Cadillac’s U.S Sales Have Sunk Since Moving to SoHo

Cadillac’s controversial 2015 move from its Detroit birthplace to the glittering spires of Manhattan is already showing signs of working, says the brand’s stern and methodical president.

By packing their bags and heading to Soho, Cadillac’s braintrust hoped the brand’s swanky new digs would rub off, distancing it from the likes of GMC and Chevrolet and helping to pull in discerning new customers. So far, Cadillac is — just not in its home country.

Brand president Johan de Nysschen isn’t worried about recent U.S. sales numbers, however. He’s playing the long game, telling The Detroit News that Cadillac’s planned ascent to “standard of the world” status — a goal he expects to reach within 15 years — is “on track.”

At the end of April, Cadillac sales in the U.S. were down 1.3 percent compared to last year, when sales slid compared to 2015. The brand anticipates a turnaround as it brings more crossovers and SUVs to market, but only one — the strong-selling XT5 — has so far made it to dealers. Overall auto sales in this country have performed miserably this year, meaning Cadillac isn’t alone, even though other premium automakers have posted gains amid the gloom.

Overseas, it’s a different story in countries that couldn’t purchase a Cadillac until this decade. China, the growth engine of choice for so many automakers, has improved on last year’s first-third sales by 92.5 percent. Global sales are up over 31 percent over the same period.

The American sales stagnation isn’t a surprise for de Nysschen. As new product reaches showrooms, de Nysschen said he wants to build profitability and status, which can’t be accomplished through incentives that ultimately cheapen the brand and lead to low used car values. “Our aim is not to park a Cadillac in every driveway, but the right driveways,” he said.

The brand’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, said the move attracted top talent from outside the industry, a demographic that now makes up about 80 percent of the company’s New York staff. However, it remains to be seen whether recent ideas like the “Book by Cadillac” car subscription service pays off. The same goes for the company’s current advertising campaign.

At the end of the day, success comes down to desirable product.

Next year, Cadillac plans to stake a claim in the lucrative premium compact crossover segment. The XT4 is due out in mid-year as a 2019 model. Another utility vehicle will fill the gap between the XT5 and flagship Escalade the following year, and yet another crossover will appear at the bottom of the lineup sometime after.