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America's Audi! Why the time is right for Cadillac to arrive in Australia | Opinion

Cadillac has overhauled its line-up in the past decade to close the gap to its European rivals.

Launching a new luxury brand is no easy task - just as Nissan about Infiniti - but what about launching an old luxury brand?

Cadillac has been around for more than 100 years but hasn’t been in Australia in an official capacity for more than 80 years. For those with a good memory, General Motors got very close in 2008 signing up 16 dealers and even importing 89 examples of its CTS sedan before management decided to axe the program at the 11th hour due to the Global Financial Crisis.

But with Holden gone, replaced by the smaller General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) operation, it seems like the time could be right for Cadillac to try its hand in Australia.

Even back in 2008, Cadillac was already under pressure in its home market. The combination of German giants Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi as well as challenger brands including Lexus and Volvo was making life difficult for Cadillac.

For several years, whenever an Australian journalist would ask GM and Cadillac about the prospects for the brand’s return to this market, there was hesitancy around the vehicles it had on offer.

Reading between the lines, Cadillac knew it had reacted too slowly to the SUV boom and needed to get its house in order before it could think about expansion.

But things have changed in recent years, with Cadillac introducing a range of new SUVs to go with more polished sedans to make for a stylish and sophisticated line-up of models. Cadillac’s current range has suitable rivals to match up against the best Germany has to offer.

For example, the SUV trio of XT4, XT5 and XT6 to give it SUVs to match up against the likes of the BMW X3, X5 and X7. Then you can add the Escalade on top of that, as well as the passenger cars including the CT5-V sports sedan for a comprehensive range of luxury vehicles.

However, just because a car company has a nice line-up of cars, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be a good idea to launch an all-new brand in Australia. After all, Nissan thought the time was right for Infiniti, but it failed to have much staying power in the market.

There is an alternative example, though, that should give those in the GM and Cadillac boardroom reason to seriously consider an Australian expansion - Genesis.

Hyundai’s luxury brand has had a slow start in Australia, selling just a handful of its G70 and G80 sedans in its first few years on sale. However, the arrival of the brand’s first SUVs - the GV70 and GV80 - has turned its fortunes around and shows a slow and steady approach with the right model mix has potential.

Make no mistake, Genesis is still a small brand coming off a very low base, but in the first four months of 2022 its sales are up 101.6 per cent and it’s already closing in on Jaguar’s sales figures; a far more established brand in this market.

Importantly, Cadillac has some models that would seemingly have great potential in the local market. For starters, the Escalade would seem like an ideal candidate for a market that has a love-affair with upper-large SUVs like the Toyota LandCruiser and the luxurious Range Rover, BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.

Just recently Caddy unveiled the all-new Escalade-V, a high-performance variant with a 508kW 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that would make a new addition to the growing number of red-hot SUVs on sale in Australia - such as the BMW X5 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE63 and Range Rover Sport SVR.

The brand’s other performance hero is the CT5-V Blackwing, which is also powered by a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 and would make an ideal (and long-awaited) replacement to HSV’s sports sedan - and rival the likes of the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63.

On the flipside of these petrol-powered performance models is arguably the most appropriate model to lead any possible Cadillac entrance into Australia - the Lyriq electric SUV.

This all-new battery-powered luxury SUV would make a promising rival to the likes of the Audi e-tron, BMW iX3 and the Mercedes-Benz EQC. It’s a sharp-looking model built on GM’s latest Ultium EV technology, which includes both modular motors and batteries.

It would be an ideal model to enter the local market, putting Cadillac on the leading edge of the growing EV market as well as opening the door for future GMSV electric models like the Chevrolet Silverado EV and possibly the GMC Hummer.

Of course, this all requires the dollars and cents to add up for the bean counters at Cadillac HQ, but if they decided to try the Australian market again there might be no better time than now.