General Motors' European distributor for its U.S. models is struggling to meet its sales targets this year.
In 2003, the Netherlands-based distributor Cadillac & Corvette Europe said that by 2005 it wanted to sell 7,500 units a year in Europe. Half of those, or 3,750 units, were expected to be Cadillacs.
But from January through August this year, the company sold 3,686 vehicles in western and central Europe. About 1,500 were Cadillacs; 1,000 were Corvettes; and the rest were Chevrolet Tahoes, TrailBlazers and Transports.
At this pace, it is unlikely that Cadillac & Corvette Europe, a unit of Kroymans Corp., will meet its goal of selling 3,750 Cadillacs by year end or its overall target of 7,500 units.
"Cadillac is still a big challenge," a spokesman for Cadillac & Corvette Europe said.
"German dealers do not want to invest" in these brands, said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.
Gerard Jansen, COO of Cadillac & Corvette Europe, acknowledged that Germany's one-brand culture is a handicap.
"Dealers should accept the principles of multifranchise outlets," he said.
Jansen said he expects the Corvette to meet its target. "The luxury segments are under pressure, and demand for diesels remains," he said. "But with Corvette, we are likely to meet our goal of 1,500 units."
Jansen said Cadillac & Corvette Europe needs time to establish its network. "Until recently, we did not have a distributor in Austria," he said. "But building our network is on schedule, with 80 percent of our network coverage being completed."
The distributor has high hopes for the new Cadillac BLS sedan. Sales will start in April, including diesels. Right-hand-drive versions will arrive several weeks later. The BLS is based on the front-wheel-drive Saab 9-3.
"BLS will help to build volume and meet our overall 2010 target of 20,000 units," Jansen said.
He did not give the price of the BLS but said it would be priced against the Audi A4, BMW 3 series and Jaguar X-Type.