By on July 12, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5

Cadillac detailed the sources of its so-called global sales surge in June 2016 in a press release yesterday. In so doing, Cadillac called attention to its first-half global sales decline and the global rarity of the wreathless crest.


Cadillac has reason to pursue (and then tout the results of its) increased global strength (or diminished global weakness). In the United States, Cadillac isn’t doing enough. The three top-selling Cadillac rivals — BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus — generate more U.S. sales than Cadillac does around the world. Globally. Everywhere.

Roughly 13,000 monthly sales in Cadillac’s historic North American market is a figure simply insufficient to secure a bright future for General Motors’ premium brand. Thus, Cadillac now intends to be a global luxury brand, and is in fact making inroads leading toward that goal. 

Cadillac U.S. vs. world sales chart

China, for instance, now accounts for 35 percent of Cadillac’s global volume, up from 30 percent at this stage of 2015. In the European Union and Russia, home turf for top-tier luxury brands, Cadillac says a 41-percent year-over-year increase in the first-half of 2016 resulted in only 991 sales.

Perspective? In the United Kingdom in June alone, Mercedes-Benz sold 4,112 copies of the C-Class. Just the C-Class.

Moreover, even in China, where Cadillac’s global effort shows signs of increasing strength, Audi sold 5,190 more new vehicles in June than Cadillac sold in the first-half of 2016.

Cadillac’s lack of presence in the global marketplace isn’t surprising. GM’s efforts to expand the brand’s reach have at varying times been intermittent and half-hearted. The renewed focus we see now will not return instantaneous results.

Thus, Cadillac’s goals are modest. Said Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen in the Cadillac blast yesterday: “We can truly earn incremental volume growth as we build brand prestige.” As we build brand prestige. As opposed to being prestigious.

2016 Cadillac CT6

In its home market, however, Cadillac is neither a new entrant nor a foreign upstart. Yet Cadillac’s recent U.S. sales performance isn’t entirely out of sync with Cadillac’s dearth of global success. Just as the ATS, CTS, and futureless ELR are in decline around the world, they’re failing in the United States. U.S. ATS volume is down 22 percent to 9,764 units in 2016. CTS sales are down 18 percent to 7,906. The ELR is down 16 percent to 496. Combined sales of the XTS and its indirect CT6 successor are up by just 1.5 percent to 11,766. Admittedly, it’s early days for the CT6, but with more than three months of U.S. sales in the bag, fewer than 2,000 have been sold.

Cars, therefore, remain a small part of Cadillac’s U.S. business, forming just 41 percent of the brand’s U.S. volume, compared with 62 percent in the rest of the world. The blissfully profitable Escalade is a larger part of the U.S. equation than it is in global markets: 83 percent of global Escalade volume is U.S.-derived, compared with 52 percent for Cadillac’s other models.

2015 Escalade/Escalade ESV

The strength of Cadillac’s utilities, of course, brings up the subject of the ongoing SRX-to-XT5 transition. Excluding this top-selling Cadillac entrant from the equation shows Cadillac’s other models saw global first-half sales growth – albeit by a scant 65 units. It’s the XT5’s late first-half ramp-up that prompted Cadillac’s June surge. Global SRX/XT5 June volume rose 15 percent to 9,637 units, equal to nearly four out of every ten Cadillacs sold around the world last month.

In the U.S., meanwhile, the SRX and XT5 combined for 26,282 first-half sales, enough to claim second spot among premium brand utility vehicle sales so far this year. In June, even without the SRX’s contribution, the XT5 ranked fifth among luxury utility vehicle sales, a clear sign that Cadillac is set to reclaim its status as the prime challenger to the Lexus RX’s throne.

Unfortunately for Cadillac, cars still matter — even as the passenger car market is shrinking and the impact of SUVs and crossovers is being felt outside of America. Cadillac is woefully ineffective in the passenger car market.

Cadillac’s cars earn ride and handling plaudits from the enthusiast press, but when given the chance, the overwhelming majority of buyers still choose a 3 Series, 5 Series, or 7 Series; a C-Class, E-Class, or S-Class; an A4, A6, or A8. Much though that may appear to be the case in the United States, it’s an outcome far more evident around the world.

[Images: Cadillac, Chart: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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41 Comments on “Cadillac Touts Global June Sales “Surge” Amidst 2016 Global Sales Decline...”

  • avatar

    So what did Baghdad Bob have to say today?

    “We can truly earn incremental volume growth as we build brand prestige.”

    So when are you going to have enough prestige to matter, Johann? 2025? 2040?

    • 0 avatar

      He’ll have “brand prestige” about three to four decades after he starts focusing on, and succeeding at, building great cars. Instead of on building “brand prestige” out of thin air.

      In the mean time, he can, and must, sell enough cars to fund the prestige building, by building cars so unflinchingly good that people will buy them, despite the brand not yet being prestigious.

      Hawking overpriced coffee and handbags to banksters and their whores, will get him exactly nowhere.

  • avatar

    My two cents’ worth. If Cadillac would be a lot more aggressive in pricing, they could move a lot more iron. Until they build a following that can see for themselves that these are great cars, they’re just spinning in circles trying to pretend they are wholly competitive with BMW, Mercedes, and Audi.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t checked in some time but as recently as last year depending on the rebate and discounts, the Alpha cars were very competitively priced. GM as a whole likes to play rebate games, msrp is 42 but automagically if you come on down you can get 9K off sticker. I personally don’t like this approach, and I think in hiring JdN the brass would prefer the eurotrash dochebag approach he came from so to speak. Its not working and it will never work, an honest approach with decent value (not necessarily cheap) pricing might work better. The problem is the product isn’t built for value and reliability, its mostly designed to be high priced throwaway junk. There is no easy answer for the brand of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac.

  • avatar

    So they focus on China but they’re not going back to their strategy of offering class-above interior volume? Remember when the CTS had a 3 series price and a 5 series size? that made sense.

  • avatar

    So where are those non-USA XTS being sold? China? Is it a screaming bargain compared to other cars that people of that social class like to be driven around in? Has it gotten the official party stamp of approval for non-ostentatious transportation?

  • avatar

    Someone please put “art and science” out if its misery. These are awful looking vehicles.

  • avatar

    Good, well-done story though ometimes I wonder if you publish these for the thrill of seeing DeadWeight’s blood starting to boil. Where has he been lately?

  • avatar

    I will say I like that brown metallic on the CT6 there, and it would look good on a Lexus which I’d buy instead of a CT6.

  • avatar

    Without DW they need to stop reporting on Cadillac. Regarding the CT6 its not even at the quality level of the original Lexus LS400.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha, very few cars made today are on quality par with the original LS400. They lost money on those initially.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        According to whom? There were various sour-grapes complaints of dumping back when they were new, but the LS400 cost the same in the US as the equivalent-trim Celsior did in Japan.

      • 0 avatar

        Heck is the current LS as well built as that one?

        • 0 avatar

          I would generally say no, not really. They thinned out the quality a bit on all their cars for 96 generally, and for 2000 on the new LS.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes and no. The LS400 was overbuilt in a way that modern cars can’t be (thanks CAFE) but the current gen LS460 is a very solid car.

          The quality was roughly constant thoughout the LS400’s life. The build quality actually went up over the years as the factory honed their processes but the design quality moved towards lighter materials. The body gaps were always perfect but some ‘behind the scenes’ quality disappeared. The door locks of the post-1998 cars are lower quality than the door locks of the 1990-1997 cars. Though the post-1998 cars got VVTI and better milage.

          I’ve heard first hand that the first LS400s weren’t all that great – they had some silent recalls and their weather stripping started to fail after 12 years or so and they started rattling after 14 years. Many of the 2001+ LSs haven’t had weatherstripping or rattling issues.

          Many people think the 2000 LS400 and 2005/2006 LS430s were the high water mark of Lexus quality and I can’t reject the claim. It took until 2012 for Toyota to fix all the issues in the LS460. Personally, I wouldn’t get an 07-11 LS460 but I probably won’t buy an LS460 so it’s a moot point.

          At the end of the day, the 1998 LS400 was the dawn of the modern era. I drive an 01 LS430 and I haven’t yet encountered a car that seems worth upgrading into. As I’ve grown in my career and lost free time, it’s been nice just to know that my car is going to last as long as I want it to (it’s a pup with 102k miles) and at this point I might just drive this until self driving cars change the paradigm.

          • 0 avatar

            Reports of “problems” with early LS460s are thick in the LS430 forums, but less so in the real world. They do have a few common issues, but so do LS430s. In both cases the number of common issues is far fewer than any of their German full-size contemporaries.

            This is the full list of common early LS460 issues, all fixed before MY11:
            – Fuel rails prone to leak (recall, fixed for MY09)
            – Front control arm bushings fail prematurely (fixed midyear in MY10)
            – Mark Levinson stereo amp prone to early failure (fixed for MY10)
            – Brake actuator makes odd noises, in rare cases may start to work unevenly (fixed for MY10)
            – Dash padding may start to develop sticky texture (recall, early MY07 cars only)
            – Excess wind noise from base of outside mirrors (fixable with sealant, fixed for MY09)

            My ’08 had the control arm issue, which was admittedly expensive, and went through the fuel rail recall. Other than that it’s flawless.

            I’d recommend an early LS without reservation, except that the buyer should account for premature control arm replacement in the price if it hasn’t already been done. Expect $1500 using third-party parts and $4000 with OEM parts in the worst case, if all 8 front control arms require replacement.

    • 0 avatar

      Nothing is at the quality level of the original LS400. The best built cars ever. That is why you still see so many. Toyota spared no expense at every level. Design, engineering, build quality.

  • avatar

    Looks like Johan de Nysschen and Melody Lee are still using the Cadillac brand to pad their resumes. Which means they’re not gonna address the systemic issues plaguing the brand anytime soon. Just more window dressing for broken windows.

  • avatar

    Was this story posted for any reason other than to get DeadWeight to comment again?

  • avatar

    “The overwhelming majority of buyers still choose a 3 Series, 5 Series, or 7 Series; a C-Class, E-Class, or S-Class; an A4, A6, or A8.”

    I loathe alphabet soup versus actual car names as a stupid marketing approach anyway, but notice something about these competitors? Both Audi and BMW have a naming scheme that makes it intuitive to tell which cars are bigger/costlier and which are smaller/more affordable: smaller car, smaller number. Mercedes isn’t intuitive, but they get away with it because their series names of C, E and S have been unchanged for decades.

    Now for Cadillac: ATS, CTS, XTS > CT6. They can’t even decide whether to use letters or numbers. If they were taking bribes from competitors to keep their names unmemorable or participating in a witness protection program, they couldn’t do it better.

    • 0 avatar

      The plan is eventually to settle around CT# for sedans and XT# for SUVs. Perhaps burned by the reaction to his sudden naming changes at Infiniti, Johan is slow-walking the change at Cadillac. One expects the next CTS will be the CT4 and the impending below-XT5 CUV will be the XT3.

    • 0 avatar

      Really not the case for the A6 and A8 (will have to wait and see how the new A4 does).

      The A6 only has a 400 sales lead YTD on the CTS and Cadillac has the XTS in the same price-range.

      The CT6 is handily outselling the A8 and while the A8 is towards the end of its life-cycle, can’t see a new A8 doing much better than where the CT6 should settle in sales.

  • avatar

    Cadillac wants to drum up some domestic business and consideration then they have to learn to suck it up and realize they are not 1973 CADILLAC anymore that just dominates because they are Cadillac. They also have to learn to get some attitude back like it is 1973. The latest cars are nice pieces of engineering. I recently drove an ATS. It was great. The interior was a pleasant place to be (in the front seat). The price was about 10-15% too dear to actually consider over a higher end VW or more established Audi.

    Also, break out some names again. Call the ATS a Calais. The CTS sure seems like a Seville to me. The XTS can be a Deville. The CT6 would make a nice Fleetwood. GM just want go that extra step to be low enough in price to make people to take a chance on them after they take an interest in a car that actually means something. Cadillac were highway cruisers back in the glory days. Once all autonomous driving kicks into cars all those Nuremberg Ring handling awards won’t mean squat to passengers not driving car.

    • 0 avatar
      Sid SB

      The ATS and CTS sales are perplexing. In a swing and miss to get the average age of ownership down, have they also alienated their original clients? The silver lining for driving fans is that the used prices are very reasonable. See CTS V-Sports with >400hp dropping below $40k. That much comfort for Caddie – they need to swarm that CUV/SUV space quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow, you and I are on the same page with one exception.

      ATS = Calais
      CTS = Seville
      CT6 = Deville
      CT6L = Fleetwood
      The XTS is soon to be discontinued.

      Perhaps the presumed success of the upcoming Lincoln Continental will get Cadillac to wake up and use some of their storied nameplates again. But I won’t hold my breath. I think we are stuck with alphabet soup for now.

  • avatar

    What is a Cadillac? Dead Weight would be pleased. . Like Softball and Baseball, it is a word rarely used in Australia.

  • avatar

    The SUV in the second photo looks like a hearse. Not something I’d want to drive unless I was an undertaker.

  • avatar

    The biggest problems for Cadillac sales in the US are (1) the lack of a complete crossover lineup and (2) the dreadful packaging of the ATS and CTS due to the limits of the Alpha platform (see the same problem with the new Camaro). (The ATS really needed to have space of the ATS-L.)

    It will still be a few years until Cadillac starts adding to its crossover lineup and gets the replacement for the ATS and CTS (which, reading the tea-leaves, might just have one model replacing the ATS and CTS).

    But, at the same time – there are still positives.

    Cadillac has one of the highest ATPs, if not the highest among the mainstream luxury brands.

    Granted, this is in part due to low ATS sales, but also due to the Escalade, CTS and XTS comprising the bulk of its sedan sales.

    For all the talk about low CTS sales, the CTS, for the year, is outselling the Lexus GS and unlike the GS-F which has been languishing on lots, the current MY run of the CTS-V is sold out.

    The XT5 looks like a winner for Cadillac and while maybe not beating the RX in sales, will likely be in the rear view mirror.

    As for the CT6, it’s still early (and won’t have its full complement of power-trains, including a V8 and a PHEV for a while longer), but should break the 1k sales barrier next month which these days is pretty good for the segment (only the S Class and 7 Series outsold the CT6 last month).

    If Cadillac just had a full crossover lineup, sales would be up markedly.

    But let’s remember, certain Buick models compete with models from Acura and Lexus – so have to take that into account.

  • avatar

    I really like the new Caddy’s and especially in V-form, they look great and perform even better.

    Having sold Infiniti’s and Volvo’s, it’s so hard to get people out of their Bmw, Audi, Benz leases into something else, aside from Lexus.

    – You need a ridiculously good product
    – Amazing incentives, free maintenance and stellar service
    – The German trio dump their entry level models at cost, huge loaner programs. Hard to compete with that
    – CPO programs establish a great used-car buy, and implement an image of reliability in the product, true or not.

    Take years to build this, and one good product after the next. The Germans have been pumping out hit after hit.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    In Los Angeles, pretty much every car brand is commonly visible. People in this state buy lots of F150s and Silverados, and lots of Priuses, with everything in between found everyday. In the mix, contemporary Cadillacs are common, and I don’t mean just Escalade. We buy many ATS, CTS, V cars, SRX and in past years the older STS and XLR, so I don’t know what’s wrong with the rest of the country. While the Art & Science styling may be controversial, it appeals to buyers in part for that reason along with today’s Cadillacs having distinctive, beautiful visual appeal. But Art & Science, along with dramatically-rising Cadillac vehicle engineering, quality and interiors, is only 12 years into a recovery and reversal of nearly 50 years of neglect and decline. GM is showing patience. You should too.

    My wife and I have been buying and driving Cadillacs for the past 10-1/2 years. 1st and 2nd gen CTS-V, SRX Turbo 3.0, XLR-V, now ATS Premium and ELR. Problems? None. In the context of their times, interiors have been satisfying, luxurious and durable. Vehicle finesse has steadily risen from roughly competitive to leading. Vehicle structures have been stiff and they stay tight. For all the yammering about the ATS’ small back seat, I’m 6’3″ and I can sit behind my 5’4″ wife. I can’t “sit behind myself,” but I can’t do that in *any* vehicle in the class.

    While I agree that in the current, short-sighted, CUV/SUV-preferring market Cadillac needs more than the excellent XT5, the root problem isn’t the vehicles themselves today. The immediate bottleneck is marketing. Cadillac doesn’t get enough buyers in any of its segments to drive its cars.

    Every Cadillac I’ve owned has won a steady stream of complements from casual bystanders and surprised (positive) reactions from people who rode in them or drove them, because they hadn’t updated their perceptions of a previously-decayed brand. In the Awareness-Consideration-Trial-Purchase waterfall, Cadillac is anemic on converting Awareness to consideration — so much so that one couldn’t evaluate how they are doing on concerting trials into purchases.

    In L.A., the Cadillac service departments are excellent. The showrooms are either new or classic buildings that have been renovated. Sales staffs are less uniformly competitive with other luxury makes than they should be, but dealers’ judgment in hiring is much better than it was.

    So GM has a continuing marketing and brand turn-around challenge, which I am not convinced the current Cadillac management is equipped to meet and put behind them. But the product is great. We’d all be better off if Americans relaxed their irrational (and arguably immature) concern for what’s “on-brand” for them in luxury cars and just try a current Caddy.


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