Cadillac has not enjoyed very much success in the European market in the past. In 2016, General Motors moved just 781 Cadillac vehicles in Europe, while BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi sold well over 800,000 apiece in the region. Moreover, the brand has no real dealer network in Europe anymore, giving it very little presence and making it even harder to gain market share.
After selling about as many vehicles in Europe as a boutique sports car manufacturer for the past few years, we wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Cadillac is set to cease all operations in the region. However, our sister site, Cadillac Society, recently spoke to Cadillac President Steve Carlisle about his vision for the brand in Europe, who explained its extremely small presence in the region may prove to be an advantage once it begins producing more electric vehicles.
“I think Europe presents a really interesting opportunity for us,” Carlisle told Cadillac Society executive editor, Alex Luft. “We don’t really have a legacy there anymore. That market will make a very fast shift towards electrification just to the point in time that we start an aggressive rollout there. I like to say that we’re entering this decade as an internal combustion engine brand with better portfolio coverage than we’ve ever had. We’ve gone from about 63 percent a few years ago to 94 percent, so we’re covering all the important segments. But we’re going to exit as an electric brand. So it’s going to be a really exciting decade for us.”
Under former Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen, the brand planned to ramp-up efforts in Europe after seeing its “five new models by 2021” plan through to fruition. The idea behind this strategy, most likely, was that Cadillac would be better positioned to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi in Europe with a more up-to-date vehicle portfolio. With de Nysschen gone, though, the brand seems to have shifted focus to its EVs to help give them the edge in markets like Germany and Switzerland. It’s easy to see why Cadillac thinks EVs can give them the edge in Europe, where increasingly strict emissions standards are expected to drive a major uptick in EV sales in the near future.
This post was written in collaboration with our sister publication, Cadillac Society.