Will Cadillac's Wreck Continue in 2020?

General Motors Corp.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac had a very rough year in 2019. Deliveries of one of its low-end vehicles were the only thing that kept the period from being a wreck. Otherwise, most Cadillac models posted double-digit year-over-year declines. Cadillac goes into 2020 with a model lineup that threatens results, which may not get much better.

For 2019, Cadillac sales were 156,246, up 1%. Sales of the downscale XT4 rose 310.9% to 31,987. The vehicle is a relatively inexpensive crossover with a base price of $35,190. It was Cadillac’s only success.

The XT5, Cadillac’s best-selling vehicle, dropped 17.6% to 49,879. Sales of the XTS fell 36.2% to 11,304. Sales of Cadillac’s behemoth Escalade slipped 3.9% to 35,424. Cadillac got a little help from the XT6. It had sales of 11,559. The XT6 was not available last year. With the exception of the XT4, Cadillac’s sales of models available in the critical crossover and luxury categories available in both 2018 and 2019 were comparatively poor.

It is hard to tell exactly what Cadillac’s problems are. Among the reasons most experts give is that a Cadillac is not a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus. Each has had brands that appeal more to the luxury car buyers. Their sales demonstrate that. Mercedes sold 357,729 last year, BMW sold 324,826 and Lexus sold 298,114.

Another reason often given is that Cadillac does not have a successful sedan or coupe. Although many U.S. buyers have turned away from these, Cadillac’s sales in the category have plunged.

Yet another reason for the difficulty is that many Cadillac models are old. Its German and Japanese rivals seem to churn out several new models every year.

Cadillac’s problems are now decades old. GM continues to believe it can turn around the brand. For years that has not happened, and there is no reason to believe that has changed.

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