Cadillac will kill ATS sedan after 2018 model year

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

Cadillac’s ATS sedan will cease to exist after the 2018 model year as the General Motors Co. luxury brand continues to tweak its product portfolio. The coupe version of the ATS is on a later life cycle and will continue through the end of 2019.

The death of the ATS sedan is part of a product overhaul at the luxury brand that was started by the recently ousted former Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen.

Cadillac spokesman Donny Nordlicht said the brand’s lineup will eventually include only three sedans, which will cover different segments and price-points.

“This year will bring forth significant changes to our product portfolio, most notably with the introduction of the all-new XT4 SUV as well as concluding the successful life cycle of the ATS sedan in North America,” Nordlicht said. “Production of the ATS sedan is ending due to extensive plant upgrades, expansion and re-tooling to prepare for the next generation of Cadillac sedans.”

The CT6, which carries Cadillac’s hands-free Super Cruise technology, will continue as the brand’s “prestige sedan,” he said.

In July, de Nysschen hinted that two Cadillac sedan models would be replaced by one model, rumored to be called the CT5.

“He (de Nysschen) stated in public domain one of the moves we will make – but not everything,” said Matt Russell, Cadillac’s marketing manager for the V-Series and racing. “The fact that the ATS sedan has reached end of life cycle does not mean we are getting out of the luxury compact car and luxury subcompact car business. It’s simply too soon to reveal our product plans for the future.”

Russell said Cadillac is still committed to the luxury sedan segment.

“When we talk about the business segment that is the subcompact sport luxury sedan, we see that as our sandbox,” he said. “We believe the ATS has carved our initial piece of that out. We are not going to abandon that just because ATS has reached the end of its life cycle.”

Nordlicht declined to comment on the fate of the ATS in China, where sales of the car have been on a steady incline in 2018. Cadillac invested heavily in the Chinese market under de Nysschen, leading the brand to a record-breaking year of global sales in 2017.

The ATS debuted for the 2012 model year. The ATS-V performance version, also on the chopping block, debuted in the 2015 model year. Through the first quarter of 2018, ATS sales were up 18.4 percent. But ATS sales plunged 39 percent in 2017.

The GM luxury brand’s struggles in the U.S. market are largely driven by its existing sedan-heavy lineup, analysts say, which is why the brand is pivoting to SUVs. The brand saw sales slip 8 percent in 2017, with only the CT6 sedan and XT5 midsize crossover posting increases in deliveries. Cadillac’s market share sat just under 1 percent, trailing Audi, BMW and Mercedes, which all field full complements of SUVs to capture around 2 percent of the market each.

The reveal of the XT4 earlier this year, Cadillac’s first-ever compact SUV, is one of a flurry of new products expected from the brand. Cadillac has at least two more crossovers to introduce in a six-month product cadence that lasts through 2021.

The decision to kill the ATS sedan pre-dates Cadillac’s new president, GM veteran Steve Carlisle. He is expected to continue on the path to revival de Nysschen laid out for Cadillac in his nearly four years with the brand.

Detroit News Auto Critic Henry Payne contributed.