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Dealers wait for Cadillac's UK strategy

Cadillac dealers are hoping the US brand will plan out a clear strategy for the future, following failed attempts to establish itself as a serious premium sector player.

Manchester dealer Mitch Millett, managing director of Bauer Millett, said the distribution blueprint, to be unveiled at the Geneva show this week, “must stop the drifting” following the bankruptcy of European importer Kroymans last March.

He said: “If only the world knew what was happening. Some senior guys at GM have a fetish about Cadillac becoming a global premium brand but direct corporate control usually means unsustainable overheads for the volumes involved.”

Both Millett and Trevor Finn, chief executive of Pendragon, whose Stratstone outlets have sold the majority of Cadillacs, are waiting to discover which US and Mexican-built models will be imported and whether or not they will be right hand drive.

Cadillac registered 217 cars in the UK last year, the majority of sales coming from the Saab-built BLS, which ceased production last June.

The final 150 right hand drive models, based on Saab’s 9-3, are being offered mainly through beleaguered Saab dealers.

Finn, whose company initially distributed Cadillacs and Corvettes exclusively in the UK after the 2004 relaunch, said: “It is a question of having the right size of operation and realistic aspirations.

"Saab’s elimination would mean it is difficult to know if GM will continue shipping cars across the Atlantic and if the numbers justify right hand drive production.”

The head of Pendragon added: “We are not sitting around hoping and waiting. Cadillac outlets (the other is on London’s Park Lane) are ticking over with used cars, service and aftersales.”

Cadillac has six authorised service and repair centres.

With the BLS’s demise and cancellation of the 2.9-litre V6 diesel engine programme Cadillac faces the challenge of operating without diesel power units although a GM source said: “a replacement is being evaluated.”

Millett said: “I am selling the last nine Kroymans’ liquidation STS models at £10,000 off so it will be difficult to re-enter at full prices. BLS provided a college thesis on how to dilute and confuse brand perceptions. So far it has not been a coherent approach despite better products but the portfolio is incomplete.”

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