Christian Soemmer, Managing Director Cadillac Middle-East, has confirmed that Cadillac will deliver to its customers something called “Cadillac Moments” which will turn the customers to fans. ArabWheels managed to secure an exclusive interview with the vibrant Cadillac managing director at the Dubai International Motor Show, held at the Dubai World Trade Center.
In a captivating and intuitive interview, Soemmer discussed the performance of Cadillac in the region over the last twelve months and the strategic approach adopted during the second phase of building the brand. In addition, he highlighted that Cadillac will have two more reveals (one sedan and one SUV); furthermore he states, “although Cadillac is still considered as an SUV brand, Saudi Arabia is still a sedan-dominated market where consumers will jump into sedans much more than SUVs.”
You started Cadillac’s rebranding in 2015 especially when you separated your headquarter from GMC and Chevrolet. How did these changes impact the brand and can you tell us more about your presence here in the region?
We started this 10-year transformation plan in 2015 and we have done a lot of work in the first phase. Now, we are entering the second phase which is described as the launch mode. Our product range is in full swing now. We launched two new vehicles here at Dubai Motorshow: the first one is the first-ever Cadillac XT6, 3-row SUV as we compete now in the biggest SUV segment in the region, and the second is the first-ever Cadillac CT5, our new sports sedan which can be tailor-made to your taste. We are giving our customers at Cadillac the opportunity to tailor-make their vehicles accordingly to their taste either luxury or sport style. In addition, we are working with all our dealerships to upgrade the brand from every perspective such as an upgrade in the service and in showrooms. We know that we need to deliver to our customers something called “Cadillac Moments” to make of our customers our fans and that’s the key for our sustainable success in the region.
Today, all automakers are shifting from sedans to SUVs. How can you explain your launch of a new sedan when most of the Middle-East consumers want SUVs and crossovers?
First of all, Cadillac is still considered as an SUV brand. We have the Escalade that is the icon in the SUVs segment and we will keep taking it forward in the future. We expanded the lineup from the SUV side, from XT4 (compact SUV), XT5 (global bestselling), and XT6 (6 and 7 seater). Plus, we are focusing also on sedans which are still important for us. Many consumers still want to have all the SUV features in a sedan. For example, KSA is still a sedan-dominated market where consumers will jump into sedans much more than SUVs. That’s what we want to deliver with the executive saloon CT6, the recently launched CT5, and the CT4, which we revealed earlier this year.
You’ve changed your models’ nomenclature a couple of years ago. You are focusing now on numbers in your new models. Does this modification confuse or help your customers?
We want to make it simpler and more straight forward for our customers to understand and remember especially as we are expanding our product lineup, where these different cars are sitting versus other cars. Researches showed that you can do it best with numbers. However, one car will always keep its name which is the Escalade, which we will never change!
How do you describe Cadillac’s stand in terms of electric and autonomous driving? And regarding GM’s vision, why did it opt for Cadillac to implement autonomous driving?
GM’s vision is something we hold closely to our hearts in Cadillac: Zero crashes, zero congestion and zero emissions. It is a lengthy goal but can surely be achieved. The future is in two technologies: electric batteries and autonomous driving. In that sense, GM made a decision that all technologies will be implemented across Cadillac first because it is the brand that can reach all customers interested in these two technologies. We announced earlier this year that we will launch the first-ever electric Cadillac SUV based on GM new electric battery platform. This is a very exciting step because we have an architecture which can build many different bodies, from design to engineering. From the autonomous driving perspective, this is something we will probably see later on but GM is doing a lot in this space. An example is our daughter company “Cruise Automation” that has the Super Cruise technology: It is a hands-free driving assistance system that we launched in Canada and USA. It has two pillars: high-precision mapping and the new technology in terms of radar assistance. It lets you take your hands off the steering wheel and enables a monitor that detects if you have your eyes on the road or not.
All in all, the “Super Cruise” is a true hands-free system and gives confidence to customers. I have had the chance to take a ride in one of those cars. While I was behind the steering wheel, the system told me, “it is safe now to let go your hands off the steering wheel” and the car was completely safe and in control. It gave me the confidence that one day I will let go even if I don’t have a steering wheel in front of me.
The sure thing is that Cadillac is at the forefront of this change and we will take this technology to the market as soon as possible.
You will be filling new models in every single segment and every six month. What are these models? And what are you future plans for the Middle-East?
Over the last couple of years, we really worked hard on this transformation plan to rebuild Cadillac and drive it to the pinnacle of luxury. We have done this together with our dealers-partners across the region. What I am really proud of is the massive commitment from our dealers-partners to the brand after we shared with them our future plans and they showed great excitement. They are also heavily investing into the brand from building new showrooms and new service centers to really deliver a full luxurious experience to our customer.
When it comes to our portfolio expansion, I can only tell you that next year we will have two more reveals (one sedan and one SUV) on top of the two reveals here in Dubai Motorshow.