By on June 23, 2014

bill-peffer

Sales of Cadillac’s lineup have fallen as of late in comparison to last year’s figures, prompting the brand’s U.S. vice president of sales and service, Bill Peffer, to resign his post.

The Detroit News reports Peffer handed the reins over to interim vice president Kurt McNeil last Tuesday. McNeil is General Motors’ vice president of U.S. sales operations, and held Peffer’s post once before, from 2011 through 2012.

Peffer was hired last autumn by GM from Nissan, where he served as the latter’s CEO for the brand’s operations in Australia, replacing the previous brand’s VP, Chase Hawkins, for “violating a company policy.” Hawkins was VP for one year prior to his firing.

Sales in the United States are down 2.3 percent year-over-year from January through May of this year, the XTS and ATS leading the way with 20 percent less sales in the same period compared to what they were in 2013. Though GM leadership are hoping for double-digit growth in 2014, Peter Nagel of IHS claims Cadillac will only gain 5 percent in U.S. sales this year, far from the 22 percent experienced the previous year.

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91 Comments on “Cadillac’s Peffer Resigns Amid Falling Sales...”


  • avatar

    Who could have imagined that tuning and refining cars to match or exceed BMW specs could have been so expensive?

    Who could have imagined that slapping huge price tags on a vehicle not as “desirable” as a “BMW” wouldn’t work?

    Falling sales you say?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Cadillac is doing alright with the new CTS – 3rd in sales after the E Class and 5 Series and an ATP that is right up there despite no new CTS-V.

      The problem with Cadillac is 2-fold.

      1. Limited CUV lineup aside from the old SRX.

      2. ATS with a too cramped rear.

      Unfortunately, neither problem seems like it will be addressed anytime soon.

      Cadillac should be moving much quicker in renewing/expanding its CUV lineup (should have at least 3 CUVs), but there isn’t any new CUVs that are close to hitting the lots in the near future.

      The main area for growth in the luxury segment is in luxury CUVs and Cadillac is way behind in that area.

      Even Lincoln, with the MKC and a new MKX will soon be ahead of the game.

      The problem with limited rear passenger space on the ATS can’t really be fixed until the next gen model.

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        Coworker leased an ATS this weekend. The back seat isn’t bad once you get into it but damn does the rear wheel well cut into the door opening. I defy any adult to get into the back seat without getting their pants dirty.
        A few things turn me off to the ATS though. Foot activated parking brake (I know, but it’s a personal thing). No spare, not even a jack – do I have to call the dealer for everything? And the dash gauges look cheap to me. The all-in-one-piece dials look like they really tried to cheap out.
        I’ve always felt GM was never really willing to go all in. They’ll go 80-90% of the way there and say that’s good enough and it seems like that philosophy still holds.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          There was a whole article and debate about the gauges awhile back.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ll end the ATS guage debate. They are terrible and look like something off a late 90s Pontiac. My lowly C-Max has a nicer IP.

            That being said, the guages aren’t the ATS dealbreaker for me. Its the rear legroom, trunk space, and $40K minimum price to get CUE (Nav is still a $1500 option after that).

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Calling GM’s products 80-90% done sums it up pretty well.

          More frustrating is that most of those 85% also rans are made up of untouchable benchmark of the segment and world (and probably blew the budget to get there) spectacular in one or two aspects at the same time they’re half assed, borderline unacceptable in one or two others. You genuinely want the car for what they did right which makes the deal breakers they got wrong that much more disappointing.

          The Camaro’s styling with the Camaro’s ergonomics. The Malibu’s quiet ride without a backseat. The 10 years of Art & Science sedans they were too stupid to put V8s into. The brand new GMT900 they sold with a 4 speed transmission until 2009. Ad nauseum.

          When Honda or Toyota does a 90% car it’s built to that 90% point across the board which leaves room for a 20% profit margin.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Cadillac should have taken a note from Audi: it has taken the better part of 20 years for Audi to get back into the game in North America, and it is only in the last few years that they’ve gotten *close* to price parity with BMW and Mercedes.

    Cadillac has a good suite of products at the moment: say what you want about the Escalade, but the new model really is The Boss and has presence. The CTS is a fine, distinctive, ‘murican car that is very competitive. The XTS – well, it looks awkward to me, but otherwise non-offensive.

    The ATS. Oh, ATS…how I want to love you. I’ve driven several of them, both the 3.6 and the 2.0T in stick. It’s about 80% there, but Cadillac is chasing the BMW of 10 years ago with this car. If you haven’t noticed, BMW is slowly morphing into a shadow of its former self – focusing on luxury accommodations and comfort over pure driving excitement. And guess what? It’s working for them.

    If Cadillac wanted to chase volume they should have focused on a slightly larger, less expensive FWD architecture for the ATS because clearly, 90% of the buying public could care less about FWD versus RWD platforms. Make the cabin slightly larger, get rid of some of the annoying ‘cheapies’ that Cadillac slapped into the ATS and lower the price to make it a better value than the Germans. That will get you volume.

    Take your time, Cadillac. You’re getting the formula together, you’ve got a distinctive styling direction, your products are generally very good. I have two friends, both late 30s, who recently purchased Cadillacs: one a CTS-V Coupe (which is insane), and another an SRX for his wife. Both couldn’t be happier with them. They’re doing things right, but they need to be cautious on the pricing and keep pushing a youthful image (which, ironically, ATS is supposed to do, right?).

    They also need to stop chasing the puck to where it is and start looking to where it is GOING to be. That’s been BMW’s success in its evolution over the past 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Spot on.
      GM really needs to understand that building a brand image takes long time and a lot of commitment, and doubly so to revive a long tarnished one.

      Even if the current Cadillac line-up is the best to come out of GM in many years, that alone will not be enough to bring back the customers who have long migrated over to the Germans and the Japanese (and happy with what they have).

      Cadillac simply doesn’t have the brand cachet anymore, and will need to be both noticeably better and cheaper than its competitors for the customers to start taking a look again. They must be willing to keep investing in the cars and be willing to lose money on them for many years to come.

      If and only then Cadillac might have a shot.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Your first statement shows the lack of commitment GM is willing to give to a product. I don’t know if it’s the new guard throwing out the old, or just lack of commitment to their ideas.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        I don’t think GM has a lack of commitment to Cadillac, if anything they’ve put a lot of energy and money into the brand.

        The problem is that the suits think that they’re going to see overnight results. As stated above, rebuilding a tarnished brand takes decades of methodical work with excellent product being at the forefront.

        Right now Cadillac has *good* product, bordering on great. They got their house in order, they got their design language, they’re working on the brand image. But demanding overnight results is simply foolish.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “The problem is that the suits think that they’re going to see overnight results.”

          That’s more a matter of necessity. The overnight results are needed to justify the extra investment, ergo the whole thing doesn’t work without the (impossible-to-achieve) aforementioned overnight results.

          The GM luxury car strategy has been badly managed, and it will come to a head when it finally becomes blindingly obvious to GM management that Cadillac has no chance of survival as a truly global luxury car brand. This should be obvious now, but it will probably take GM many years to accept this.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Ford’s “go-slow-and-don’t-spend-a-ton-of-money” approach with Lincoln doesn’t look so stupid now.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Geeber-

            The Lincoln strategy is sound. As long as FoMoCo can differentiate Lincoln from Ford, it will work. The MkC is the best example of this yet.

            I still want a Continental though.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Lincoln strategy is a good stop gap to reduce the bleeding. Whether it’s enough to support an independent dealer network over the long run is another matter.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The sources I’ve found say that Lincoln has 172 stand-alone dealerships throughout the country. I would imagine that they cannot survive too long without new product, although the new MKC should help.

            Around here, Lincolns are sold through dealers that also carry the Ford franchise. Those dealers can easily survive on Ford sales. That reliance on Ford sales undoubtedly makes it more difficult for Ford to push for upgrades in the sales and service experience when someone buys a Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree Pch101, I see Ford having to consolidate dealers at some point.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            There is new product on the way. The new MKX and MKS should hit in 2015. After that, the MKT and Navigator will have to be redone. Lincoln still needs another couple models to keep stand alone dealerships alive. A coupe and sport sedan would be nice.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball40dtw

            You’re more up on FoMoCo than I am, but when I see Lincolns today, I simply see Mercurys. The amount of money is costs for Ford to “Lincolnize” enough Ford models to give something like 100 some Lincoln dealers to sell could be better spent elsewhere. The business case is strong to merge the two brands as FCA did with its brands and sell both under one roof. The question is, how much would consolidation cost Ford? I can’t imagine standalone Lincoln dealers not getting a Ford franchise being too impressed. Although they could require Ford dealers to buy the Lincoln dealerships if they wanted to continue being Ford dealers…

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The reason Ford can’t go the FCA route is that the Ford brand is too strong. They want to add Ford models, not carve out niches for the brand. In Dearborn, the F-Series brand and the Blue Oval brand are everything (in that order).

            I can envision a future where Ford has an ST or Sport Trim on every car/CUV and a Lincoln or Continental trim above Titanium. At this point, Lincoln is a Ford trim with sometimes different body work. The current MKX is a good example. Sometimes I think the Focus ST is more different from the Focus than the MKX is from the Edge.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The problem isn’t RWD and actually, if Cadillac went with FWD, it would be dismissed as the ILX is for Acura.

      The problem is that Cadillac decison-makers failed to take into consideration that the cars in the compact segment would continue to get larger so benchmarking the previous gen 3 Series was silly since they should have known that the 3 Series which will actually compete against the ATS will have grown in size.

      The midsize CTS has blown by the A6, GS and M/Q70 in sales and has a higher ATP to boot.

      Cadillac did a much better job with the packaging of the CTS than they did with the ATS.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The FWD route is even more treacherous than the RWD/AWD one. Instead of being pitted against luxo compacts which are arguably overpriced for what you functionally get, you have to justify the difference over half price Accords, Camrys, Hyundais, Avalons and baby Lexi….

      The 90% you refer to as unconcerned about driven wheels but still willing to shell out for a luxo brand despite less efficient packaging and higher prices, do so because they perceive what they are buying to be worth it over competing FWD vehicles. Mainly because they have highly tuned social antennas, as in, they take advice from the “right people.” Which, in the automotive sphere, means reviewers, journalists and others hailing from the 10% who do appreciate RWD driving dynamics. Never mind the reason they do so tend to be because they are paid to drive in a way rather far removed from what most of the buying public will ever experience…….

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think Caddy has an image problem and they’ve hit their limit with the consumer.

    Caddy isn’t a Euro car and will never be one. Caddy will sell in the US and not in too many other countries, maybe China.

    Why buy a Caddy when you have many other quality vehicles from Europe to choose from.

    Real prestige is different than bling. Caddy has tried to make a real prestige vehicle, but maybe it’s target audience isn’t convinced.

    Vehicles like the Escalade, which is based on a $20k vehicle would really have to hurt a company attempting to project quality and prestige.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Cadillac can compete with the Europeans by *not* being European. I would argue that Cadillac’s resurgence came about when they realized that they should be bold, brash and unabashedly ‘murican. It’s the alternative to the Euros.

      Now, what does that mean for European *sales*? Well, until Cadillac understands the Eurobuyer and what he/she really wants, they will struggle. Remember VW, Merc and BMW’s stance on cup holders up until about 10 years ago? It’s a small example of a larger problem.

      As for the Escalade – it’s the modern example of the big land yachts of the late 50s and 60s. I’m not a big SUV fan, but the new Escalade really looks imposing and powerful, similar to how the new S-Class looks. Different strokes, and I think that Cadillac would do well to embrace that.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Hreardon-

        I agree.

        The Escalade does nothing to hurt Cadillac’s brand reputation. Everyone else wishes they could have a vehicle that printed money like the ‘Slade. If Big Al hasn’t been in the new one, I would suggest he take a look. It is quality and prestige.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          The challenge is that people who want an “old school” Cadillac – big, brash and flashy – can get one by buying an Escalade. Which they do. The demographic that, in the 1960s and 1970s would have bought a DeVille or a Fleetwood, is now buying Escalades (or Denalis).

          The Escalade’s success cannot necessarily be applied to Cadillac’s passenger cars. There is a considerable level of divergence between car buyers and big SUV buyers these days. What works for one segment will not necessarily work for another.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @bball40dtw
          My nephew has a 2011 Escalade.

          Nice enough vehicle, but it doesn’t even compare to a 100 Series, let alone a 200 Series Landcruiser.

          Just looking at the build quality and it’s off road ability you can see Caddy is using this as a machine to make a fast and easy buck.

          I do think a Tahoe is a far better vehicle for the price. But, then again off road will be it’s down fall.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I agree with the 2011. The 2015 is sublime though. I am not usually a GM fan, but the 2015 Escalade has more presence on the road than anything but supercars. Don’t look at it as an offroader though. It isn’t meant to offroad anymore than a Fleetwood was. There is plenty to be critical about when it comes to GM, but the 2015 Escalade isn’t on the list.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Because the first consideration of Americans who buy large $80,000 luxury cars is, clearly, taking them offroad.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Maybe Australians don’t have as much choice about going off-road.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        If you look at it a bit differently, and consider imitation as the purest form of flattery, Cadillac arguably look to have beaten the Euros. Instead of the compact, lightweight, sanely powered back road weapons they made yesteryear, the Euro luxo brands are currently locked in what looks very familiar to the muscle, size and bling competition the Americans engaged in during that era…. With the main difference being, the Euros actually manage to move their Cimarrons as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @hreardon,
        This article is in regards to Caddy numbers not doing so well.

        My argument is the Euro luxo barges are in a better position than Caddy. The perception of a Euro vehicle as a better vehicle is higher.

        The ATS and CTS might be good vehicles, but the customer must see this. If the customer prefers Euro, then Caddy must do something else to persuade them. Hence, my comment that Cadillac might have reached it’s maximum number or consumers.

        Globally, Caddy has nowhere near the same perception as a Euro luxury car. Sort of like a Trabant. The East Germans’ might have liked them, but I don’t think there would have been much interest outside of East Germany for them.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The new CTS sedan has blown by the A6, GS and M/Q70 in sales (and at a higher ATP), so it has more to do with the final product than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      JEFFSHADOW

      Cadillac can stay American and I would buy one. I am a member of the real USA who NEVER buys an import. Simple as that-and I know where cars are built. The soon-to-arrive LTS will hopefully be RWD and not based on a Holden but a new USA platform. Then Buick will get a new Wildcat and GM will forget the P&G era and bring Oldsmobile back with a new Ninety-Eight. Oh, perchance to dream!

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I have already said my piece of how I think the CTS is overpriced and has a small interior, especially the backseat, and trunk. I have seen the new Escalade recently and it honestly does not look that special, none of the new GM full-size SUVs do, I can’t put my finger on it but the side profile does not looks good and they look kind of cheap. That column shifter is truly awful also.

    I literally say in a brand new CTS yesterday and when I went to adjust the seat, it made creaking and popping noises every time it moved. That’s just not acceptable for the money they are asking. For BMW/Mercedes money why wouldn’t you buy a BMW or Mercedes?

    From the number of Mercedes GLs and Infiniti QXs I see on the road, a lot of people feel for that kind of money those are better choices also. BMW’s upcoming X7 will only cut even more into that market share. Similarly the Lexus RX and Acura MDX are much better vehicles than the SRX.

    Cadillac is really only worth it if you get a cheap lease deal or employee pricing. If I recall correctly, I was looking through the paper yesterday and I believe they had a lease deal for the ELR, $499/month with $2,000 or so down, not bad if you are interested in that vehicle.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Would anybody in their right mind go out and spend the kind of money they are asking for a Cadillac? i mean.. this is still GM, a fully discredited company that still is turning out defective auto products by the millions. Why would anyone want any GM products after the way GM has behaved in the past and obviously still is. There are so many other better choices out there and GM is not one of them.
    Saying that you have a GM/Cadillac is like a mother bragging about having a son that is a priest!!! GM/Cadillac need to take a dirt nap and be reconstituted with legitimate and competent management, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      I find mysef sadly agreeing. From my brother, I hear that GMs reputaion / brand perception in Europe is even further down the toilet. A hollow company with zero commitment, to customers or to brands is what I see. I wouldn’t be surprised if that extends to employees and franchisees as well.

      For a lesson in how to wind down an all but failed in most respects auto making behemoth see Leyland, British.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The mere fact that the title “Brand Manager” exists within GM tells me that they’re doomed. What does this guy do? Figure out where to place the over-sized crests on these badge-engineered POSs?

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Direct your comments to the Cadillac of 10-12 years ago. In what way are the CTS and ATS “badge-engineered POSs?” If anything, as the commenters above pointed out, the ATS in particular is not badge-engineered _enough_: it costs a boatload of money to build an all-new RWD platform, and all of that money ended up in the sticker (and then $5,000 or so came off on the hood).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Alpha platform/ATS benchmarked the BMW E46 which is fine and dandy, but did it improve upon it? If its a similar version of a BMW without any improvements, why should folks cough up a good deal of money for something they could buy used? Why because its a “Cadillac”? That name has lost all meaning to most folks.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          One of Cadillac’s problems with the ATS is that the 3-series got bigger and more refined. I like driving the ATS better than the current 3-series, but I would buy the 3-series over the ATS. It’s a better car.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve driven the E46 in sedan and coupe form, and the sedan is entirely too small to fit four adults for any length of time (which is prob why BMW enlarged it). GM comes along, benchmarks it, but doesn’t improve upon this basic problem and makes the same mistake. Should have not released a sedan, just a coupe and maybe coupe/hatch. The other issue is the I4 madness.

            There are twenty four Manheim sales for MY13 ATS I4 2WD across all trims (base, luxury, performance, premium) across the nation. There are twenty three for the V6 2WD in three trims.

            There are sixteen sales for MY13 ATS I4 AWD across all trims but there are twenty eight for the V6 across the trims. All sales combined were ninety one units.

            23+28=51/91=0.5604, or V6s represent 56% of all sales. Quite a take rate. I say drop the I4 in AWD for sure because you will lose very few of those sixteen sales as a result and consider dropping it in base. People who want to play Gran Turismo with turbo and stick can be made to pay for it, but your typical Cadillac buyer doesn’t want it. 56% rejected it, and of the remaining 44%, I would bet at least half of them went I4 because: they bought a base model and couldn’t afford better or were fleet and didn’t care.

            Additional: It seems to be there are some things the public is willing to buy from Cadillac and some things they are not. The fact SRX made up over 50% of sales in MY12 -of the entire brand- is very telling. What they are not buying is your cars, and I’m not sure they ever will at this rate. So here are my honest suggestions:

            -Model names starting with the new supposed flagship you are building and from then on.
            -Fire your stylists immediately and poach someone from Audi, BMW, or JLR. The general public seems to be taking Kia as a serious competitor and part of it is styling.
            -Your logo has sucked since 2000, either go back to the pre-1962 “diamond” and crest or invent an entirely new one. This may sound like nitpicking but logo is branding, and branding is what gets people buying your crap instead of a sensible Camcord.
            -Drop ATS sedan for coupe only.
            -Drop I4 in CTS.
            -Look at offering SRX in a hybrid.
            -Keep ELR on the books to psych out CAFE but otherwise pretend it does not exist (so what you do now).
            -Cobble together a quick BMW X3 ripoff on the alpha platform.
            -Whenever the new Cadillac is supposed to debut, prepare to drop CTS from Alpha and shorten it from the new platform. In other words, instead of getting a stretched Alpha for your pricy midsize, you get a shorter “expensive” car.
            -Alpha becomes your sporty car platform, and the new Omega your prestigious car platform.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            They need to drop the 2.5L engine. I drove the 2.0T and found it to be nice with a manual transmission. I have not driven the V6 version. Wasn’t Jack’s idea to make the ATS only available with the LS V8?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            I believe so, but GM seldom does what it should.

            Manheim does not give displacements however looking at the engine codes themselves for 2WD I4 I see thirteen “4GT”s listed (4/gas/turbo), four of them being six speeds. Every one of the AWD I4s is a “4GT”. So it seems the 2.5 I4 is seldom ordered. I’d like to see a cost breakdown of the trims and engines ordered.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Almost any car on the planet with real world performance and swagger aspirations, would be better off if offered with the current small block…….

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “That name has lost all meaning to most folks.”

          I think it’s worse than that. I think it’s come to mean what one drives between incarcerations or, worse, what flyover state realtors drive.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I wonder if his fingers were in the ELR pricing debacle. That’s the most embarrassing Cadillac-specific incident in many years.

  • avatar
    natrat

    jeez talk about an insulated management out of touch with consumer sentiment

  • avatar
    360joules

    Are you talking about GM or hospitals?

  • avatar
    carguy

    The failure of the ATS to meet sales targets also has a lot to do with marketing. One of the unkindest deeds GM ever did to the ATS is to allow its marketing department to hail it as a 3-series competitor. This caused an outbreak of massive confusion with auto journalists and would be compact luxury shoppers alike who took GM at their word and compared and cross-shopped the ATS with the likes of the A4, 3-series and the new C-class. Needless to say they found it to be simply less car than its competitors. That is not a reflection of the ATS’s quality but simply a fact that it is smaller than all of the major players in this class. One look at the back seat and trunk sent the majority of prospective luxury shoppers heading to other dealerships.

    But if we choose not to drink the GM Kool-Aid and compare the ATS to its same sized German rivals? A quick critical measurement comparison between the new Audi A3, Mercedes CLA and the Cadillac ATS reveals that they all fall in the same size group. More importantly, a comparison of real world prices for models equipped with a 2 liter turbo, leather, Nav, upgraded stereo, keyless entry, sunroof and backup camera, reveals that they are all within more or less $1K of each other. Of course, arguments can be made about which model has a few more features (like the AWD in the A3) but none of these would account for any significant difference.

    Mercedes CLA Audi A3 Cadillac ATS
    Length (inches) 182 175 182
    Width (inches) 70 71 71
    Rear Track (inches) 60 60 61
    Rear Leg Room (inches) 27 35 33
    Trunk Space (cubic feet) 13 10 10
    Real world cost (TrueCar) $37,500 $38,500 $37,800

    You will notice from the ATS’s real world price that GM was also very wrong about setting a realistic retail price. What you may not notice is that the quoted 33 inch leg room number for the ATS is also a complete fabrication to justify their market strategy of being 3-series competition. Adjusting the front seat for a 6 foot driver leaves no more than 27 inches for the rear occupants.
    It’s no surprise that after messing up nearly every aspect of the marketing, the ATS is selling well below expectations.

    This is a pity, because while GM marketing did just about everything wrong, its engineers got nearly everything right when compared against the real competition. Unlike its German rivals it’s not based on a FWD drive economy car but a real RWD platform that is shared with its more expensive CTS cousin. That upwardly mobile parts sharing also comes through in the interior quality which meets and exceeds the competition at this price point. Even in lowly entry level guise with the 200 HP motor and a manual transmission, the ATS feels like a better balanced RWD version of the original Acura TSX.

    There are some downsides, of course, the competitors do about 3-4 MPGs better and the CUE system is unnecessarily awkward but neither is enough to kill the ownership experience.

    But none of that matters anymore because the marketing dollars have been spent, the car magazine comparisons written and CLA and A3 shoppers will probably never think of visiting a Cadillac dealership. Some buyers in this market may be after the badge but many also simply want the best entry level luxury that $35-$40K can buy and in that market the ATS is a formidable competitor. If only GM had sold it the right way.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      At 6’4″, when I sit in the drivers seat of the ATS, the rear legroom is effectively 0″. My daughter cannot fit back there in a forward facing car seat. She has to be in the middle, and she puts her feet on my right shoulder. It is a great car that is a packaging fail.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That sounds very awful, and like all your clothes would get ruined.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          My two year old thought it was hilarious. She would touch me in the ear with her shoe and laugh hysterically. For me, this is not funny because I don’t like to be touched in the ear while driving, and her shoes touch the floor of a germ infested land called daycare.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        It actually much like the A3 and CLA in that regard. The problem is if you advertise that you have 3-series room in the back and deliver A3 or CLA levels of room then your customers will be disappointed. The ATS is an excellent car if you compare it to the A3 and CLA and that is exactly what GM should have done in its launch and marketing campaign.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Did the CLA even exist when the ATS was launched?

          And, which one of the two Americans that has heard of the A3 would be interested in a RWD Cadillac? Not the one I now, that’s for sure..

          • 0 avatar
            carguy

            @ stuki: GM marketing knew of both of the CLA and the A3 when they launched the ATS. They also knew that the A4 and F30 3-series were a good 30% larger than the ATS.

  • avatar
    mjz

    They are not selling because they are too damned expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This is certainly true, although if one goes back and looks Cadillacs were always absurdly expensive. Now however, the panache of the brand has worn off.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The CTS used to be very competitively priced. In 2008 the 1SB (direct injected V6) invoiced $33 and change. You could put on the sport package, the Bose radio, a sunroof, and be out the door taxes and all for under $40. Around $5-7,000 more than the Genesis, another nice car with zero brand value.

        The 2014 CTS V6 with the sport package now invoices an absurd $57,000. Even the tiny V6 ATS is $42,000.

        • 0 avatar
          cpthaddock

          I think they thought they had to make room for Buick, as far as the term “think” an reasonbly be used in this context.

          The problem here, once again, is GM “thinking” only in branding and marketing terms, not in value, content and quality terms.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      I gave the ATS a shot and while list price is high I found the dealer more than willing to deal, at least compared to the Germans. Personally the styling is what turned me off that and the manual box in the ATS is terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I think it has more to do with them being too small. Americans are big; and nowadays so overlawyered/regulated that even at the age of 6 months, before the donuts have had a chance to do their work, they need limo sized rear seat space to accommodate them; that the ATS is simply too small for a 4 door/5 seat.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      “They are not selling because they are too damned expensive”

      I would disagree. Real world prices for the ATS are actually cheaper than than the Audi A3. The problem is in how the car got sold to the public as a 3-series fighter rather than an entry level product to compete with the A3 and CLA.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      They are not selling because they are too small. If I want a car without rear seat room why would I buy a 4 door. Without rear seat room I don’t need back doors.

      I really wanted to like the ATS, it has exactly what I’m searching for in a car – 4 doors, RWD, MT. I want 4 doors because I carry people back there. With the ATS rear seat room I might as well get the ecoboost Mustang and pocket $10K. But I want the rear seat room so both the Mustang and the ATS are out and I continue to drive the Lincoln.

      Never going to happen, but if Dodge would offer a lighter slightly smaller Charger with the V6 and a 6MT, I’d be opening the wallet.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Yep, you can get a loaded to the gills new Hyundai Genesis with every option on the planet that looks great, has great fit and finish and room, for $52,000. The CTS can hit $70K plus. Cadillac’s pricing is insane.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Time to wake up GM all of the new Caddies are crap compared to their competition and this is coming from someone who had a 09 CTS V. I loved the car for its brunt force power but fit and finish it was poor. Not only that but they are overly expensive now relative to their resale value.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    General Motors must be broadly seen as a quality manufacturer that looks after customers for buyers to return in great numbers. There are too many good alternatives to risk a GM at this time, especially if the shopper has been burned previously.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    For Cadillac sales to improve, there must be an exciting sales option for a customer. In the competitive auto market, there are luxury options as well as options which are not luxury. Cadillac has a history of being an American auto company which is under the ownership of American GM. GM means General Motors.

    -NancyLong

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    No mention of Ellinghaus. You know, the guy who stands behind the messaging of the Pool spot.

    US VP of Sales and Service resigns because of downed sales, the CMO who was exiled from BMW and quit Mont Blanc after less than a year doesn’t say anything.

  • avatar
    ect

    New guy gets hired from outside, barely 1/2 a year later is the designated scapegoat for a sales shortfall he likely had no time to influence, one way or another.

    Sounds a lot like the old, insular GM culture rejecting an outsider. Which, if true, doesn’t bode well for GM.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Cadillac suffers from beancounters disease common to lots of GM cars over the past few decades. Engineers say they need a 6,7,8 speed gearbox to be competitive and/or Marketers say we need a nice interior and to undercut the price of the competition to establish a value proposition, but the beancounters say no and insist on keeping the old 4 speed, crappy interior, and selling it for the same price as competitors because that makes the financials look good to top management. Car is launched with great fanfare and doesn’t sell, so GM puts big money on the hood and sells to fleet markets to move the metal, which kills the resale value. Brilliant beancounter gets promoted to CEO/President, and successors copy this this brilliant cycle over several generations and eventually kill any remaining brand equity and bankrupt the firm.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      New Cadillac cars and SUVs all have 6 or 8 speed transmissions and very nice interiors.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Yes they have improved, but most people still perceive them as the crapwagon brand they were 10-30 years ago, and they are trying to charge the same price as BMW and Mercedes that have much better reputations, and suffering from poor sales. So what do they do? They put serious money on the hood and further hurt their already weak resale value.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I went to the Cadillac website for maybe the second time in my life.

    Why don’t they drop that comic, kind of 18th Century-looking crest from their identity? How does anyone take a Euro-fighter seriously when it’s wearing European heraldry?

    Especially when European cars dumped that kind of dated pomposity ages ago.

    They should just put a chrome miniature on the hood of our current air superiority fighter.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> They should just put a chrome miniature on the hood of our current air superiority fighter.

      How about a chrome rendition of the Catera Duck as a hood ornament instead?

      http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/15-1998-Cadillac-Catera-Down-On-the-Junkyard-Picture-Courtesy-of-VWVortex.com_.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      kenmore.com was a weird experience. #dirtygirl?

      I always appreciate your comments here and I moved beyond Kenmore appliances a decade ago..but what say you for my web experience?

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        I say Sears had always been about upwardly mobile, working-class family living in America. As that demographic went, so went Sears.

        But at least the repellant name you mention is for a 5K run, indicating a health consciousness rapidly disappearing from what’s left of the demographic.

        So, like the Army, Sears is attempting to reach the more energetic echelons of the breeder population. And like country music fandom, public lewdness is today a very popular component of membership.

        Does a fridge my age weep at this? Hell, yes. And that heavily impacts my defrost cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Perhaps you’d prefer the ol’ big globe emblem like on 1950s Oldsmobiles, often situated just below the 6″ rocket ship?

  • avatar
    seanx37

    So this guy was only in the job for 8 months? How can he held accountable for any issues when he just got there?
    That said, the things mentioned above are correct. The ATS is way too small for its price. The XTS is pathetic. The CTS is probably too expensive(but very nice. I drove my dads today). Especially for its target audience. The SRX was born awful. The new Escalade just arrived. None of these things are Peffers fault.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    I won’t be crying any tears for Bill, he’s incompetent at best, and a complete ass. Speaking from first-hand experience.

    I guess they can be thankful that they’ve gotten rid of him before he could completely screw the division.

  • avatar
    Durask

    Just spent some time in a Cadillac dealership.
    Wife was looking for a car and was pretty much set on a Mercedes GL450, after trying and eliminating Lexus GX (smaller and less versatile inside, engine feels weak despite on-paper horsepower, a few other things) and Lexus LX – overpriced for what you get, dated design, may be extremely capable offroad but we don’t care (our opinions, obviously).

    Tried Cadillac Escalade – sure, has plenty of hand-stitched leather but overall lacking in refinement in all areas except the CUE system.
    Regardless of whatever super duper suspension it has, it has huge rims and the ride was harsh and very truck like. The six speed gearbox in the escalade is nowhere as smooth as the Mercedes gearbox. I was quite disappointed actually because I expected some super-duper plush luxury and got your usual truck with some nice trimmings. I rented a Tahoe last year (previous gen) and IMHO the Tahoe with smaller wheels and bigger tires had a nicer ride.

    Great example of what’s wrong with GM design. Both GL450 and Escalade have power folding second row seats. The difference is – in the Mercedes the driver/passenger seat would automatically move forward if there is not enough space for the second row seat to fold. In the Escalade the second row seat gets stuck until you manually move the front seat forward. I was looking at it and thinking “yeah, this is classic GM for you”.

    For the kind of money that GM is charging for the Escalade you expect a much higher level of refinement. If there are people buying the Escalade, good for GM, I guess, but as a luxury car to me it’s not even close to the GL450 or the diesel GL (or to my Q7 TDI for that matter).

    I still like the Tahoe and IMHO if you want a huge truck based SUV this is a much better value than the Escalade.

  • avatar

    My exposure to Caddy is via the dealer, like the rest of us…inconsistent at best.

    Caddy pricing and selection is very confusing. The multiple trim and option levels appear to exist to destroy any notions of cross shopping as you won’t ever find the same car twice. I’m all for being able to buy what you want, but as most folks go “off the lot”, this does not help.

    Pricing is nosebleed. Did they hire BMW marketers to set them ? You can only do that when your car is the top of every comparison test for ten years running….

    Oh, and I liked the ATS. Why they copied the BMW back seat too small (for ‘Muricans) was confusing. Even BMW found a few inches between e46 and e90. Car and chassis, though, very nice.

    Shame it is sold by Caddy dealers.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I really hope TTAC has it on solid authority that he “resigned”, as in, shitcanned for poor performance, and not just left that hellhole to do better things with his life. Dismal product + really bad safety news about the company cannot make good sales. Oh sure, let’s fire Someone!


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