Lincoln and Cadillac Lose Ground in Luxury Market

The turnarounds of Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln brand and General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac suffered setbacks in June. While sales of primary rivals BMW, Mercedes and Toyota Motor Corp.’s (NYSE: TM) Lexus brand rose, sales of the two American luxury car makers stagnated in June. No matter what the two largest U.S. manufacturers do, gaining on import rivals has been nearly impossible.

Cadillac sales rose only 0.1% to 13,941. And Lincoln sales fell 2.7% to 7,271. According to Kelley Blue Book, Cadillac had a 1.0% share of the U.S. vehicle sales market in June, while Lincoln’s share was 0.5%.

The other side of the story is that sales of luxury market share market leader BMW (2.1% share) were up 11.5% in June, compared with June a year ago, to 30,201. Sales of Mercedes (market share 2.0%) rose 8.8% to 28,707. And sales of the resurgent Lexus brand (market share 1.7%) rose 10.1% to 23,518. Audi (market share 1.2%), which continues to successfully challenge the top three luxury brands, had a sales increase of 23.1% to 16,867. Even Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti (market share 0.6%) outsold Lincoln with sales of 8,574, which was down 5.9% from June 2013.

There are several reasons that GM and Ford have not been able to do better. Despite strong marks in some of the industry’s most carefully watched research, neither has a broad product line-up. For example, in the new J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Study, Cadillac and Lincoln scored well above average.

However, Lincoln has only six nameplates, which range from its lowest priced MKC, with a base price of $33,100, to its full size SUV, the Navigator, which has a base price of $56,165. Cadillac has seven nameplates. BMW has eight, including its new electric cars, and Mercedes has 12. Lincoln and Cadillac have too few models to compete across the entire spectrum of luxury buyers.

Lincoln hopes its 2015 MKC will help it sharply increase sales. Cadillac had hoped to do the same with its ATS, which was well received and posted strong initial sales, only to watch those advances drop off in June and year-to-date. But a single model from each of the two luxury car companies will not be enough to gain them ground.

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