Is Ford's Lincoln Overthrowing General Motors' Cadillac?

While Cadillac still outsells Lincoln in terms of units, its sales growth is declining while Lincoln's is accelerating.

Jul 21, 2014 at 11:15AM

Despite the rough winter, U.S. auto sales are modestly higher in the first half of 2014, up 4.3% from year ago figures. However, there is one very noticeable lag to me, and that is in General Motors' (NYSE:GM) Cadillac sales. Perhaps even more surprising is the resurgence in Ford's (NYSE:F) Lincoln sales. 

Right off the bat, it should be obvious that something has tilted in favor of Lincoln... or at the very least, something has tipped out of favor for Cadillac. Consumers have pushed Lincoln sales higher by an eyebrow-raising 16.3% in the first six months of 2014 as compared to the same period last year. Cadillac, on the other hand, has seen sales slump 2%.

A head-to-head comparison 
Before we go any further, let's take a look at the lineup from each brand: 

Cadillac Price Vehicle Type Lincoln  Price
ATS $33,065      MKZ $34,200
CTS $39,500   MKS $40,700
XTS $44,600   MKT $43,000
ELR $75,000   -- --
SRX $37,600     MKC $33,100 
 --  --    MKX $38,575 
     Luxury Utility    
 Escalade $71,700    Navigator  $56,150 

Source: Cadillac and Lincoln websites

As you can see, Lincoln and Cadillac have similar lineups, but how are these models doing? Here is the year-over-year sales growth for the first six months of 2014:

Cadillac Model First-Half 2014 Sales Growth Lincoln Models First-Half 2014 Sales Growth
ATS (22.3%) MKZ 31.4%
CTS  5.8% MKS (8.3%)
XTS (21.8%) MKT (15.6%)
SRX 20.3% MKX 12.4%
Escalade (2%) Navigator (4.6%)

Note: The Cadillac ELR and Lincoln MKC do not have year-over-year growth figures, since they are new vehicles. Source: GoodCarBadCar

I feel that it's only fair to point out that several Lincoln models are also off to a slow start, but not as slow as several Cadillac models. The ATS and XTS, both of which have seen sales slump more than 20%, were the company's second and third top selling units in 2013, respectively. This impact is clearly weighing on Cadillac's overall sales. 

A deeper look at one model in particular
In "What's Wrong With Cadillac", I noted how the brand is lagging behind most luxury automakers and why most of Cadillac's models seems to be stuck in the mud.

Specifically, the Cadillac ATS is quickly giving up ground in the lower-priced luxury car market. With vehicles likes the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class and the Audi A3 both starting at $29,900, the ATS seems to be losing its price advantage, with the vehicle starting at $33,000. 

Lincoln Mkz

Source: Lincoln

Perhaps even more worrisome is that it's not just foreign luxury automakers applying the pressure. The Lincoln MKZ, which starts at $34,200, has seen sales rocket higher by nearly 32%. 

This is concerning for Cadillac over both the long and short terms. 

In the short term, sales are obviously taking a hit, which isn't good. Meanwhile, sales of its competitors' lower-priced luxury cars continue to do well. The lack of ATS sales also do not appear to be translating into noticeably higher sales of the CTS and XTS models.

Over the long term, the problem could be even worse. Customers who forego the Cadillac ATS now may be less likely to step up to the higher-priced models (such as the CTS and XTS) in the future.

In other words, if customers buy a Lincoln or Mercedes-Benz today, they may be more likely to stick with that brand in the future instead of deciding to change over to Cadillac. Automakers like to obtain customers, and then convert them into repeat customers for the long-term. 

To be fair, the Cadillac CTS has shown a modest sales gain of 5.8%, while the Lincoln MKS and MKT cars have both declined in sales this year. However, I found the ATS/MKZ comparison particularly noteworthy. 

Cadillac Ats

Source: © General Motors

One other caveat 
There's one other important thought to keep in mind: total sales. 

Through June 2014, Cadillac has sold 82,117 units, compared to Lincoln's 44,522 units.

Obviously, Cadillac still tops Lincoln in terms of unit sales. Lincoln could wind up with the last laugh, though, if it continues to taking market share. 

Lincoln overthrowing Cadillac isn't something that will happen in a few months or even a few quarters. It is a trend that could be rather significant over the long term, and it's something that both Ford and General Motors shareholders should keep an eye on. 

Top dividend stocks for the next decade
The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend paying counterparts over the long term. That's beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor's portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.

Bret Kenwell owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers