DETROIT – Newly minted Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus says the fast-growingluxury brand intends to keep a lid on model variants to minimize complexity and does not anticipate a product sliding under the entry-level ATS anytime soon.
“I do not think that we need a similar, complex product portfolio that bigger luxury brands have,” Ellinghaus tells WardsAuto at the 2014 North American International Auto Show here after revealing the ’15 ATS Coupe, a variant of the ATS Sedan.
“At the very end, the brand is the key and we do not want to confuse customers with too many models and variants.”
However, there’s little denying the power of choice.
Luxury sales leadersand Mercedes, which each boast around 50 vehicles in their portfolios, combined last year to deliver 607,675 vehicles for a commanding 30.6% of industry sales in the segment.
Cadillac finished as the fourth-best seller in the U.S. on 180,571 deliveries for 9.1% of the luxury light-vehicle market. Cadillac’s lineup numbers 14 cars, trucks and CUVs.
Expect additional models from Cadillac, Ellinghaus adds, but before building a portfolio of sedans, coupes, convertibles, wagons, CUVs and SUVs, the brand has more work to do on the perception front.
“It takes time for our target group to adjust their image of what Cadillac is all about,” he says, acknowledging that many consumers still perceive the brand as a builder of big passenger cars.
Whether that means the next vehicle to come from Cadillac will be a long-rumored flagship sedan, perhaps based on the Elmiraj concept car shown last year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and occupying a dais a few steps from the ATS Coupe at the show, Ellinghaus will not say.
“We’re going in all directions,” he says, conceding, however, that a vehicle slotted under the ATS will not happen. “You’ll be surprised.”
Ellinghaus, 44, joined Cadillac in November from luxury-goods maker Montblanc International. Prior to that, he held various executive marketing positions with, including roles at Mini and Rolls Royce.
Ellinghaus says the passion of people working at Cadillac drew him to the brand, which saw sales rocket up 21.9% last year.
“I used to have to tell my employees to speed up, speed up. Now I have to tell them to slow down,” he says. “It’s a dream job.”