General Motors (GM), having regained global sales leadership from Toyota Motor, is planning new Cadillac models to more than double sales and surpass the Japanese automaker’s Lexus brand as the No. 4 luxury line.
CEO Dan Akerson is pushing the Detroit-based automaker to turn Cadillac into a global player with the scale to better compete with German leaders Bayerische Motoren Werke’s BMW, Volkswagen’s Audi and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. Within 10 years, GM wants to be solidly in the fourth spot currently held by Lexus.
Cadillac, which peaked more than three decades ago, must choose the right new models to meet Akerson’s goal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The US brand must find a way to reach younger buyers than Mitt Romney’s wife, who drives two SRX sport-utility vehicles. The median Cadillac customer last year was 63 years old, according to JD Power and Associates.
“We are working on more new Cadillacs than at any point in the brand’s history,” Don Butler, GM vice-president for Cadillac marketing, said earlier this month. “We’re constantly talking about what’s the best way to become this global player.”
The automaker is weighing whether several vehicle options for Cadillac, Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said in an interview last month. Executives are considering a sedan larger than the XTS, a sport-utility vehicle smaller than the SRX and a new Escalade on the same vehicle architecture as the popular Buick Enclave, Reuss said.
“It’s a question of what products they’re offering,” said Alan Baum, an independent auto industry analyst based in West Bloomfield, Michigan. “When they were offering the Escalades, they were unique products, certainly, but they were also products that had relatively modest demand.”
GM spokesman David Caldwell declined to comment on Cadillac’s sales goals. GM sold 199,000 Cadillac cars and SUVs last year, including 152,000 in the US, the company said. IHS Automotive estimated that Cadillac finished 2011 as the sixth or seventh best-selling luxury brand in the world behind Volvo and possibly Land Rover.
The world leader is BMW followed by Audi, which overtook Daimler last year, when each brand sold more than 1 million. Lexus finished with an estimated 408,000 sales, more than double Cadillac’s 2011 sales, IHS said. Cadillac’s best year was 1978, when it sold 350,000 cars.
That peak preceded the birth of Eli Manning, the pro football quarterback who received a Cadillac Escalade hybrid as a prize