CADILLAC: The Dominance Of German Luxury Auto Brands Is Key To Our Success

Business Insider

Cadillac Elmiraj concept

The dominance of German brands in the luxury car market is not an obstacle to the growth of Cadillac, that brand's newly installed chief marketing officer says.

It's an opportunity.  

Uwe Ellinghaus spent 14 years at BMW, serving as chief marketing officer from 2010 to 2012. Now he's in the U.S., ready to go head to head with his old employer, and feeling confident.

In 2013, BMW took the luxury sales crown by delivering 1.66 million cars, its all-time high. Cadillac delivered 250,830 — a huge 28% jump over 2012.

And while GM has more big growth in mind for the brand, its smaller scope is a key advantage, Ellinghaus argued.

Cadillac's current lineup "really can match with the best in the world," he told Business Insider. Now it's a matter of getting the word out, to "add the icing on the cake by focusing on the distinctive design that sets Cadillac apart from the German premium crowd."

BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi "have volume aspirations that do not allow them to be bold" in terms of design, he said. "They must go mainstream, otherwise the business case does not work. You can't afford to be distinctive."

Ellinghaus did not knock the work of the Germans — they're on top for a reason — but sees an opportunity provided by their dominance. 

Cadillac can be the fresh face, the new offering. That's where its excellent design comes in. Nearly every car in the current lineup is two years old or younger. They look great and distinctive — and they really are easy to pick out on the road. 

"The more successful they are, the more ubiquitous [German luxury] cars become, the better for us," Ellinghaus said. "They will create a niche for Cadillac by people saying, 'I do not want to drive these cars that everybody has.'"

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