Whither Sedans? – ATS/CTS/XTS Replacement News

What a difference a decade makes.


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.

ATS-VWhy 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.

Source: Reuters

July 2017 Cadillac Sales

Cadillac has released their sales numbers for July, and things appear to be progressing in much the same way they have in the past several months.  As they are eager to say, worldwide sales are up for the 14th straight month (even if that is fewer than 500 sales above this month last year).  

As we have seen for a while now, US sales are down by over 3000 units (21.7%).

Offsetting drops in the US market and keeping the #1 spot, is China.  July saw China outselling the US by 779 units as well as outpacing its own July 2016 sales by 3249 (37.1%).  The rest of the world volume was also up, but still only makes up less than 8% of global sales.

Back to the drop in US sales…this is due to massive drops in sales of the ATS (down 63.3%), CTS (down 40.1%) and XTS (down 41.6%).  The only sedan in the US market that saw a sales increase was the CT6, and that was not nearly enough to overcome the drop in sales of the other models.  Escalade and XT5 also saw sales increases – further bolstering the need of the brand to get their new crossovers to market as quickly as possible.

It is staggering how much the US luxury market has abandoned the sedan segment.  In just this one year, ATS/CTS/XTS/CT6 have dropped by 2191 units (total sedan sales in were down from 5185 in July 2016 to 2994 this July).  Now, recent statement from Cadillac about the replacements for the ATS/CTS/XTS start to make sense…but that is another story.  

Will Cadillac Really Axe the CT6?

There have been rumors flying this week from a story run on Business Insider, itself a re-print of a blog post by Wolf Richter, about GM cancelling 6 passenger cars, including the Cadillac CT6 and XTS.

The ‘evidence’?  A statement from UAW President Dennis Williams about talks with GM to get higher volume products into some plants such as Hamtramck and Lordstown.  Richter then waxes on about the decrease in sales volume in cars industry-wide and cancellation of products at other companies.  Let’s neglect for a moment that GM could be talking to the UAW about moving more models to the Hamtramck plant (which builds the CT6), or that Richter uses the dropping of the Lincoln MKS as evidence of products being axed (the MKS is still with us…Lincoln renamed it Continental).  

Leaving that behind…would dropping the CT6 and XTS make sense for the brand?  In a word – no.

CT6 is the halo car of the brand; a means of showing proof that Cadillac can build a car that equals the luxury competition.  The XTS is kept in the lineup to appeal to classic Cadillac buyers that don’t like the harder edge of the CT6 or CTS all while riding on a platform that is largely paid for by sales of its platform mate the Buick LaCrosse.  If GM wanted to shutter Hamtramck, and not add other products to the line, it would likely move CT6 to Lansing plant that currently builds the CTS, ATS, and Chevrolet Camaro.

Are sedan sales suffering industry-wide?  Yes.  Is that a reason to jump directly to GM killing off money-making product for Cadillac?  Doubtful.

So, let’s move on, shall we?

Source: …yeah, I am not giving Mr Richter or Business Insider the traffic I’m sure they were after with their posts.

CT6 Mid-Cycle Refresh Spied

Cadillac’s CT6 has been on the market for a couple of years now.  In the interim, the Escala Concept has previewed a new styling direction.  Combine these facts and a refreshed CT6 that has some Escala styling cues is no real surprise.  The good folks over at have spied a new version of the CT6 that borrows lighting and grill styling influenced by the brand’s new direction.

We are likely a year or more from the updated car, and possibly more time from the first product that really brings Escala styling fully into production.  But, for now, it appears Cadillac is staying the course with the themes they have shown off.

Though, it is curious that we haven’t yet seen a model in testing that really brings the look to fruition.  Perhaps we won’t see the styling in-full until one of the new crossovers break cover.


June 2017 Cadillac Sales – The Story of a Two Market Company Continues

Cadillac has released their sales numbers for the month of June 2017.

Of note: US sales are down again by 11.8% (1683 units).  This is offset by an increase in Chinese sales by 3334 (an increase in that market of 34.9%).  This places China as the #1 market for the brand for yet another month (if only by 306 units).

Combined with an increase in RoW sales (Rest of World) by exactly 200 units results in a world-wide sales increase of 7.2% (1851 units).

Year to date, worldwide sales are up 27.1% and Chinese sales are up 75%.  US sales are largely flat (down by 1.6% this year).

The XT5 remains the brands best-selling model with sales of 10900 (back of the envelope calculations give us that the single model makes up over 39% of the brand sales), again highlighting why Cadillac is rushing to get other crossovers to market to cover the loss in sales of sedans.

Brand President Johan de Nysschen: 

Cadillac continues to grow globally, despite the shift away from sedans in the U.S. market.  The success of the XT5 and the increase in sales of the CT6 shows that we are attracting unique buyers to the brand, building momentum for our incredible product offensive beginning next year.


Let’s take a quick look at the US market sales, specifically to see how the XT5 is bolstering sales in the Cadillac home market:

Here we can see that the ATS, CTS, and XTS are all sharply down over last year by a total of 1549 sales.  XT5 sales are up 906 units.  Escalade sales are up 460 units.  CT6 is the only sedan with a sales increase though only by 52 units.  This could be due to increased awareness and likely was at the expense of CTS and XTS sales that would have occurred if the new flagship sedan had not been introduced.

As we have said before, and Cadillac no-doubt knows, the XT3 and XT7 can’t get to market soon enough.

Sorry for the delay getting this post out – the US Independence Day holiday and a vacation delayed our post.