DETROIT -- The arrival of the new Cadillac ATS sedan in showrooms this week is likely to put sales pressure on the brand's workhorse for the past decade: the CTS sedan.
The two cars overlap in size and price. The CTS, considered mid-sized, is 8 inches longer than the compact ATS, and the $39,995 sticker on the lowest-priced CTS is just $1,500 more than that of the ATS with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which is expected to be the volume model.
Usually when two models are close in price, shoppers go for the bigger one. But the CTS has gotten long in the tooth: The current generation was launched in fall 2007 as a 2008 model.
That is likely to result in some CTS shoppers choosing an ATS, which is expected to become Cadillac's sales leader in short order. Cadillac executives expect to sell roughly 50,000 ATS sedans in 2013. Last year GM sold 55,042 CTS units, including coupes and wagons.
It's a temporary problem. GM promises the next-generation CTS will be longer, sleeker, plusher inside and loaded with more content, which will create clear separation between the cars. The redesigned CTS is expected to go on sale in the fall of 2013.
Until then, "You recognize that CTS will be cannibalized to a point by having ATS there," says Chase Hawkins, who became Cadillac's U.S. vice president of sales and service in June.
It's an example of Cadillac's growing pains at it tries to square up its offerings to those of luxury-brand stalwarts such as BMW. The redesigned CTS likely will be sized to match the Mercedes E class, for example, much as the ATS was designed to offer an apples-to-apples choice with the German luxury compacts.
Until the next-generation CTS arrives, Cadillac is telling dealers to tout the outgoing model as a good value that offers more car than its smaller sibling. Also, because it's not offered with the Cadillac User Experience infotainment system found on the ATS and larger XTS sedan, it could appeal to tech-averse buyers who prefer a simpler interior.