Cadillac has some great vehicles in its portfolio, starting with the foundational, Alpha-based ATS and CTS. But to compete head-to-head with the world’s best, the brand must offer more vehicles in different segments. And if you want to see Cadillac return to the top of the luxury car totem pole, you’re going to need a bit of patience.
That’s the word from Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen as he continues his mission to make Cadillac the true “Standard of the World.” He says Cadillac is “stuck in no-man’s land,” with several products that are critics’ darlings but either aren’t resonating with some consumers or are priced out of reach from the traditional Cadillac buyer.
It “is going to take many, many years of product substance, careful crafting of the brand and making sure the brand values and positioning is absolutely permeated into the product philosophy, the quality of the dealer network and the ownership experience,” he says.
Getting the product/dealer network/consumer perceptions right should be no sweat for de Nysschen, who did just that at Audi. Once pillaged in the American market after a sudden acceleration controversy almost killed the brand, the brand eventually found its mojo that eventually led to exciting styling, superfine detailing, models like the R8 supercar, and Average Transaction Prices climbing $9,600 per unit over the past five years, according to Wards Auto.
“If we address some of the things that are in our control, such as getting inventories under control, getting discipline in terms of pricing and incentives and discounts and (beginning) work on a more carefully crafted communications strategy, then by next year, we’ll already have accomplished a lot,” de Nysschen added.
One of the ways Cadillac will do this is with the introduction of the 2016 Cadillac CT6, which will compete with the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS, and Audi A8. And unlike the criticism faced with the upmarket movement of the CTS, the timing for the CT6 is right. “It has to come now. It is an important part of this journey of elevating the brand and building on credible product. If we want to really entrench Cadillac as a formidable player in the premium segment, it’s necessary to have flagship cars that can take on the very best the German brands have to offer.”
Following the CT6 will be a model below the ATS, a CUV larger than the soon-to-be-updated SRX and two smaller ones as well. However, de Nysschen is cautious about offering something smaller than the current roster. “We can’t go (down market) too far, too soon,” he says. “I want to spend some time taking the center of gravity of the brand upscale.
The CT6 will be one of many new models to take Cadillac’s current from the current six lines to about a dozen by 2020, broadening its coverage in the market. Cadillac only has entries in only about half the premium segments today.
“We have one crossover and one SUV,” added de Nysschen. “It’s strange (to) look how many the Germans have. This is completely wrong. They are obvious gaps in our product lineup. We are working flat-out to develop market entries for Cadillac.”