By Nick Carey
LONDON (Reuters) – General Motors said on Thursday it would start selling all-electric Cadillac vehicles in Switzerland, the first step in a return to European markets since selling off the Opel and Vauxhall brands in 2017.
In a blog, GM’s European head Jaclyn McQuaid said Swiss direct-to-consumer sales of the premium brand would be followed by five additional European markets over the next couple of years – with Sweden and France next in line.
The Cadillac Lyriq will be the first model available to Swiss drivers, and GM’s McQuaid said customers will be able “complete the entire purchase online in a matter of minutes.”
The Lyriq will have a starting price of 82,000 Swiss francs ($89,490).
Electric vehicle (EV) sales are taking off in Europe – more than one in five new cars sold in the European Union in August were fully electric. Competition also is intensifying, with a number of Chinese EV makers targeting European consumers.
Chery, China’s No. 8 automaker by sales volume in 2022, said earlier this week that it would launch three car brands in Europe over the next two years, including its all-electric Exlantix brand.
Other car makers, including market leader BYD and smaller rivals Xpeng and Nio, have also announced European expansion plans as competition picks up at home and domestic growth eases.
In 2017, GM sold the Opel and Vauxhall brands, which had lost money for two decades, to France’s PSA. The brands swiftly returned to profitability at PSA.
PSA later merged with Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis.
($1 = 0.9163 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Paul Simao)