Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac ... what to do?

GM recently announced the future departure of Oldsmobile from the automotive scene. (A tragic loss, IMHO, especially considering the vast improvement of the division’s products in recent years.)

The demographics of Buick and Cadillac drivers show that, generally speaking, they’re quite old. Personally, I’d never consider the purchase of a Buick or Cadillac – I think of them, and Oldsmobile to a certain extent, as “old man’s cars.” (Yes, I know there’s probably 25 year old Buik drivers out there, but admit it, the vast majority of Buick owners are pretty old.)

Eventually, the folks who would buy Buicks and Cadillacs will die out. They might not be replaced by the generation behind them, since they might have the impression of the vehicles as unappealing. How can you make an auto brand that says “elderly” appeal to younger customers? Do you just scrap the brand and start from scratch, or do something else?

Cadillac is currently working to attract younger buyers. They have the new big SUV, the Catera, the Evoc (which should come out in a year or two), plus the performance oriented versions of the Deville and Eldorado. They’ve dropped the bargelike Fleetwood and have started a racing program, entering a car in the 24 hours of LeMans.

Whoops! I intended for this to go into GQ, not GD.

I’m surprised to learn that GM has decided to phase out Oldsmobile. Personally, I thought that the new models that they’ve introduced in the past 2 years (Alero and Intrigue for example) had really moved them out of the “old man” mode into a more mainstream appeal. My boss (age 32) drives an Intrigue, and my best friend (age 31) just bought an Alero.

<Fervently hoping that no one leaps in here and points out that age 31-32 is old.> :smiley:

As far as Cadillac shifting their image away from it being a “mature” person’s car…I think that part of the problem is that Cadillacs are, by and large, out of a lot of young people’s reach financially. And those who can afford a Cadillac at a young age will, most likely, go for something sportier. I suppose this is the sector of the market at which the Catera was aimed.

It seems to me that Oldsmobiile had a better chance of shedding the mature image, being that their cars were more financially accessible. I find it unfortunate that the attempt is being scrapped.

I’m 19 and I drive an Olds. An '89 Grande Royale, no less.

As for the OP, I think it’s quite impossible for Caddys or Buicks to create an image that will appeal to younger buyers with the money to afford them. I would venture a guess that a car’s appearance and image make up 75% of why it’s bought. To be honest, I would give my left arm for a cute little navy blue Jetta, but the Olds was cheap and reliable. It’s sturdy (been through several accidents and no dents, scrapes, nada).

I think their best hope is to appeal to the middle field - 30-50 year-olds, people who generally have the money and means, and who care as much about quality as they do looks. People who own minivans. I can think of ten friends off the top of my head who bought “cute” cars and are regretting it, because the price covers image but not quality. Neons come to mind here.

I would hope that these cars to not die out. My baby, 12 years old with 87,000 miles, is wonderful. True, it’s a bitch to park, but it gets great mileage, I’ve only had to replace a few things (the autonater (sp?) and starter, which typically stop working after 85K miles), and it’s reliable as hell. I’m more concerned about getting around, though, than looking cute doing it, so I’m not really part of the target audience.

[Moderator Hat ON]

Since the OP did not intent to post this in Great Debates, I’m moving it. elmwood, you said you wanted it in GQ, but I think asking how a company can improve its image with younger people is more of an IMHO sort of question, and it’ll do better over there.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

I think the plan of GM is this: movie Cadillac upmarket to compete with the European import market, while position Buick as the “American Luxury” car.

I used to drive a Buick, Like it. Great Car.

Caddy? Too expensive.

next thing I buy will have ground clearance.

I was surprised too by the news about olds. We have a 90 cutlass ciera that the salesman nearly begged us to buy. It had about 60K and I thought he was just full of it when he went on his great car selling point. Well it now has over 200K and is still running great. I’d buy another in a minute except obviously there is no future for them.
I don’t know…