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General Motors Company (GM): Brad Pitt Helps Cadillac Catch On in China

After a holiday-induced dip in February, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) resumed its sales growth in China during March. Sales by GM and its Chinese joint ventures rose 12.6% in March from a year ago, the automaker said on Wednesday.

General Motors Company

With 290,538 vehicles sold, March had General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s second-highest monthly sales total ever in China. It caps a quarter that saw GM’s sales rise 9.6% from the year-ago period, to 816,373 vehicles – GM’s best-ever quarterly showing in China.

It was a good showing in several areas, including a bright start for one of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s most important global projects: the elevation of Cadillac — with some help from Brad Pitt.

A promising start for Cadillac’s big car in China
GM said that Chinese Cadillac sales grew 32.2% in March from a year ago. Much of that growth was driven by the new-to-China XTS, Cadillac’s biggest sedan, which sold 2,006 units in its first full month in the Middle Kingdom.

That may not sound like a lot, but it’s a nice showing by luxury-car standards – for comparison, the XTS sold “just” 3,061 units last month here in the U.S., where Cadillac is much more established. The XTS is General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s current take on the big cushy old-school Cadillac concept, but loaded with advanced technology like a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and sensor-driven electronic safety features.

That technology has been a big point of emphasis in Cadillac’s marketing both here and in China, where GM officials at the February launch of the XTS in Guangzhou called it the most technically advanced Cadillac to date – and where television commercials starring actor Brad Pitt (yes, really) in a white XTS have played up the car’s high-tech features.

That’s a game that General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) will have to continue to raise in China if it wants to meet its ambitious goals for its luxury brand.

A long-range plan facing daunting competition
Technology, along with Cadillac’s ever more sophisticated styling, may be GM’s best route for expanding Cadillac’s appeal in China. The Chinese market for luxury cars has boomed in recent years, but so far it has largely been controlled by the big three German luxury brands.

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