How has COVID-19 impacted Cadillac and how have you adapted your business model to better support customers during these unprecedented times?
The pandemic has had its effects felt across all industries around the world and automotive was no different. Nevertheless, as a company we have managed to pivot and adapt to the continually changing situation and continued our aggressive product launch plan, which most recently included the first ever Cadillac CT4 and CT5 and their V performance variants, and with it completing our freshest line-up of Cadillac’s ever that will soon culminate with the launch of the icon all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade.
When the pandemic hit, our first focus was to ensure the health and safety of our employees, stakeholders, and at the heart of it all our valuable customers. We rolled out several activities and services in partnership with our dealer partners including extended warranties on vehicles that were expiring during the lockdown to give customers a peace of mind and stay safe by staying home. We also had our 24/7 roadside assistance available to support all of our customers and many contactless options for service and new vehicle purchases. We launched Shop.Click.Drive. in a number of countries in the region, the online purchasing platform for Cadillac.
As we continue to adapt and evolve our business model to better meet consumer needs in the ‘new norm’, I am confident that with our trusted dealer network in the region, freshest Cadillac line-up and our loyal customers, we will come out strong and continue to grow together, drive the brand forward and explore new ways to transform our business model to ensure Cadillac continues to be recognized as a mark for luxury.
What makes Cadillac’s line-up different than that of your main competitors?
Across all our nameplates, our competitive advantage is led by our distinctive design, advanced technologies and uncompromised performance.
With our product offensive, we are now in a number of new segments Cadillac was never in before – giving our customers even more choice when purchasing their next Cadillac. In 2020, this included the first ever Cadillac XT6 going on sale, the launch of our first ever CT4 and CT5, and now the launch of the all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade, the icon will complete our freshest line-up and our full SUV offering.
There are a number of factors that make our brand distinct from any other. First, the Cadillac brand has over 118 year of experience in building vehicles, the reputation we have built in giving our customers a truly premium experience and a logo with a long heritage, this is something that can only be done over time.
Second, Cadillac brings a blend of performance, technology and design. For instance, with the launch of the 2021 Escalade, Cadillac will introduce the industry-first curved OLED display technology, which offers more than 38 inches of total diagonal display area, with twice the pixel density of a 4K television.
Additionally, Cadillac sedans are also distinguished by Cadillac’s award-winning RWD architecture which brings an exhilarating driving experience while maintaining the brand’s signature blend of performance, comfort and refinement. Lastly, from a design perspective, Cadillac stands out with the unique horizontal lights, that combine a long vertical lighting with shorter, horizontally positioned elements.
You touched on the launch of the online car purchasing platform, why now and what are your expectations for it? Do you think your customers are comfortable making a substantial purchase such as a car online?
They say “the only constant is change”, and this year proved the saying more than ever. The same people who today rely on e-commerce for all their purchases without thinking twice, probably questioned the entire concept of online shopping a decade ago. Everything is moving around us, across industries and around the world to meet customer demands and technology is driving the way.
This very much resonates here in the region too – the demand for online shopping has grown exponentially in the UAE and has forced industries, such as automotive, to adapt quickly in the move towards a digitalized world. As a matter of fact, a recent study by a renowned automotive publication in the region revealed that 6 out 10 adults living in the GCC are open to purchase a vehicle online, which we only expect to increase with time.
We decided to launch the Shop.Click.Drive. to provide customers with an innovative and simple way to purchase a Cadillac. Customers have access to the platform 24/7 from anywhere, anytime, including the ability to apply for a number of financing options at the touch of a button.
With the ongoing pandemic, social distancing has become the norm, and, in the fast-paced environment we live in, time is extremely valuable. This platform gives our customers exactly what they need – the complete flexibility on how they purchase their next vehicle, providing them with the support needed, and all from the comfort and safety of their homes. It has been a great success so far and has proven to be a real asset in elevating our consumer journey, so we are very excited to bring this offering to the region and look forward to feedback from our customers.
Also, our dealer partners in the region have been so quick in adapting to the change and have done an amazing job creating new means of communication in light of the outbreak of the pandemic. Our trusted dealer partners, brought to life virtual showroom services namely a digital buying experience, including door-to-door delivery services and digital customer service tools, to help customers navigate through these unprecedented times.
Talk to us about Cadillac’s EV future, what’s in store for customers and how does it compete with your competition?
I am proud to say that Cadillac has entered the decade as an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) brand and will leave as an EV brand.
Building on more than a century of innovation, we’ve recently revealed the first EV – the Cadillac LYRIQ, which further positions the brand as a technology leader for General Motors.
All Cadillac EVs will be based on GM’s future Battery Electric Vehicle platform, which the brand will be the first to use. The new architecture will be flexible, allowing the company to respond quickly to customer preferences with a relatively short design and development lead time.
We won’t stop there as we continue to redefine the boundaries and limits of mobility, connectivity, safety and technology. We will cadence the introduction of EVs and move forward with a mix of ICE vehicles and EVs.
As part of General Motors, we continue to work towards our global vision of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion and Cadillac is leading this EV strategy. There is a demand and need for EVs and this will continue to grow. At Cadillac, we believe we can play an integral role in shaping our industry. We have the expertise to deliver exceptional EVs and ownership experience and together with General Motors we are currently investing millions into research and development to bring this to life.
On a more local front, we have also seen an uplift in the EV infrastructure. More and more charging stations are being installed across the Middle East – looking at Dubai for example, DEWA has successfully installed 240 electric charging stations in different areas such as government offices, petrol stations, shopping malls, etc. with plans to add more by end of the year. All these changes encourage demand for EVs and speeds up adaptation.
What is your outlook for the rest of the year – any major launches planned for the next quarter?
As I mentioned, we recently announced the arrival of the Cadillac CT4, CT5 and their V performance variants to the region and we’ve just revealed our first EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, which is a major step for us.
We are also very excited for what is in store for the rest of the year and we will be ending it on a high note. We are very excited to be bringing to market the all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade.
Since its launch more than two decades ago, the luxury SUV has proven to be a customer favorite, both globally and locally, accounting for nearly half of our sales and we are confident the latest iteration will continue this success story.
The all new Escalade will come with some of the most advanced technologies in any vehicle in the automotive industry, including an incredible 38-inch OLED 4K screen. It is innovations like this that gives us confidence that we have a unique offering for the luxury car buyer. The iconic SUV also has Augmented Reality-enabled navigation with a live forward camera view. When it comes to looks, the Escalade has it all – it maintains Cadillac’s signature vertical lighting element, but the new interpretation adds a sleek, horizontal headlamp to reinforce a broad, confident stance. The tall, vertical, rear light signature continues but adds deep three-dimensional layers and finishes with detailed etching.
We hear a team of women designers were behind the next-generation 2021 Escalade. Talk to us more about this.
Indeed, we are proud to say that the Cadillac Escalade was designed and built by a diverse team including a number of very talented women designers. This enabled us to have an even better understanding when building a vehicle with the global customer in mind.
At General Motors, we are committed to understanding and embracing our differences, and reducing biases from the standpoint of both genders. We have worked hard to create an environment that supports all employees while recognizing and respecting them as individuals, and enables them, regardless of their gender, and based on their qualifications, to build vehicles and join any part of the business.
This is not just applicably internationally, but in every single one of our offices, as we continue to push for women to be in leadership positions. On a regional level, we are continuously rolling out initiatives to help and encourage more females to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions.
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