Cadillac may double its product lineup over the next four years as part of General Motors Co's strategy to turn the U.S. luxury brand into a global power, starting late this year with the ELR plug-in hybrid, the upscale sibling of the Chevrolet Volt.
Cadillac is firming up plans to expand its family of cars and crossovers to as many as 10 models by 2016, including potentially a flagship sedan, a small crossover and a small car to take on BMW's 1-Series, according to two people familiar with the company's discussions with suppliers.
The new models cannot come soon enough. Cadillac was one of the few premium brands to see US sales fall last year, sliding from fourth to fifth place behind Honda Motor Co's Acura.
Cadillac executives would not discuss future product plans, but acknowledged their stable of cars, crossovers and SUVs would expand.
"We're saying it over and over and over that we want Cadillac to be a truly global luxury brand," Bob Ferguson, vice president of global Cadillac, said in an interview at the Detroit auto show. "We have the core of a very good product set now and we're working hard at examining the options to make it even better. You can expect a more robust lineup."
While many analysts laud GM for burnishing Cadillac's image with some of its best cars in decades - the new ATS was named 2013 North American Car of the Year on Monday - even some of the brand's fans are skeptical about its chances for global success.
"I'm not convinced Cadillac can pull it off," said Jim Hall, managing director of consulting firm 2953 Analytics, adding it could take up to 15 years to build the brand in Europe alone.
"They may still be suffering from 'Lincoln disease' - the lack of long-term commitment by the parent company," he added, referring to Ford Motor Co's struggling luxury brand.
Ferguson said GM is looking closely at the possibility of adding a flagship sedan and a small crossover vehicle that combines the utility of an SUV and the smooth ride of a car.
The U.S. market accounts for three-quarters of Cadillac's worldwide sales, which totaled about 200,000 in 2011 and 2012. That is down from 241,000 in 2007.
GM is ramping up efforts to boost Cadillac's presence in China, where it will start building the full-size XTS sedan in about two weeks, but Cadillac remains a low-volume "boutique" brand