its hand stitched leather seats, the vehicle is as good as any of its competitors. At the time of introduction some of the motoring media has referred to the interior as refreshingly different.
With news of a new Saab 9-3, how soon before we see changes to the BLS? What are the chances of seeing the Escalade and other "proper" SUVs in South Africa? And will we in South Africa see any of the V-Series performance models?
The BLS is a very new car. It was only launched in Europe last year and thus still very new. The Cadillac range currently consists of the BLS, which is a medium size luxury sedan. We also have a luxury SUV, the Cadillac SRX. Later in the year we will be introducing a STS- a large sedan vehicle. The portfolio will be expanded as we grow the brand and as the availability of RHD models increases.
Why is there no Cadillac dealership in Pretoria yet? One reader notes that there is one under construction, but should that not have been finished by the time the marque was introduced to South Africa? Why do smaller (or less significant) towns, like Nelspruit, have completed dealerships already?
Property development and construction are inexact sciences, and unforeseen delays frequently occur in this environment, as was the case in Pretoria. The Pretoria dealership is currently well under way and it will be fully operational on 1 August. From inception we made a decision to sell a Cadillac in a Cadillac environment, and thus we could not rush representation.
Can you get a Cadillac in pink?
Currently we do not have pink in our list of available option colours. As a customer driven and focused brand we will try our best to satisfy our customers, and thus if there is such a demand we will try our best to satisfy that particular demand or need.