Earlier today at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show, General Motors announced that it will build the Cadillac XTS full-size luxury sedan in China, for China, marking the brand’s first production expansion in the country — a “major landmark in the brand’s global growth”.
The XTS, based on an extended version of GM’s global Epsilon II architecture, launches in North America this spring and will begin production in the next few weeks at the Oshawa, Ontario plant in Canada. In China, the XTS will join the locally-built and market-exclusive SLS executive sedan in the fall. Outside those two models, the brand sells all of its lines in China except for the CTS Sport Wagon.
In 2011, Cadillac sold 30,000 vehicles in China, compared with 17,000 in 2010. That’s impressive year-over-year growth, but the sales critically lag those of Cadillac in the United States, where the brand moved over 152,000 units last year (more on that in an upcoming article). GM executives have set a goal of increasing sales to 100,000 units per year by 2016.
The Chinese market is important for Cadillac and most other luxury good companies, as “It is projected that by the end of the decade half of all luxury purchases in the world – all categories, not just cars – will occur in China”, said Cadillac vice president of marketing Don Butler. Coincidentally, the average age of a Cadillac buyer in China is 35.
In addition, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson told reporters in Beijing that Cadillacs will be built in their own plant and will not share production facilities with other GM models. The brand is in the process of expanding its dealer network, and plans to have 120 stores by the end of 2012, up from the current 68. “Our dealers in China are experiencing strong growth, with some of them quickly becoming among the largest and best we have in the world,” said Butler.