GM Preparing Cadillac’s Next U.S. Product Volley

In Europe, the pace of growth will move more deliberately with the brand waiting as long as three years before the introduction of an important diesel powertrain.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

January 15, 2014

3 Min Read
Cadillacrsquos Bob Ferguson
Cadillac’s Bob Ferguson

DETROIT – General Motors will unleash a second volley of new Cadillac products following the launch of the Escalade large SUV later this year, giving the automaker’s fast-growing luxury brand unprecedented momentum in the U.S.

In Europe, however, where Cadillac is rebuilding its presence after its distribution partner fizzled in 2010, the pace of growth will move more deliberately with the brand waiting as long as three years before the introduction of an important diesel powertrain.

That leaves the U.S. and China as the major markets for Cadillac in the near term.

“There are more Cadillacs under development now than any time in our history,” says Bob Ferguson, vice president, Global Cadillac.

“Right behind the Escalade, there is an entire series of vehicles,” Ferguson tells WardsAuto in an interview ahead of the unveiling of the ’15 Cadillac ATS Coupe at the North American International Auto Show here, the fourth new product from the brand in the past 18 months. Cadillac last year revealed a pivotal new concept car, the Elmiraj.

Cadillac’s current new-product wave, which includes award-winning sedans such as the ATS compact and CTS large cars, have combined to make it the fastest-growing luxury brand in the U.S. and put it on a sales trajectory not witnessed in more than a decade.

Cadillac dealers last year delivered 182,543 cars, trucks and CUVs, up a brisk 21.9% from 149,782 units in 2012, according to WardsAuto data.

“Without hesitation, Cadillac has momentum in the marketplace,” Ferguson says.

Ferguson, now in his 16th month as head of marketing, brand management and advertising worldwide for the brand, does not divulge details about future Cadillacs.

His strongest hints about new vehicles from the brand came last year in New York, where he suggested Cadillac could broaden the Escalade line and must bring out a proper flagship car to replace the big SUV atop its lineup.

A WardsAuto forecast calls for Cadillac to follow the Escalade products with a hybrid large sedan, redesigned SRX 5-passsenger CUV, a flagship car above the XTS large sedan and large 8-passenger CUV.

Ferguson says he expects the redesigned CTS to start gathering momentum in the U.S. in the coming weeks. Sales of the well-received sedan faltered last year, dipping 31.2% to 32,343 copies from 46,979 in 2012.

Only recently has production of the award-winning ’14 model-year car hit its stride, and advertising will crank up during the run-up to the National Football League’s Super Bowl championship.

Two new television spots bowed during the football playoffs and also received time during Hollywood’s Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. A third spot will come soon, Ferguson says.

The new advertising marks the first batch of creative work from Rogue, Cadillac’s new agency of record. It also marks a new direction in Cadillac advertising under Ferguson, who wanted to soften ads heavy on the technical aspect of the brand’s vehicles.

“I’m really pleased,” he says. “There is a human side to it. Consumers can picture themselves in the car.”

In China, where GM has big aspirations for the brand, Ferguson says sales, production and dealership growth are moving “full speed ahead.”

Cadillac sales soared 67% to 50,005 units in the world’s largest market last year, riding the introduction of new products such as the XTS and ATS and the groundbreaking of a new assembly plant. Plans call for Cadillac to add one new model in China each year through 2016.

Cadillac also continues to build a new distribution network in Europe, its third attempt at muscling into the region after its last foray failed when distribution partner Kroymans Group of Belgium went under in 2010.

Ferguson says development is under way for right-hand-drive products, although an important diesel engine the brand currently lacks remains 24 to 36 months away.

Cadillac’s global sales rose 28% last year, GM says.

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