"These are all 20-year decisions," Mahmoud Samara, vice president of Cadillac North America, told Automotive News. "It is very satisfying to know that you have partners [who] can see 20, 30 years down the road, and they're putting their money where their mouths are. They're fully invested into the brand, invested into Cadillac."
Inder Dosanjh, dealer principal of Dosanjh Family Auto Group in the San Francisco Bay Area, in 2019 was awarded a point near one of his Chevrolet stores in Stevens Creek, a San Jose enclave where Lexus and other luxury brands have high-volume dealerships.
Dosanjh's Stevens Creek Cadillac replaced a store closed several years earlier by Sonic Automotive and is in the middle of construction to meet the brand's EV requirements. He expects the new building to be finished by the end of the year.
"Looking at where Cadillac was headed, San Jose is one of the biggest markets in California," he said. "It was very attractive to have a Cadillac store on Stevens Creek Boulevard. It's a major car hub."
When the Cadillac Lyriq goes on sale early next year, Dosanjh, the largest Chevy Bolt EV dealer in the U.S., said he expects to sell every one of the midsize crossovers that he can get.
Even today, Dosanjh says customers are asking to reserve the Lyriq. "I can't go places where people find out I am the Cadillac dealer," he said.
Bruce Axelson, dealer principal of Canada-based Capital Automotive Group, won the rights to open Cadillac of Beverly Hills and Cadillac South San Francisco.
"Cadillac has been missing from Beverly Hills for over 35 years. It's a difficult market. It's not for anyone," Samara said. Cadillac wanted to "reestablish that with the right partners."
He said Cadillac is still working to get a dealership open in Manhattan, after Potamkin Cadillac closed early last year.
As Cadillac introduces more EVs, it needs a physical presence in key markets to engage with luxury buyers, Samara said.
"Customers want to touch and feel your product. It's an emotional connection they build with your brand," he said. "Out of sight, out of mind."
The investments come after about 150 Cadillac dealers accepted buyouts last fall that generally ranged from $300,000 to more than $500,000.
General Motors is requiring retailers that stay with the brand to invest an average of $200,000 on chargers, tooling and training for electric vehicles.