By on May 8, 2017

2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover

Cadillac’s controversial 2015 move from its Detroit birthplace to the glittering spires of Manhattan is already showing signs of working, says the brand’s stern and methodical president.

By packing their bags and heading to Soho, Cadillac’s braintrust hoped the brand’s swanky new digs would rub off, distancing it from the likes of GMC and Chevrolet and helping to pull in discerning new customers. So far, Cadillac is — just not in its home country.

Brand president Johan de Nysschen isn’t worried about recent U.S. sales numbers, however. He’s playing the long game, telling The Detroit News that Cadillac’s planned ascent to “standard of the world” status — a goal he expects to reach within 15 years — is “on track.”

At the end of April, Cadillac sales in the U.S. were down 1.3 percent compared to last year, when sales slid compared to 2015. The brand anticipates a turnaround as it brings more crossovers and SUVs to market, but only one — the strong-selling XT5 — has so far made it to dealers. Overall auto sales in this country have performed miserably this year, meaning Cadillac isn’t alone, even though other premium automakers have posted gains amid the gloom.

Overseas, it’s a different story in countries that couldn’t purchase a Cadillac until this decade. China, the growth engine of choice for so many automakers, has improved on last year’s first-third sales by 92.5 percent. Global sales are up over 31 percent over the same period.

The American sales stagnation isn’t a surprise for de Nysschen. As new product reaches showrooms, de Nysschen said he wants to build profitability and status, which can’t be accomplished through incentives that ultimately cheapen the brand and lead to low used car values. “Our aim is not to park a Cadillac in every driveway, but the right driveways,” he said.

The brand’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, said the move attracted top talent from outside the industry, a demographic that now makes up about 80 percent of the company’s New York staff. However, it remains to be seen whether recent ideas like the “Book by Cadillac” car subscription service pays off. The same goes for the company’s current advertising campaign.

At the end of the day, success comes down to desirable product.

Next year, Cadillac plans to stake a claim in the lucrative premium compact crossover segment. The XT4 is due out in mid-year as a 2019 model. Another utility vehicle will fill the gap between the XT5 and flagship Escalade the following year, and yet another crossover will appear at the bottom of the lineup sometime after.

[Image: General Motors]

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66 Comments on “Cadillac Boss Says Manhattan Move is Working, Despite Sinking U.S. Sales...”

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    She’s looking around for someone to notice that she’s being kidnapped by that bad man.

  • avatar

    Relocating to a neighborhood where most people don’t drive unless they have no other choice. Brilliant.

    Better off moving to Southern California—I think that worked brilliantly for Ford’s lux brands. :)

    • 0 avatar

      It’s much easier to hire top notch marketing and design people in NYC than Detroit and even California. And you’re actually wrong about driving in NYC. Many people own cars even though objectively it makes no sense. I know multiple Manhattanites that own cars even though they take the subway and uber 99% of the time. They use it for weekend trips out of town and to go shopping where stuff isn’t 10x as much money.

    • 0 avatar

      Bingo, the only reason to relocate to NYC is access to a top notch talent that would not consider a job in Detroit.

  • avatar

    It’s like watching your mom become a pornstar.

  • avatar

    Ideally my next car will be a 2 year old ATS replacement, sometime in 2020.

  • avatar

    ““Our aim is not to park a Cadillac in every driveway, but the right driveways,” ”

    If by the ‘right driveway’ he means dealer lots, mission accomplished.

    CT6 – Big CTS, not a bad car, but a big Caddy with a 4 cylinder?
    CTS – Good in VSPORT and V configurations, but too small to be anything other than a 3 series competitor
    ATS – Same issues with CTS, but smaller car.
    XT5 – Meh. Everything about this SUV is meh.
    Escalade – It’s not a coincidence that the only Cadillac that sells well is big, has a V8, has a real name instead of a model number.

    • 0 avatar

      None of the vehicles they sell today (with the possible exception of the Escalade) say “Cadillac” to me.

      A Coupe De Ville or Sedan De Ville is a Cadillac. A Brougham is a Cadillac. An Eldorado is a Cadillac. I really don’t know what these funny-looking things that don’t even have V8 engines are that they are now pushing out the door.

    • 0 avatar

      The XT5 sells well and Cadillac would sell more if they had the capacity to meet demand (which is why another shift to build the XT5 is in the works).

      And even with capacity strained, the XT5 is on pace to have one of the best sales years ever for the SRX/XT5.

      The CTS and ATS are still acclaimed for their driving dynamics – Car & Driver still lauded the CTS as having the best chassis for driving dynamics, but as the Alpha platform giveth, it taketh in the form of rear passenger space.

      Wouldn’t say that the CTS is a 3 Series competitor in size/room as even its smaller predecessors (the 1G/2G CTS) were larger than the 3 Series.

      The problem is that the CTS has less passenger space than just about anything in its segment and same goes for the ATS (the ATS needed to stay the same size as the 2G CTS for which it replaced).

      Reportedly, their replacements address that issue.

      Don’t know why TTAC keeps writing essentially the same article about Cadillac sales seemingly every month.

      By now, everyone should know that Cadillac sales won’t start to grow in the US until the new crossover models hit the lots.

      Same way that Buick sales have been growing this year (even with the discontinuation of the Verano) due to the addition of the Envision crossover.

      One also has to keep in mind that GM has a “dual-prong” premium/luxury strategy as a # of Buick models compete with certain Acura, Lexus and Lincoln models.

  • avatar

    In the imagery, I believe the marque is attempting to convey the just past middle age successful [?] man with twenty-something in tow. I would point out though of all the Cadillacs to use, they choose the most obvious mommy-mobile in the stable. That guy, doesn’t drive, that POS. Oh and if the intention is “this the sugarbaby’s car”, its even worse.

    ““Our aim is not to park a Cadillac in every driveway, but the right driveways,” he said.”

    Dats raycess, Pen Boy.

    “Next year, Cadillac plans to stake a claim in the lucrative premium compact crossover segment. The XT4 is due out in mid-year as a 2019 model. Another utility vehicle will fill the gap between the XT5 and flagship Escalade the following year, and yet another crossover will appear at the bottom of the lineup sometime after.”

    You people are gonna crash and burn. Can’t wait.

  • avatar

    Of course he’s going to say it’s working. But the numbers don’t support that. The brand would be growing in China whether headquarters was located in Detroit, SoHo or Gary, Indiana. That they’re behind last year’s numbers in the U.S. even with the CT6 and new XT5 in the lineup says a lot. Rather than wasting resources relocating the offices and revamping the model nomenclature, priority one should have been to get some CUV’s in the lineup.

    Kudos to Lincoln for embracing their traditional American luxury roots rather than trying to become America’s BMW. Despite what de Nysschen wants to believe, many Cadillac owners still want the same thing. How do I know? Because the soft, comfy XTS still outsells all their “sport sedan” models, and a mediocre FWD CUV is their best selling model by a long shot.

    • 0 avatar



    • 0 avatar

      Problem isn’t so much going “sportier” – but if going to do that, still need to provide ample rear passenger space (or at the very least, not offer the most cramped rear passenger space within each respective class).

      Remember, the 1G/2G CTS sedans were still striving for the sportier end of the segment, but they were also on the larger side of entry-level, luxury sedan segment (along with the Infiniti G/Q50 sedan).

      The best sales year for the entry-level CTS topped 61.5k.

      And to be fair, the Conti is outselling the CT6 – 4,212 to 3,382 and that’s largely due to a smaller month of CT6 sales in Jan. (the past 3 months of sales have been pretty close).

      And that’s despite the CT6 starting at $53.8k (for the turbo-4) compared to $44.7k for the Continental and the CT6 can top $90k whereas the Conti doesn’t approach anywhere that price at its highest trim/equipment level.

      In addition, Cadillac also has the XTS sedan which is the direct competitor to the Conti – starting at $45.6k and despite its age (and higher price tag), the XTS is still outselling the Conti.

      • 0 avatar

        The Continental in its most basic trim level the Premier starts at $45645 with a 305 HP 3.7 liter V6.
        The Continental in top Black Label AWD trim with all the options and the extra cost 3.0TT V6 goes up to

        The Cadillac CT6 with a 2.0T 4 cylinder with 275 HP meanwhile starts at $54790 or 9145 more than the Lincoln and the fantasyland priced Platinum trim CT6 ends up at 94945 or 14,300 more than the Lincoln!

        Is a RWD based chassis, the same basic sized and powered 3.0TT V6 and that trick rearview camera mirror worth 14,300 more? yes a 5-10K price slash across the board would be a good place to start with the CT6.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the quote from “Stripes”:

    Merchant: You can’t leave that car there! It’s a loading zone!
    John Winger: We’re not parking it, we’re abandoning it.

    So did they just leave it in the middle of intersection, and now they’re jaywalking? Or is it just passing by, and they’re jaywalking?

  • avatar

    “Brand president Johan de Nysschen isn’t worried about recent U.S. sales numbers, however. He’s playing the long game, telling The Detroit News that Cadillac’s planned ascent to ‘standard of the world’ status — a goal he expects to reach within 15 years — is ‘on track.\'”

    IOW, they can’t fire him for another 15 years, or when the brand goes out of business, whichever occurs first.

  • avatar

    No body tell Peter D.
    He will lose his sh#t.

    • 0 avatar

      The first thing I did when I saw this article was go over to AE. I imagine it will be a Rant this week, or mentioned in On The Table.

      Edit: No mention in the Rant that was just posted today, and nothing in On The Table yet.

  • avatar

    It’s working for the executives… Plenty of companies to interview with. Bankers and Lawyers taking them to dinner every night. Not stuck in icky Michigan. Working for the company? Not so much.

    If they really wanted to get closer to the Cadillac shopper, they should have joined Toyota in Metro Dallas

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    “The move attracted top talent from outside the industry, a demographic that now makes up about 80 percent of the company’s New York staff.”

    So 80% of the marketing is from people who have no idea of the industry, brand, and buyers. Well now those insipid ads of brick lined streets, skinny white professionals, persons of unknown ancestry WALKING while the announcer talks about dreaming and not looking back on the past make all sorts of sense.

    My god, those dumb mother****ers.

    Marketing Meeting:

    Marketing A-Hole 1: Cadillac, isn’t that what my step-dad’s father drove? He was in some war or something like that. Hideously gauche. Lot of chrome. You could never park it around here.

    MA 2: I know right! And wasn’t that like a thing that every player on the Knicks had before whatever it is they’re driving now. Seriously, the only Cadillac I ever see is some of the older ones if I get off on the wrong stop driven by guys who look like a walking Wu Tang tribute.

    MA 3: And then let’s not forgot that everyone across the river whose name ends in an O bought one during the Sopranos. No getting around that.

    MA 4: That guy that came from Detroit, supposedly he grew up in Michigan. He said something about factory guys and professionals buying these.

    MA 5: Wait, lawyers and doctors buy these? Where, Michigan? Anyplace else *snickers.* Seriously, professionals = German, it’s the wives we have to convince. RX, AT, they’re not going to know.

    MA 6: Let’s take the demo to some place in Park Slope. I know, little charcuterie and cocktails at Chelsea Renaud and get some feedback.

    Its great that the Chinese love ’em. Good for them. In the meantime – keep on with your AT, CX, DXH (just don’t dare mention the Escalade) and let us know how domestic sales pan out. Because no buyer exhibits brand loyalty like homogeneous affluent white women in the crossover market.

    Not that I want to give any advice – but maybe consider what happened when y’all neglected targeting the trillion dollar buying power in the African American community. Lexus wasn’t sleeping – and they have those customers. Then of course, there is the Americans of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Brazilian descent. To be fair – you kind of ignore them too. You know, kind of like all of those blue collar guys who hailed from Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Greece. Saved the world from the Nazis and then went back to work.

    I seem to recall my neighborhood in Boston was divided into two camps: the Dominicans and their Lincoln Town Cars vs. the Cubans with the Brougham D’Elegance. These newcomers always kept their rides in immaculate condition, even in January. Funny, these guys were small business owners too.

    Well Caddie, and your Manhattan marketing gurus, you all do you, and we’ll all adapt. You know, if you are really successful and drive the residuals on an Escalade into the ground, I just might pick up one third hand. Best of luck with the yoga moms in Westchester and the retirees on Sanabelle Island!

    • 0 avatar

      Did you just say Cadillac has NOT targeted the black market? I’d venture to say at least 25% of every Escalade I have ever seen was driven by a black dude.

      • 0 avatar
        Frank Galvin

        Cadillac has had a history of active engagement with black consumer who have been nothing but loyal to the brand. But -they’re no long actively targeting that segment for new car sales like they did in the 90s and early 2000’s.

        Read these for a little perspective:

    • 0 avatar

      Frank: your observation about old school Italian American admiration of Cadillac is on point. My late father, a factory worker whose parents were Sicilian-born, was a GM person for most of his life, if you don’t count his first car, a used 1959 Rambler American. (He learned to drive later in life, in his 40s, perhaps due in part to the cost of owning a vehicle and also because his community, an inner suburb of Chicago, was walkable and had decent public transportation options at the time.) His car history after the Rambler: 1969 Chevy Impala, 1977 Chevy Impala, 1984 Chevy Monte Carlo. By 1991, my father had suffered from a stroke and no longer drove; the influence of my mother, hailing from a Ford family, led to the purchase of 1991 Thunderbird while I drove the Monte Carlo in college.

      In spite of having owned three Chevrolets, my dad’s dream car was always a Cadillac. He used to tell me “nothing rides as nice as a Cadillac!” Looking back, I’m unsure why he didn’t progress up the GM ladder of brands, but being a Depression-era kid I believe he valued having money in the bank more than driving a certain type of car. (He always paid cash for his cars.) I still recall when his brother-in-law, also Italian American, who for a time had worked alongside my dad in the same factory, had purchased his last vehicle around 1989 or so, a Chevy Caprice Classic Brougham. He was very proud of that car and he’d say to my dad, “It’s top-of-the-line, Mike, top-of-the-line!”

      Indeed, the downcycling of some luxury features into Chevy models, e.g., power windows and door locks, velour interiors (vs. vinyl), etc., allowed both men a taste of Cadillac ownership, something to which I think they aspired but never achieved. I believe having experienced extreme poverty early in life led them both to be frugal, even after they had securely retired in the 1980s and could readily afford such a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Frank Galvin

        Frankev – great observation. Both of my grandfathers were children of the depression, both had Irish ancestry, one more than the other. Neither had a college degree. One went into sales and would never consider financing a car – cash or no deal. He retired owning a ’85 Crown Vic woody wagon, loaded with the dual exhaust trailer package, and traded that for a plain jane Crown Vic (’95) that he kept till he passed. His family lost everything in the depression.

        The other one was an only child whose family had always worked for a railroad. No one lost their job, and when he came home from the war, he had lifetime employment. Fords, then big buicks, then a succession of Caddies at retirement. “Nothing rides like a Cadillac” – I heard that!

      • 0 avatar

        Norrige or Harwood Heights?

        • 0 avatar

          Melrose Park; the factory was in Maywood until the 1960s, when it moved to the NW suburbs. My dad did a sort of reverse commute for awhile until moving closer to work in the early 1970s.

  • avatar

    Cowboy with tired old horse heads to the city for one last throw of the shoe.

    Not a good omen as NYC streets were liberated of dead horse carcus & manure a century ago…

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Where I live, we have a lot of second homers from NYC as well as weekenders also from the NY region. Most have money. And I can tell you that the the majority of what they drive are what you might expect: Audis, BMWs, Mercedeses, Lexuses, Subarus, etc. Even an occasional Infinity. But what you never ever see is a Cadillac. Never. Not even once.

    • 0 avatar

      JdN is on the case from the window seat of his Soho coffee shop. Those New Yorkers will be demanding Cadillac when he is finished.


    • 0 avatar

      Ditto with the second homers in MY area, no Cadillacs.

      Lotsa young naturally-blond babes with old codgers, though. Many of those young babes driving BMW 3-series or 5-series.

      Ah, makes a man feel young.

      Cadillac makes a man feel his oats.

      • 0 avatar

        The reaction of others is better. In my BMW, folks scatter from the left lane but don’t ever let you into a merge. In the Caddy, folks tend to assume you are the blockage and act accordingly, but are way more likely to let you into a merge. My driving habits haven’t changed as far as I can tell.

        I had one guy in his civic work very hard to get around me….which was fun when traffic opened and he was left standing.

        As others have noted, Caddy is rare in some of the better burbs…ok, most of the better burbs. I see more tesla than CTS of all gens combined. If it wasn’t for a neighbor with the second gen wagon, it’s be me alone. I finally saw a CTS Vsport in the wild yesterday. as ever, around here, cool kids drive Audi…

        • 0 avatar

          We have no traffic congestion in my area until we come upon a good-sized city, nearest one to me is El Paso, TX, 100miles south.

          Once you hit those bigger cities, traffic just slows down to a crawl, and, like you wrote, “folks ….. don’t ever let you into a merge”.

          Lots of people with money in MY desolate area, though. Most of them escapees from the East and West Coasts.

          But very few Caddies, of any kind.

          Luxo German brands like M-B, BMW and Audi, Indian brands like JLR, or Chinese brand like Volvos, see a lot of those. A few Infinity and Lexus for the less well-heeled.

          A friend of mine recently cashed out of CA and bought in Sedona, AZ (North of Phoenix).

          He told me that is the new destination of choice for the nuveaux riche.

    • 0 avatar

      I theoretically want to buy a new Cadillac, but they don’t want me. Guess I’m not the “right driveway” for the Johan.

    • 0 avatar

      I see tons of the Range Rover, GLS, Cayenne, X5 and even a good # of the G-wagon and the Bentayga (one Bentayga owner parks his/hers on the street).

      The Yukon XL Denali is pretty popular as well, but the toned down (“less blingy”) Escalade has started to catch up to the Denali.

      See a lot more of the Denali/ Escalade Yukon than the Lexus LX/GX.

      Now Cadillac sedans are another thing – only seen a couple of the CT6 around, but then again, don’t see too many of the LS460 around either (and the ones that are around are driven by the senior set).

      Heck, see more Maseratis around than the CT6 or the LS460.

      • 0 avatar

        Same sort of demograph in my neighborhood – lots of engineers, professors, and even a handful of computer programmers like myself. Also a smattering of old money. Honda Odyssey is the preferred mommy-mobile with a Tahoe/Suburban/Escalade a close second.

        Other cars: its BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, a few Infinitis, and then the more pedestrian VW, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or some generic CUV. A Cadillac is a rare thing.

        I grew up with two Cadillacs – a ’77 and an ’81 Fleetwood that my dad drove. They were old cars back in the 80s but he liked ’em for his job which consisted of driving 40-50k miles a year. Those Cadillacs had “presence” and comfort. And while not fast, they were competent cruisers that required very little effort to drive.

  • avatar

    Cadillac has access to better talent now that they’re in NYC instead of Detroit. It was a smart move.

    As far as sales go, we’ll see what happens once Lincoln starts Navigatin’ again. If it even comes close to unseating the Escalade as the brash and bold American luxury SUV, and based on that interior and exterior, it has a chance, Cadillac might be in trouble.

    At least they have a head start now that the Navi is coming this summer.

    • 0 avatar

      Talent for what, snagging more snowflakes writing for the J. Peterman Catalog?

      Unless somehow there is some large pool of automotive engineering, innovative product developers, or strong business leadership, it was a desperate move to find new liars and con men to help move snake oil. There are many reasons this brand has floundered for twenty years, and all of the sudden trying to find new “talent” at the eleventh hour is not going to turn the ship around. Resale always tells a story, these people have not cared about that for at least the last thirty years.

      • 0 avatar

        Automotive engineers that are tired of living in Michigan will happily move to NYC and there plenty of product developers and business leaders in NYC.

        Staying in Detroit would have done more harm than good.

        • 0 avatar

          “Automotive engineers that are tired of living in Michigan will happily move to NYC”

          This has probably happened but I can’t see this being the norm. Salary increasing 25-50% won’t match cost of living going up 150% vs Michigan.

  • avatar

    I got a CTS as a rental recently. I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. Would I buy one? Probably not.

  • avatar

    well said JKRoss!

    The move to Manhattan was, and is, a waste of money.

    The ATS and CTS are excellent cars, but OVERPRICED.

    So they are sales losers. DyNyschere and Uwe are very gifted–at self promotion, and making a lot of money at GM’s expense.

  • avatar

    What makes a brand successful? Or, in Cadillac’s case, what makes a luxury brand, with a select clientele successful? Once lost, that image is hard to recover.

    Mercedes certainly has it, and has never lost it since they became the luxury brand.

    BMW still has it, though there is some argument on how well they are keeping the “brand” intact.

    Lexus, in a short time, managed to develop their brand to one that recognized and successful.

    Cadillac needs to take a leaf out of the Lexus playbook – build cars that are _cheaper_ than the German 3, but offer better reliability, or at least higher levels of luxury. The problem is, GM doesn’t know how to do this. Their cars are better than before but still don’t have the deserved Toyota/Lexus reputation for reliability. Their interiors still aren’t as good as the competition, and with drivers caring less about driving dynamics, their quest to beat BMW, which no longer makes “driver’s cars”, is a foolish one.

    Conundrum indeed.

    GM can call me any time for consultation ;)

  • avatar

    “Our aim is not to park a Cadillac in every driveway, but the right driveways.” So, Enterprise is one of the “right driveways?”

  • avatar

    GM is literally a half decade late to the premium compact crossover game

    They have probably given away half a million units or so to competitors

  • avatar

    LOL yes we needed to move to New York to be able to sell XT5s to still largely middle America types that will buy them.

  • avatar

    “Move is Working, Despite Sinking U.S. Sales” Interesting. When is the move not supposed to have worked? When sales are up?

  • avatar

    Eminence Front.
    Eminence Front.
    It’s a PUT ON.

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