NEW YORK – Cadillac marketing chief Don Butler predicts the luxury brand’s sales this year will eclipse the 2011 total, thanks to a banner year-ending month.

Butler tells WardsAuto at a Cadillac event here that ATS production finally has caught up with customer demand, signaling a successful December. The brand’s 11-month sales were off 3.4%, but retail deliveries were 2.1% ahead of like-2011.

The Cadillac executive predicts sales will climb, even though he deliberately has slashed fleet volumes. “December will be a very good month for us, and that's why I expect to exceed the 2011 total,” he says.

Two new products, the entry-level ATS and flagship XTS, are setting the pace for improved sales. Butler predicts deliveries of the ATS, which was introduced in September, will improve further with the launch of a model powered by a 2.0L turbocharged engine.

“That's just hitting dealerships now, and I expect that to be our best seller,” Butler says.

The XTS is meeting its initial sales targets, but he expects volume to grow beyond that. The XTS already has doubled the combined deliveries of the STS and DTS models it replaced.

Butler isn't exactly quaking in his boots over Ford’s recent announcement that its Lincoln brand will be revamped to become a bigger rival in the luxury segment. “I'm respectful of all of our competitors,” he says. “And I wish them well up to a point.”

The Cadillac executive is confident his brand has achieved the right formula for success by offering the design and performance luxury-car customers crave. He doesn't fear losing customers to Lincoln, even if it grows its sales volume.

“I don't know where their customers will come from, but it won't be from us,” he says. “Lincoln is increasingly less on the shopping lists of our customers. We're focusing on (competing with) Audi, BMW and Mercedes and are not worried by Lincoln.”

Butler also is confident that Lincoln's announced plan to enter the Chinese market won't cut into Cadillac's success there, either. “We've been in China since 2007, and our brand was well-known even before we entered the market there,” he says.

Cadillac sold 17,000 units in China in 2010 and almost doubled that to 30,000 last year. He admits sales will be flat this year, but predicts growth will take off in 2013 when one new model will begin launching annually in the country through 2016.