Cadillac offering buyouts to 400 small U.S. dealers

Michael Martinez, and Melissa Burden

Cadillac is offering 400 U.S. dealers buyouts of up to $180,000 to “gracefully exit” the business, the General Motors Co. luxury brand confirmed Friday.

The voluntary buyout offers start at $100,000 and are targeted at dealers who sell fewer than 50 Cadillacs a year. Of those 400 dealers, all but six have other GM franchises, a spokesman said. For 290 dealers, Cadillac represents less than 10 percent of their overall business.

The targeted dealers represent more than 40 percent of the brand’s 925 U.S. dealers.

The story was first reported by Automotive News.

“Cadillac Transition Assistance is directly designed in response to smaller dealers’ requests for assistance should they wish to transition away from the Cadillac business,” the company said in a statement. The company said the program will support dealers who may wish to wind down their Cadillac franchises and focus on the core GM brands that drive most of their business.

Cadillac will contact eligible dealers beginning Oct. 10. They will have until Nov. 21 to decide whether to take the buyout.

That 925 dealers in the U.S. are down considerably from the 1,422 at the end of 2008 before GM’s 2009 bankruptcy. But Cadillac’s main luxury rivals in the U.S. — BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus — all have hundreds fewer U.S. dealers and all sold more vehicles than Cadillac last year.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen has said the brand has “too many” U.S. dealers, and said last year he hoped to convince smaller Cadillac dealers to create downsized, standalone “boutique” stores to improve the luxury make’s image.

Later this year, will Cadillac launch “Project Pinnacle,” a new strategy that awards incentives based on dealership sales figures.

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