LONDON -- Determined to make gains in Europe's luxury market, General Motors will price Cadillacs 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 United Kingdom's first Cadillac and Chevrolet Corvette showroom in London's exclusive Park Lane district.
But he said Cadillac's brand image will be more important than pricing. "We're appealing to the customer who wants to drive something else for a change," Kreber said.
GM is making an ambitious sales push in Europe for its U.S.-built Cadillacs and Corvette. Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said here that the company is serious about its plans to make Cadillac and Corvette "successful worldwide brands."
The new Cadillac vehicles can compete with the best premium cars on the market, Lutz said.
"Cadillac is our best shot at a truly global brand," he said. "What you see here is just the beginning."
The London showroom is one of 25 sales centers planned in Europe for Cadillacs and the Corvette.
Distributor Kroymans Corp. of the Netherlands, owner of Cadillac Europe, expects to import 6,000 units this year and 7,000 in 2005. "We could sell 20,000 in three to five years," said Ton van Soest, president of Kroymans.
GM wants Cadillac to compete with BMW, Mercedes and, to some extent, Lexus in the luxury segment in Europe.
Lutz said he wants all Cadillac models to be available with right-hand drive. The right-hand-drive CTS will go on sale in the United Kingdom in January.
The left-hand-drive STS will go on sale in Europe next spring. A right-hand-drive version probably will not come before 2006. A right-hand-drive SRX would come in 2007.
There are no plans for right-hand -drive versions of the XLR roadster or Chevrolet Corvette, which go on sale in Europe in 2005 as left-hand-drive models.