GM reinventing Cadillac brand with new financing arm
General Motors' luxury brand Cadillac will soon get its own financing arm for customers as it continues to head toward a future of all-electric vehicles.
Cadillac Financial, an arm of GM Financial, is expected to launch around the middle of next year, Cadillac spokesman Michael Albano said and as was reported earlier by Automotive News.
Cadillac dealers have been requesting it for a long time and Cadillac leaders now recognize that the financing arm will be key to Cadillac's profits as it goes all-electric and caters to a customer who will expect to be able to handle most of the purchase online.
For Cadillac buyers, it means more services to make buying and owning a car easier. For GM employees, it means new job opportunities, GM leaders said.
"This is far beyond a rebranding exercise, it's an ecosystem approach to deliver a frictionless, seamless experience that is fully connected, predictive and highly personalized," said Mahmoud Samara, Cadillac North America vice president of Sales, Service and Marketing, in a statement. "Cadillac Financial is a key enabler to growing the business profitability for both Cadillac and our dealers by delivering a world-class luxury customer experience."
Cadillac Financial will offer similar financing deals to that of GM Financial, but it will provide Cadillac buyers with more services to make buying and owning a Cadillac an "enhanced" experience, Samara said.
Cadillac Financial features will include:
—A dedicated and "highly-skilled" luxury concierge team able to resolve customer issues fast.
—A dedicated Cadillac-Certified customer experience team.
—A new brand website called CadillacFinancial.com.
—An improved online payment experience and added digital tools such as a mobile app and chat function, to make buying and owning a Cadillac easy.
"We will provide Cadillac customers with a streamlined luxury finance offering, driving deeper brand awareness and relevance, and increasing loyalty through seamless integration that will align with Cadillac's soon-to-be reimagined world-class luxury experience," said Kyle Birch, President of North America Operations for GM Financial, in an internal September memo obtained by the Detroit Free Press.
Cadillac up for change
GM has said it will bring 30 new EVs to market by 2025 with Cadillac being the first of its four brands to offer a full electric lineup by the end of the decade. The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq SUV will be the brand's first EV that starts production in March and goes on sale next fall starting at $59,990.
"Cadillac has been focused the last couple of years on reinventing our business and that doesn't stop at the retail portfolio," Albano said.
Cadillac's launch of Cadillac Live two years ago, for example, is part of that reinvention, he said. Cadillac Live is a digital showroom that lets shoppers take a one-on-one guided tour of any Cadillac car.
Also, Cadillac has reconfigured its dealer network. Cadillac bought out about 20% of its 870 U.S. Cadillac dealerships last year that did not want to invest $200,000 in tools and training to sell all-EVs.
"Every part of our business is up for re-evaluation and that goes to the financial end too," Albano said. "We're trying to make the car buying experience as frictionless as possible."
Dealers demanded it
There are many carmakers that already have their own finance arms presently that support separate financing arms for their luxury brands. Ford Motor Credit, for example, supports Lincoln Automotive Financial Services.
It's partly for that reason that Cadillac dealers have been asking for a financial unit for years, said Ed Williamson, owner of Williamson Cadillac-Buick-GMC in Miami and a member of Cadillac National Dealer council.
"Dealers have talked about it for quite a while, but the current leadership is big proponents of it," Williamson said. "In those instances where customers need to call Cadillac Financial, the experience will be first class and they only deal with one person who is empowered to help them. It's customer interface driven."
Williamson said if his customers are happier, that's good for a dealership's business.
Cadillac will start a pilot program for Cadillac Financial nationwide this year to test certain features of it, such as the concierge center, Albano said. The full program will be rolled out across the country next year.
Beyond customer benefits, Cadillac Financial will also open up new jobs for GM Financial employees, "at all levels of the company," Birch said in the memo.
When asked if those would be new hires or jobs filled from within, GM Financial spokeswoman Lane Borrello said, "Cadillac Financial could potentially create new job positions along with expanded career development opportunities for GM Financial team members."
"While our initial focus is on the Cadillac customer's luxury experience and marketing channels, we continue to talk with Cadillac leadership and dealers to determine what other opportunities or value may exist," Birch said.
In the memo, he said GM Financial will share more details about the Cadillac Financial brand, and how it will operate within GM Financial, as it gets closer to the expected launch next year.