To say the redesigned Cadillac Escalade is a hit would be an understatement.
A year after it reached showrooms, buyers are spending about $83,000 on average, up about $13,000 from the last generation. Sales more than doubled in the first quarter, to 7,901. Buyers have been snapping the ESV long-wheelbase model off the lot in less than a month on average.
Cadillac's product planners already are mulling the next iteration of the hulking SUV, says Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen.
That's where it gets tricky.
The Escalade embodies almost none of the brand attributes Cadillac is using to transform itself. It's not a performance vehicle. It's not laden with new technology. It doesn't have a Cadillac-exclusive engine.
At the New York auto show last month, de Nysschen called the Escalade "an iconic subbrand" and "amazingly successful." He also acknowledged the delicacy in planning an encore.
"Can you think of the interesting conversations that take place in our planning meetings?" de Nysschen said. "How do you balance the desire to bring it into alignment with where we're taking the brand and the equally intense desire not to screw up a good thing?"