General Motors president Mark Reuss has said the automaker’s plan to transform Cadillac into its main electric car brand will be its last attempt at making the luxury brand a success.
“We don’t have any chances left with taking Cadillac to a really new place,” Reuss told Reuters at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. “This is pretty much it.”
Reuss didn’t elaborate on what might happen to Cadillac if it the EV push failed to gain it momentum, but with GM discontinuing numerous profit-losing vehicles recently, the automaker likely wouldn’t hesitate to kill it off.
GM has been pontificating about Cadillac’s turnaround since the early 2000s, when the automaker set about recapturing the market share it lost to brands like Lexus in the mid to late 1990s. Sales did increase by a small amount until the financial crisis of 2008, when they fell to just over 100,000 units a year in the US. Sales then stagnated at around 150k units annually until 2013, when the introduction of new models like the ATS helped push sales to just over 180k.
Cadillac got serious about competing with Germany and winning over young buyers in 2014, when it hired on former Audi USA CEO and Infiniti global brand boss Johan de Nysschen to oversee its operations. The South African born executive led the brand’s move to Manhattan, where it attempted to better align itself with the hip, urban buyers that it had struggled to win over in years prior. Sales under de Nysschen peaked at 175k units annually in 2015, but by 2018, they had had fallen back to around 150k units a year.
GM recently announced it would be moving Cadillac out of NYC and into a new office space near its research and development center in Warren, Michigan. This will allow Cadillac, which is now GM’s lead electric car brand, to quickly and more effectively communicate with those in charge of its products. The move will also save GM money as it looks to cut costs and prepare for a potential industry-wide downturn in sales.