Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Update on Cadillac's Progress



Alexander Carabitses


(Image credited to caranddriver)

Cadillac was once America's premier luxury brand.  Since the brand was conceived, it became a status symbol like no other in the world.  Back in the day, if you were a GM loyalist you'd start out by buying a used Chevrolet.  A few years later you would work your way up to a brand new Chevrolet.  After a few more years, if you made enough money, you work work up to a Pontiac, an Oldsmobile, and eventually a Buick.  But if you continued to progress in the world you would eventually find yourself walking into a Cadillac dealership.  If you were a Cadillac owner, you were very affluent.  But eventually Cadillac went a bit down market in the 1970s, while trying to beat Lincoln in sales.  And then gas prices rose, forcing the domestic brands to tear apart their product portfolios, and cars became smaller.  In return we got shitty things like the Cadillac Cimarron, which was essentially a Chevy Cavalier, with a Cadillac grille on it.

Despite all of this, people continued buying luxury cars from Cadillac, because import luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz were still very pricy.  But then, along came Lexus; Toyota's new luxury brand that provided a car the size of a Mercedes S-Class, at a cheaper price.  This was the final death blow for Cadillac.  The Japanese now owned the mainstream market, but the domestic brands became untouched at the luxury level; now all that was history.  Cadillac decided to reinvent itself, and introduced cars like the CTS.  An affordable rear-wheel drive car that was meant to challenge the Germans.  Eventually, vehicles like the ATS, the new CTS, and XTS came along, proving that Cadillac was back in action.  All of these cars are great, but sales haven't reflected that.  Part of that can be blamed on the fact that GM had their chief lobbyist running Cadillac.  Now they have luxury car guru, Johan de Nysschen (former head of Audi of America, and Infiniti brand chief) running Cadillac.  So far he's stopped ATS and CTS production for a few weeks, as sales have slowed.  Right now he also has to fix the fact that the ELR is selling like crap, despite being a beautiful machine.  And lets not forget the Escalade's quality control problems.  Long story short, Johan has to fix all that, plus the marketing problem the brand has.

Product wise, Cadillac has a lot planned.  The new ATS-V is debuting at the LA Auto Show in November, while the CTS-V debuts at Detroit in January.  The LTS flagship will either debut at New York in April, or a year from now at the Pebble Beach Concours d'elegance.  The new SRX will debut at the end of next year, and Cadillac is also planning a car smaller then the ATS, but that won't debut for a few more years.

We know Cadillac has a marketing problem, not a product problem.  However, now that the brand is in the right hands we should start seeing some signs of improvement soon.  Have a good week!

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