Cadillac’s Sales Volume Sinks at Home, Soars Abroad

Expand your horizons. See the forest, not just the trees. Look west of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Cadillac sales plunged in the United States in July 2017, dropping by more than a fifth to only 11,227 units. That 22-percent dive was the worst for Cadillac’s U.S. operations since April of last year. The 11,227-sale result represented a five-month low for Cadillac in the United States and the lowest-volume since 2011.

But Cadillac is increasingly a less U.S.-centric automotive brand. Just three short years ago, two-thirds of Cadillac’s volume was produced in its American home market. Fast forward to July 2017 and the majority of Cadillac’s volume isn’t produced in the market where it’s suffering from such dwindling demand.

Rather, Cadillac generates the bulk of its global volume outside of America, where Cadillac demand is rapidly increasing.

In July, sales of Cadillacs in China jumped 37 percent to 12,006 units, the fourth consecutive month in which Cadillac has found more buyers in China than the United States.

Yet China’s rapid Cadillac growth in July was nothing compared to what the brand has achieved so far this year. Cadillac’s China volume is up 69 percent so far this year to 92,363 units, 11-percent more than what Cadillac has managed in the United States.

Just one year ago, Cadillac was producing 35 percent of its global volume in China. In 2017, that figure has jumped to 49 percent, with Cadillac China now selling just as many vehicles as Cadillac sells across all of North America.

With plans in place for Cadillac to built an XT crossover model (to slot below the XT5) alongside the Chevrolet Malibu in Fairfax, Kansas next year, and a subsequent launch of a three-row utility vehicle above the XT5 but below the Escalade, Cadillac’s U.S. ship could be quickly turned around. For the time being, however, Cadillac is suffering in the United States because of a sedan lineup that lacked popularity before the U.S. market became rebelliously anti-car. Now that the uncommon first-generation ATS, third-generation CTS, and aged XTS (all bound for dismissal) are linked to sectors in which even formerly popular luxury cars are struggling, U.S. sales are plunging rapidly.

U.S. sales of the ATS, CTS, and XTS were chopped in half in July, a loss of 2,150 sales that had very little to do with GM’s attempt to rein in fleet sales. Cadillac sold only 848 vehicles to fleets in July 2016; a figure which fell to 700 in July 2017.

Meanwhile, a modest year-over-year increase to 890 CT6 sales (actually a 2017 five-month low) did little to offset the decline. Moreover, Escalade volume was up by only 157 units and joint SRX/XT5 sales were down 12 percent.

Yet with improvements in Cadillac’s smaller markets — Canadian sales jumped 41 percent last month — and booming China volume, Cadillac’s global successes produced the brand’s 14th consecutive year-over-year monthly improvement via a 2-percent July uptick.

Cadillac nevertheless remains a small global player in the luxury arena. While Cadillac produced 189,461 sales around the world in the first seven months of 2017, Mercedes-Benz sold 187,869 vehicles (vans excluded) in the United States alone.