DETROIT -- Cadillac plans to sell 50,000 units of the CTS in 2004, making it the best year in the model's three-year history.
Since its debut in 2002, Cadillac has increased CTS sales by limiting initial supply and adding variants. It will continue the strategy with a convertible in the next generation, due in 2007, a company source says.
Dealers say the changes helped keep the CTS fresh.
"Incremental improvements to the product and having something fresh to offer is extremely important," says GM National Dealer Council member Jacques Moore of Moore Cadillac in Richmond, Va.
The 2003 CTS was powered by a 3.2-liter V-6. For the 2004 model year, Cadillac introduced a more powerful 3.6-liter V-6 and bumped up sales. In 2003, 49,392 CTS units were sold versus 37,976 in 2002.
This year Cadillac introduced the CTS V-series performance variant with a 5.7-liter, 400-hp V-8. Total CTS sales reached 43,064 for the first nine months of the year.
According to John Howell, Cadillac product director, the key is to offer a wide range of products.
Because the CTS launched Cadillac's angular styling theme, getting more cars on the road stirred consumer interest, as well.
"The story with the CTS has been basic awareness more than anything else," says Howell. "The more cars we can get on the streets, the better."
Jay Spenchian, Cadillac marketing director, says the plan was to keep some demand unfilled in the first and second years.
"Keeping the CTS in short supply allowed Cadillac to build on the momentum," he says.
Since the CTS' debut, Cadillac has been making small changes both visually and to its performance to keep the car fresh. This year's version has a new instrument cluster.
Last year's model added a styling tweak from the V-series, changing the license plate mounting area from gray to body color.
Cadillac plans on selling about 5,000 V-series units, Howell says.
"The V-series gives some panache or a reason to talk about the car," he says. "Special variants open up different avenues to communicate to customers."
Ed Williamson of Williamson Cadillac in Miami says: "It's all about incremental business. The guy that buys the V-series isn't going to buy a base CTS."
Different price points help get people in the door, he says: "You get some people that react to a lower price point, then they look at the product and decide to step up."
You may e-mail K.C. Crain at