An open letter to Cadillac dealers:
I've had two opportunities in the last month to meet with Cadillac President Steve Carlisle, who was handpicked by General Motors executives to replace the ousted Johan de Nysschen.
Many of you, if you haven't already, will get the same opportunity this week at the brand's dealer meeting in Las Vegas, where Carlisle promises to detail Cadillac's plans through 2021, including its upcoming products.
Aside from a look at the long-awaited product renaissance, there are a few things you should expect from the GM lifer (a term that can sometimes be used as a backhanded insult to those who have spent their entire careers with the company, but not in this case).
Carlisle is mild-mannered, methodical and data-oriented when he speaks. He doesn't want or command attention (he may even not move an inch while up on stage), but don't necessarily take that as a weakness. It's just different from what we've come to expect from Cadillac under de Nysschen.
They're simply different leaders for different times.
De Nysschen, a GM outsider, was boisterous. He commanded attention, leading Cadillac during some of its darkest days and, with his nose to the grindstone, launched Project Pinnacle. He ruffled feathers but always had the brand at the heart of his decisions.
Carlisle, I believe, has those same intentions. However, he'll attempt to achieve them differently than the former Infiniti and Audi executive.
Carlisle is no stranger to Cadillac. He was in Asia when GM decided to launch the brand in China; he oversaw gains for the brand in Canada; and he was leading global product planning and program management when the brand's 10-year plan was made.
He knows it's not great times for Cadillac in the U.S. Many of its products are long in the tooth and it needed the XT4 compact crossover -- arriving in dealerships -- five or more years ago to address consumer demand shifting away from sedans to crossovers.
U.S. sales are up an estimated 2.1 percent through August, according to the Automotive News Data Center. But those sales are heavily being supported by fleet and incentives -- up 30 percent on average this year, according to Autodata Corp.
Many of you as dealers have invested millions into Project Pinnacle with the promise of a brand renaissance, which may finally be beginning. I urge you to be as vocal with Carlisle as you were with de Nysschen.
If you agree or disagree with me about Carlisle, de Nysschen or Cadillac’s plans, please feel free to let me know.
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