TOKYO (AP) - General Motors Corp. will start selling its new baby-size Cadillac in Japan next month in an effort to challenge domestic makers in the highly competitive entry-level luxury segment, company officials said Monday.
The Cadillac CTS will roll into Japanese showrooms March 8 and start at 4.95 million yen (US$42,000) for a model that includes a navigation system, CD player and side air bags as standard features.
The CTS starts at US$35,000 in the United States but does not include all the features of the Japanese version, which will come in both right-hand and left-hand drive models.Japanese people have generally favored Mercedes and BMW models over the Cadillac because of a severe image problem American cars have suffered here as poor quality gas-guzzlers.
Only some 600 Cadillacs were sold in Japan last year. But Rajeev Chaba, director of marketing for GM Japan, said the company hoped to sell more than 400 Cadillac CTSs in Japan a year.
The Cadillac CTS has done well in the United States and the Detroit-based automaker raised its annual sales target to 40,000 from the initial 30,000.
Mark LaNeve, general manager for the Cadillac division, acknowledged the Cadillac brand had been passed over in Japan to European and Japanese rivals.
"Cadillac must be perceived as an elite premium luxury brand,'' if General Motors hopes to win globally, he told reporters at a Tokyo hall where the CTS was shown.
General Motors plans to introduce four Cadillac models this year, three of them intended for the overseas market, including Japan, although dates for their arrival here are still undecided, GM officials said.
General Motors did marketing research in Japan during the developing of the CTS to ensure its appeal to Japanese drivers, they said. - AP