Think back to the year 2000, if you will.
Panic about the impending clock change had just passed, Pepsi Twist was the hot new soda, “Gladiator” was the big blockbuster, and nobody bought Cadillacs.
Well, nobody cool or even remotely young bought Cadillacs, anyway.
The Wreath and Shield brand was relegated almost entirely to the retired crowd without a lot of hope for a future turnaround. Today, 13 years later, there’s been a massive shift, as Cadillac has started tearing up showroom floors almost as fast as it finishes hot laps around the Nurburgring.
In 2000, people in the market for an entry-level Caddy could opt for the Catera, a lightly rebadged Opel Omega. Not surprisingly, very few people wanted the car that Car & Driver equated to “a fat guy climbing steps.” For 2013, the entry-level Cadillac is the super-capable rear-wheel-drive ATS. What a difference 13 years, a bankruptcy and some fresh new thinking makes! The ATS not only competes with the best from Germany, it is also doing its job of bringing in new, younger buyers.
In fact, one dealer in Texas did something recently that was unheard of 13 years ago: He helped a young mother fit a Cadillac with a child seat for a test drive. There are still plenty of older buyers contributing to Cadillac’s bottom line, but that dealer, in a Bloomberg interview, said he’s getting, “a pretty diverse group that’s coming through the door now who are younger and better educated.”
That’s exactly what any automaker wants to hear, especially one that’s struggled with the label of “old man’s car.” The ATS helped GM to a 49% increase in Cadillac sales in March, the sixth straight month of growth for the brand. Those numbers were enough for Cadillac to overtake Acura as the fourth best selling luxury brand in America.
Considering the success of the ATS, the coming 2014 Cadillac CTS should keep the momentum going. Assuming, of course, its ultra-popular younger brother doesn’t steal potential customers.
Do you still see Cadillac as a car for older people? With the new ATS, the brand may be as youthful as any!