Will Cadillac's rebranding efforts work?
Will they ever return to their former glory?
40 years ago, Cadillac owned nearly 1/3 of the luxury car market in the US. Today, that has dropped to around 7%. Cadillac's fall from grace is largely due to the introduction of Japenese and German rivals that evolved with the times while Cadillac stuck it's head in the sand and trusted that a loyal customer base in the US would continue to buy their, let's face it, worse cars. Throughout the 80's and 90's, Cadillac did fine, retaining a small market share but slowly losing more and more ground to their foreign rivals.
Although sales figures and market share held relatively steady, their reputation took a nosedive. In 2018, Carmax did a study on the average age of their buyers based on brand, and found that Cadillac and Buick have the oldest average buyers with an average age of 45 years old. Cadillac has only themselves to blame for that. They try and compete with brands like BMW and Mercedes by introducing cars that are slower, much more comfortable, and just as expensive. As James May put it "I chose this Cadillac because it was comfortable".
However, Cadillac has recently decided it wants to rebrand itself, and has introduced cars to do just that. The brand new CT4 and CT5 may have silly names, but they outcompete their counterparts at BMW and Mercedes. The BMW M340 costs nearly 7k USD more than the CT5-V, but the Cadillac will be more comfortable, just as fast, and won't make you feel like you cheaped out on the not an M version. The story stays the same with the Mercedes C43 Sedan. You can now buy a Cadillac CT4 for less than a Kia Stinger! That price point puts it right in the sweet spot between the emerging luxury car brands like Kia and Mazda and the historic luxury car brands like BMW and Mercedes.
The Cadillac CT5-V
The Lyriq, Cadilac's first attempt at a electric car, is expected to be released in 2023, and it looks good. It uses a similar design language as the Cybertruck, with it's hard angles and sharp design, but in the Lyriq it actually looks good. If the Lyriq can compete in terms of performance and range with the Teslas' or whatever new electric cars come out in the next three years, I think Cadillac has a chance to rebrand itself even more. It can become the market leader for luxury electric cars, because Tesla's use of cheap feeling materials on their interiors has left the window open for them.
Cadillac certainly has the lineup to compete with these German brands, but will their efforts pay off? The notion that German and Japenese cars, especially in the luxury segment, are just better is seeped into the minds of American consumers. Cadillac needs to work to change that perception. If Cadillac can convince buyers to choose a CT4 over a well equipped Camry or base BMW, then Cadillac can dust off the sand and move confidently into the future, but if not, they might as well let the waves wash them away.