LONDON -- Determined to make gains in the European luxury market, General Motors will price its Cadillac models 10 percent to 15 percent below rival models.
"We plan to be very competitive," said Bert Kreber, president of Cadillac Europe, at the opening of the UK's first Cadillac and Corvette "experience center" in London's exclusive Park Lane.
But he said that the unique Cadillac brand image will be more important than competitive pricing. "We're appealing to the customer who wants to drive something else for a change," said Kreber.
GM is making an ambitious sales push in Europe for its US-built Cadillac, Corvette luxury brands, helped by an ambitious product offensive that will start in 2005.
GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said here that the company is serious about its plans to make Cadillac and Corvette "successful worldwide brands."
The new-generation Cadillacs can compete with the best premium cars on the market, he said.
"Cadillac is our best shot at a truly global brand," Lutz said. "What you see here is just the beginning."
The new London showroom is one of 25 experience centers now being built throughout Europe for the Cadillac and Corvette brands.
Kroymans Corp. of the Netherlands, owners of Cadillac Europe, is the distributor for the brands with pan-European rights to import US-built Chevrolets and Cadillacs.
|Cadillac's German rivals|
|CTS||3 and 5 series||C and E class|
|STS||5 and 7 series||E and S class|
|SRX||BMW X5||M class|
|XLR||6 series, M3 cabrios||SL|
In the UK, dealer group Pendragon will be responsible for all sales.
Kroymans expects to import 6,000 units this year, rising to 7,000 in 2005.
"We could sell 20,000 in three to five years," said Ton van Soest, president of Kroymans.
About half of the current import totals are Cadillacs and this percentage is expected to rise.
GM wants Cadillac to compete with BMW, Mercedes and, to some extent, Lexus in the luxury segment in Europe.
Lutz said he wants all Cadillacs, and not just the CTS, to be available with right-hand drive. The right-hand-drive CTS will go on sale in the UK in January.
A right hand-drive version of the new STS that will go on sale in Europe next spring will probably not come before 2006. A right-hand drive SRX crossover would then come in 2007.
As yet, there are no plans for right-hand drive versions of the XLR luxury roadster or new Corvette, which go on sale in the new year as left-hand drive versions.
GM said it had made several modifications to the CTS to give it the kind of "sporty, agile handling" that appeals to European drivers.
But Cadillac will likely need a diesel engine for the CTS before it can compete successfully in the diesel-dominated European market.
GM executives said any news of new diesel models or a possible entry-level Cadillac for the European market would have to wait until the Geneva auto show in March.