After increasing retail sales last year for the first time since 2013, Cadillac dealers hope a fresh lineup — including a coming redesign of the iconic Escalade SUV — will help make their sales boost last, even as the market slows overall.
U.S. light-vehicle sales fell 1.2 percent industrywide in 2019, but Cadillac sales rose 1 percent to 156,246 as the brand launched a host of products.
"Some of the analysts are predicting that maybe we're going to wane a little bit and maybe even lose more sales in 2020," said David Butler, chairman of the Cadillac National Dealer Council. "In a declining market when we're trying to grow sales, that's a little bit of a headwind for us."
Cadillac launched the XT4 in 2018. Last year, it introduced the XT6, CT5 and a freshened XT5. It will launch the CT4 and a redesigned Escalade this year.
Escalade is the "icon of the brand," said Butler, who is also executive manager of the Suburban Collection, which sells 36 brands at 54 retail locations in Michigan and California.
"There's going to be a lot of attention around that product," Butler said. "The Escalade is not our top seller, but it's our most important vehicle from a perception standpoint in the market."
Product launches are always a challenge for the brand and dealers, he said. Dealers have to manage customers' expectations, while Cadillac has to ensure the vehicle's quality is top notch before delivery to dealers.
"I know at least with the Escalade, there's going to be a lot of anticipation from customers, and they're all going to want their Escalade tomorrow," Butler said.
"And so we have to be able to manage the expectations of the customer and make sure that the vehicles are delivered with high quality."