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Diesel and electric powertrains and right-hand drive on the agenda for Cadillac to grow its global customer base

Diesel engines are coming and right-hand-drive models are possible as part of a “substantial” investment in a 10-year plan from General Motors to relaunch Cadillac in Europe.

That’s according to Cadillac’s European boss Thomas Sedran, who has overseen the conception of the plan and is now in the early stages of its implementation, with the relaunch kicking off in earnest today at the Geneva motor show

“You need to have competitive diesels and you need a strategy to use these engines across different product portfolios,” Sedran told Autocar at the Geneva motor show. “At this point, I can’t promise a date for diesels, but it is coming. In the short-term we will stick with our gasoline models.”

Future Cadillac engines are likely to be sourced and shared with Opel-Vauxhall, particularly with smaller, less powerful units, Sedran said. 

Cadillacs are only imported to the UK through Manchester-based Bauer Millett, and it’s understood not a single model was sold to a UK customer last year. Only Manchester United football players and officials received models in the UK through a sponsorship deal.

“There is no final decision on right-hand drive, but I hope it will be positive,” said Sedran. “To be a global company, you have to be in the UK. But I know to be there you have to be right-hand drive.”

Cadillac is coming from a low base in Europe; last year, only 2200 models were sold on the continent, including Russia.

Sedran admits that Cadillac has been left as “a bit of an orphan child” in Europe “with [GM's] focus on Opel and growing Chevrolet”. With Chevrolet’s exit from Europe now confirmed for 2016, GM has “approved a growth plan for Cadillac” alongside its efforts with Opel-Vauxhall. 

The first stage of the plan is to “better support” the 41 Cadillac dealers in Europe with a better website, a new marketing campaign and improved brochures as part of a 10-point process that will be completed by June.

Sedran believes that even basic improvements like improving the website will give Cadillac a short-term boost before the likes of the diesel-powered models arrive in the medium term. 

The plan is based around three “pillars”, according to Sedran. The first is to offer a unique and distinguished customer experience, next is to grow the product line-up and powertrain offerings with diesels and EVs, and finally there will be a dedicated GM team installed to help Cadillac meet its goals in Europe.

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“Recognition” in the European market place is very important for Cadillac’s global ambitions, Sedran notes. “We need to be relevant here, as it can help the global business. European customers are among the most demanding.

“In the future, the requirements of Chinese and European customers will merge, and this will of course help Europe as China is the world’s biggest luxury market.”

Smaller SUVs and crossovers are also noted as models that “fit the Cadillac DNA”, said Sedran, and he hinted a next generation of products that were not replacements for existing models were between three and five years away.

At the Geneva motor show, Sedran presented the Cadillac line-up of the BMW 3-series-sized ATS saloon, the 4-series-sized ATS coupe, the 5-series-sized CTS, the Chevrolet Volt-based ELR coupe, and the large Escalade SUV.

Read more Geneva motor show news.

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