Cadillac Falls Way Behind BMW, Mercedes, Lexus Again

Cadillac, the luxury car division of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), has launched its new “supercars,” as it has done a number of times in the past. It runs so far behind the leaders in the luxury car market, based on sales, that the effort faces impossible headwinds. As last year closed, Cadillac sales fell well behind the market leaders, as it has for decades. GM’s new plans cannot reverse the long-term trend.

The new V-Series Blackwing should remind most high-end, high-speed, luxury car experts of the previous V-Series. They were extremely fast, even when compared to the expensive muscle cars from Mercedes, BMW and Lexus, the U.S. sales leaders. The old V-Series sold poorly, but they were never meant to be the heart of the Cadillac lineup. They were meant to draw attention to the brand, but it did not work. The V-Series prices match those of the more expensive end of the other luxury car model lines. The fully featured CT4-V Blackwing costs just over $74,000. The CT5-V Blackwing costs just over $110,000.

Cadillac continues to have a problem with its image as an older buyer’s car. Its brand lacks the prestige of its German and Japanese rivals too.

Sales in the final month of 2020 demonstrate Cadillac’s problem. The month was its best of the year, as sales reached 16,544. However, BMW December sales totaled 38,074, while Mercedes had sales of 36,746, Lexus sales of 38,223 and Audi sales of 24,102. Luxury niche brand Volvo nearly caught Cadillac with sales of 14,244 vehicles.

Among Cadillac’s multitude of problems is GM’s failure to invest in the brand. It has an extremely modest lineup of models. It includes only four sport utility vehicles and four sedans, without the V-Series included.

GM has moved aggressively into the electric and autonomous vehicle efforts, based on the belief that these eventually will be its most successful products. That will push Cadillac down the ladder of brands that need to do well. That, in turn, will undermine Cadillac’s already cloudy future.