By on October 11, 2017

Beijing Cadillac Arena Wukesong - Image: CadillacBy the slimmest of margins, Cadillac’s U.S. operations put an end to China’s repeated dominance of Cadillac’s sales charts in August 2017.

But after Americans acquired two more Cadillacs than the Chinese did in August, normal order returned in September 2017. 49 percent of the Cadillacs sold around the world last month were delivered in China, where volume rose 38 percent, year-over-year.

Perhaps of greater consequence to Cadillac’s New York HQ is the fact that September sales not only increased in China but also in the U.S., Canada, and in its rest-of-the-world markets.

September was the 16th consecutive month of global Cadillac sales improvement. Naturally much of the credit belongs to the Cadillac XT5.

Cadillac sales chart by market 2017 - Image: The Truth About CarsOf course, Cadillac remains an exceptionally low-volume automotive brand, not just by the standards of Ford or Toyota or Chevrolet, but even compared with top-tier luxury marques. Cadillac’s global volume soared in September 2017 to 35,020 units.

By comparison, Mercedes-Benz sold 36,559 vehicles (excluding commercial vans) in the U.S. and Canada alone, another 100,000+ in Europe, and 51,127 in China. The E-Class, on its own, accounts for nearly as much global volume as the entire Cadillac brand. Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs produced more than twice as many global sales in September as the whole Cadillac brand. Moreover, Cadillac’s global streak of improvement pales in comparison to Mercedes-Benz, where global records have been broken in 55 consecutive months.2018 Cadillac XT5 - Image: CadillacPart of the reason for Cadillac’s comparative global weakness is its dearth of passenger car demand. 40 percent of the brand’s global volume stems from the XT5. In the U.S., two-thirds of Cadillac’s sales come from the SUV/crossover department. Meanwhile, Cadillac’s U.S. passenger car volume plunged by nearly a quarter through the first nine months of 2017, a loss of nearly 12,000 sales for the brand. As a result, despite the 9-percent uptick in utility vehicle sales, total U.S. Cadillac volume is down 5 percent this year, slowing at more than twice the rate of the overall industry.

But China is providing the necessary boost to inflate Cadillac’s numbers and confidence. Cadillac’s 38-percent China improvement equalled 4,709 additional sales — for 17,248 in total — last month, driving the brand’s volume up to 124,625 through the first three-quarters of 2017.

While the U.S. has lost 5,440 Cadillac sales so far this year, China has added nearly 48,000.

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

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

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16 Comments on “That Brief Spell in Which America Was Cadillac’s Biggest Market Ended in September 2017...”

  • avatar

    Maybe Cadillac should just give up on cars already. Crossovers, it would seem, rule.

  • avatar

    Cadillac really needs to stop pretending to be BMW. Most people who are interested in a premium sports sedan want either the genuine article or brand image to impress their neighbors. Cadillac does not deliver here, despite their capabilities.

    Maybe instead of trying to sell a “better” BMW to an indifferent crowd of car shoppers, they should go back to selling brash, American “image cars”.

    Back when I worked at a Cadillac dealership in the early 2000’s, black DeVilles and Escalades were flying off the lot. Think “Sopranos”…

    • 0 avatar

      Ugh, no.

      Everyone who wants a brash American luxobarge should buy an Escalade. The Deville should die and stay buried.

      Cadillac really does make nice sport sedans and coupes. They drive like bmws, but with a modern interior. Sort of what an Acura used to be. If anything, Cadillac needs to try harder at shedding the image that they’re for old people. Everytime i see some grey hair driving a fucking landau top CTS, it reinforces my decision to switch when my lease is up.

    • 0 avatar

      That wasn’t the problem.

      The problem was “shrinking” its sedans (mainly the ATS and 3G CTS) so that they were had among the tightest, if not the tightest in case of the ATS, rear passenger space withing their respective segments.

      The 1G/2G CTS did very well when it was one of the larger entries in the compact/entry level segment (in contrast to the much smaller ATS).

      Another major misstep was having developed the Alpha platform so that it was unsuitable for CUV-duty.

      Due to that, JdN had to give up on his wanting Cadillac crossovers to be RWD-based and Cadillac had to wait until GM’s new FWD crossover platforms were ready (hence, the long delay).

  • avatar

    And thus commences today’s Two Minutes Hate on Cadillac…

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Timothy, sorry but based on the figures you provided the math does not add up.

    You claim that Mercedes sells twice as many E class cars as all global Cadillac sales. However your figures for sales for all non commercial vehicle Mercedes add up to 87,686 sales in North America (excluding Mexico) and China, compared to 248,653 Cadillac sales in the same markets.

    Then you go on to state that Mercedes sells 100,000+ in Europe.

    Well then for Mercedes to sell double what Cadillac sells globally that would mean that the rest of the world would need to purchase more than 325,540 Mercedes.

  • avatar

    In the 1970s, Cadillac was selling 6+ times the cars that MB or BMW were in the States, but virtually nothing anywhere else, while the Germans were building sales all over Europe, Japan, South Africa, Middle-East, etc., while steadily growing their US share. In the 80s while Cadillac quality was slipping and they were introducing new 125 hp pushrod V-8s, the Germans were developing 300+ hp OHC V-12s, 180+hp OHC 6s and ever grander models. Its too late now for Cadillac – the Germans have won this war.

  • avatar

    How are those Cadillac coffee bars doin?

    Search this:

    The car brand’s latest bid for millennial relevance calls in the big gun: caffeine.

    not really.

  • avatar

    Unit sales may catch headlines, but the most important sales number is the one with this symbol ($) in front of it. GM still gets the bulk of its profits in North America. I assume that goes for Cadillac sales too, no?

  • avatar

    Cadillac’s long road downhill began when GM got greedy and wanted more volume. (started around 1965) In so doing, they killed one of Cadillac’s most endearing traits to its target market: EXCLUSIVITY.

    All else aside, they need to re-adopt a philosophy in which there will always be one less Cadillac built than the market demands.

    Master this and many of their current woes will become little more than fodder for car blogs. Their profit-per-unit will be the envy of the industry.

    If in the process they actually become a builder of great vehicles again, that will be a plus. But exclusivity is that important to the buyers Cadillac should be wishing to attract. They can’t build enough coffee bars to overcome this one issue…create desire by creating exclusivity.

  • avatar

    While their numbers may pale in comparison to the luxury rivals, I’d point out that growth is growth.

    Hate all you will about history and where things went wrong as a brand, but they’re now moving more metal outside of where they are home team, and selling more year over year. They’ve been building better cars, and the dark days are being put further and further behind them.

    If they continue making in roads into markets which are actively growing, that’s moving in the right direction.

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