In January, China has overtaken the United States to become the largest global market for Cadillac, the luxury brand of General Motors. Cadillac reported a sales increase of 116% to 18.011 sales in China, of which 16.216 were locally produced (+160%). In comparison, the brand’s US sales in January were down 4,1% to 10.298 units. Worldwide Cadillac sales were 28.764 units in January, which means the US luxury brand sold just 455 cars outside of its two largest markets, just 1,6% of its total volume.
Until 2016, the United States has been Cadillac’s largest market with 170.006 deliveries last year, a loss of 3% on the previous year, while its 2016 sales in China surged 46% to 116.406 units, of which 111.532 were locally produced, more than double the year before. As recently as 2012, the American brand sold less than 10.000 cars annually in the People’s Republic. Its fast-paced growth has been fueled by the start of local production of the CT6 sedan and XT5 crossover in 2016, in addition to the XTS sedan since 2013 and the ATS-L long wheelbase sedan since 2014. The brand also imports the CTS sedan and Escalade SUV to China, but these are low volume due to China’s extremely high import duties for imported vehicles.
Cadillac’s best seller in China is the XT5, which enjoyed its best volume since its launch last April, followed by the ATS-L and the XTS, which also improved on its previous monthly record, set in December 2014. The CT6 topped 1.000 monthly sales for the first time since its launch exactly one year ago. All of these four models had higher volume in China than in their home market USA.
China had already been expected to become the largest market for Cadillac before not too long, considering it’s the world’s largest market for luxury vehicles in general and the brand’s fast-growing volume in recent years. In January, Cadillac was the #4 luxury brand in China, but each of the German Big-3 luxury brands still sold at least twice its volume: Audi sold 51.069 locally produced models in January (-7%), Mercedes-Benz deliveries stood at 41.673 (+42%) and BMW delivered 31.589 locally produced models (+14%). The latter two also still import a significant number of cars to China, most notably their high-end models.
Other luxury brands with local production in China are Volvo, Land Rover, Infiniti, Jaguar and DS. Acura has just started Chinese production of its first model, while Lexus and Lincoln import all of their models, for which we don’t have data.