Cadillac says the time is right for it to finally launch in Australia, as it once again offers factory right-hand drive vehicles and a growing lineup of electric models.

    “It really is about timing… but around where the brand’s going and also the incredible EV lineup that we have coming,” said GM Australia and New Zealand managing director Jess Bala.

    “So when you look at our market here across Australia and New Zealand, obviously it’s one of the most saturated markets in the world, but we also think that’s a really great thing because it gives us an amazing opportunity to really stand the Cadillac brand out on its own through either the amazing vehicles that we have coming or the customer experience as well.

    “When you combine that with what GM is doing as a whole globally and strategically, now just meant the right time as GM as a company is evolving, the Ultium platform allowing us the flexibility to do vehicles built right-hand drive in the factory.

    “Everything just aligned to make this really the right point in time to bring Cadillac to market in Australia and New Zealand.”

    The brand will officially launch here this year with an electric-only lineup.

    When asked whether GM would commit to Cadillac being here to stay, Ms Bala said, “Absolutely”.

    “Hopefully just the fact these are vehicles that are being built in the factory in right-hand drive, they’ve been part of the plan for years now, I know everyone here is very familiar with how long it takes to bring a car to market.

    “So hopefully that really cements the commitment as well, just seeing what we’re doing here already.

    “I can tell you the passion from within GM around the Australian market is palpable.”

    Global Cadillac vice president John Roth confirmed last year an Australian launch had been in the cards since 2015, several years before General Motors shuttered Holden.

    “I think it was made quite some time ago,” said Mr 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 executives say the brand is targeting Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volvo buyers.

    “We’re targeting those Tier 1 European luxury brands,” said Ms Bala.

    “Our price will be right in the realm of where their entries, or equivalent entries are.

    “We understand there are a lot of other EV brands in market here, and some of those brands have done incredibly well in the last few years, but we see our entry as a real luxury EV.

    “So even if we’ve got buyers that for example wanted to be the early adopters, because we know we have a lot of those customers in Australia and in New Zealand, and for example were in a Tesla, we know that now their next step will be a luxury EV and that’s where we’ll come into play and be on their shopping list.”

    It has only confirmed the Lyriq thus far for Australia, but Cadillac has revealed a whole range of electric SUVs. These comprise the Optiq, Vistiq and Escalade iQ.

    “There are more [models] in the pipeline and we will make more announcements in the not-too-distant future around other models that are coming,” said Ms Bala.

    She acknowledged the brand has its work cut out for it, despite the name recognition Cadillac has even in this market where it hasn’t sold vehicles for decades.

    “In our market, we have got a job to do… around even improving brand awareness over what it is today,” said Ms Bala.

    She said, however, that expressions of interest for the Lyriq are already in the “thousands and thousands”.

    Customer events designed to showcase the Lyriq to prospective Australian buyers will begin next week, ahead of a launch later this year – though Cadillac hasn’t confirmed just what month sales will begin.

    Vehicles will be sold through Cadillac Experience Centres: one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. The company has previously indicated more will come, however, and it will also sell vehicles online.

    It’s promising a “very high-end” and “white glove” customer experience.

    The brand’s vehicles won’t be sold through the same dealership network as other GM vehicles.

    GM sells the Chevrolet Silverado and Corvette through its GMSV dealers. The former is remanufactured locally to right-hand drive, while the latter is built in right-hand drive at a US factory like the Cadillac Lyriq.

    Cadillac hasn’t officially sold vehicles here since the 1960s, but did come tantalisingly close to returning to Australia in the 2000s, only to have a global financial crisis and its parent company’s bankruptcy pull the rug out.

    It announced a return to Australia in 2007, obtaining local certification for the sale of the second-generation CTS. This would have been sold alongside Saab and Hummer products in a new GM Premium dealership network.

    GM even imported several dozen CTS sedans, before the brand’s launch was cancelled in January 2009 just weeks before they were due to go on sale.

    While Cadillac continued to offer factory right-hand drive CTS and STS models in markets like Japan and South Africa, their replacements were built exclusively in left-hand drive.

    Cadillac by this point then had no factory right-hand drive vehicles.

    Cadillac is relaunching in Europe, where its lineup had dwindled down to just the XT4 crossover, and currently sells vehicles in North America, China, the Middle East, Israel, Egypt, South Korea and Kazakhstan.

    While Japan is a right-hand drive market, left-hand drive Cadillacs are also sold there.

    Cadillac sold 355,000 vehicles globally in 2023, which gave it a 3.0 per cent share of the global luxury market.

    MORE: Cadillac locked in for Australia in 2024 – Everything you need to know

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers