- Helping you drive happy

Canadian leads Cadillac to even more new products

Quality car insurance coverage, at competitive prices.
Ask for a car insurance quote today.
Because of the long lead times in developing new vehicles and the constant job shifting that goes on in the industry, it's not often that a person actively involved in creating cars also gets to market them.

But that is what's happened to Jim Taylor, who was as responsible as anyone for developing the Cadillac CTS, SRX and STS models in his role as a vehicle line executive and who now will be the person most responsible for selling them in his new job as the general marketing manager of GM's famous luxury brand.

It's a situation that the ''most successful person to ever come from Peterborough, Ontario,'' as Taylor jokingly refers to himself, thinks could work very much in Cadillac's favor. ''It's a huge advantage,'' said Taylor in an interview before he went off to address Canada's Cadillac dealers at a recent meeting in Toronto.

''Not everything's an accident,'' he said, ''and this is one of those times. There's an advantage in having a hard-wired product guy in this position,'' and lots of people inside Cadillac and GM are ''looking forward to having a product guy at the table.''

Taylor said the dealers are also ''excited about the continuity and about not seeing much of a change, which is good since our strategy is working. Their lifeline is product and they're happy that I can help assure product plans in our."

Having a happy bunch of dealers is very important to a brand's success, since an un-cooperative or enthusiastic dealer base can make success difficult, if not impossible, for a brand.

The continuity is important, Taylor said, because it carries on the business message that Cadillac put together in the late 1990s and has proven so successful in resurrecting the storied brand.

That ''galvanizing'' message of cool-looking, high-performance vehicles has done a lot to turn Cadillac's fortunes around, Taylor said. However, there is still some distance to go, Taylor freely admitted, as the brand still hasn't cracked the upper echelon of global luxury brands, which currently includes BMW, Lexus and Mercedes.

Taylor thinks Cadillac will get into that upper echelon, but not until two generations of great products have rolled around the world, which would be about the end of this decade.

Though that seems like a long time for a brand to change its status (even if it was previously known as ''Standard of the World''), Taylor said that people who study these things for a living are impressed with how far Cadillac has gone so quickly.

What's also of interest to Taylor is how long it takes a brand to descend from those lofty heights, as many believe could happen with either Mercedes-Benz or BMW, based on their ongoing efforts to dilute their reputations with ever-cheaper cars, unpopular styling, hard-to-use technology, and fading quality levels.

Selling cool cars has had some affect on the average age of the people buying Cadillacs in the last couple of years, Taylor said, but the real breakthrough won't come until the people who are too young and too poor today start buying luxury cars. That's when being an ''aspirational'' brand with the fans of Hip-Hop will pay off, he said.

In terms of extra product bearing the famous laurel wreath, the whole world is likely to see a luxury sedan to compete with the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class in a few years, and Europe should see something smaller and less expensive than a CTS, probably with a diesel engine to suit that huge market.

While the Yanks won't see that smaller model for image reasons, Taylor said, it's possible for cost reasons that Canada might, though that could have been a true-blue Canadian wishing his native country well.

Since Taylor will be concentrating on launching Cadillac in China and Europe in the next couple of year, he probably won't be visiting Canada much in the near future, except to visit his family in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. He'll have to settle for listening to his father read him the stories that mention him over the phone.