Cadillac is moving to New York, and there's been some consternation about that. It's abandoning America's Motor City, it's turning its back on everything it does best, and, perhaps the most pernicious accusation of all, it doesn't need the gearhead. But that last accusation is true, and we should be rejoicing.
Part of the reason why that last accusation is true is because Cadillac's new marketing chief, Uwe Ellinghaus, said that himself in an interview with Ad Age:
"When I recruit new people, I do not need petrolheads," he said. "We have more than enough petrolheads, and we will still. I need people with experiences in other industries, but with luxury brands."
And he's right. If there's one American company that doesn't need another car nut, it's Cadillac.
There's been hemming and hawing from the darker corners of the automotive media landscape about that. The Truth About Cars, for one, noted that when tasked with coming up with a name for any one of Cadillac's car guys, they couldn't "think of any," but it doesn't matter, because Ellinghaus just "insulted them all."
Sure, I pity the poor engineer's hurt feelings, but to tell you the truth, I also can't think of the names of any of Cadillac's engineers. Nor can I think of the names of any of Toyota's engineers, nor can I think of the names of any of Volkswagen's engineers.
And that's okay. (Note: if anyone does want to talk to one of Cadillac's top engineers, like the ATS-V wizards John Barrick and Tony Roma, they can always do so right here on Jalopnik.)
Because you don't need to be able to name-drop engineers to be able to see that there are plenty of car people at Cadillac already. No, seriously, look, with your eyes, at the evidence:
And the biggest argument of all, that Cadillac has plenty of car guys:
The V Wagon should never have existed, from a business standpoint, and yet, it does. If that's not an argument that a company has plenty of car nuts, I don't know what is.
Cadillac's biggest problem right now is convincing the world that it's got the global luxury bonafides to take on the biggest luxury marques in the game – Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi. To that end, it needs to revamp its thinking. It needs to immerse itself in the bleeding edge of style. It needs to get away from its past.
It needs to get away from Detroit.
Don't get me wrong, Detroit is a lovely city, I'm sure. But when you think of the premier capital of class, Detroit isn't it. Detroit's (mostly undeserved) global reputation is one of decay, stagnancy, and urban renewal. And while those are all great topics for a Bruce Springsteen song, they aren't great topics for a leader in luxury.
And luxury is what Cadillac needs right now. Luxury in style, in class, in opulence, and yes, even in speed. Cadillac's got most of that down already, as anyone whose driven one of its recent products can see.
Now it just needs to convince the world of that. And the people who do that sort of convincing for a living don't tend to live in Detroit. They live in New York. They work for Louis Vuitton, they work for Givenchy, they work for Dolce & Gabbana and Prada and Gucci and Hermes.
They aren't car people at all.