Will a Move to New York Really Make Caddy Cooler?

Industry Watchers Think the Change of Address Could Do Some Good

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General Motors' Cadillac hopes to recover its diminishing luxury status by moving 650 miles east to New York's Soho neighborhood. "It's the perfect place to be," GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters last week in Manhattan. "It's where a lot of luxury is defined. It's trend-setting -- so I think it's going to be very, very positive."

But can something that simple fix Cadillac? The marque saw its U.S. sales through August fall 4.7% to 114,008 units from the same period in 2013, according to the Automotive News Data Center. U.S. sales for luxury brands like BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz -- Cadillac's closest rivals -- all rose 9% or more during the same period.

Industry watchers think the change of address could do some good. The move is only a starting point for new President Johan de Nysschen, said David Stokols, president-CEO of AMCI Group, an automotive consultant that has worked with Cadillac. "This is just the first of several bold moves he's going to make in order to establish the brand as the global winner that GM wants it to be."

That, along with exposure to a new talent pool in what is perhaps the country's least-driveable city, could help expand the company's reach to younger demographic. "The previous generation of the luxury market is retiring and [brands] want to find the key talent that understands the millennial marketplace," said Celeste Gudas, CEO and founder of recruiter 24 Seven.

"Cadillac's brand attributes are linked to luxury and not necessarily with Detroit," said Eloy Trevino, associate partner at brand-strategy consultancy Prophet. "New York represents a change of perspective for the brand, a fresh start in a fresh city of trends and money and style makers."

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