XT5 is Proof Cadillac's Broken Product-Planning Clock is Right At Least Twice a Decade

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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xt5 is proof cadillac s broken product planning clock is right at least twice a

In 1999, GM altered the front fascia and slightly upgraded the interior of the GMC Yukon Denali to introduce the Cadillac Escalade. Although Cadillac was late to the Lincoln Navigator’s game, the biggest, baddest, boldest Cadillac quickly became an undeniable hit.

Now in fourth-generation form, U.S. sales of the regular-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade are on track to rise to an eight-year high in 2016.

Joining the Escalade in Cadillac’s SUV/crossover lineup in 2003 was the first-generation Cadillac SRX. With a two-row mainstream approach in generation two, the Cadillac SRX also became a huge success. Propelled forward in part by incentives, the SRX’s ability to claim its best ever U.S. sales total in 2015, its final full year, was nevertheless impressive.

Less than half a year into its run, the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is likewise a formidable hit; yet more proof that Cadillac knows how to shake its moneymakers. Which makes you wonder why Cadillac hasn’t already brought to market more moneymakers for the brand to shake.

The SRX certainly provided plenty of precedent to suggest that the XT5, while not a visual leap forward from the second-generation SRX, would become a major player in America’s luxury utility vehicle sector. General Motors averaged more than 55,000 annual SRX sales between 2010 and 2015.

Though a far cry from the near 100,000-unit annual average achieved by the Lexus RX during the same period, the SRX still claimed enviable U.S. popularity. The SRX was America’s second-best-selling premium brand SUV/crossover in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015.

In July and August, Cadillac sold more than 4,900 XT5s in the United States, numbers that were curtailed somewhat by the continued availability of the dying SRX. This was enough, in the Cadillac XT5’s fourth full month of availability, to make the XT5 America’s fourth-best-selling premium utility vehicle.

Combined sales of the XT5 and its SRX predecessor totalled 5,894 units, enough to rank second among premium utilities in August. Year-over-year, SRX/XT5 sales were down 15 percent in August and fell 12 percent through the first two-thirds of 2016 — not a surprising turn of events during a major transition that follows Cadillac’s heavily incentivized clear-out effort one year ago.

Globally, the XT5 became Cadillac’s most popular model over the summer, just as it now is in the United States.

51 percent of the brand’s global volume so far this year stem from the XT5/SRX and Escalade.

In the U.S., specifically, Cadillac is on track to sell fewer than 64,000 passenger cars in 2016, less than half the number of cars sold by the brand a decade ago. The U.S. new vehicle market is an entirely different place now. SUVs/crossovers have outsold passenger cars in each of the last two months. Cars earned 47 percent of the industry’s volume in 2006, but make up just 40 percent so far this year.

Fortunately, Cadillac SUV/crossover sales in 2016 are on track to rise roughly 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 2006.

Yet BMW has doubled its U.S. SAV volume during the same period, Jaguar-Land Rover utility vehicle sales are nearly 70 percent stronger, Mercedes-Benz SUV/CUV sales are 120 percent higher now than they were then, Audi Q sales have grown by more than nine times. To do so, all of those brands dramatically expanded their utility vehicle networks over the last decade.

Automotive News says a Kansas-built direct rival for the BMW X3 won’t arrive until 2018. A Mercedes-Benz GLA challenger is not due until 2020. An XT5-based XT7 is three years away.

With no entries in vital categories, segments in which Cadillac could presumably succeed if the brand’s other utility vehicles are anything to go by, Cadillac is basically handing free market share to its chief rivals. In Cadillac’s home market. In Cadillac’s largest market.

From dealer frustrations and disappointing reaction to new cars, to questionable marketing strategies and a slow reaction to market trends, there’s no shortage of Cadillac concerns at General Motors.

But the XT5 isn’t one of them.

[Images: Cadillac Chart: © The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, 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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  • AGR AGR on Sep 19, 2016

    The SRX has been doing well for years, its obvious that the XT5 would simply follow in the wake of the SRX and do well. As the Germans continue to explore all the possibilities of "luxury" at lower prices, and increasing "blandness" the XT5 stands out. Does Cadillac really need a smaller "utility" that would compete with the Encore? Perhaps it could use one...or folks simply step up to the XT5. As for the CT6, if you want to be a player in the luxury segment you need a flagship sedan. The CT6 is the flagship sedan.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Sep 21, 2016

    This Tim Cain soundbite brought to you by Johann's Old Fashioned Cafe Latte, now with extra douche! SRX was something like half of all sales volume in 2014. If the XT5 continues to have the same sale figures, it may not be a failure, is it really a success?

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