February 12, 2014 at 1:00 am

Cadillac sets ambitious sales goals for 2014

Cadillac global sales jumped 28 percent and U.S. sales rose just shy of 22 percent. (Cadillac)

Cadillac hopes to grow by double-digit percentages this year globally and in the U.S. as it expands its footprint in China and adds new models to its American lineup.

General Motors Co.’s luxury brand sold nearly 251,000 vehicles last year as global sales jumped 28 percent and U.S. sales rose just shy of 22 percent.

Cadillac will launch three new or refreshed models in the U.S. this year: The 2014 ELR plug-in hybrid coupe is just getting into showrooms. The 2015 Escalade SUV will arrive in dealerships this spring. And the 2015 ATS Coupe arrives at dealerships this summer.

That’s just the start.

According to Ed Welburn, GM’s vice president of global design, “We’ve got more Cadillacs under development today than at any other time in the history of that brand,”

Cadillac will release at least a new product a year for the rest of the decade, said Bob Ferguson, senior vice president of GM’s Global Cadillac business, in an interview at the North American International Auto Show: “We’ll refresh existing products and we’ll do things that extend the product lines so we have more choices for consumers and a broader showroom for our dealers.”

Ferguson said Cadillac is studying adding more variants of the ATS, which was the brand’s second-biggest seller last year in the U.S. He said Cadillac is open to the idea of convertible but has no concrete plans to produce one.

Ferguson said Cadillac likely will have more product announcements in the second half of the year. “We’re going to have some new segments to enter,” he said without elaborating. Analysts say Cadillac could use a bigger luxury sedan than the XTS — and more crossovers.

IHS Automotive estimates Cadillac global sales will top 300,000 vehicles in 2015. The research firm is predicting the brand’s global sales this year will slow to about 5.2 percent growth.

Peter Nagle, a North American sales forecast analyst for IHS, said IHS predicts Cadillac’s U.S. sales will grow by about 5 percent in 2014, slightly below the 7 percent pace it expects for the general luxury market.

“Growth will remain concentrated in the subcompact and compact crossover segments in which Cadillac currently does not offer products, and is part of the reason why Cadillac will underperform,” he wrote in an email.

Much of Cadillac’s product push is being driven by China, GM’s largest overall sales market. Ferguson said Cadillac needs more models in China, where it now has 200 dealers.

GM expects Cadillac sales in China will double by 2015. Cadillac sold a record 50,000-plus vehicles there last year, up 67 percent from 2012. Cadillac plans to add the ATS Coupe in China this year and add one new model a year through 2016.

GM’s new Cadillac plant in China will be open in about a year. It plans to build the ATS. GM currently builds the XTS in China. The SRX — exported from Mexico — is the biggest Cadillac seller in China.

Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s global chief marketing officer, wants Cadillac in the next five to 10 years to add vehicles with diesel engines that will help sell Cadillacs in Europe. Right-hand drive vehicles will help break into the Australian and United Kingdom markets.

Ellinghaus said he wants to use Cadillac’s American heritage and its evolving design to set itself apart from German premium brands.

“The German premium brands have to be a little more mainstream and careful, given their volume aspirations. They can not afford to be as distinctive as Cadillac still can,” he said.

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