When General Motors Corp.’s top executives were choosing this year which brands to keep and which to ditch, Cadillac was unquestionably deemed to be a valuable asset that should be part of a new GM.
The most iconic of GM’s brands, Cadillac is known worldwide. In its heyday, it rolled out some of the most beautiful cars ever built, the fin-tailed sedans of the ’50s and ’60s that symbolized American optimism across the globe.
“We all use the expression ‘the Cadillac of toasters’ or ‘the Cadillac of something else.’ It still means ‘the best of’ to a lot of people,” said Csaba Csere, a contributing editor to Car and Driver magazine.
GM had set out in recent years to restore the brand, designing attractive models such as the acclaimed CTS mid-size car, improving the quality and refining the interiors.
But Cadillac’s transformation had been only partly achieved when global auto markets — and GM’s finances — collapsed.
With GM now in bankruptcy and likely to count every penny for years to come, it will be hard-pressed to mount a challenge to the leading luxury carmakers.
But GM still intends to compete against the top names in the industry. It needs a luxury brand to showcase its best technology and designs, and to retain customers as they progress from mainstream to premium cars. “You can’t have a successful GM without a successful premium brand,” said Cadillac General Manager Steve Hill.
Restoring Cadillac will require GM to weigh the brand’s long-term needs against short-term financial pressures on the company. In addition to GM’s constrained finances and the weak state of global car markets, Cadillac is battling the perception, according to brand expert Alexander Edwards, “that all the domestics are on the losing side.”