Import Buyers Still Shun Chevy Malibu and Caddy CTS

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
import buyers still shun chevy malibu and caddy cts

In January, GM Car Czar Bob Lutz stated that all of GM's new models "are getting a lot more non-GM and non-domestic conquests." As usual, the former marine aviator was flying by the seat of his pants. The numbers tell a different story. Automotive News [sub] compared fourth quarter '07 conquests to fourth quarter '05 for the redesigned Chevy Malibu and Cadillac CTS. In the last quarter '05, former Chevy owners accounted for 43.9 percent of Malibu sales. In the last quarter '07, the number rose to… 45.8 percent. The CTS sales stats also reveal that import buyers are lined-up none deep. In the fourth quarter of 2005, 30.1 percent of CTS buyers traded another Cadillac. In 2007, the number rose to… 42.2 percent. More specifically, Mercedes owners jumping ship for the midsized Caddy sedan ascended from 2.1 percent to 2.7 percent in 2007, and ex-Lexus owners increased from 1.2 percent to 2.3 percent. BMW owners stayed away. In 2005, 2.4 percent were BMW conquests; in 2007 that dropped to 2.3 percent.

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  • Alanp Alanp on Feb 04, 2008

    One of the problems is that GM (and the other American brands) don't really make anything to compare with the BMW 3 series. RWD and under 180 inches - even in a wagon. The CTS and Malibu are 191" and I don't want a vehicle that big - nor does my wife. American car makers think we all still want BIG vehicles. BMW, Audi and Mercedes are succeeding on compact luxury cars - which is what many thinking drivers are seeking.

  • Bunkie Bunkie on Feb 04, 2008

    At what point does the quality question go away? A lot of people have commented they have been burned by GM in the past and that's certainly an important consideration. But with respect to the new CTS, I have absolutely no quality concerns. Our current CTS which was built in August of 2002 is a quality vehicle. The problems with it have been minor (bad CD changer, sunroof switch that needed to be replaced, a flaky seatbelt sensor). For a first-off-the-assembly-line example, I'd say that's pretty good quality over 87K miles.

  • Walt501 Walt501 on Feb 05, 2008

    For those that are unconvinced, try this - go to the web site and see how many new Malibu’s are sitting on dealer lots in your area. In my case the most I could find is three at any given dealer! Now, try the same with, again I can only find at most one new CTS on a dealer lot. In the case of the new Malibu and CTS, the horses haven’t left the gate, but leave it to the automotive press to call imported autos the winner before the race even gets under way.

    What I believe to be truly revealing is that traffic at has increased 300% since the introduction of the Malibu, while the imports are seeing traffic at their web sites decline. Click the link below and you can actually see where I’m drawing my conclusions from - how novel.

    In summary, I believe web site hits are a positive indication for a future rise in sales. However, we won’t know how successful the new Malibu or CTS will be until there is at least a smattering of inventory on dealer lots for consumers to chose from.

  • KixStart KixStart on Feb 05, 2008

    Walt501, I checked three Chevy dealers in this area and they have between 3 and 14 Malibus each. There's one parked outside at the dealer up the road, where you can just barely glimpse it through the serried rows of trucks... It has been there two weeks and they don't seem to be in a rush to brush the snow off of it. Well, that snow will all melt by May, I suppose. They don't bother to brush the snow off the Silverados, either. Without comparisons to actual sales and incentives (or transaction prices), web site hits do not offer anywhere near a complete picture. They probably indicate some level of interest but that's about it. The Tesla, for example, is interesting, too. I wouldn't say their web site hits are an indication of success. Oh, and it would be interesting to see more than a twelve-month period, so we get some idea of seasonal changes. At least this is a step up from "proving" something with Google hits. --- Bunkie, you are asking a question that Bob Lutz ought to ask himself every day and should have been asking himself every day since starting at GM. It's awfully hard to win a reputation for quality. It takes a long time to forget how much money one lost on a car that ate transmissiont or threw a rod, etc. The gasket business will affect a generation. I took a quick look at Edmunds and the number of '03 CTS customers reporting problems was disheartening. The number of '04 CTS customers reporting problems was larger than I'd like to see if I was considering a used one. The number of "No More GM Ever" entries was disturbing. Frankly, I think that GM will only beat that rap when their last bad year rolls off the repair history section of Consumer Reports. Those ratings are five or six years deep. If the '05 CTS was a reliability winner - along with a very strong majority of the other '05 GM vehicles, then they might be in the clear in 2011.