General Motors was planning to bring Cadillac here even before it swung the axe on Holden.
“I think it was made quite some time ago,” said Cadillac global vice president John Roth when asked when the decision was made to bring the brand to Australia.
“Because of the right-hand drive, it goes back to… Mark Reuss and that 2015 timeframe when they all came together to re-architect what the future of Cadillac was going to look like not just in the US but around the globe.”
Mr Roth noted 2015 was the year GM looked at reimagining Cadillac as a global luxury brand to battle the German ‘Tier 1’ brands.
Cadillac had been sold in markets like Europe for many years by this point, but hadn’t returned to Australia.
Plans to revive it locally in the late 2000s, where it would have been sold alongside Hummer and Saab products, fell through at the eleventh hour, while right-hand drive product dried up in the 2010s.
When asked if there would be any potential resentment from Holden fans, GM Australia and New Zealand managing director Jess Bala acknowledged there may be, but that Cadillac will target different buyers.
“Obviously there’s a lot of passion behind Holden. There was then, there still is now, but at the same time obviously the market is evolving,” said Ms Bala, noting the decision to bring Cadillac to Australia was made “years ago”.
“We see a bigger uptake of luxury goods… will there be some? Absolutely. But is it for everyone? No, it’s a different brand, it’s a different offering, it’s a different price point, we’re going after that luxury market so I think there will be some but not everyone.
“The emotional connection that Holden had was an amazing thing. We really resonated here, and I think once people see that we’re bringing more brands back to Australia, it does generate opportunities as well whether it’s for consumers, from an employment standpoint, there’s lots of opportunities that will come from this as well.
“We’re coming here first because GM, from a head HQ standpoint and from a leadership team standpoint, recognised the opportunity here.”
Cadillac has been making competitive rear-wheel drive sport sedans for 20 years, which would appear to be a logical offering in Australia given our love of such vehicles from Holden and HSV, the plan is for Cadillac to be electric-only here ahead of its global switch to an electric-only line-up in 2030.
“It’s more around where the brand is heading globally, there’s a shift from an environmental standpoint but also from what a consumer is looking for as well, across the globe we’ve seen EV adoption jump up considerably,” said Ms Bala, ruling out any combustion-powered vehicles.
“So as what the brand is trying to do, it’s really trying to be a transformative brand and be at the spearhead of technology for GM, it just made sense that we come to Australia and New Zealand as an EV brand, because a lot of that technology has come in with the car and we have a very tech-savvy customer base across the two markets.”
Cadillac will launch here in 2024 with the BMW iX-rivalling electric Lyriq SUV, to be sold direct to customer through two retail outlets in Australia at first with more to come.