LOS ANGELES -- To understand why Cadillac's U.S. sales are struggling despite its vastly improved lineup, consider this: It’s about to launch its third sedan into essentially the same segment, one that happens to be the weakest in all of luxury.
OK, technically they’re not all in the same segment -- the CT6 that goes on sale early next year and the three-year-old XTS are both large sedans, while the CTS is a midsize. But the CT6 and the XTS are tweeners, not large enough to compete with the Mercedes S class or other big-boy players. And all three of the Caddy sedans overlap in pricing.
Meanwhile, Cadillac sells just one crossover at a time when it needs four to keep pace with rivals. A second one won’t arrive until 2018.
It’s a cold reality that Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen can deflect only with humor at times.
In an interview at the auto show here, he stopped himself while explaining Cadillac’s product strategy.
“Please don’t ask me why we have three cars in the same segment,” he said with a smirk.
Cadillac’s lineup quagmire puts mighty pressure on the new XT5 to deliver.
This spring it will replace the SRX, Cadillac’s top-selling model and one of the brand’s few nameplates that compete in a growing segment.
Cadillac dealers are counting on the clean-slate redesign to help the brand snap out of its sales funk and bridge them to the influx of fresh product that begins arriving in 2018.
Howard Drake, owner of Casa de Cadillac in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and chairman of Cadillac’s National Dealer Council, was at the Cadillac stand Thursday sizing up what will likely be his new top seller.
“The XT5 looks great and has better function in terms of the wheelbase and interior,” he said later by e-mail. “It should be a step up for us.”
But he cites factors that could keep a lid on sales. He worries that Cadillac will price the crossover too high. And he says several recent launches -- namely the ATS and Escalade -- haven’t gone smoothly.
“I like the product. The segment is booming,” he says. “We have plenty to lose as well as gain.”