Cadillac is in the midst of a huge transformation. With the introduction of the large XTS and compact ATS, the recent launch of the mid-sized CTS and the ELR plug-in coupe as well as the upcoming rollout of the new Escalade SUV, Cadillac dealers are as busy as ever.
The Automotive News talked to Howard Drake, chairman of the Cadillac National Dealer Council, about the massive overhaul, how it is affecting the dealers and what they expect from the executives at the top. Drake said Cadillac dealers are “craving stability” from General Motors leadership while trying to increase the expertise of their sales staff to keep up with all the new products.
Drake, who is also the owner of Casa De Cadillac in Sherman Oaks, CA. told AN the Dealer Council is pushing Cadillac executives to provide ample marketing support for all the new vehicle launches. Drake also said the dealers aren’t used to having to push an entire lineup, as they got by with just the CTS, Escalade and SRX in the past.
“Now we’re trying to sustain a family, including ATS and SRX, which are our volume nameplates,” said Drake. “We’re not used to pushing a bunch of different segments at the same time. That’s a competency that we’re just developing now. I believe they’re up to the challenge. But that’s all new”
Cadillac executives have promised 8 new vehicles to be introduced by 2017. Of the upcoming new models, Drake said an updated SRX is one of the most important to get into showrooms.
“I think you’ll see an increased focus on SRX. It’s such a good car within the segment, it deserves better. We had a mid-cycle enhancement for the 2013 model year and we’ve gotten almost no bump out of it. I think Cadillac is going to recommit to SRX this year.”
Drake also said the addition of the next generation of V series models, which he expects in dealers sometime in 2015, should help with Cadillac’s brand image.
“I think the next V series will help a lot. Having that combination of a socially responsible and good looking car in the ELR, a great SUV in the Escalade and then to go out and make a world class V series performance sedan, that will tell people how substantial this brand is and how good the engineering is.”
As for the Cadillac Dealer Council’s message for Cadillac in 2014, Drake wants to know where dealers should direct returning customers.
“We definitely have a stronger, better positioned lineup. But, of the hundreds of thousands of cars dealers have sold over the last few years, what are the paths for old customers to become new customers? Where does that old CTS guy go? How do we talk to him? When is it appropriate to push him up or down?” Drake questioned. “Take DTS (sedan) owners. Is it better to move them to a CTS or XTS?”
Cadillac dealers are still adjusting to the busy transition. Drake pointed out that yes, 2013 was a good year, but they are still looking to get back to where they were in the early 2000’s.
“Yeah, things are a lot better. But good should they be?”