Let me just start by saying I want Caddy and Jaguar (and for that matter, Lincoln, Hyundai/Kia and Chrysler and every auto manufacturer) to succeed. But what exactly is success in the auto industry? Selling cars at a profit. Making cars that are desirable and reliable. Making logical, realistic sales goals and meeting or beating them. Caddy, Jag, and many folks on the internet seem to make the mistake that the way forward is to become what the Germans were ~20 years ago. But this won't work. To show you what I mean, let's compare BMW and Mercedes to Caddy & Jag and show exactly why Caddy & Jag are dooming themselves to failure on their current path.
What are BMW & Mercedes doing today?
In a word, diversifying. Look at the 3 series- this platform has spawned a 2 coupes, 2 convertibles, a wagon, an ugly Accord Crosstour hatchback, a sleek Gran Coupe, and 3 SUVs. Let me just put some pictures up to really drive this point home.
Just from the 3 series platform alone, BMW offers a wider range of cars than Caddy and Jaguar's entire lineups. Both BMW and Mercedes are also moving downmarket, which some folks object to strongly but has worked great as far as adding volume and getting new buyers goes. People thumb their noses at the CLA until you realize it's as competent and luxurious as a 190E, which cost an equivalent of $60K in today's money. Neither Caddy nor Jag have anything in that realm, and their previous half-assed attempts have become entry level luxury punchlines (Cimarron, X-Type) that the industry has had to work hard to overcome.
Benz and Mercedes also have full, thorough SUV lineups, including the critically important and fast growing small luxury CUV segment. X1, X3, X4, X5, X6 and rumors are abound for an X7.... GLA, ML, GL, GLK etc etc etc. I know big luxury SUVs are not very Jalop.... but the X5 added 100K of units to BMW's global sales from 2003 on.
And of course, you can't forget their far forward looking stuff. BMW's i cars are supposed game changers, with their longer range and more importantly mass production CF manufacturing techniques... they are making very important cars. MB continues to be at the forefront of diesel tech and is also dabbling in hybrids.
So they aren't just making luxury cars, they are making important ones too.
What are Caddy & Jaguar doing?
Well, there are some things they are doing, but there are some really important things they are NOT doing. They are making good, competitive cars. They have completely moved away from their troubled pasts. They are, for the most part, financially solvent.
But what they AREN'T doing is where the trouble is. Where is the press generating innovation and technology? There is no Jag or Caddy anyone could call "high tech" compared to its competition, and Jag scrapping the C-X75 was a real blow to their image of commitment to the future. Where is the premium small SUV, which is arguably the hottest segment in the entire auto market???? Yes Jag is part of JLR which has the Evoque, but why not get in on the action? Lord knows they need it- Land Rover outsells Jaguar by 3:1 in the US alone, and was still up more than 2:1 before the Evoque but after the Jag revival. I mean to really put things in context, Land Rover sold almost as many Range Rover Sports as Jaguar sold CARS in 2013. And Jag doesn't have an SUV. As VWAG shows you can rebadge the hell out of an SUV and sell them by the ton... so why isn't Jaguar???? Cadillac's SRX is 5 years old and just not competitive.
People always talk about how you can't compete with the Germans without 3/5/7 fighters... but guess what... the ATS is well off of its projections, needing rebates within 1-2 years of its release, and the new CTS isn't doing any damage. The XF's sales are similarly weak, hitting only about 10% of what a 5 series or E class does in all the same markets, and I'm certain the XE will suffer a similar fate. Why? The German's bread and butter sedans, as well as cars like the IS, A4, etc., sell on loyalty and familiarity. Sedans don't really make much sense, and people are starting to realize this.... without the right emblem, people won't drop $40-50 large on one if they can have a more practical + equally luxurious SUV and sales show this. Hell, the Germans themselves are in on that game.
So what do Caddy and Jaguar need to do?
Well they have already invested in their "Bimmer beater" platforms so they have to ride that out. But they NEED more SUVs, and they NEED to leverage the hell out of their existing platforms. Instead of a dowdy ATS coupe with the same exact profile as the sedan, why not a small SUV, or an ATS hatchback "gran coupe"? Same with the XE. They should also give up any hope of competing at the flagship level- the new XJ has yet to hit 5 digits in the US and the new S-Class might be the nail in its coffin. They need to make cars that are striking and stylish- not anonymous like the ATS or dated like the XF. The XJ is a good start but in the wrong market.
Performance and handling are also growing less and less relevant to the market at large... people want luxury and technology. Cadillac's CUE interface is an outright failure that can't be rectified with chassis tuning that its market doesn't care about in the first place. Jag's radio/nav systems are like 1-2 generations behind the current crop. They both need to leapfrog the competition in this regard.
And finally Caddy needs to focus on markets that make sense. GM keeps trying to push in the Europe and Europe is just not having it. Take that money and fix CUE + make more LWB cars for China.
Germany abandoned the "German model" in the late 90s with the release of the ML and X5 and completely forgot about it once they really cashed in on the whole "niche" thing. Caddy, Jag and all the other struggling luxury marques would be wise to abandon it too and go the way the market is telling them to.