The current Cadillac lineup is full of cars that are every bit as great as the Germans they compete against, if not better in some cases. Their problem is that they're priced at the same level too, and buyers haven't seen them that way. Will that change under Johan De Nysschen, the CEO Cadillac poached from Infiniti?
No. No it won't. Nor will massive, Chevrolet-style incentives designed to inflate sales numbers.
That's what De Nysschen himself said in an interview with Automotive News. He said that as Cadillac "works to attract the higher-end clientele", presumably one on par with Audi or BMW, it will have to forsake some of its traditional buyers accustomed to lower prices. Eventually, he says, they will gain traction with the younger, import-oriented crowd.
"We cannot deny the fact that we are leaving behind our traditional customer base," de Nysschen said. "It will take several years before a sufficiently large part of the audience who until now have been concentrating on the German brands will find us in their consideration set."
[...] "I think the logical conclusion is that it's better to build off a very solid base in terms of [product] credibility, charge a fair price for the car and realize you have to wait until the volume comes," he said.
These days, an ATS is about on par with a BMW 3-Series in pricing, and a CTS mirrors the 5-Series as well. But while the other luxury brands have seen quite a bit of sales growth this year, Cadillac hasn't. U.S. sales were down 5 percent in August versus an 8 percent gain for all luxury manufacturers, Automotive News said.
I think that's a shame, because Cadillac's new cars are really, really good. I wish more buyers looked at the ATS and CTS over the alternatives, both because I think they'd be impressed and because there's something to be said for doing something different and supporting American luxury. Alas, buyers don't seem willing to pay BMW prices for Cadillacs.
The question is, is De Nysschen doing the right thing, or should Cadillac really consider dropping their MSRPs a bit?