Ex-Cadillac boss hits out at US ‘arrogance’

Malcolm Wade, the former UK managing director of Cadillac and Corvette, has launched a stinging attack on US car marques, accusing them of being arrogant and saying they don’t understand the European car market.

Wade resigned from Cadillac along with Alistair Welham, head of marketing, earlier this month (MW last week). The company has not replaced either role and is now scaling back the UK office.

Its UK distributor, Pendragon, now works directly with the marque’s management in Holland.

Wade says: “The whole situation is a bit of a mess. The Americans didn’t realise the investment needed to launch a US brand in Europe and they don’t understand that we’re not the United States of Europe. People don’t want four-litre petrol engines. The European buyer wants something a bit more agile.”

Wade, who left Volvo in 1999 to join Rolls-Royce as UK managing director (MW July 8, 1999), was appointed to launch Cadillac’s UK office in April last year (MW April 14, 2005).

At the time, General Motors said it planned to market Cadillac and Corvette in the UK as aspirational US marques but the company launched a review of its European marketing strategy earlier this year after just 500 of its new BLS saloons were sold in the first two months after it went on sale.

Wade adds: “There’s an almost arrogant belief that people want it because it’s a Cadillac.

“They would say ‘what do you mean, people don’t want a four-litre car?’ They don’t understand, and don’t want to understand, the European consumer.”

Wade has joined motorbike clothing and accessories company Lloyd Lifestyle as group managing director and it is thought Welham has joined Birmingham Building Society as head of marketing.

Analysis, page 8

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