The promised turnaround of General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac and Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln have to be years away, as managements have hinted. The process is off to a poor start. Lincoln sales dropped 7.5% in February to 6,164, and Cadillac sales fell 12.6% to 11,739. It is a guessing game whether the two huge American car companies will soldier on as they try to get an even modest part of the luxury market.
The news was actually worse than that. Lincoln avoided a slaughter because of the sales of its MKC, which reached 1,558. Since the model was not for sale last year, for February 2014 Ford gets to make a comparison to zero. On the plus side as well, if it can be called that, Lincoln’s beast of a sport utility vehicle (SUV), the Navigator, sold 862 units, up from 440 in the same month last year. Aside from that, Lincoln still has a model line that is disintegrating. Unimaginably, Lincoln sales could drop to as low as 5,000 a month.
The only reason Cadillac’s sales decline in February made a bigger thud than Lincoln’s is because they had further to fall, even if by only a few thousand units. The patterns the two luxury brands had were similar. Cadillac’s Herculean SUV, the Escalade, has model sales of 1,489, up 91.9%. Sales of the Escalade ESV rose 78.9% to 888. The best-selling Cadillac, the SRX, posted a unit decrease of 24.7% to 3,809.
As an aside, for those keeping score, Mercedes sold 25,291 vehicles last month, up 5.2%. BMW sold 25,201, up 14.5%, and Audi sold 11,455, up 5.3%.
The Cadillac brand was founded in 1902 and Lincoln in 1917. It is never too late to throw in the towel. As GM discovered with Pontiac and Oldsmobile just a few years ago, not every brand has an infinite lifespan.