To the Editor:
Anyone connected with the automotive industry in the United States wants Cadillac to succeed. "The Standard of the World" is not something to be taken lightly. Our industry -- and perhaps even our country -- needs Cadillac to be successful.
Despite great new products, there's one big problem that Cadillac can't seem to face: It has too many dealers.
The tables on Page 68 of the March 9 issue of Automotive News tell the gruesome story ("Lexus leaps in sales per franchise"). The top three luxury brands had a throughput, or sales per franchise, of about 1,000 or more new vehicles in 2014. But Cadillac? It had an average of only 183 new-vehicle sales per franchise last year. Cadillac has almost 700 more franchises than Lexus, yet Cadillac sold 45 percent fewer vehicles than Lexus in 2014 through that much larger network.
People who buy luxury vehicles are paying for more than a world-class product; they are paying for a premium ownership experience as well. It's hard for me to see how a dealer selling an average of only 183 new Cadillac vehicles a year can afford to make the investments in service, training, facilities, personnel and customer-satisfaction initiatives that true luxury customers have a right to expect.
One can discuss the efficacy of Cadillac's move to Manhattan, but it really doesn't matter where Cadillac is headquartered. Somehow, some way, Cadillac's managers have got to acknowledge that they have a surfeit of dealers and do something to correct the problem. The survival of a revered and respected brand depends on it.
The writer is retired from BMW of North America, where he held a number of positions in planning, sales and marketing management.