At the start of 2020 Cadillac had 882 dealerships in the United States, of which 153 could be counted as standalone showrooms. Pre-bankruptcy the brand boasted a bloated 1,400+ dealerships, with roughly 500 of those shops closed shortly after GM began restructuring in 2008.
Automotive News is reporting that GM wants to drastically chop down the number of Cadillac dealers once again, with approximately 20 percent of the current franchises expected to get the cut before the end of 2021. This is because several dealerships have taken a recent buyout ultimatum: buy into the All Electric Future™, or walk.
Cadillac is said to go all-electric as soon as 2025. This comes at a time when the V8-powered (or diesel-powered) 2021 Cadillac Escalade is all-new, and fresh in showrooms. This comes at a time where two high-octane performance vehicles have yet to be revealed.
General Motors asked Cadillac dealers to invest about $200,000 in new styling, adding an array of charging stations, and new sales training to support the brand’s push to only offer electric-vehicles by the end of this decade. GM has previously reported that 150 stores have already decided to take the buyout money.
It’s a tough business trying to huck Cadillac vehicles in the United States. By the numbers, an average Cadillac store in the US sells fewer than 180 vehicles per year, compared to almost 1,000 cars annually for Mercedes-Benz and BMW dealerships. Then again, the 341 BMW car dealers and 383 Mercedes-Benz dealerships combined still amount to less than all Cadillac dealers, even by 2022.
Where Cadillac’s large dealer network could be viewed as a strength when the brand is doing well, its also-ran products – Escalade aside – means that cars are just sitting in inventory lots.
The accelerated electric vehicle strategy and brand messaging is also at odds with the latest crop of V-Series Blacking cars, which aren’t even out yet, as well as its current racing campaign in IMSA. The 2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing is expected to replace the discontinued ATS-V in the Cadillac lineup, while the 2022 CT5-V Blackwing will continue the legacy of the bygone, 640 hp CTS-V; a supercharged pinnacle of American muscle and luxury. Yes, the naming is confusing to the point of being conspiratorial, but that’s a topic for another time.
More than 700 Cadillac dealerships are part of a multi-brand array which at least partially helps insulate the franchise from the risk involved in exclusively following Cadillac’s big pivot. At the same time, multi-brand GM stores will also see their Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC offerings benefit from the upscale investments and embracing of future tech.
Most of the losses are expected to be in smaller markets where electric vehicles aren’t expected to flourish as they may in larger cities or more EV-hungry (read: Tesla-hungry) states like California. Even with nearly 1 in 5 Cadillac dealers abandoning ship, the brand will still sport twice as many stores as its German competitors.
The Cadillac approach also sharply contrasts that of sibling GMC. Only half of GMC’s 1,700 U.S dealers have agreed to make upgrades required to sell and service the Hummer EV pickup due out in 2022, but those who aren’t interested haven’t been asked to leave the flock via a bag of money.
The first course of the Cadillac EV forced meal will be the Lyriq (pictured above), which has been revealed from several angles. Then will come the Celestiq low roof luxury vehicle – which is expected to test the ceiling for what customers will pay for a Cadillac. A Cadillac Escalade EV is also in the works, which could come after the supercharged LT4 V8-powered Escalade-V.
– By Micheal Accardi