Cadillac no longer designing cars <em>only</em> for Americans

Cadillac no longer designing cars <em>only</em> for Americans

Cadillac’s presence in markets outside the U.S. is growing but there’s still a long way to go until the brand has the global recognition that rivals like BMW and Mercedes-Benz command. A major hurdle for Cadillac has been that for years its lineup has been developed solely with the U.S. market in mind, and when product planners tried to develop vehicles for other markets they’ve failed spectacularly.

Developers don’t want to make the same mistakes with Cadillac’s future models, especially in lucrative new markets such as China and Russia. That’s why GM plans to take a group of designers to China, Russia and other countries to better understand local tastes. The current practice is to develop cars for North American buyers, then sell them in other markets.

Speaking with Automotive News, Cadillac's new global design director Clay Dean said the current focus is mainly on China. "The luxury market is going to be big in China. It isn't big there yet, but it will be big in the first- and second-tier cities," he explained.

The first of the new global-influenced models will be a large RWD sedan that’s set to debut around 2011 or 2012. The sedan is expected to replace the STS and DTS and compete with the Mercedes-Benz E class and BMW 5 series.

Our opinions on this strategy are somewhat divided. While we agree that Cadillac needs to up its game and have a whole portfolio of products as good as the CTS, aping the German sports saloons could result in the brand losing its American flavor. We argue that the American-ness of Cadillac is precisely what makes the brand so attractive.

In addition, Cadillac’s current attempt to take on the European market in the form of the BLS mid-size sedan has been a failure despite a range of small engine to suit the market. The company is only now releasing a station wagon version of the BLS, however it may be a case of too little, too late.