By on August 4, 2017

2017 Cadillac ATSL China - Image: GM ChinaExpand your horizons. See the forest, not just the trees. Look west of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Cadillac sales plunged in the United States in July 2017, dropping by more than a fifth to only 11,227 units. That 22-percent dive was the worst for Cadillac’s U.S. operations since April of last year. The 11,227-sale result represented a five-month low for Cadillac in the United States and the lowest-volume since 2011.

But Cadillac is increasingly a less U.S.-centric automotive brand. Just three short years ago, two-thirds of Cadillac’s volume was produced in its American home market. Fast forward to July 2017 and the majority of Cadillac’s volume isn’t produced in the market where it’s suffering from such dwindling demand.

Rather, Cadillac generates the bulk of its global volume outside of America, where Cadillac demand is rapidly increasing.

In July, sales of Cadillacs in China jumped 37 percent to 12,006 units, the fourth consecutive month in which Cadillac has found more buyers in China than the United States.

Yet China’s rapid Cadillac growth in July was nothing compared to what the brand has achieved so far this year. Cadillac’s China volume is up 69 percent so far this year to 92,363 units, 11-percent more than what Cadillac has managed in the United States.

Just one year ago, Cadillac was producing 35 percent of its global volume in China. In 2017, that figure has jumped to 49 percent, with Cadillac China now selling just as many vehicles as Cadillac sells across all of North America.

With plans in place for Cadillac to built an XT crossover model (to slot below the XT5) alongside the Chevrolet Malibu in Fairfax, Kansas next year, and a subsequent launch of a three-row utility vehicle above the XT5 but below the Escalade, Cadillac’s U.S. ship could be quickly turned around. For the time being, however, Cadillac is suffering in the United States because of a sedan lineup that lacked popularity before the U.S. market became rebelliously anti-car. Now that the uncommon first-generation ATS, third-generation CTS, and aged XTS (all bound for dismissal) are linked to sectors in which even formerly popular luxury cars are struggling, U.S. sales are plunging rapidly.

U.S. sales of the ATS, CTS, and XTS were chopped in half in July, a loss of 2,150 sales that had very little to do with GM’s attempt to rein in fleet sales. Cadillac sold only 848 vehicles to fleets in July 2016; a figure which fell to 700 in July 2017.2017 Cadillac XT5 - Image: GM ChinaMeanwhile, a modest year-over-year increase to 890 CT6 sales (actually a 2017 five-month low) did little to offset the decline. Moreover, Escalade volume was up by only 157 units and joint SRX/XT5 sales were down 12 percent.

Yet with improvements in Cadillac’s smaller markets — Canadian sales jumped 41 percent last month — and booming China volume, Cadillac’s global successes produced the brand’s 14th consecutive year-over-year monthly improvement via a 2-percent July uptick.

Cadillac nevertheless remains a small global player in the luxury arena. While Cadillac produced 189,461 sales around the world in the first seven months of 2017, Mercedes-Benz sold 187,869 vehicles (vans excluded) in the United States alone.

[Image: General Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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41 Comments on “Cadillac Sales Volume Plunged in July 2017, or Did It?...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    Between Buick and Caddy, sounds like GM has a decent China strategy.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Paging DW…

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    It’s time to move Cadillac’s HQ to Shanghai.

    They can have a really cool, hipsterish Cadillac House of Tea & hairy crab there, too.

    I’m being genuinely serious.

    In fact, produce all parts that go into current and future Cadillac there, and assemble them there, also.

    At this point, if I were advising Mary Barra, this is what I’d advise.

    • 0 avatar
      ttiguy

      But you’re not advising Mary. You’re sitting in the basement, angrily spewing nonsense about a car brand on a dumb website. That’s what YOU’RE doing.

      Seriously why so angry about Cadillac/GM? Were you fired? Just a contract worker let go? There is something more it…..

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I’m t-3 hours from being on a 48- Sea Ray Sundancer, assuming the weather holds.

        I despise Cadillac because they’re executives have committed corporate malpractice, in terms that meet and even exceed gross recklessness, and have consequently ruined one of history’s most storied vehicle brands, p!sssing away a hundred years of hard-won goodwill, accolades, heritage and pride (not to mention market share and profits) in their pathecicness.

        It’s as simple as that.

        You must be a GM contract-worker, with job insecurity, furiously typing away upon the keyboard in your mom’s basement, yo.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    I for one love the ATS. I think the styling of the XT5 is a mistake, and dismal reviews about the suspension don’t help. Having more crossovers will help in the US, but the current lineup overall needs improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Cadillac no longer exists, aside from the Escalade, which is a perversion and ironic footnote as to GM’s history), as it once did.

      Cadillac is akin to a knock-off BMW wannabe competitor, at this point.

      It makes perfect sense to further seize upon its momentum in China, given its perception in the market place and the merits (or lack thereof) of its vehicles, to build it up in, and build it in, China, at this point.

      Make Cadillac a an aspirational Chinese brand.

      Ship some excess production over to the U.S. and some other select, few countries with a dwindling population of consumers with an affinity for the marque.

    • 0 avatar
      jmiller417

      Cadillac cars suffer from the brand image. The brand has shifted its emphasis from cushy luxury but done zero marketing to explain that. Friends deride my ATS as an old man’s car and ask if I can drive it with one finger… and then they drive it. A friend of mine asked for the first option to buy my car after a 10-minute spin on some curvy backroads.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve had a bunch of comments from folks who’ve driven the CTS, and come away amazed….OK, its the second gen, RWD, with the CTS-V steering box which you’d only get with RWD and FE2 or FE3….and has the FE3 shocks, which are OE bilsteins. You love or hate the Arts and Science look, and Genuine GM parts are their own thing, but the chassis engineers targeted the E/older 5 series, and hit the target. None of this applies to the 95% of CTS with the AWD system, they got STS steering…..

  • avatar
    65corvair

    If only GM could figure the U.S. market and get China like performance here.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Cadillac have not really gone global. It’s simply gone to a relatively new market (China) for premium cars and won some sales. Caddilac is no where outside China and the US.

    There are only really 3 big players in he premium car market that are truly global. They are BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Their nearest rival is probably JLR who I understand are running at 50% of BMWs total sales volumes (excluding Mini)…. In numbers I believe JLR are expecting to sell about 800,000 cars over the next 12 months globally with BMW heading north of 1.6 million. These numbers are what global sucess really looks like. In short Caddillac needs to find a way into Europe and right now they are nowhere.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I realize that Audi is VW Premium, but VW not only is one of the majors (foreign auto company with huge JV partner in China), but it was one of the first, if not first (major) in Chinese domestic market.

      (I believe that GM with SAIC as government-forced JV was 2nd in size and time there).

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Tstag – its even worse than you say, because the Big 3 Germans also sell a lot of units in Japan, S. Korea, India, the Middle-East, Russia, etc. where Cadillac is a very minor player at best or non-existent at worst. Cadillac just doesn’t have the volume to design and market zippy diesel engines, innovative hybrids and EVs, prestigious V-12s, etc. like the Germans are doing to grow their share in markets around the world. Cadillac should be in Europe, Japan, etc., but they just don’t have the resources to make significant inroads by offering the type of vehicles that various global markets want.

      • 0 avatar
        dmoan

        Just pointing out Volkswagen and Audi actually don’t have presence in India and Volkswagen has been in decline in China.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          dmoan – I don’t have sales figures, but I’ve seen several Audi reviews on Youtube from Autocar India that indicate they do have some market presence.

          • 0 avatar
            dmoan

            Yea they sell there but Indian car market for Luxury brands is very small we are talking about less than percent of a percent. Also i made typo in my previous post meant to say Audi not Volkswagen is on decline China, in fact Cadillac is expected to overtake Audi in a year or two which is pretty hilarious.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        stringray,
        “they just don’t have the resources to make significant inroads by offering the type of vehicles that various global markets want”

        This appears to be a US sort of problem. Yes there are a few vehicles that are doing okay and okay is the operative word here.

        The problem is as Trump highlighted, “Why are you Germans not buying American cars and Americans are buying lots of German cars.”

        It the makeup of the US market, and I’ve been harping on about the seriousness of the way in which the US automotive industry has a raft of barriers, tariffs, etc catering for large, low quality large vehicles that are locally produced.

        The US really needs to sit down and have a look at existing regulations, controls and tariffs affecting it’s vehicle industry.

        They are not positive.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Big Al – the global success of US automakers suffers from the unique conditions of the US market. Until the 1970s the large car market (Impala, LTD, Fury, DeVille, Continental, New Yorker, etc.) was by far the most profitable in the world due to huge volume, cheap technology, and relatively high prices, and protected from foreigners who have had to design smaller/high technology vehicles that can be sold in home markets featuring heavily taxed fuel and/or engine displacement taxes. Pickups and SUVS have become the most profitable vehicles in the world since CAFE killed large cars for the same reasons. No automaker in the world makes a profit from a vehicle line as high as Ford makes from the F-150. Such high profits and volume in the US market have tended to make management fat, dumb, and happy, and to look down at the relatively small profits to be made in small cars, or “small” markets such as Japan and Germany. They just have never been willing to invest the time and money to build cars, dealer networks, and the brand reputation to be successful in markets outside the US where they weren’t already successful before WWII. And in foreign markets where they have been strong such as Opel and Ford in Europe and Holden and Ford in Oz, they haven’t invested enough to stay strong, because the profits just haven’t been attractive relative to US market profits on large cars/trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            NN

            This is an excellent explanation for the general US corporate attitude towards export markets. Why try so hard for thin margins when they can dedicate resources to low hanging fruit that produces big #’s? Easier to lobby the US government to create beneficial policies (like the small business tax write off on heavy duty pickups) that help US automakers almost exclusively. The short term focus is driven by everyone looking at quarterly/annual figures, not long term. It’s a systemic problem in our economy and mindset.

            Silicon Valley based companies, on the other hand, have been very international minded from the start. Yes, a lot of them compete in intangibles that are easier to replicate worldwide, but Tesla, for one, is a successful example of a company that can make a product that people will buy anywhere.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    I no longer see Cadillac as a luxury marque, I see Cadillac as a brand w/o a center, no longer having an identity.

    The ex-Audi guy stinks. To be relevant in the US, Cadillac can be only on thing, American luxury. And under its current flailing leadership it is eschewing that and futilely chasing the Germans who will always be better at being German.

  • avatar
    Commando

    Time to trim yet another make from GM. It’s that simple.
    And while we’re add it, kill GMC. I never understood that.
    And I’m 68 years old so I’ve had over 50 years to ponder that.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Commando – GMC hasn’t had a reason to exist since the 1960s except for the fact that they are probably the second most profitable brand in the GM portfolio after Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        GMC is doing really well for GM, but if GM is going to be serious about Denali being a “premium” sub-brand, then they have do a better job with the quality of interior materials (esp. with the prices they are charging).

        • 0 avatar

          While Commando and stingray65 are absolutely correct…GMC basically gives Buick dealers a truck to sell.

          All GM needs to do is continue to pattern Chevrolet the way FoMoCo did with the Ford brand, which IMO is what GM should’ve been doing since about 1982.

          If successful, GMC and Buick will both become redundant and can simply go away as Chevrolet covers those bases as Ford currently does.

  • avatar
    GoHuskers

    I long for the days when proper English grammar and spelling were used and editors existed:

    “With plans in place for Cadillac to built an XT crossover model (to slot below the XT5) alongside the Chevrolet Malibu in Fairfax…”

  • avatar
    bd2

    How many times are we going to see the same articles about Cadillac sales?

    Yes – Cadillac sales in the US will be hurting until it gets the new crossovers added to its lineup.

    Ironically, Cadillac sedan sales in the US would be better if the ATS and CTS had originally been developed to have the same passenger space as the LWB versions sold in China.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Keep talking about the CUVs and other better-positioned products Cadillac will be getting, as you have for years on TTAC, now.

      By the time they actually get a proper lineup of potentially competitive CUVs, the market will be even more saturated with CUVs, from ma manufacturers directly in the line of sight Cadillac aspires to compete head on with.

      CUV saturation is going to be a real issue in as soon as 2 years, and will affect the segment Cadillac wants to compete in a more concentrated way (leading to dilution of sales) than any other – it’s one thing to see Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, Honda, Ford, etc have 5 to 8 CUVs each, but wait and watch and see what happens when Lexus, Acura, Audi, Mercedes, BMW etc have a similar number of CUVs each.

      Every prediction I’ve made about Cadillac has come to actual fruition in the real world. I can’t remember a single prediction you’ve made, based on your years of babbling regarding how great Johan, Uwe and Melody are going to make Cadillac, any day now (while their sales decline to the lowest point since 2011 in red-hot market for the last 6 years).

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        GM people have been talking this way since the late 70s. The next “game changer” is just around the corner. Did the Volt change any game? I already forgot the name of the Caddy version. How many did they sell? Saturn anyone? Bankruptcy. Bail out. The list of failures is almost endless. During this same time, Toyota was establishing one of the most enduring quality reputations of any brand in world history. GM has made some fantastic vehicles over the last 40 years, but as a company, they have squandered every opportunity to be great. They are like a great young athlete who decides he’d rather just smoke weed and play video games. It makes you want to puke.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          “…AUTOMOTION BLOG

          5 Car Quality Myths, Busted

          BY ETHAN WEST, OCTOBER 16, 2015

          In today’s world, perception seems to become reality. What people believe orperceive to be true is, quite often, accepted as truth or reality, whether or not the facts (or, in this case, research data) support that belief or perception. One area where the perception vs. reality issue is most prevalent is in the automotive industry. Thankfully, we’re here to set the record straight. Following are five car quality myths that are just that: myths.

          1. Korean Cars Have Poor Quality
          Hyundai and Kia have been selling cars in the United States for over 20 years now. Both brands entered the U.S. marketplace positioning their cars with a strong value proposition but offering little in the way of quality and reliability. Over the years, however, both brands’ vehicles have matured in every way, offering more exciting styling, attractive interiors, more features, and making large leaps in quality. It wasn’t until about five years ago that both Hyundai and Kia took another substantial step and started making cars that gave consumers no excuses. No longer were their offerings “almost as good as” Japanese and American offerings. They were right there playing on the same court.

          Despite significant product quality gains, Hyundai and Kia find themselves in the unenviable position where consumer perception takes much longer to change than it does to evolve their product lines. According to the J.D. Power 2015 Avoider Study,SM 14% of new car shoppers avoid Hyundai and Kia vehicles due to a perception of poor quality. The Avoider Study surveys buyers of new vehicles and asks them why they chose to avoid, reject, or purchase particular models. While 14% of new car shoppers avoid these Korean brands due to perceived quality issues, Kia ranks second and Hyundai fourth among 33 nameplates in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), which measures new-vehicle quality after 90 days of ownership.

          It’s this gap between perception and actual quality where the myth lays that Korean cars have poor quality. As the products themselves have improved, avoidance of the Hyundai and Kia brands has been easing over time, falling from 20% avoidance for poor quality in 2010 to its current figure of 14%. This drop in avoidance aligns with Hyundai and Kia’s last three years of IQS results, where both brands have scored higher than industry average. As the two brands continue to improve their products, the outdated perception that Korean cars have poor quality is just that: outdated.

          2. Japanese Cars Have the Best Quality
          Japanese brands built themselves a bulletproof reputation back in the 1980s and 1990s by building cars that were much more reliable than their competition at the time. During that time, the Korean car companies were still finding their footing in the American market, European brands were too rooted in their ways to change the way they built their cars, and American automakers were raking in profits and had little motivation to change their approach to building cars. Toyota and Honda were the clear leaders in terms of quality and reliability, but eventually this positive association trickled down to any Japanese carmaker.

          Fast forward to 2015 and the Korean car companies—Hyundai and Kia—have most definitely found their footing, European brands finally woke up and realized they have to do better, and American manufacturers received a significant wakeup call a few years ago when the economic crisis hit, and have finally sobered up because of it. So where does this leave the Japanese manufacturers?

          To lump all Japanese cars into the stereotype that they have the best quality would be incorrect. In the 2015 IQS, the highest-ranked Japanese auto brand, Infiniti, ranks fifth overall. Additionally, only four in 10 Japanese nameplates rank above the industry average for quality after 90 days of ownership. In the same study, eight in 27 segment award recipients hail from Japanese nameplates. Certainly not bad in any way, but not exactly the full takeover one may expect compared to common perception. Make no mistake, Japanese manufacturers are producing competitive products, but the fact of the matter is that so are allmanufacturers these days, regardless of their origin. As for the common belief that Japanese cars have the best quality, it’s time to cue the Frozen soundtrack and let it go…” J.D. Power

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        @DW

        Yeah, I’ve been talking about it for the past few years now – and exactly what has CHANGED?

        The additions to Cadillac’s crossover lineup have still yet to arrive (will start next year) – so of course, Cadillac sales have been stagnant or seen a downturn.

        As for “CUV saturation” – sure, there may be some of that, but having CUVs in most, if not all the major, segments is much, much better than not having them.

        Forget conquest sales, but concentrate on Cadillac (sedan) owners looking to move to a compact or full-size (3-row) CUV.

        Right now, they are moving to other brands (including some to Buick) as Cadillac doesn’t yet offer anything in those segments.

        The upcoming X7, 3-rwo RX, etc. will be “late to the party”; you think BMW and Lexus would be better without having them?

        The Buick Envision was relatively late to the party in the premium compact CUV segment – but is selling well (even for a Chinese import).

        Speaking of Buick, the brand has gone from a yearly sales low of 102k in 2009 to 230k last year.

        That’s more than Acura or Infiniti.

        Despite the Verano having been discontinued, LaCrosse sales and Regal sales being down (the new liftback Regal should lift sales back to around where it was), Buick should remain in pretty good shape with the Encore, Envision and esp. when the new Enclave arrives.

        Wanna bet whether Cadillac sales sees an upturn in the US once they get the new crossovers (as well as a properly sized ATS replacement)?

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          And oh, btw, – you haven’t “predicted” anything that most here haven’t seen coming.

          From the very start, stated that the ATS and CTS had a fundamental flaw (due to the Alpha platform) which would really sting them on sales compared to the competition – that being the lack of passenger space (among a few other things).

          The 1G/2G CTS sold well and continued to sell well even as it aged – that’s b/c it offer copious amounts of passenger space compared to the competition at the time.

          Going from offering the roomiest passenger space to the least was stupidity at its finest.

          But that’s just one of many stupid mistakes that the previous regime at Cadillac had made (another, for example, was developing the Alpha platform so that it was unsuitable for CUV-duty).

          As for JdN, I’ve defended him in part b/c it’s too early to come to any sort of conclusion about his leadership at Cadillac as there haven’t been any new Cadillac models with his fingerprint on the lots.

          We’ll see in a few years time.

  • avatar

    US sales of Cadillac is due to lousy marketing anything else is bullshit.

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