• November 20, 2017
    Last updated 1 minute ago

automotives

Cadillac rebuilds its Mideast heritage around the Escalade

Luxury carmaker is also taking cues from another showstopper, the Escala concept

17:21 November 14, 2017
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Dubai: The legions of Escalade fans in the Gulf needn’t worry … the massive one will be very much around in Cadillac’s vision of how their cars should look like in future. At best, there will be a few tweaks here and there, but that all dominating heft the Escalade carries around will be there. It’s definitely not going to turn dainty.

“In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the Escalade is still the prime player in our entire portfolio,” said Christian Soemmer, Managing Director at Cadillac M.E. “It’s been such an icon and has such brand equity to it. It remains our biggest seller in the UAE and Saudi Arabia … by a fair margin. And that means it will also carry its weight in any future portfolio.

“In the US, it’s the most-sold luxury SUV in that segment and remains our halo car at the end of the day. The car that carries the Cadillac brand. While we are doing a lot brand renaissance and research, the Escalade will always have that place.”

Soemmer even sees opportunities in an as yet unexplored territory. “Escalade’s starting to resonate with women buyers, and it’s a great opportunity to have it with women in Saudi Arabia starting to drive.”

But outside of the Escalade, it is a completely reworked Cadillac form and function that future buyers will see. A glimpse of what that holds was in full display — and in gleaming black — in the form of the Escala concept car. Under the hood, Escala is tuned by a powerful 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. Even the interior has got a bit of character about it … Cadillac calls in a “dual-personality” given the “transitioning from an aluminium-accented front cockpit to a wood-accented rear”.

The Escala look and feel will be spread over future models … starting with the next set of launches.

“It starts with the XT4 (the compact crossover) that’s due early 2019 and five new vehicle lines in just two years thereafter,” said Soemmer. “Even the next Escalade will have future design cues from the Escala … but that’s only after all the other launches.”

For Cadillac, the Escala and all the talk about new design cues are about emphasising its intent on being seen as a genuine glob-trotting luxury carmaker. It is doing quite a few things right, going by the fact that it’s turning out to be big in China. of the 300,000 units sold worldwide, 100,000 of those came from China. It is on track for 50 per cent growth in that market this year.

And in October, it recorded the 17 consecutive month of sales growth. That is quite the deed given that US car sales are slowing down, considerably so.

For a carmaker that ditched the 100 plus years of calling Detroit home and moving to New York, the times are of radical change. It’s maintaining a safe distance from the parent, General Motors, in how it goes about rebuilding itself.

That also means changes are in the offing in the Cadillac showrooms and service facilities across the Gulf. The first one is imminent, though Soemmer did not specify details.

“Global luxury customers will want to recognise the Cadillac environment, and that means sticking to a uniform corporate identity guidelines,” he added. “The message has filtered through to our dealerships and soon there will be those changes.

“This is a long shot game — we are only three years into a 10-year transformation. We may be a 100 year plus company, but at heart we are just a five-year start-up.”