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Objects of beauty

Interview with Felix Weller, Vice President of Cadillac Europe GmbH

European Business: Mr. Weller, what is the goal of the new strategy?

Felix Weller:  We aim to get Cadillac back to the pinnacle of premium. Our brand awareness is not at its best. People don’t spontaneously think of Cadillac when they are being asked to name a premium automotive brand. We believe, that there is much more potential for us. In the past, our parent company GM has been following a multi-brand strategy which focused primarily on growing sales volume. This approach has fundamentally changed. And we are determined to use this focus on brand strength to grow the Cadillac brand around the globe and in Europe.

European Business: Where do you see Cadillac in the European market?

Felix Weller:  We are a challenger of the big premium automotive brands. Our positive brand perception must be transferred to our model lines. We aim to differentiate from the other premium manufacturers. Over the years, they assimilated. Our brand philosophy is based on passion: bold, sophisticated and optimistic. These are adjectives you will find in start-up companies, too. You have to be bold – courageous. Also, you need an eye for details– sophisticated. You have to have a vision – optimistic. This approach unites the typical American optimism with design sophistication.

European Business: What are the USPs of the Cadillac brand?

Felix Weller:  Today, there are some major trends in the premium automotive sector. These are typical aspects such as prestige, status, technology, convenience and driving experience. You can only differentiate from other brands by offering a unique customer experience. Here, Cadillac is particularly strong. Celebrities, kings and queens drive our cars. Our brand always had an ambitious aura. People who drive a Cadillac are different and want to be different. Against the background of the increasing mobility of our society – in all aspects – we decided to focus on people who are ‘entrepreneurial’ – a combination of entrepreneurs and millennials. This does not necessarily mean that they must be entrepreneurs in the true sense of the word. We focus on people who are ambitious, who want to move on. This approach also attracts people from industries such as design, fashion or architecture. Here, you find many people who want to express themselves. Therefore, we participate in several Fashion Week shows. Already, the connection of fashion and design has proven very successful. Finally, every car is an object of beauty, too.

European Business: So, creative people are good ambassadors of the Cadillac brand?

Felix Weller: Absolutely. For example, at the men’s Fashion Week in New York, we cooperated with Jason Wu. In Dubai we participated in a huge sneaker convention. Often, we cooperate with start-up conferences. Also, the digital influencers are important for us. Our target group is strongly influenced by the digitalization. It is extremely important for us to know about the habits and preferences of our customers. Currently, we are searching for new opportunities to get closer to them. We would like to be their co-conspirator and help them to shape their life(style).

European Business: What are your flagships cars in Europe?

Felix Weller:  First, there is our CT6. This large sedan offers the space of a luxury car but its weight and price match our upper mid-size competitors. It excels in driving dynamics, body rigidity and weight reduction. The car comes with a new engine with several special features offering outstanding performance combined with efficiency and smoothness. The launch of our XT5 marks our entry into the premium cross-over market sector. As its predecessor SRX it has quickly become the most successful Cadillac model world-wide. Also, our Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport which is rooted in the racing sector is a flagship product.

European Business: This sounds like a portfolio of the best?

Felix Weller:  We always wanted to be the best. When Henry Leland founded the company back in 1902 – at that time he was already in his 60s – his ambition was to build the best luxury car ever. Soon, we were on par with Rolls Royce and the other luxury automakers. Our history is characterized by many firsts. For example, we were the first to launch the electric starter. This was a revolution. Until then, you had to turn the crank manually, a physical challenge. Also, we were the first company offering cars in different colors. In the times of Henry Ford, cars used to be predominantly black. Lately, we introduced our Magnetic Ride Control, which analyzes the quality of the road in milliseconds. This system has been adapted by a famous Italian sports car manufacturer, too.

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