More than one third of Cadillac dealerships bail on brand's electric future

General Motors is betting big on battery-electric vehicles, and its Cadillac brand has been tasked with spearheading their rollout.

The automaker has already revealed the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq mid-size crossover due in early 2022 and confirmed four additional EVs for the luxury brand, including a flagship sedan dubbed the Celestiq. Cadillac could even become a full-EV brand as early as 2030 depending how the market evolves.

Naturally, GM wants Cadillac dealerships to get on board—which means they’ll need to spend big to upgrade their facilities with charging, tooling and training for EVs. We’re talking around $200,000 on average. For those dealers not keen on the transformation, GM last year announced a cash incentive to close up shop. It’s proven popular.

In an interview with Automotive News (subscription required) published on Monday, Rory Harvey, vice president of Cadillac, said approximately 315 U.S. dealerships took the offers which ranged from $200,000 to seven digits. That’s up on the 150 dealerships that Cadillac had mentioned as recently as September, and means the brand will have just 560 active dealerships going into 2022 here.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

2023 Cadillac Lyriq

It’s not the first time GM has tried to reduce its number of Cadillac dealerships. The brand offered a similar payment to some of the smaller operations if they closed in 2016. But even after the latest buyouts, Cadillac will still have almost double the number of U.S. dealerships as some of its rivals.

One issue for dealerships with the EV transformation could be a loss in revenue. EVs typically require less maintenance than their internal-combustion counterparts, and they could become even more reliable down the road as the technology improves. This is because EVs tend to have fewer moving parts, and of course there are no more oil changes and engine tuneups. EVs do tend to receive software updates, though automakers are starting to offer these as over-the-air updates. This change will be something dealerships will need to prepare for when it comes to EVs, in addition to upgrading their facilities and training their staff.

In his interview with Automotive News, Harvey said the dealerships that are remaining currently account for about 90% of Cadillac’s sales. Many of the dealerships that have gone are also in rural areas, where sales of EVs are expected to remain low. At the same time, Cadillac is set to gain new dealerships in areas where the brand doesn’t have a strong presence, such as Silicon Valley, or in areas ceded to rival brands, such as Beverly Hills and Manhattan. Some successful Cadillac dealership networks are also purchasing some of the rival stores that are closing.

Cadillac’s first battery-electric vehicle, the Lyriq, is priced to start from $59,990, including destination. The first examples will go to reservation holders and deliveries for other customers should start next summer. The electric crossover will initially be offered exclusively with a 340-hp motor mounted at the rear and a 100-kilowatt-hour battery good for about 300 miles. A dual-motor all-wheel-drive option will be added in late 2022. With high-speed charging owners should be able to add 76 miles of range in 10 minutes (at 190 kilowatts) and charge up to 80% of the battery in 30 minutes (at 150 kw).

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