Cadillac has all-but withdrawn from the UK new car market.
The GM-owned marque is retreating to just one dealership in the UK – Bauer Millett in Manchester – from a network which at one point numbered 10 outlets. Around four or five other sites will serve as authorised repairers for the existing Cadillac parc.
“It’s a step back in the short term,” GM UK spokesman Denis Chick admitted. “The plan that we executed a few years ago was a bit ambitious.”
No Cadillacs have been registered here since March this year. The brand is now overseen by GM Europe’s Russelsheim HQ in Germany.
Chick said the brand is reliant on right-hand drive models for the UK, but recessionary pressures had mean that Cadillac globally had to focus on its main markets which were left-hand drive.
Chick was hopeful that right-hand drive cars might be available by the middle of the decade, but wouldn’t comment on the brand’s future in the UK should no such product arrive.
Since the brand arrived in the UK in 2004 it struggled to compete in the premium car market, despite long-term ambitions for 18 dealerships and 5,000 annual sales. Initially Pendragon, the UK’s largest dealer group, had exclusive sales rights and established six dealerships.
But the marque was hampered by unavailability of right-hand drive models and diesel engines, poor brand knowledge and product quality that didn’t match German rival brands.
Then GM UK took control in 2007. Even when Cadillac UK began marketing right-hand drive CTS and BLS models, built by Saab, they still sold in tiny numbers.
Bauer Millett had already been importing Cadillacs from the US as an independent specialist before it was appointed a Cadillac franchise in 2008.