Cadillac Celestiq EV start of new journey for brand, dealers

Another unknown is what role dealers will play in the ordering and delivering of the car.

Howard Drake, a Los Angeles-area dealer, has applied to sell the Cadillac Celestiq. He has no doubt the car will be in demand, but Drake, dealer principal at Casa De Cadillac in Sherman Oaks, said the brand has not yet provided much detail about the dealers’ involvement in the Celestiq’s transaction process.

“What we are trying to figure out is when does the dealer get involved and take over,” he said. “The role of dealer is not clear, not even close.”

Drake, who also sells GMC vehicles, believes the Celestiq will be successful, despite Cadillac never offering a vehicle for anywhere near $300,000. But two current vehicles in GM’s lineup, the Cadillac Escalade V Series and GMC Hummer — both sporting six-figure price tags — have helped bring Bentley and Rolls-Royce customers into his stores. “They’ve been through the bespoke ordering process before,” said Drake.

“Dealers will need to invest in special tools and equipment, and we are working with our dealers at the moment,” said Cadillac Vice President Rory Harvey. “Every dealer will have the opportunity to sell the Celestiq, but I don’t anticipate every dealer will.”

Longtime Orlando GM dealer Alan Starling, whose family business owns Cadillac and Chevrolet stores, is also bullish on the Celestiq.

“Clearly, GM wants to restore Cadillac to its rightful place in automotive history,” said Starling via e-mail. Of the Celestiq and the Lyriq crossover just now ramping up production, he said, “Cadillac and its dealers are ready to exceed the challenges and the expectations, and these new products are just the beginning.”

Elevating the Cadillac brand into the rarefied air of the ultraluxury segment, occupied mostly by Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz, was part of the business case Reuss’ team made to gain approval for the Celestiq. The car will be offered initially in the three biggest markets for ultraluxury sedans — the United States, Middle East and China, with European deliveries also being considered, Harvey said.

When the Celestiq begins production in December 2023, it will have a starting price “in the low $300s,” Cadillac officials said. That places it in direct competition with the least-expensive Rolls-Royce sedan, the Ghost, which has a starting price of $340,000, but usually costs far more once customers commission their cars with unique trims, colors and other options.

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