By on April 24, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Culver City - Image: Cadillac“Levels that were once seen as excessive are now sustainable.”
—Uwe Ellinghaus, Chief Marketing Officer, Cadillac

Cadillac expects to see auto sales in the United States in calendar year 2017 fall just below 2016’s best-ever results, which GM’s premium brand considers a positive sign for the U.S. auto industry and Cadillac.

While the decline reported America’s auto industry in March 2017 drew headlines because 2017’s first-quarter encompassed three consecutive months of year-over-year decline, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, views the results through another lens.

“What they call a cooling off I say is the best thing that has ever happened,” Ellinghaus told Automotive News. “We don’t see that the party is over. It’s continuing.”

Cadillac? Party? Huh?

As the U.S. auto market surged out of the recession with numerous premium brands setting all-time annual sales records, Cadillac’s U.S. volume fell 6 percent in 2014, perked up only slightly in 2015, and then fell to a four-year low in 2016. Yes, that 2016, the one in which the U.S. auto industry recorded its highest-volume year in history.

Compared with 2005, when Cadillac’s U.S. volume rose to a 15-year high, sales last year were down 28 percent. During the same period, Mercedes-Benz volume jumped 40 percent, BMW grew 17 percent, Lexus was up 9 percent, and Audi volume shot up 153 percent.

Fast forward to 2017’s early results and Cadillac, through the first-quarter of 2017, is down 5 percent in a market that’s down 2 percent. Car volume has tumbled 12 percent despite the addition of the CT6. Cadillac has added some 2,400 CT6 sales to its U.S. ledger in 2017 Q1 (compared with 2016 Q1) but the brand has lost more than 4,100 sales across the rest of its car lineup. Plus, Escalade growth has stalled.

If this is a party, you don’t want to be invited.

Unless the party is being livestreamed from the other side of the Pacific.

Last year, as Cadillac’s volume declined in the U.S., Canada, the Middle East and totalled scarcely measurable figures in the rest of the world, Cadillac’s volume in China jumped 46 percent. That drove Cadillac’s global volume up 11 percent in calendar year 2016, a three-decade high.

China accounted for 26 percent of Cadillac’s global volume in 2014, 29 percent in 2015, and 38 percent in 2016.

And through the first-quarter of 2017?

50 percent.

Actually, 50.1 percent.

More than half.

Cadillac’s Chinese volume nearly doubled, year-over-year, in the first-quarter of 2017. Cadillac’s Chinese sales will continue to grow as the market drinks in luxury vehicles.

Cadillac’s Chinese success hasn’t turned the brand into a worldwide luxury powerhouse. Global Cadillac sales totalled 27,406 units in March 2017, less than the totals Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus produced in the U.S. alone last month.

The idea of Cadillac as a viable long-term luxury brand, however, is becoming increasingly realistic.

The idea of Cadillac hosting a U.S. sales party, on the other hand, seems increasingly far-fetched.

But maybe an after party.

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 @timcaincars.

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58 Comments on “Cadillac Prepares For Perpetual Party, Forecasts Buoyant U.S. Auto Sales Demand While Relying On China...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Baghdad Bob weighs in.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Ellinghaus is delusional from drinking too much Java at their coffee house in SoHo. Also, the words “Cadillac” and “China” in close proximity remind me of the old, bad joke about the Chinese gentleman’s visit to the eye doctor.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Levels that were once seen as excessive are now sustainable.”
    —Uwe Ellinghaus, Chief Marketing Officer, Cadillac

    Eff volume.

    You guys making any profit? That’s the only question that matters.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      GM has had record profits.

      How is Acura fairing?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Neither are real and neither matter.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Cadillac is a 114 year old luxury car manufacturer that built some of the best vehicles in the world decades before Honda sold their first motorized bike.

        Acura is a Yuppie-Era branding exercise.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @Norm

        You can’t make a statement about GM profits and then ask how Acura (a sub-brand of Honda) is doing. I’m sure HONDA overall is making a profit.

        My question was (and remains) – Is CADILLAC profitable?

        An unprofitable division of any company can do little to justify it’s existence. The overall Studebaker corporation stopped building cars so they could concentrate on their other more profitable divisions.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t think GM breaks out profitability by brand, but I would not be surprised if the Cadillac division is profitable overall.

          The Escalade may be the most profitable vehicle IN THE WORLD and they sell a decent amount of those. Now if you eliminate the Escalade bucks, things might get more interesting.

          Then again, the only thing Cadillac has right now that *might* actually be expensive to create is the CT6. I doubt the ATS, XTS, and XT5 cost that much more to build than their lower branded platform mates.

          • 0 avatar

            The ultimate secret of the car biz…what does it cost to built a car, and what is the overhead ?

            It’s right next to the nuclear launch codes and under tighter security than the Alien Area 51 files.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          PrincipalDan, check out quarterly results from GM and Honda this week to see record setting winners and losers, respectively.

      • 0 avatar
        John Franklin Mason

        “GM has had record profits.” General Motors went though bankruptcy resetting debt. Thank President Obama that GM can make more with less.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          >>Thank President Obama that GM can make more with less.<<

          Obama knows nothing about running a business, never did. As a community organizer, he knew how to shake down businesses.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Agreed. Once he has demonstrated the ability to go through Chapter 11 four times and find success through reality TV and leasing his name out to companies who can actually keep a business solvent, only then will he know something pertinent for middle America. Amateur!

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      Uwe Ellinghaus and his chosen crew are far more interested in being in SoHo than actually building and selling Cadillacs. In the below bookmarked article, it is clear that the focus is on their hip new office and they could not give a flip about their mission.

      http://www.coolhunting.com/design/cadillac-interview-uwe-ellinghaus-cmo-nyc
      BTW: If their furniture choices are indicative of the design sphere, lord help us.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        If they sit in cool chairs and talk to cool people while drinking trendy coffee, they will design hip cool Cadillacs. Don’t you know how high design works?

        • 0 avatar
          Speed3

          But the office isn’t for designers and engineers (although they have some space for them so it’s unclear how much will be our of this office.

          What concerns me is that he didn’t even mention the #1 reason IMO to move an office to NYC – to get the best talent. NYC is a huge market with deep pools of talent. There are a lot of smart talented hardworking people that would be up to the challenge of working at Cadillac, but no way in hell would live in Detroit. That would make sense but I didn’t really read anything to that extent.

          Also, I’m glad he understands that you can’t have a luxury brand without luxury product, but unfortunately he doesn’t acknowledge that the problem is Cadillac’s product. By the end of the year Lexus will have 3 crossovers and 2 SUVs, plus they are built well and nicely appointed.

          I expect most New Yorker’s relationship to stay exactly the same; when using Uber.

          • 0 avatar
            John Franklin Mason

            “What concerns me is that he didn’t even mention the #1 reason IMO to move an office to NYC – to get the best talent”

            Speed3 is the “Best Talent” flocking to Cadillac yet? That’s a lot of Trump!

            Chuck Jordan didn’t go to Jared, he went to Jackson Penitentiary.

            Bill Mitchell took, or was given the credit for the designs of Motor Trend Magazines “Car of the Year” Award Winners: the 1977 Chevrolet Impala and the 1979 Buick Riviera but the truth is he got them at a steal from yours truly.

            Desperate for designs to use on GM’s planned downsizing of full size car’s (Project 77), General Motors needed designs that could and would maintain large car values after they were downsized. Traditionally, size was sold at a premium in America, what to do?

            Who knew designs that were first conceived and drawn behind prison walls, first witnessed and critiqued by prison inmates and staff, would go on to win in General Motors Consumer Design Clinic’s as well as the aforementioned “Car of the Year” winners?

            Cadillac’s, Buick’s, Oldsmobile’s and Chevrolet’s/Pontiac’s using my designs were among, if not the best sellers in General Motors history.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Well, there’s volume and there’s market share. A quick look indicates Cadillac’s US market share is fairly stable.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And the bottom line is to make money for the shareholders, even if that money comes from outside of the US.

      Toyondasan did it for years, and sent the profits home to mama in Japan.

  • avatar
    319583076

    “In the 1920s, GM aligned its various car brands into a finely graduated price hierarchy: ‘Chevrolet for the hoi polloi,’ Fortune magazine put it, ‘Pontiac … for the poor but proud, Oldsmobile for the comfortable but discreet, Buick for the striving, Cadillac for the rich.’ The policy—’a car for every purse and purpose,’ GM called it—was a means of customer sorting, but the customers did the sorting themselves.”

    Objective reality strikes.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Yes, that was Alfred P. Sloan’s idea. It was successful when GM owned 50 percent of the market.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      semi-replated. Of all the extinct car brands, I miss Oldsmobile the most. I have a lot of fond memories of my dad’s Olds 88s and 98s.

      I also miss Mercury too – which I always thought of as Fords but with nicer trims. The ’97 Mountaineer I had with AWD and 5.0L engine was one of the more dependable cars I’ve ever owned.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    New Cadillac sedans are seriously rare. I live in an area where luxury vehicles, especially the big German three are very common. I’m luck to see 1 new CTS/ATS a month at best. Escalades and SRX/CT5 on the other hand? A dime a dozen.

    Honestly, I’m starting to think Cadillac should go the GMC/Jeep route and just become and all SUV brand.

  • avatar
    John Franklin Mason

    Situation is such Uwe Ellinghaus is full of Trump.

  • avatar
    John Franklin Mason

    Lest we not forget: after my car designs ran their course at General Motors Cadillac was no longer “the Standard of the World,” consumers “Rather” Not “Buy a Buick,” Oldsmobile Fell off it’s Rocket and the Japanese ate Chevrolet’s “Apple Pie.”

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Spotted a pair of Cadillac CT6’s with minimal camo and odd side view mirror sensors, Super Cruise testing?

    http://imgur.com/a/ZW57R

  • avatar

    Oh the plus side, when the CTS Sport depreciates to $30k, I’ll trade in my 2010 CTS

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    That child appears to be attempting to blink the candles out.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    GM makes very net profit in China! They have much more overhead expense such as a co-partner to pay!

  • avatar
    Rday

    Cadillac should be part of a national testing program to determine if a person has Alzheimer’s disease or at least ‘early onset Dementia’ IMO. The cars are not competitive, depreciate very rapidly, have terrible repair records and seem ‘cheap’. Plus they are built by the ‘Detroit Gang of Three’. I don’t know of anyone that buys Cadillac cars so I guess that is a testament to the high intelligence of most of my friends, even though they have money and can buy pretty much whatever they want.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      It doesn’t help that the 30-40k crew cab pickups from the big three are so comfortable and their MPGs are so close to the B bodys and Panthers, there is no need for a full size sedan anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      The problem w/ Cadillac is that it really has negative brand equity among the people it aspires to sell to.

      Cadillac is chasing the Germans but it will never be German. Cadillac needs to be American luxury and it only succeeds w/ the Chevy rebadge, Escalade.

  • avatar
    deanst

    With Cadillac, Lincoln and Buick chasing Chinese volume, there is no one around to prioritize American luxury vehicles. Who’s left to be coming without length?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Lincoln is making moves (like the new Continental) toward a more traditional interpretation of luxury.

      I’d also argue that the Chrysler 300 is a pretty traditional interpretation of American luxury.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      Don’t the Chinese want exactly what Americans have always enjoyed in a luxury car? Full length, soft ride, lots of chrome. There are still some excellent traditional American luxury cars on sale, the problem is that North American buyers have become Nurburgring-centric rather than comfort-centric.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        The only faults I can see in the 300 are (1) the new knob (shifter) and (2) a dismally small trunk due to truncating(ha!) the rear end to avoid European dimension penalty, not that the Euro and later Lancia versions did any good.

        But the Chrysler brand doesn’t have the same recognition in China as Lincoln and Cadillac, or even Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperCarEnthusiast

        I think Cadillac management did not appreciate their traditional buyers and envy the German luxury buyers. So now, other then the Escalade, they don’t have a loyal customer base anymore like they did in the 1930-1990s. It was a family of generation too! So sad for Cadillac to chase performance over America luxury!

        • 0 avatar
          John Franklin Mason

          SuperCarEnthusiast I think what is was that Cadillac chased was a Pedigree. Want-a-be’s.

          It was however, Cadillac’s degree’s of engineering, design and innovation qualities that set the “Standard of the World.”

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            “Standard of the World.” What you imply is not what that means.

            “Standard of the World” meant the parts were interchangeable, not that the car was ever the best.

            “Cadillac…”Standard of the World” and a Trophy to Prove it.

            Cadillac created this motto in 1909. The year after they won the “Dewar Award” for creating cars with perfectly interchangeable parts. Three Cadillac models were given the challenge by the Royal Automobile Club of England. They challenged the American car company to a 500 mile endurance run. At the end of the run all three cars would be disassembled. All parts would be intermixed. Then three cars would be re-assembled. The object was that ALL parts be perfectly interchangeable.
            The English were laughing quite loudly as their own mechanics took the 3 Cadillacs apart. The parts were placed in three rooms. The Cadillac mechanics were then allowed in to re-assemble, if you can, 3 perfect cars.
            They did it! and in record time. The english were dumbfounded. The Americans extatic. And the phrase: “The Standard of the World” was born.”

            In fact, Packard was considered a far better car than Cadillac until right after WW2.

          • 0 avatar
            John Franklin Mason

            Interchangeable parts was innovative, as was the electric starter, both engineering milestones. Packer had a stodgy, stately, old money appeal whereas Cadillac appealed to the up and coming, those having arrived, the self made man.

            Cadillac’s were stylish, had curb appeal. Packers and Lincoln’s were considered old men cars, Cadillac’s image was that of a young man’s car (albeit most Cadillac owners were older men who probably liked to think of themselves as young of heart).

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “Global Cadillac sales totalled 27,406 units in March 2017, less than the totals Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus produced in the U.S. alone last month.”

    So Cadillac is more exclusive, right? Considering how many Mercedes sedans I see parked in low-income areas, a Cadillac sedan actually does sound more appealing.

  • avatar
    Joss

    That’s what 40 years of hard communism does to you. Leaves you moist for a Buick or caddy. Count on a similar nostalgia in Cuba and quite possibly the DPRK.

    While forty years of capitalism rings in the fascist Teutonic – 159% Audi.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    With Buick and now Cadillac selling more cars in China than in the US, how long until GM becomes a Chinese company? I would think that in less than ten years GM will be making most of it’s profits from China rather than the US. How US politics are going at that time will likely be the determining factor in whether GM stays a US company or moves it’s headquarters to where it makes most of it’s money.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperCarEnthusiast

      GM and other foreign car manufacturers do not make much net profit in China! There a heavy overhead like a co-partnership and heavy plant investments.

    • 0 avatar
      John Franklin Mason

      My understanding is General Motors employees transplanted to China from the America’s and Europe make a heck of a lot more money than they would make at home.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    My 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz is a Standard of the World. 22 MPG, regular fuel, sumptuous comfort and all the style plus more!
    It had 64,606 miles and I bought it for $125 in 2015 at Copart!
    Discerning Eye for the V8 Guy!
    I always seem to find the bulletproof 4100s.
    Make Cadillac Great Again!

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Did anyone else think that GM’s 1977 B-bodies were watered down derivatives of the 1975 Cadillac Seville, which was a sorry reskin of the Nova emulating the Fiat 130 coupe of 1971? Claiming to create the ’77 B-body is like a rapper claiming to create a base line.

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