It's been a long time since Cadillac enjoyed sales leadership of the U.S. luxury segment -- 1997, to be exact. But now, both Cadillac and its counterpart at Ford Motor, Lincoln, want to re-assert their relevance to an American premium-vehicle market where they're no longer even in the same ballpark these days with current volume front-runners BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
Cadillac executives said this week that they intend to double the brand's U.S. sales volume, to some 294,000 vehicles a year, within the next couple of years on the back of a portfolio overhaul that envisions the launch of 10 all-new or significantly upgraded vehicles within the next three years, starting with the ATS small sedan that is trickling into dealer showrooms right now.
"We are slugging it out in the right way for No. 1 in luxury" Don Butler, Cadillac's vice president of marketing, told auto journalists.
But any gains remain in the future for Cadillac, despite the fact that it introduced a new XTS sedan in June. For one thing, GM executives have been infusing the Buick brand with new vehicles and marketing emphasis the last couple of years. Cadillac's sales for the year remain about 12 percent behind a year earlier, the worst relative performance of any GM division.
Meantime, Lincoln has fared even worse than Cadillac. Its sales through July eased by nearly 2 percent compared with a year ago, which already was the second year of a three-year decline during which Ford essentially has ignored the Lioncoln product line-up in favor of turning out one new Ford after another.
At last, the long wait for dwindling fans of the Lincoln brand will end this fall when Lincoln launches a new version of its MKZ sedan, sporting a distinctive new design including a "waterfall" grille that was unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. Now Lincoln plans to introduce one all-new product during each of the next four years, giving it a refreshed presence in the individual segments that total about 80 percent of the U.S. luxury market.
In concert with the MKZ launch, Lincoln spokesman Tom Kowaleski told brandchannel, "You'll begin to see the real, reinvented brand at the end of the year."