More than 200 Cadillac dealerships nationwide will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each to spruce up their showrooms in an effort to better compete with Lexus, Mercedes and other luxury brands.
The makeovers, to be completed within the next two years, include oak walls, limestone exterior tiles, modern lighting and leather chairs, all specified by General Motors, the company said Thursday.
The changes are part of an effort by GM and other automakers to prod dealers to renovate buildings in an effort to change their image with car shoppers. GM, Chrysler and Ford, which generally have older showrooms than Japanese competitors, all have plans and requirements for dealership upgrades, including both mainstream and luxury brands.
The work can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million per dealer depending on the age and condition of buildings. Dealers say GM will help pay for the improvements in a program tied to how many cars a dealer orders.
There are about 950 Cadillac franchises nationwide, many of which are combined with other brands. Some of the renovated Cadillac dealers will have separate entrances and showrooms from other brands.
GM expects that the majority of its 4,500 U.S. Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC dealers will be signed up for renovations by the end of next year, spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said.
Ed Williamson, owner of two Buick-Cadillac-GMC dealerships in the Miami area, said he spent $225,000 recently to upgrade the interior of a former Hummer dealership to GM standards.
The renovations, he said, are necessary so dealers have a consistent look and can better compete with Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand that was started in 1989. Many Lexus dealers have renovated their showrooms since opening, he said.
"We want to make sure that when that prospect walks into our showroom, they have at least as good of an experience, if not better," Williamson said. "Included in the experience is what the place looks like."