But, first, how long is this “revival” going to be going? Because the first CTS in 2003 was considered the instigator of the revival. Don’t you think, now three generations in, it’s hardly a revival anymore? Anyway, the CTS needs no introduction, and neither does the ATS—both are very good cars at what they do and provide an excellent alternative to more popular vehicles from Europe (especially Germany) and Asia. Everything’s rosy, right?
But The Fool think there’s something going on. “When you look at the monthly sales charts, it’s clear to see where Cadillac’s troubles lie: Sales of the big XTS sedan are down 21 percent through May, and the much-acclaimed compact ATS is down 20 percent.” However, let’s be honest for a moment—what is an XTS? It’s merely a remnant of the old de Ville and functions as General Motors’ entry for a full-size American boat without succumbing to the “Old Cadillac.” If anything, it’s hardly a part of the “revival.”
Meanwhile, the CTS and SRX crossover are up (39 and 21 percent, respectively), but not enough to make up for the ATS’s deficit. The Escalade is brand-new, so we shouldn’t count that (although sales are up 30%), and the ELR is too nichey to bother.
Plus, The Fool reports that “Cadillac is backing off of fleet sales,” instead targeting more profitable retail sales. Through April, Cadillac’s fleet sales were down 40 percent, including down a whopping 95 percent for the ATS.
Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell told The Fool that some of the slippage with the XTS and ATS “is simply a matter of shifting customer preferences. Luxury sedans in general have been relatively weak next to SUVs and crossovers.” And considering the SRX is long in the tooth, it stands to reason.
So how to explain the ATS’s issues? The Fool consulted with Edmunds.com Senior Analyst, Jessica Caldwell (who’s not related to Cadillac’s David). She said that BMW’s 3-series is brand-new for 2014 and has the gee-whiz factor that the year-old ATS lacks; it’s also quite possible that the typical Bimmer buyer may not even give the ATS the time of day, although it works the other way around. Is image really the issue at play? She seems to think so.
Perhaps it will take another generation of buyers to consider the ATS as a viable competitor to BMW even if the performance number suggest they’re already equals. With the ATS coupe set to join Cadillac’s roster later in 2014, the lineup may be given a boost.