| NEW YORK, March 26
NEW YORK, March 26 General Motors Co is
turning to a redesigned, longer CTS mid-sized sedan to make its
Cadillac luxury brand more competitive against German rivals.
The new "right-sized" CTS will debut this fall as a 2014
model, joining the smaller ATS and larger XTS sedans that the
U.S. automaker introduced last year as part of a push to make
Cadillac relevant far beyond its home market. It showed the
redesigned CTS on Tuesday evening at an event ahead of the New
York auto show.
"This third generation of CTS is really the harbinger for
our global aspirations and where we're headed overall," said Don
Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac.
"Our big thing that we're driving for is cultural
relevance," he added. "We still have a big challenge to be
thought of and spoken of in the same breath as BMW and
GM's drive to make Cadillac a global brand took shape after
the company's 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring. While Cadillac
has been sold around the world, a pre-bankruptcy GM lacked the
financial clout to boost demand beyond the small numbers sold
outside the United States.
The new CTS, which is 5 inches (12.7 cm) longer than the
current model, will more clearly differentiate the car from its
smaller sibling, the ATS, which industry media named North
American Car of the Year in January. The idea is to more
directly compete with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.
The current CTS was introduced in late 2007 and helped upend
Cadillac's image as a brand for older consumers. However, sales
of the car fell 14.6 percent last year to 46,979 vehicles as it
aged and was squeezed between the ATS and XTS.
CTS has been Cadillac's "backbone" since it was first sold
in 2002, brand design chief Mark Adams said.
However, analysts said the Cadillac brand still trailed its
"The new CTS is an impressive vehicle, but Cadillac still
remains under the radar of premium luxury car buyers," LMC
Automotive senior analyst Joe Langley said.
"While Cadillac is finally getting their house in order and
could make some inroads," he added, "the dominant German brands
continue their march forward into a wide range of new niches."
LMC expects Cadillac's global sales to more than double to
surpass 410,000 vehicles in 2020, while CTS sales should rise by
almost a quarter to about 64,000 in that time. The slower
increase is due to CTS's transition from the brand's main sedan
to part of a more complete portfolio.
Cadillac executives have aggressive plans, saying last year
that the brand would introduce 10 all-new or significantly
refreshed vehicles globally over the following three years.
People familiar with the company's discussions with
suppliers previously said Cadillac might double its vehicle
lineup to as many as 10 models over the next four years as part
of GM's strategy to turn the brand into a global power. Besides
the new ELR plug-in electric coupe due next year, the plans may
include a flagship sedan, a small crossover and a smaller car to
take on BMW's 1-Series.
In addition, Cadillac officials said last summer that the
brand in two years should be challenging foreign automakers for
the top spot in the U.S. luxury auto segment, a position it has
not held in 15 years. Officials said U.S. sales of the brand
should be double the 2010 total of about 147,000 within a couple
Cadillac's U.S. sales fell 1.7 percent last year to 149,782
vehicles. The United States accounts for about three-quarters of
the brand's global sales, which totaled about 200,000 in 2011
and 2012, down from 241,000 in 2007.
Cadillac already has come a long way. The average age of the
brand's drivers last year was about 56, down from about 63 in
1995, according to CNW Research. That compares with 52 for BMW
and 59 for Mercedes.
The success of the current CTS, whose drivers are mostly in
their 40s, along with the Escalade SUV's reception from hip-hop
artists, helped upend Cadillac's "geezermobile" image. CNW
President Art Spinella said he expected that trend to continue
with new models like the 2014 CTS.
At 195.5 inches, the new CTS is longer than its rivals. GM
officials said the new design, which Adams touts as "longer,
lower, leaner," was an evolution of the angular "Art and
Science" exterior styling the brand has embraced since the late
Dave Leone, Cadillac's executive chief engineer, said the
current CTS was meant to allow GM to attract buyers who were
also looking for a smaller car, but the company "right-sized"
the new version to make it more compatible with the ATS and XTS.
The new CTS also has new features GM hopes will lure more
buyers, including a twin-turbo V6 engine with 420 horsepower and
an eight-speed transmission - both firsts for the brand.
Cadillac designers and engineers also cut 7 percent of the
curb weight from the current base model's 3,800 pounds, partly
through the use of more aluminum and other lighter-weight
materials. For instance, the four aluminum doors allowed GM to
eliminate 55 pounds.
GM has said pricing for the new CTS would be up from the
current model, which sells for $40,000 to $68,000. Cadillac's
Butler said the increase would be similar to what happened when
the brand transitioned to the current model, whose average
transaction price rose $8,000 from the first generation.