Sharply higher prices on some of Cadillac's new vehicles are creating sticker shock -- for dealers.
"We're not used to having product that can go toe-to-toe with the Germans. Now we've got that," said Howard Drake, chairman of the Cadillac National Dealer Council. "But dealers aren't used to selling head-to-head, price-to-price against them. That's a huge adjustment."
Prices on the redesigned 2014 CTS sedan, rolled out last fall, range from $6,000 to $15,000 higher than the '13s, depending on the trim level. The ELR plug-in hybrid debuting this month goes for a lofty $75,995, including freight.
Drake, owner of Casa de Cadillac in Sherman Oaks, Calif., says Cadillac's rejuvenated lineup and steeper prices are forcing a change in mentality among Cadillac salespeople who have grown accustomed to selling the deal.
"Our salespeople aren't used to looking Mrs. Smith in the eye and saying, 'Our car is as good as a 3 series or a 5 series,'" Drake said. "The old song was: 'Well, no, it's not as good, but it's 50 bucks less a month.'"
General Motors spokesman David Caldwell said Cadillac is adding more content, features and performance attributes "and that's reflected in the pricing."
"It's part of the elevation of the brand," he said.
He says prices on new entries such as the ATS and CTS are in line with or slightly below those of competing vehicles from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Drake says the higher prices are a positive step for Cadillac's long-term health. But he says the dealer network and the factory need to work together to keep legacy Cadillac customers in the fold.
"Of the hundreds of thousands of cars that dealers have sold over the last few years, what are the paths for old customers to become new customers? Where does that old CTS guy go? How do we talk to him?" Drake said. "It's a complicated process, aligning our old customers from their existing vehicle to a new one." c