Cadillac's newly appointed chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, doesn't even officially start his new role until January 1, 2014, yet he has already begun explaining his plans for luxury brand. Ellinghaus told Forbes that Cadillac must find unique selling points to lure new customers to the brand, and that launching the 2014 Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid (pictured) is an important step for the brand's success.
Ellinghaus, who previously was executive vice president of market and sales at Germany's Montblanc International, also spent 14 years working in BMW marketing and helped oversee both the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands. He told Forbes that the biggest problem facing Cadillac is not that it's perceived as an "old" brand, but rather that Cadillac needs to offer a unique selling proposition compared to other automakers.
"What we need to build upon is the uniqueness of Cadillac and differing aspects from the other car brands," Ellinghaus told Forbes, adding that Cadillac must, "find the unique selling proposition that sets it apart from the German premiums in particular but also others. We've got a global platform, individualistic styling. The products are better than ever. But what is still missing is, 'Why Cadillac?'"
In fact, Ellinghaus said Cadillac would not focus simply on capturing young buyers, a strategy that rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz are pursuing with the A3 and CLA-Class sedans, respectively. "People are living longer and longer, and they're healthier, and they're buying new cars even when they're old," he said. "We want all the people who like the brand and like the product, and practically speaking we don't care if they're young or old, male or female." He also said that Cadillac would not follow the lead of BMW, "because branding is about differentiation and not similarity."
As for future products, Ellinghaus told Forbes he sees "the biggest branding potential for Cadillac" in the launch of the 2014 Cadillac ELR. The Chevrolet Volt-based two-door will be the company's only plug-in hybrid model and will start at $75,995, including destination, when it goes on sale in January 2014. Despite the price tag, Ellinghaus expects the car to draw many new customers to the Cadillac brand. In fact, the luxury brand believes customers will be so enamored with the new car that 100 of them will pay $89,500 for the 2014 Cadillac ELR Saks Fifth Avenue Edition.
"Sure, the price is high, but it [the ELR] will find an audience that is looking exactly for a car that has wonderful range and fantastic emissions -- and also has everything that makes a premium car fun to drive," he said. "The example of BMW [i3] and Tesla shows that there is interest in fine cars that are EVs."