While General Motors remains supportively optimistic of Johan de Nysschen’s recent decision to relocate some Cadillac staff to The Big Apple, The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes numbers among a growing quantity of critics who are having none of it.
Howes posits that American luxury brands — such as Cadillac — fail next to the luxury car brands of Germany and Japan “thanks to a record of shifting management priorities, impatient capital, recurring business crises and an allergy to long-term commitment.” He compares the move to Ford’s decision in 1999 to relocate Lincoln-Mercury to southern California, which yielded no observable advantage, and certainly didn’t last very long.
For all the vitriol that Howes spouts toward Ford, Lincoln, General Motors, Cadillac — basically everyone — he has a point. “Ulrich Bez, a former Porsche engineer who headed Aston Martin for 13 years, put it this way in a discussion we had years ago: great brands and the products that define them are built over decades, not single product cycles — and Detroit’s experience with Cadillac and Lincoln is proving him right.”
Only, Cadillac already has an impressive field of products, and hardly a critic in the world can disagree. These products will continue to originate here in Detroit even after Cadillac’s move, which itself really only impacts Cadillac’s marketing. And given that it’s Cadillac’s marketing, not its products, that is the contributing force behind its “sucking the fumes of its competitors” as he says, we rather think he’s missed the mark.
At the very least, we can all object to his calling his hometown of Detroit a “provincial Midwest backwater.” Maybe he was just grumpy.