A Few Reasons Why Cadillac Leaving Detroit Isn't A Big Deal

Illustration for article titled A Few Reasons Why Cadillac Leaving Detroit Isnt A Big Deal

People are all "Cadillac is a traitor to Detroit!" and I'm just kind of "meh" about this morning's announcement, which followed months of speculation. So what if they're moving to New York? Relax, take a deep breath, and see why this is actually a good thing.

1. It's Cadillac, not Comerica. Cadillac hasn't put its name on a lot of things around Detroit, like a baseball diamond for example. That's not to say Cadillac wasn't invested in Detroit at all. But when Comerica Bank moved from Detroit to Dallas in 2007, when the city was on its knees, that was an unforgivable loss. Cadillac is taking 30 employees — just 30, guys — to New York City. I'd wager that few of them actually lived in the city, which means there will be 30 houses and condos across Birmingham, Northville and West Bloomfield going for sale soon.


2. What's good for Cadillac is good for Detroit. The mothership is still in the RenCen. If Cadillac does well, GM does well. If GM does well, its suppliers — many of them are here in Southeast Michigan — do well. If everyone in Southeast Michigan does well, then we're all happy.

3. They still build Cadillacs in Michigan. Up in Lansing, ATS and CTS production is still chugging along. You can riot if GM ever decides to shut that plant down, which will have much more of a detrimental effect on the state than middle-managers going to Soho.

4. The alternative could have been worse. Could you imagine if Cadillac had jumped on the Shinola watch/Chrysler 200 bandwagon and branded itself as a Detroit brand? Note that this is not a knock on Shinola or Chrysler. But I think that a Detroit brand leaving the nest, for lack of a better term, could mean that one less company is going to try to awkwardly commodify all the good things going on here.

5. American luxury could stand to try something different. I wrote before that American luxury is going the way of the dodo, with Chrysler settling in as the mainstream brand it always should have been and Lincoln still trying to figure out what to do with itself. Cadillac has nothing to lose at this point. If it fails, GM seems profitable enough for the brand to land safely.


6. Locations don't always reflect a brand's meaning. California has been on the cutting edge of car culture for years, but Toyota kept giving us generation after generation of Camrys and Corollas before they announced they were moving to Texas. A Texas-based Toyota will probably look exactly the same. Whatever Manhattan's influence has on Cadillac remains to be seen, but considering it sets German companies as its benchmark, it wouldn't have made a difference if they moved to New York City or York, Pa.


7. There's more than enough momentum in Detroit to offset Cadillac's loss. You could point to several examples of new and forthcoming businesses opening in Detroit, but the real momentum not as widely reported is the movement of suburban Detroit businesses into the city core. The most automotive-centric example is Lowe Campbell Ewald, the ad agency joined at the hip to GM for ages, moving from Warren to downtown. LCE brought more than 500 employees downtown. Again, Detroit is losing 30 Cadillac employees. It's OK.


8. The rest of GM's product portfolio isn't as Detroit-centric, anyway. Most of Buick's lineup is Opel. The Chevy Spark is South Korean. So is the Sonic. The Corvette is built in Kentucky. The "Detroit all the things" ship sailed years ago.

9. Old people in Detroit will still buy them. If I know one thing I know about elderly black people, of which there are several in the Motor City, it's that they don't care where the thing was built (or where the marketing campaign was conceived) as long as it wears an American badge. But does it have leather seats and good speakers?

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I can see Cadillac's stock dropping in value when investors read the news and realize Cadillac was a Detroit company.