Editor's note: Bryan Nesbitt's first name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
LOS ANGELES -- Both Cadillac and Chevrolet chose the L.A. auto show to unveil key products.
Cadillac rolled out the CTS Coupe, and Chevrolet introduced the compact Cruze. Both brands have lost share and have suffered bigger sales declines in California than in the rest of the nation.
“We believe we have a credible offering,” said Bryan Nesbitt, Cadillac's general manager. “That's why we showed the coupe here.”
He said the coupe will represent a small portion of CTS sales but will be a nice niche vehicle. He pointed to the Audi 5 and the E Class coupe as good niche examples. “If the coupe is the way to bring them into Cadillac, that's what we will do,” he said.
He said one way Caddy will reach out to prospects is to take the vehicles to a convenient location of their choice and bring along a couple of competitors so people can compare the vehicles.
“It's all imports. We must conquest,” Nesbitt said. “We have to bring in customers who won't consider Cadillac.”
The Cruze was introduced in California because it is taking aim at the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, said Margaret Brooks, marketing director for small cars at GM.
“This is a great small-car market,” she said. “We think Cruze will change the rules for compact cars.”
She said the Cruze will have the roominess and amenities of a mid-sized car and deliver 40 miles to the gallon.
Chevy dealers will get extensive training before the vehicle goes on sale the third quarter of next year.
“Training will be an important part of the launch,” she said. “This is a very, very important launch for Chevrolet. It means a lot to Chevy and its dealers to have Cruze be the volume leader.”
Through the first nine months of the year, Chevy sales were down 43 percent in California, compared to 32 percent nationwide. Cadillac sales totaled 5,522 for the nine-month period, down 55 percent in California, compared to a 44 percent decline nationwide. Its market share was .7 percent, down from 1 percent.