By on July 30, 2012

“Two questions.” Our European contributor, Mirko Reinhardt, wants to test my knowledge. “First question: Last month was a pretty big month for Cadillac in Germany, relatively speaking. How many Cadillacs did GM sell? And second question: Which model sold best?

Oh, man.

“To answer your first question, I want to be all sarcastic and say a hundred units or something snarky and haterade-ish like that, but maybe it was more like a thousand?”

“Sorry, you’re wrong. The answer is: Eleven. Cadillac sold eleven units. That’s actually more than their monthly average for the year. Now, one particular Cadillac model sold 10 out of the 11 sold. Which one was it?”

“Um, was it the one that Scott Burgess called ‘The Cadillac of compact cars,’ the Burgerkingring-conquering ATS?”

“No.”

“Maybe it was the one that Scott Burgess called ‘The Cadillac of coupes’, the almighty CTS Coupe?”

“No.”

“I’m guessing at this point that it was the one that Scott Burgess called ‘The Cadillac of sports sedans,’ the super-awesome CTS-V?”

“No.”

“I give up. What was it?”

“The Escalade.”

“Oh! The one that Scott Burgess called ‘the Cadillac of Cadillacs.’ No, wait, that’s the hybrid. In another review, he called it ‘the Cadillac of hybrids.’ So it’s the Cadillac of Cadillac hybrids. I think. I wonder why he never called it the ‘Cadillac of Tahoes’? But the Germans aren’t stupid enough to buy Escalade Hybrids. Has to be the regular version, right?

“Yes. Morgan sold 13 cars, just for perspective.”

“That’s, like, 20% ahead of Cadillac! Morgan is beating Cadillac! They must be even more autobahn-ready than the Cadillac of German Cadillacs, also known as the Escalade.”

“Lamborghini sold 12. Wiesmann, 7. That’s a very exclusive group Cadillac is in. Ferrari did 78
Don’t want to drive a Ferrari like everybody else? Buy a CTS. The one Cadillac that the company sold last month that wasn’t an Escalade was a CTS.”

“Of course! Naturally the Germans would love the CTS. Former TTAC staffer Jonny Lieberman called his CTS-V ‘the best German car sold today’, or something like that. There must be a Motor Trend reader in Germany, right?”

“Well…”

“Maybe somebody checked the wrong box on the order form, otherwise it would have been 11 for 11 on the Escalade tip. What do you think Cadillac can do to catch Morgan in this month’s sales race?”

“It’s past my bedtime.”

It turns out the Germans aren’t particularly convinced by Cadillac’s ostensible domination of the Burgerkingring. When they buy Cadillacs, the Lords Of Der Autobahnen Und Schtuff want what the rest of us want: a real Cadillac. Body on frame. Plush. Bouncy. In your face. Proper size. The hell with an Escalade. We know what Germans like. We know what Krauts want.

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26 Comments on “In The Fierce Battle With Morgan For German Sales Supremacy, Cadillac Relies On The Heavy Artillery...”


  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    So I clicked on the “useful idiots who work for motor trend” tag, and, alas, only one entry was found.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    Nobody outside the US sees Cadillac as a proper contender to Mercedes, BMW and Audi. Well, maybe in China they do.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      China seems to be the name of the game at GM. Since the 80s Cadillac has lost all credibility in Europe and everywhere else, but since the Chinese weren’t importing many in the period, in theory they are not spoiled to the many, many mistakes of the brand.

      The irony of course it seems today zee Germans are putting out product with reliability in par with the 4100s of the 80s but the lemmings keep marching.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        Let’s see what happens now that China seems to be jumping in the auto industry crisis bandwagon.

        Cadillac need a bold move, like producing the V16. Or maybe a serious Le Mans program. Or maybe GM should just give up and sell it to Hyundai.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree a bold move is needed, you can only copy-cat for so long.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Please, just stop. Extrapolating what Cadillac “ought” to be based on the sales of 11 cars in what essentially amounts to a non-market for the brand isn’t lunacy, just childish. Very, very few people in Germany care about Cadillac, period. This has been true for about as long as Germany has been producing cars. It’s not like they bought a million Cadillacs in 1976; nothing has really changed. American “luxury” along the lines of what you’re pining for is basically dead, in America and the rest of the world.

    Given the amount of ego that has been staked on the failure of the ATS, in these quarters and elsewhere, I can only hope that it’s eventual success will be a huge slap in the face to the automotive journalism industry, just like the CTS was before it. This is the car autojournos have been saying Cadillac needed to build for 30 years, and to run away from it now is an act of pure cowardice on their part. Like the new Jetta and Passat, this car will most likely show yet again the fruits of competing on the market’s terms, rather than arrogantly defining what that market “should” be.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Nobody’s running away from the ATS. Go read the reviews. Journalists are competing to heap the biggest pile of unwarranted superlatives on the car. The talking points handed out in Atlanta have been repeated verbatim a thousand times.

      The only guy in the business who hasn’t gone on the record to say they would let the ATS tickle their colon is your humble author, and I stand by my assessment. One failure, coming up.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      A company in a strong position has the resources to innovate, a company in a weaker position, chases and perhaps imitates the leader. While everyone may have a different interpretation on what the market wants, fans of the Cadillac brand would prefer GM to innovate with their top brand, instead of Xerox a BMW. They clearly will not be doing this and I think Jack is right to call them on it. Cadillac needs a real identity, ATS may be a great success or it may flop, but in any event its an uglier E46. If that’s what I want I’ll hit Manheim and find a clean used one.

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      I like Cadillac, but where outside of Det, and a few of us, does anybody care about Cadillac?

  • avatar
    brettc

    I guessed 10 before I even clicked to read the full article. So what do I win for being close? If the prize is a Cadillac, I don’t want one. (nor does most of the German population.) It’s amazing that GM continues to sell their brands in European countries when there are so many better choices for Europeans to choose from.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Not surprising:

    The Escalade is the model that is most true to Cadillac’s heritage (at least of the last 50 years): Large, comfortable, and only mildly differentiated from the Chevy on which it is based.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      +1. and only mildly differentiated from the GMC its badged from. Shame they killed Saab and Isuzu (even if they technically didn’t plunge the blade but merely paid the executioneer to do it).

      I would have loved to see what a Saab 9-9 Aero would look like. Or an Isuzu Hombre Grande.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I was wondering if anyone could corroborate a minor urban legend regarding the Escalade: The Cadillac grilles they slapped on the first-gen GMC Denali to make the Escalade were actually surplus B-Body Fleetwood grilles from the same Arlington, TX plant. Any truth to this?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Its possible but if they are surplus they got the emblem from something else and would have had to drill a hole to attach said emblem. GM doesn’t strike me as the kind of company that’s going to invest in such manual changes to old parts on the factory line, I see them as just ordering new grille assemblies from a supplier.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I don’t see how that could be the case. The grille follows exactly the same dimensions as the grille of the original Denali, and it’s nothing like the V-prowed Fleetwood grille.

  • avatar
    C170guy

    I finally saw an inspiring Cadillac the other day. It’s not all bad.
    It was visibly a Corvette, but with sharp edges and a Cadillac badge.

    I said (nearly screamed while driving) “AHA!” because someone finally had a good idea.

    I never knew they made a corvette rip-off, and have since finally looked it up, and from the alphabet soup I pulled the three letters – XLR. Apparently they have been around almost 10 years and I have just now noticed.

    It’s a vette for old people with money, and is probably a little more dignified to live with for the country-club/high end retired set. Less black plastic, more wood, nicer stereo, pretty leather- I imagine.

    They should have sold piles of them – and piles of them in Germany, too, for all those bored with the local flavor. There are Europeans that want nothing to do with another 911 and just want a Mustang, doggone it. So why not a Caddilac-ified vette?

    But the Escalade in Germany? Really? I have been in an Escalede, and it’s lipstick on a Suburban for way too much money, and in no way a Caddilac. The Germany in Europe? Where they speak German? With funny beer and funny socks? I am going to go take a walk while the shock wears off…

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I’d bet my paycheck that each one of the Escalades was sold to washed up NBA players who now play in the German leagues.

  • avatar
    steve-p

    The biggest problem with Cadillac in Europe is their effort was half hearted to say the least, and is now fading fast with almost no dealer network. I think there is a place for Cadillac actually because a lot of people are really bored with the default German choices, which is why the 300C did pretty well despite being inferior in many respects. It seems to me Cadillac were just never confident enough to gamble big on getting sales off the ground. Who is likely to buy a car with a small and shrinking dealer network which could be shut down anytime? No one in their right mind. In contrast, Jeep and Chrysler have sold a lot of cars in Europe over the last 2 decades.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      The difference between the 300C and the Cadillac CTS from a shopper’s perspective were

      a) the 300C was *more American* looking, which is what you want if you are looking into buying an American car

      b) the 300C was always available with a pretty good (Mercedes-sourced) diesel V6. Which is kind of important in a market segment that’s more than 90% diesel in Europe. For the CTS, there was a VM Motori diesel V6 supposed to be coming, GM had lots of press releases out (starting in 2007!) trumpeting how great that engine would be. It never materialized.
      Dutch company Kroymans, who ran Cadillac’s European imports back in the day, declared bankruptcy in early 2009. GM took over the distribution of Cadillacs in Europe. The proposed VM Motori diesel V6 found a new home in the Lancia Thema/UK-market Chrysler 300/Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee sells in respectable numbers, thanks to that diesel engine.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Where will they park an Escalade? Also, it’s huge, not minor roads friendly. Nope, the Polezei won’t notice them.

  • avatar

    Gee…after how many TTAC “death watches”, the slimy ejection thru the bankruptcy hole, the killing of a bunch of crap brands that didnt matter for decades, maybe ONE international one that did, and now the turmoil for the foreseeable future.

    Good luck trying sell your Cadillacs and your POS V6s to the rest of the world. FUGM

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    The European market for Cadillac sedans is limited to American ambassadors and Elvis impersonators.

  • avatar
    austromotiv8e

    Many Germans drive Escalades, BUT only while on vacation in US, and they like it (like me). Coming back to Europe, everthing is shrinking to reality and the VW Golf is just fine for most of us.
    There is a Cadillac Dealer around the corner, made his living with small Opels and now is selling KIAs. No good country for big cars!
    Small Cadillacs won´t sell either, because the image is related to the big fuelkillers and the Red-Light-District Escalades.
    Schade eigentlich!

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Where the f— are they going to PARK an Escalade in Europe? Every stinkin’ town in that wretched place is old, with narrow streets, narrower bridges and parking for SMART cars and Mini’s.


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