Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen is trying to sell Cadillac's lowest-volume dealers (selling 50 or less models in a year) on transitioning to a virtual showroom.
Automotive News says de Nysschen outlined this concept to dealers last week during national brand meetings in Southern California. The concept involves a dealer going to a concierge-style approach where salespeople would visit prospective buyers either at home or work, equipped with a touchscreen device with vehicle configuration or virtual-reality units. Dealers who go with this concept will also not stock Cadillac vehicles. Instead, orders would be coming from regional inventory center.
de Nysschen has expressed concern for dealers that have Cadillac in the same showroom as one of the other GM brands (most of the low volume Cadillac dealers), saying he'll have trouble tolerating dealers "selling Cadillac out the back door of a Chevy store" last year.
But de Nysschen also sees an advantage in having a sales and service footprint that covers America's smaller towns - an area that many of Cadillac's competitors don't exist in. Going with the virtual dealer concept, de Nysschen believes Cadillac can retain that point and give dealers the relief of not having to stock a small number of vehicles on their lot.
"We want to work with those small dealers to give Cadillac a competitive advantage in terms of reach into their local communities, but do so in a way that's more closely aligned with what we think the Cadillac luxury brand experience should be," said de Nysschen to Automotive News.
It's a way to "immerse customers in a virtual brand experience, so that our dealers need not concern themselves with investing in showrooms and brand-element requirements, which clearly are cumbersome if you're such a small dealer."
But dealers are worried about the virtual showroom concept as it would basically become a service center for Cadillacs that might sell a new vehicle once in a blue moon.
"How does having fewer Cadillacs on display at dealerships in all of these communities help sales?" asked Byron Hansen, owner of Hansen Motor Co. in Brigham City, Utah.
"It makes you wonder what they're trying to accomplish."
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)