Interview: John Howell-Director of Global Products Cadillac


When at the Miami auto show I also had the chance to speak to GM’s Director of Global Products for Cadillac, John Howell. I was intrested to see what GM’s plans were for their luxury division. What better source than the man who call the shot’s right? -What do American customers expect from a Cadillac that differs from the European or overseas customer? Well, actually the differences are mostly a direct corralation to the region where the car is sold. In Europe smaller roads ask for smaller cars, so our CTS model is most popular. While China, for example, is a market where cars like Buick and Cadillac are seen as direct rivals to Euro luxury brands. People in China actually cross- shop a Buick to a BMW or Audi. They hold luxury American cars in high regard. -Your average customer is getting older and older. What are you guys doing to attract younger generations of buyers to your brand? It’s definatly our number one challenge at Cadillac. Most people don’t realise how much ground we’ve made in our product line-up. We need to let people know how much better our products have got. It’s the marketing department’s job to now convey this message to the people. We get alot of people who get in some of our cars and go “wow, this is a Cadillac?” They just have no idea that we have such a great product. So besides the marketing, we’ll let the products speak for themselves. -Is there any room for a top tier model? Cars like the Cadillac Sixteen Concept? Well to be honest, when we came out with the Sixteen almost four years ago, it was a different market. A sixteen cylinder, 1000HP car just does not make good buisness sense right now. Cars like our new Escalade Hybrid are proving to be the way to go right now. To be honest they’re better for everybody. Sure the styling and concept (body-wise) of the Sixteen will probably make it to our newer models but the powertrain and running gear is definetly not. We really need to focus on the products that sustain the company. Our cheapest car has to be the best before we attempt a car like the Sixteen for production. -What model is most important to Cadillac right now? Most definetly the CTS sports sedan. It is in a segment that is very competative and sort of a proving ground for our brand. If a customer drives a CTS, he/she will almost always come out impressed. This is an American car, and it is very, very good. Don’t believe me? Drive one. Ok, one final question, what do you drive? (Laughs),Your actually the first person to ask me that. I was considering one of our bigger models but after driving the CTS I was hooked! It’s really that good. cadillac-cts.jpg