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DIRECT sales via an online site and two ‘experience centres’ will power the entry into Australia of GM’S luxury division Cadillac.

It plans to launch in October with an initial single model – the Lyriq – and face its customers from experience centres in Melbourne and Sydney, following the concept used by car-makers including Tesla and Genesis.

It will not use the existing dealerships that represent other General Motors nameplates.

GM Experience Centre – New York

Although operating under the GMSV (General Motors Special Vehicles) umbrella that also shelters Chevrolet and GMC, Cadillac runs its own agenda with separate sales and marketing.’s chief marketing officer, Detroit-based Melissa Grady Dias, told GoAutoNews Premium in a round table discussion about the brand’s next step that GM is committed to fully supporting Cadillac in Australia and New Zealand.

She would not be drawn into the contentious issue of GM’s previous backtracks with halting brand launches, including Cadillac itself in 2009 that was abandoned during the global financial crisis, and the stillborn Opel franchise. And then there’s Holden.

Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Detroit-based Melissa Grady Dias

Cadillac is confident of capturing a slice of the luxury car market in Australia and New Zealand with Ms Dias saying that the timing was now “right” for launching here.

She said the brand already had “thousands” of expressions of interest in buying a Lyriq.

Ms Bala said: “The Australian and New Zealand markets are the most saturated in the world.”

GM Experience Centre – New York

“We think that’s a really great thing because it gives us an amazing opportunity to really stand the Cadillac brand out on its own,” she said. This includes presenting it as a luxury marque that takes on the established Australian presence enjoyed by peers including Audi, Lexus, Mercedes and BMW.

“Also, GM as a company is evolving the Ultium (EV) platform, allowing us the flexibility to build vehicles in right-hand drive at the factory.

“Everything just aligned to make this really the right point in time to bring Cadillac to market in Australia and New Zealand.”

The company is not concerned by some market reluctance in accepting EVs. 

“EV absolutely is the fastest growing segment and in the US over the past month, the Lyriq was the fastest growing nameplate. Not in luxury, but in (total) automotive in the US,” Ms Bala said.

The opening of the experience centres will be supported by the online sales program for buyers, either those in other centres or those preferring a digital transaction.

GM Experience Centre – New York

GMSV managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Jess Bala, said that part of Cadillac’s customer experience is tailoring it to each customer. This includes the sale and delivery of a car to a buyer.

“If we have a customer, for example, in Adelaide who wants to purchase a Lyriq then the purchase can be done completely online, if that’s what you want to do,” she said.

“We will then get the car delivered to you. If the customer wants to come to one of our experience centres for a more hands-on experience, we can do that and the buyer can pick up the car there.

Jess Bala

“So we really will tailor it to each individual customer to make sure that they get the experience that they need from early on, just learning about the car all the way through to delivery and then beyond that as well.”

Cadillac is also designing customer-focused enhancements to Cadillac in a similar vein to the Lexus Encore owner program. 

It has yet to announce what these owner benefits could be but indicated it could include access to loan cars and special exclusive events.

Key to giving Australian and NZ buyers the same luxury-status experience enjoyed in other markets is matching owner benefits enjoyed by other brands.

“We’re targeting those tier one European luxury luxury brands,” Ms Bala said.

GM Experience Centre – New York

“We know obviously there are a lot of other EV brands in the market here and some of those brands have done incredibly well in the last few years. 

“But we’ve seen our entry as a real luxury EV and we know we have a lot of customers here in Australia and New Zealand.

“And, for example, we know that Tesla’s next step will be a luxury EV and so that’s where Cadillac will come into play.”

By Neil Dowling

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