Actor and filmmaker Jonah Hill might be ditching his $4 million SoHo apartment, but the affluent mixed-use Lower Manhattan neighborhood is attracting another A-list resident. Cadillac, the luxury brand owned by Detroit-based General Motors, will establish its planned global headquarters amid the many high-end fashion outlets that take up much of the commercial real estate in the area.
The move is is part of new Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen's brand-revitalization efforts to turn the Cadillac into a rival of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Porsche. Last year, Cadillac began selling in China, the world's top auto market with a fast-growing population of wealthy consumers. General Motors is breaking off Cadillac into a separate business unit amid flagging sales of recently introduced sedans.
"Yes, we have a space in mind, past the stage of scouting," Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell said in an email to International Business Times on Tuesday when asked if a specific location had been selected. GM says it will open the "multipurpose brand and event space" in the area by the end of next year, suggesting it will be more than just a few corporate offices. A location on Broadway between Houston St. and Canal St. would give Cadillac maximum exposure to the international crowds that traverse the 26-block U.S. National Historic Landmark District (pdf).
"We are very proud of our Detroit roots and heritage, and the majority of the Cadillac workforce will remain in Michigan," de Nysschen said in a statement to the media on Tuesday. "But there is no city in the world where the inhabitants are more immersed in a premium lifestyle than in New York."
The move is reminiscent of Infiniti's recent announcement that it was opening a design center in London for Nissan's luxury brand. De Nysschen was head of Infiniti before moving to Cadillac. Simon Cox, the head of Infiniti's new London-based design team, said last week that being located in a major city such as London offers multi-cultural inspiration and, of course, plenty of cars by which to be inspired.
"You go out there and see a Rolls parked next to a Porsche and an Aston over the road. It's amazing," he told Britain’s Autocar.
Cadillac has been struggling to grow sales despite performance accolades for the 2013 ATS compact luxury sedan and the full-sized variant, the XTS. Cadillac sales are down 4.7 percent so far this year compared with the first eight months of 2013. Only the Escalade has grown sales year-to-date. GM says it's doubling down on its bid to turn the brand into a German luxury car rival.
"A move to New York may add status to its mailing address, but what's really needed is clearer direction in Cadillac's sales and marketing efforts," Karl Brauer, senior analyst for automotive pricing and industry data provider Kelley Blue Book, said in an emailed statement. "The new management team needs to find its footing and execute in these areas as quickly as possible."
General Motors is planning a top-end Cadillac at the company's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant by late next year. The plant received a $384 million investment last year, and it currently makes the Opel Ampera, Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac ELR and the Chevrolet Volt.