General Motors and Ford have taken vastly different approaches with their respective Cadillac and Lincoln brands, but they’re both working towards the same goal. Cadillac and Lincoln want to capitalize on the expanding global luxury vehicle market, but which Amerian luxury brand has the winning formula?
The Detroit Free Press recently compared Lincoln and Cadillac’s sales competition to a tortoise and the hare-type race, where Cadillac is the eager hare, and Lincoln is the slow-moving tortoise. Cadillac has made some huge moves as of late, like separating from the GM mother ship in Detroit and moving to new offices in NYC, planning to report its earnings separately and outlining plans to spend $3 billion on vehicles and powertrains before 2020. The brand also hopes to sell 500,000 units annually by 2020.
Meanwhile Lincoln has said it will add two additional products to its portfolio in addition to the four others it said it would release over the course of four years. It also has plans to use the Chinese market as a way to help boost sales to around 300,000 units by 2020, goals and decisions that are “low key”, The Free Press says, compared to Cadillac’s.
“It will take years either way to change the brands and both are in it for the long term,” said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com.
Cadillac’s move to New York City has been compared to Lincoln’s move to California in 2001. Ford called their luxury arm back to Dearborn rather quickly, and has instead given Lincoln its own design studio and staff to help further differentiate it from the Blue Oval. Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen doesn’t see the same happening to Cadillac, saying distance from GM is what the brand needs to truly change its business practices and culture.
Both Lincoln and Cadillac have plans to vastly expand their product portfolios, however Cadillac has their eye on more global markets than Lincoln. Cadillac will eventually offer right-hand drive models and diesels as it looks to enter European markets, but Lincoln only has the desire to increase its Chinese presence.
Cadillac is also introducing a number of halo and flagship models, like its upcoming full-size luxury sedan, the CT6, and the all-new V-Series performance lineup. Lincoln, meanwhile, has no interest in flagship models, with brand president Kumar Galhotra saying “it’s not about the flagship. It’s about the portfolio.” Galhotra is also uninterested in performance cars, unlike de Nysschen, who critiscized his former employer, Infiniti, over not producing a concept performance sedan and was recently quoted in saying “you can never have too much power.”
Luxury vehicle sales in the U.S. were up more than 7% in 2014 to about 1.7 million units, The Free Press says, accounting for 10.5% of the auto market. China’s demand for luxury vehicles is also rapidly expanding, but will it be Cadillac or Lincoln that ultimately capitalizes on the growth of both markets?