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    Cadillac Heads To The Drawing Board To Solve CTS Sales


    • How To Fix The Slumping Sales Of The CTS

    Despite rave reviews, the Cadillac CTS has been slipping in sales. Sales in July slipped 29 percent, while August saw another 35 percent drop. This is a the opposite of what is happening in the luxury marketplace as sales are currently up six percent. A possible cause to this is the base price of the CTS has climbed $6,000 from the previous model.

    “While it may have been a terrific car, it may not have been perceived as having earned its stripes for that kind of pricing against the Germans. Cadillac has just not earned its way to charge the kind of premium that the Germans can get,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader.com.

    Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac's chief marketing officer said in a recent interview that the brand may have been too ambitious” in raising prices on the CTS. To fix this, Ellinghaus considering adding more standard features or offering some features like heated seats as stand-alone options.

    "These are things that we can do relatively quickly," Ellinghaus said.

    Also being changed is Cadillac's ad campaign. Ellinghaus explained that company will move away from the current messaging of comparing Cadillac to Germans, and instead focus on on its American roots.

    “We definitely cannot build a brand on being as good as,” “We are not German -- and that’s a good thing. We are American. We need to build this brand on what differentiates Cadillac from our German competitors,” said Ellinghaus.

    Source: Bloomberg

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.



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    The price is an issue but this car lacks the look and appeal of the last model.  People can argue that the front is great and the lights are very dramatic and they might be correct.  I'm on the fence myself regarding the front.  The rear however is another story it has the look and appeal of a tired full size Asian sedan.  The first time I saw the rear of the new CTS with my wife she and I both thought it looked like a car her grandfather would drive and it made us glad we had our 2010 CTS vs. this design.  The last CTS had a design that people wanted to have, including my wife and this one is just flat.  The engineer side of me thinks the work done to create a world class car is awesome but you need a cutting edge design to go along with all that engineering work.  The current CTS misses the mark and it makes me sick to my stomach because I wanted Caddy to do well on this one.

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    Problem #1 is the Wreath and Crest (now just the Crest) was neglected and dragged through the mud for too many years.  Current buyers probably don't even remember the Cimarron or Allante, but I do think a lot of people have the image of Devilles/DTS that grandpa drives and that is how they see Cadillac.  Cadillac has a weaker brand image than Lexus or the 3 Germans.

     

    Problem #2 is marketing.  Ellinghaus makes a good point that they need to focus on Cadillac's roots and what makes Cadillac Cadillac, and not just compare them to the Germans as they have the past couple years.  Other brands are guilty of this too, they run ads like "more standard horsepower than a C300" but who cares their car isn't better than a C300.  Notice Mercedes or BMW never talk about other brands in their commercials, they talk about themselves and their brand.

     

    Problem #3 is lack of focus.  Ellinghaus says they need to focus on roots and being American, but Cadillac admitted to basically tearing apart a 3-series and reverse engineering from that to make the ATS and they copied almost every measurement and dimension.  Ellinghaus also says Cadillac's future is RWD, but you have a front wheel drive XTS and SRX, the next gen SRX is confirmed front drive already.  So which is it?   I don't think Cadillac has a vision of what they want to be, they see the Lexus RX sell well, they think let's copy it, they 3-series and E-class sell well, they think let's copy it. 

     

    Problem #4 is the CTS itself.  They are priced $6,000 below the E-class and you get $3,000 more cash back right now, so price isn't the problem.  Styling is subjective, I don't love the front end, but some people might like it, the rear of the CTS looks dull as dirt.  Equipment levels need work too, if you get the standard trim, it lacks content, you need the luxury package and then so much of what is on are driver nannies like blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist.  Heated/ventilated seats leather seats, rearview camera and HID lights, ambient lighting should be standard even if that means another $1,000 or so added to base price.  All the driver nannies go into one package, this is supposed to be a driver's car after all, half the buyers might not care less about radar cruise control and lane keep assist.  Performance upgrades like magnetic ride control, bigger brakes, etc go into a package, multimedia or technology upgrades can be a package.   There can be a premium package also that has basically what the current premium trim level has, for those that want all the bells and whistles.   Makes is easier for the buyer to get what they want.

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    the styling is an issue from some angles, the original CTS had a sports sedan look.  It even lacked the upright rear lights that Caddy keeps foisting on the world.  It looked lean and purposeful.

     

    The 08 CTS got porky looking but still had some sleekness to it.

     

    Now Caddy tried to copy the long hood / short greenhouse windhshield too far back / 'hey i'm a rear drive car' look this go round and then mated a very disconnected looking grille to the front.  It has no sportiness compared to the original CTS and it looks like its meant for older people than the last CTS.

     

    I think Caddy either needs to completely change the character line on the side of the car, or make the front fonder flares more distinct, articulated, whatever....the car lacks shoulders.......

     

    The overall 3 box proportions of this latest CTS don't match the last two, you can't make a visual connection between them.  The new CTS maybe should have been called STS.........

     

    Most of the interior is pretty good on the new CTS, i think they can get it tweaked where it needs to be.

     

    The pricing and option packaging is a problem.  Heated seats should be standard on a CTS.  Heated / cooled as an option, rear heated seats option.

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    Hello! Price is the main issue here. Sorry to say, as good as the CTS is, the 3 series is still different people/mindset. It's going to take a while to change that mindset...

     

    Go back to your roots. Drop the price, be the best bang for buck.

     

     

    It really is that simple.....

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    ^ CTS doesn't compete with the 3-series.

     

    2014 BMW 528i : MSRP : 49500, average paid : 44997, diff: 4503

    2014 CTS base : MSRP : 45100, average paid : 42616, diff: 2484

     

    The CTS IS the best bang for the buck, even with less off sticker.

     

    YTD 5-series U.S. sales : 37761

    YTD CTS U.S. sales : 20639

     

    Perfect. We need to break the mindset that used to say 'Cadillac is part of GM, therefore it should outsell every one of it's competitors'. Neither necessary nor desirable.
    I would like to see the CTS coupe & wagon continue on the current 3rd gen, tho, regardless of the sales volume. Especially the coupe!

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    Cadillac ran an average incentive of $7700 last month and their sedan sales are still down. I don't think lower prices are the answer, they are already low. Better product and more importantly better marketing is needed.

    The thing is Lexus, BMW and Mercedes buyers are loyal, so to get people that spend $60k on a car they need to make something so amazing that those people switch loyalties, or get trade ups form Infiniti, Acura, Lincoln etc. And I suspect the type of people that buy an Acura or Lincoln are never trading up to something expensive.

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    The thing is Lexus, BMW and Mercedes buyers are loyal.

    You are incorrect. BMW & MB repeat ownership figures are between 30-35%, that's way less than, for example, Ford (which I believe is close to 50%). Terrible numbers, actually.

     

    And as I posted above, CTS transaction prices are CLOSER to MSRP than the 5-series, so MB & BMW are pulling some sort of slippery money 'laundering' in that their ATPs are much farther off of MSRP, regardless what the 'official' numbers they report.

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    According to CNBC Ford is #1 in customer loyalty at 64% and number 2 is Mercedes at 57.8%.  Toyota was in 3rd, BMW and Lexus are in the top 10.  Chevy is the only GM brand in the top 10, my guess is the Silverado drives that, just like the F150 drives Ford's number.

     

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/101800143/page/10

     

     

    This year Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes all have 9-16% growth (Lexus leading the way), and Cadillac is down.  And even worse is the ATS and CTS which are their new products are down the most.  The current strategy isn't working, this is like the CTS-STS-DTS trio of 2006 that wasn't working, so they scrapped 2 of those and put the CTS in a different class.  They have the same results with ATS-CTS-XTS.  Cadillac marketing is I think worse now than it was 10 years ago, and I don't think they have the money to really go toe to toe with the Germans or Lexus, even though most Lexus product isn't that good considering how much money Toyota spends.

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    I was thinking of Germany retail buyers for mercedes, my bad.

    Growth aspirations are fine for toyota, Chevy, nissan…. and mercedes. Mercedes has been unable to create a viable 2nd brand, hence the FWD appliance down marketing.
    Cadillac is NOT about volume because it does not HAVE to be, a huge boon to luxury/exclusivity. 

     

    Chevy is the only GM brand in the top 10

    Ya; according to that link it's 56.4%, or the same as mercedes. In the case here vs. mercedes, clearly it's product that talks louder at Chevy, whereas it's reputation instead that gets mercedes repeat customers. Unless you think Chevy's rep is comparable to mercedes'.

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    ^ CTS doesn't compete with the 3-series.

     

    2014 BMW 528i : MSRP : 49500, average paid : 44997, diff: 4503

    2014 CTS base : MSRP : 45100, average paid : 42616, diff: 2484

     

    The CTS IS the best bang for the buck, even with less off sticker.

     

    YTD 5-series U.S. sales : 37761

    YTD CTS U.S. sales : 20639

     

    Perfect. We need to break the mindset that used to say 'Cadillac is part of GM, therefore it should outsell every one of it's competitors'. Neither necessary nor desirable.

    I would like to see the CTS coupe & wagon continue on the current 3rd gen, tho, regardless of the sales volume. Especially the coupe!

     

     

    Only if you compare it with the 5 series. At some point, it did compete with the 3 series. Problem is that it has got "fatter" and "stale" by going upmarket with it.  It would have been better if they left the CTS where it was (and known), and maybe out the ATS name (or some new name) to compete higher.

     

    The Current CTS is boring to me.....

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    Everything gets fatter over time. 5-series used to be the size of the current 3-series- it's the way of the industry… because marketing must give you 'more'.  
    Reminds me of Raisin Bran; it's been getting "more" raisins since 1960. However, at least with the ATS & CTS, they have kept relatively svelte.

    Few new vehicles catch (& hold) my eye out in the world, but the current CTS front end is dynamite. I have no problem with the rear; could be more expressive but I don't have a problem with it.

     

    But Cadillac is like the only OEM who has figured out what to do with LEDs, whereas everyone else is merely pasting mail-order LED strips in nonsensical outlines in the headlamp lens.

    Look at everyone else; this is plain awful, zero thought, 4 hard angles in an otherwise completely amorphous, bland shape:

    mercedes-benz-e63-am-10_600x0w.jpg

     

    This is so unique, echoes the long-running vertical tails :

    2014-cadillac-cts-headlight.jpg

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    CTS should have been the STS.  The looks of the car is mature and not youthful.  CTS did very well as the entry level Cadillac.  As the CTS grew in size in the latest generation and bumped up in price, there is sticker shock.  ATS is too tight.  The stretched version of the ATS should have been the CTS.

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    I don't know why so many people have a problem with the rear of the CTS.  It looks fine.. and is certainly more distinctive than the others. I see a lot of vintage Eldorado and Deville in that trunk.

     

    I agree with Balth that Cadillac is the only brand to get LED light-pipes right.  They inspire a heritage look that goes back decades and remind you of the vertical blades from years ago.  What do the light-pipes on any of the Germans remind you of?  Nothing, because they don't have that kind of visual heritage.

     

    As far as pricing, Cadillac should hold firm on the current pricing but be more aggressive and targeted with the incentives. People turning in a lease or trade in of a competing luxury brand should be given a bonus, or they should do something like the Experience Buick leases that are being offered.  Cheap, 2 year, low mileage leases that include everything.

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    Part of this could be the naming... ATS should have been named CTS and the current CTS should have been named STS as I think there's sticker shock factor going on here; people got used to CTS being the least expensive Cadillac.

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    I think many folks are getting tired of the current trends of rubber band tires, undersized hard to see out of windows, plain look alike side styling, LED lights sprinkled about, cramped interiors with reduced legroom, hard harsh rides over bumpy streets, uncomfortable seats, hard to get in and out of interiors, gimmicky dashes and worse hard to use touch screens and last but not not least higher and higher prices with resulting higher insurance costs. Where does it end? When a mid size car is being priced into the 70 grand territory you have for sure lost many an average consumer. The higher end snobs are all buying Bimmers and Mercedes and Lexus because in there minds those are more prestigious brands. The former sedans buyers that used to buy Cadillacs and Lincolns are now buying larger and more comfortable SUV/CUV's.

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    So I know that my thoughts on the appearance of the new CTS are an opinion and therefore there will be many others that have all kinds of different views.  regfootball - noted in a much more complete statement what is wrong with the appearance.  There are a number of others who noted that they liked the look because it reminded them of certain older Caddy's.  Those cars were fine for that time but that is exactly why I dislike like the car now.  This is a market of sportly luxury cars... The new CTS may act the part of both but it does not look sportly from the side or the rear, it looks OLD.  When it is sitting parked it should make mothers want to grab their children and pull close them for safety because it looks like it could attack something sitting still.  That is what makes people want to by a car, the last CTS-V had that look.

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    ^ CTS doesn't compete with the 3-series.

     

    2014 BMW 528i : MSRP : 49500, average paid : 44997, diff: 4503

    2014 CTS base : MSRP : 45100, average paid : 42616, diff: 2484

     

    The CTS IS the best bang for the buck, even with less off sticker.

     

    YTD 5-series U.S. sales : 37761

    YTD CTS U.S. sales : 20639

     

    Perfect. We need to break the mindset that used to say 'Cadillac is part of GM, therefore it should outsell every one of it's competitors'. Neither necessary nor desirable.

    I would like to see the CTS coupe & wagon continue on the current 3rd gen, tho, regardless of the sales volume. Especially the coupe!

     

     

    The CTS pricing is actually not bad for the car, just bad for the name OUT THE GATE. If Cadillac solidifies the stance that the CTS is now the MID-CAR by popularizing the ATS in it's position of "entry" then CTS sales will do fine. A Coupe is necessary to push sales up as the last CTS did have the coupe that did account for a documented 30% of total sales. HAving that extra 30% would have put CTS sales up about 800 units to 3400.
     
    Interesting tidbit is that the higher priced CTS is still #3 behind the 5series and EClass, but ahead of the A6, GS, XF, Q70, and RLX

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    Part of this could be the naming... ATS should have been named CTS and the current CTS should have been named STS as I think there's sticker shock factor going on here; people got used to CTS being the least expensive Cadillac.

     

     

    ^^^ This. But Cadillac has to figure out how to get people to see that the ATS is that "least expensive" vehicle. 

     

    Again I have to ask what the gauge is for CTS sales? 

     

    EClass  6,481      (has sedan, coupe, wagon, convertible, diesel, hybrid, and AMG)

     

    5 Series   4468 + 6 Series 468 =   4,936

     

    XTS     2,972 + CTS     2,592 =  5,564

     

     

    GS       2,537

    A6        1927

    Q70      174

     

    The only thing I see that GM screwed up was having the XTS avail as well and not understanding that the XTS, priced almost EXACTLY the same as the CTS. No one will call the XTS a true "large car" thus it is a tweener and taking some of the CTS sales. Furthermore when will Cadillac/GM wise the eff up and realize that the Germans sell in big numbers for the simple reason that they cater to all desires of the segment? Just like my ATS argument a few weeks back... if I want a coupe, wagon, convertible, diesel, hybrid, or Hi-PO model.. I have to go to Benz or BMW. Sales reflect that too. Look at the other competitors sales numbers compared to BMW and BEnz and U will see that variants help push numbers up. 

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    I think many folks are getting tired of the current trends of rubber band tires, undersized hard to see out of windows, plain look alike side styling, LED lights sprinkled about, cramped interiors with reduced legroom, hard harsh rides over bumpy streets, uncomfortable seats, hard to get in and out of interiors, gimmicky dashes and worse hard to use touch screens and last but not not least higher and higher prices with resulting higher insurance costs. Where does it end? When a mid size car is being priced into the 70 grand territory you have for sure lost many an average consumer. The higher end snobs are all buying Bimmers and Mercedes and Lexus because in there minds those are more prestigious brands. The former sedans buyers that used to buy Cadillacs and Lincolns are now buying larger and more comfortable SUV/CUV's.

    so much of that is spot on.

     

    One reason I think Mercedes is flourishing is it is using lots of deeply sculptured features on their bodies and they are bold and interesting.  That is why a POS like the CLA seems exotic.  

     

    Fast forward to Cadillac, the sedans are basic wedges now and just the run of the mill falling to the front character line.  Its hardly bold and its been done over and over now.

     

    Even BMW's flame surfacing crap is getting tired and old.

     

    Post crash, people who could actually get a new car were flocking to the new cheap subcompacts with big mpg.  We are almost a full trade cycle beyond that now and so many people who forced into smaller cars due to budget or the oppressive arm of the feds shoving tiny displacement and 23 speed trannies down our throat may be moving towards going back to bigger and not giving too much of a $h! about mpg, at least deciding that room and space may be more important than fuel economy again.

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    So I know that my thoughts on the appearance of the new CTS are an opinion and therefore there will be many others that have all kinds of different views.  regfootball - noted in a much more complete statement what is wrong with the appearance.  There are a number of others who noted that they liked the look because it reminded them of certain older Caddy's.  Those cars were fine for that time but that is exactly why I dislike like the car now.  This is a market of sportly luxury cars... The new CTS may act the part of both but it does not look sportly from the side or the rear, it looks OLD.  When it is sitting parked it should make mothers want to grab their children and pull close them for safety because it looks like it could attack something sitting still.  That is what makes people want to by a car, the last CTS-V had that look.

    Yeah, i myself could give a $h! if I see any of the old Caddy trunk lids in the current CTS trunk lids.  Although the hood of the new CTS has some really good lines that harken to old Cadillacs but are not so contrived as on the rear.

     

    Think of the last CTS coupe.  There really are no references to old Caddies on there at all.

     

    Think of the original CTS.  I liked that it didn't have cliched old Caddy references, and that the taillights were a modern interpretation instead of reverting to the easy tall thin Caddy taillight look.  The fricken turn signals on the CTS were Orange and it was cool!

     

    2nd CTS had 'fins' a little, but it was tastefully done.

     

    The picture at the beginning of this thread actually is one of the most revealing new CTS photos; you can see some of the most appealing tie ups of the car and it has really interesting surfacing, proportions, solids and voids, and features.  But almost no one sees the top of the car in normal everyday life! (note, the CTS coupe is also extremely interesting in top view).  So why are the sides and rear of this new CTS so bland?  Aside from the front fender bulges, there is not much dramatic about the basic 3 box or the greenhouse on the CTS............

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    Interesting tidbit is that the higher priced CTS is still #3 behind the 5series and EClass, but ahead of the A6, GS, XF, Q70, and RLX.

    And this sort of factual nonsense is continually brushed aside as if insignificant.

    I will state it again, Cadillac is NOT here to push volume, but still people -clinging to Old World Think- believe Cadillac needs to outsell every competitor or it's 'floundering/failing'… yet no such talk about the A6 or GS, for example. Wonder why the standards are so different for some people??

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    Ponchoman is pretty spot on.  I agree with what he says.

     

    As far as the sales advantage the Germans have with multiple body styles and engines, why isn't Cadillac doing that?  It isn't like this is some new strategy they just thought up, there have been 3-series and E-class sedan, coupe, convertible, wagon since the 1980s or early 90s.  They have been doing it for 25 years.  Lexus has been doing hybrids for 10 years or so, the Germans have been pushing diesels big time for the past 5 years.   Cadillac only has to blame themselves for not offering more body styles or engines.

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    Interesting tidbit is that the higher priced CTS is still #3 behind the 5series and EClass, but ahead of the A6, GS, XF, Q70, and RLX.

    And this sort of factual nonsense is continually brushed aside as if insignificant.

    I will state it again, Cadillac is NOT here to push volume, but still people -clinging to Old World Think- believe Cadillac needs to outsell every competitor or it's 'floundering/failing'… yet no such talk about the A6 or GS, for example. Wonder why the standards are so different for some people??

     

    I think it is because in the case of Audi they have had growing sales, up about 10% per year for what seems like 5 years in a row now.  Only 30% of Audi sales are A6 and higher, so 70% of their sales come from A3, A4/A5 and Q5.  They are selling well on the bottom end, which if those are younger buyers that trade up could mean Audi has a bright future.  If they can't get people to move to A6 and higher then the future isn't so bright, I don't think they'd be in trouble, but they'd always be seen a bit as a 2nd tier brand if they can only sell in that $30-45k range.

     

    Lexus GS and LS sales are crap, but they sell so many RX and ES, the overall brand numbers look good.  But Lexus has sold a lot of those 2 cars for years, and they haven't been able to get people to trade up to a GS or an LS, in fact LS sales are probably worse now than they were 10 years ago.  The IS has been a bright spot for them, sales of that really picked up this year.   If the RX and ES sales dropped 20% and the brand got in trouble, people would be saying the GS isn't carrying its weight and make a deal out of it.

     

    The problem for Cadillac is they don't have an 8 or 9 vehicle lineup, and the ATS and CTS are 2 of their newest products and both are down.  Cadillac needs the ATS and CTS to survive, Lexus could sell zero GS350's and it wouldn't really matter.

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