General Motors CEO Dan Akerson’s lengthy interview with the Detroit News revealed a heap of dirt about GM’s future -- as well as what he (or perhaps even the company) thinks of competitors. Akerson praised GM’s luxury brand Cadillac, while dismissing its crosstown rival: Ford’s Lincoln division. To quote Ackerson,“You might as well sprinkle holy water. [Lincoln is] over.”
Is it? Does Cadillac truly have the upper hand in the domestic luxury battle between GM and Ford? We took at look at Cadillac and Lincoln’s sales figures and future plans to see which of the two American luxury brands is most likely to succeed.
Based on sales volumes, Cadillac significantly outstripped Lincoln in 2010. Lincoln sold 85,828 vehicles, up 3.6 percent compared to 2009. Its volume leaders were the MKZ sedan (22,535 sales) and the MKX crossover (21,932 sales.)By contrast Cadillac sold 146,925 vehicles in 2010, up 34.7 percent over 2009, with volumes led by the SRX crossover (51,094 sold in 2010) and the CTS (45,656 sales.) Lincoln may have lagged behind Cadillac in the dealer wars, but 85,828 vehicles is nothing to be sniffed at. Moreover, Lincoln managed to oust Lexus from top spot in the prestigious J.D. Power Dependability ratings.
Cadillac plans to continue its sales success with several new products. Akerson says that the next batch of Cadillac vehicles will be competitive, but interestingly, he claims “they’re not going to blow the doors off” other vehicles in the class. Cadillac will gradually ramp-up its quality and product offerings so that within one or two years, Cadillac can sell successfully as a global brand.
The first part of that strategy is the introduction of two new sedans. The XTS will be a large, front-wheel-drive flagship model presaged by the XTS concept that bowed at the 2010 Detroit auto show. The other has yet to be named, but all signs point to it being called ATS. The ATS should be a rear-drive luxury sedan poised to fight the BMW 3 Series, with a likely debut in 2013. New investments in existing GM plants underline that the company is serious about these new vehicles. Additional rumors say the Cadillac will eventually replace the Escalade with a seven-seat crossover based on GM’s popular Lambda platform. Current Lambda products comprise the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia.
Lincoln’s future product plans, on the other hand, are less clear. In late 2010 the company appointed designer Max Wolff its official design director, with the mission of imbuing Lincoln with a more upscale feel and style. Wolff was a former GM stylist and, with a heavy dose of irony, had previously served as Cadillac’s head of exterior design.
There are three products we can expect from the Lincoln pipeline over the next few years. First is a small C-segment vehicle that will be based on the new Ford Focus platform. The compact is meant to attract younger buyers to Lincoln showrooms. The MKZ sedan may be redesigned by late 2012, and may share quite a bit with the European Ford Mondeo.
It’s also rumored that Lincoln will debut a crossover smaller than the MKX -- potentially based on the next-gen Ford Escape/Kuga crossover -- to go head-to-head with Lexus’ RX and Cadillac’s SRX.
Part of Lincoln’s mission is for its vehicles to be more distinct from the Ford products on which they’re based. Bespoke styling, adaptive suspension, unique engines, and a focus on all-wheel-drive are said to underpin future Lincoln products in that drive to be distinct. With a large proportion of Lincoln buyers already opting for all-wheel drive, it will become the company’s signature drivetrain. At this point, a rear-drive Lincoln doesn’t look all that likely.
Although Cadillac is beating Lincoln in the sales race, both brands are promising a range of new and improved vehicles over the next few years. Until we see the aforementioned new products, it’s hard to judge just how successful each company will be, but we think it’s premature to say that Lincoln is dead. Mr. Akerson, we respectfully disagree: both Cadillac and Lincoln still have plenty more life in them, provided those in charge of each brand pick future products wisely and execute them perfectly.
What say you? Does Cadillac hold the trump card over Lincoln? What does each brand need in terms of product over the next 3-5 years to remain competitive in the market? What features or traits should serve as brand hallmarks for each marque? Send your suggestions to us by means of the comments field below.