Cadillac has added support for the Apple Watch to their myCadillac iOS application. With the new watch integration, owners will be able to use services such as vehicle location (US and Mexico only), remote start, lock/unlock doors, activate/deactivate horn and lights, and walking directions to their vehicle all from their wrist.
myCadillac usage has grown 50% in 2017 alone, which makes the timing of adding additional features for Watch users additionally helpful.
Apple Watch access to these features allows owners to access these features without being required to take a phone out of a pocket or purse. This should be more convenient, especially for owners of the more recent/faster watches (Series 2 and Series 3 specifically).
Apple Watch compatibility requires WatchOS version 3 or newer.
Cadillac staged a demonstration drive of their new Super Cruise autonomous driving technology in September. This drive saw Cadillac representatives, along with a selection of automotive journalists piloting a fleet of CT6 sedans from New York City, New York to Los Angeles, California. The fleet passed through 16 states in the cross-country drive, including stops in Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Dallas, Texas; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Phoenix, Arizona.
Super Cruise is GM’s latest autonomous technology that supports limited access, divided highways. Unlike similar systems from companies like Tesla, GM has taken a more conservative approach that allows them to not treat their customers like beta testers. The system depends on an extensive on-board ‘map’ of the divided highways across the United States as well as a suite of LiDAR (think RADAR that uses lasers to provide a detailed 3D map of the roads that are Super Cruise approved – currently 130,000 miles). Additionally, GM has included a driver attention system that will only allow the car to drive itself if the driver remains engaged in the process. If a driver decides to stop paying attention to the road ahead, the system will alert the driver to return attention to the road – even during autonomous driving mode. If the driver continues to not pay attention (either by choice or because they are unable to comply) – the CT6 will take action by moving to the shoulder and stopping.
This more conservative approach should provide most of the benefits of an autonomous system while avoiding safety issues that have been identified in some other systems that attempt to operate on all roads, do not have a sophisticated a driver attention requirement, or operate using only visible light camera systems.
The Super Cruise system will be available as an option on 2018 Cadillac CT6 sedans. Success of this system will, no doubt, lead to offering this in other Cadillac and GM vehicles in the coming years. Expansion into other road types and countries will likely follow as well.
Cadillac sales, globally, are up for the 16th straight month. However, beyond this, September was the first month in recent memory where US sales were also up.
The US market saw an increase of 162 units (1.1%). However, this increase was not enough to keep US sales in the #1 spot for the brand. China saw a 4700-unit increase (37.6%) over last year. This firmly puts China in the #1 sales position again, outselling the US market by over 1700 units.
Rounding out the global picture, the ‘Rest of World’ markets (everything other than the US and China) are up as well in September. Sales are up 84 units (3.8%) year-over-year.
Digging a bit deeper into the US market, year-to-date sales are down 5440 units (5.4%). The continuing story is that sedan sales are way off 2016’s numbers. Only the Escalade and the XT5 show any growth in September. In fact, the XT5 had a pretty amazing month, growing 58.5% (2694 unit).
Every other product (i.e. sedans) are down by strong double-digit percentages. Cadillac does point to sales of the ATS and CT6 being up globally – but this is on the back of strong China growth. In the home market, ATS and CTS are down almost 30%, XTS is down fully one-third, and CT6 is down almost 27%. This drop works out to 1971 units in total – a loss that is completely made up for with the XT5 alone (showing exactly how strong the luxury crossover market is these days.
We have said this before – but the new line of crossovers will almost certainly change the narrative and will result in many headlines about how Cadillac has regained its mojo. I’m sure they are burning the midnight oil getting the XT5’s siblings ready for sale.
I suppose, technically, you could call August the month when China’s streak of being Cadillac’s top market was broken. However, that would be a stretch as this month saw it drop into 2nd place by a mere 2 units.
In August, the US market saw sales drop 8.1% (1330 unit) from August 2016. In contrast, China sales were up 5100 (51.4%) over the same period. Sales on all other markets were up, over the same period, but 58 units (2.9%). So, China and the US markets continue to duke it out for the sales crown, and China appears to have the momentum.
At the risk of repeating myself for yet another month and not really pointing out something Cadillac doesn’t know already…but sedans are the real problem in the US market (which is on a bender for anything mildly crossover-like). The best performing sedan in Cadillac’s lineup is the CTS…which was merely down 15.8% over August 2016. This represents a drop of 226 units vs last year.
Combining sales of the ATS, CTS, XTS, and CT6 – we can see a drop of 2629 units over the sedan sales in 2016 (4780 this year vs 7409 last year). Significantly bad news are that CT6 sales are down this month given that they were the strongest sedan in the lineup (percentage-wise) this year.
I would hope that Cadillac will have some ‘concept’ crossovers to show in this fall/winter’s auto show season. This would be an sign that we are getting close to a product launch that should shore up the US sales numbers.
However, it is significant to note that, even with this softness in the US sales numbers that Cadillac’s year-to-date numbers, globally, are strong. China is up 42,888 units. ‘Rest of World’ numbers are up 2068. US sales are down, but by only 5602 units. This means that, globally, the brand is up almost 40,000 units over 2016. So, the brand is really poised to have a lot of positive stories written in the mainstream auto press when they get even a single new crossover into the lineup.
We wish the Cadillac crew all the best in getting the new product on the market soon.
When Cadillac started on its journey to relevance in the luxury market, they charted a course that resulted in a bespoke rear-drive platform that would bring world-class offerings to go up against the most popular offerings from the German brands. This platform (Sigma) underpinned the first CTS in 2003, the original SRX shortly thereafter, as well as the second generation CTS and a new STS in 2008.
CTS and STS came to market to go against BMW 3, 5, and 7 series (though positioned, size-wise, in between 3 and 5 (CTS) as well as 5 and 7 (STS). This positioning was close, but not quite right. The strategy was adjusted in ‘the aughts’ (200x) to attack the competition dead-on. This resulted in the ATS, third generation CTS, and finally the CT6.
However the market has moved yet again.
The bulk of volume in the luxury segment is no longer dominated by sedans and coupes. Buyers have discovered utility vehicles like BMW’s X’s (1, 3, 4, 5, and 6) as well as the Audi Q’s (2, 3, 5, and 7) and Mercedes with their G series (GLA, GLC, GLE, and GLS). Cadillac has very little to compete in these segments with only the XT5 mid-sized crossover. Before you think that Cadillac isn’t a player in the crossover market – realize that the XT5 is by far their most popular model and is one of the most popular offerings in its segment (only Lexus’ RX crossover outsold XT5 in recent months). There is no reason to believe that their announced but not yet on-sale crossovers below (XT4) and above (XT6) won’t also sell as well. But, those new products won’t hit the roads until 2018-2019.
To see what a lack of significant product in the crossover segments has done to Cadillac, you need look no further than the most recent month of sales. XT5 (Cadillac’s lone crossover) sold 5504 units in the US market. In comparison the ATS, CTS, XTS, and CT6, combined, sold 2994 units. It isn’t a viable business plan to sell 4 models, with all the development and marketing costs they entail, to sell 60% of the number of a single crossover. So, it should come as no surprise when Cadillac’s Grand Poobah, Johan de Nysschen, in an interview with Reuters – admitted that Cadillac’s next line of sedans would be combining ATS, CTS, and XTS into a single offering that would sell alongside the CT6. The new sedan will be built at Cadillac’s Lansing plant, which suggests the new car will be built on GM’s Alpha platform that underpins the ATS and CTS.
Additionally, Cadillac will offer a new small-car to compete with the Audi A3. This suggests a smaller offering than the ATS, though given that de Nysschen also stated it would be built at the Lansing plant suggests that the sub-ATS car would also be rear-drive based. That may make this car more a BMW 2-Series competitor than a true front-drive based competitor to Audi’s A3 and Mercedes GLA. It is possible both products will share the relatively new Alpha platform that currently serves as the basis for the current ATS and CTS.
Why not base some of these off of the CT6? Well, CT6 just came to market and required significant investment in a new platform (Omega). This platform will easily handle flagship sedan/coupe duties – but is likely much too expensive to build lower-priced sedans from.
So, Cadillac finds itself crossover-poor and with too many sedans of which to support development and marketing. The final plan appears to merge ATS and CTS back into a single offering that would more closely match the BMW 3-Series/Audi A4/ and Mercedes E-Class. A new, smaller sedan to compete in the entry-level sedan space occupied by BMW 2-series/Audi A3/Mercedes GLA – likely with rear-drive. Then, XTS finally goes away in favor of a value-priced CT6 derivative that would help pay for all that expensive Omega-chassis development.
The remaining question will be how good a product the new ATS/CTS replacement might be. Will it directly compete with the A4/3-Series/C-Class and A6/5-Series/E-Class products or will this be a return to the ‘in-between’ product that Cadillac didn’t have great success with before. Of course, with the importance of crossovers in today’s luxury market, even a sedan that tries to play in both classes might not matter while the utility vehicle offerings bring in more than their fair share of customers and profit.
We should know much more in 2018/2019 when these new products debut.