Over the last few decades the American auto industry - including Cadillac - has seen brand image slide steadily lower, both at home and abroad, while rivals in Germany and Japan have been becoming progressively stronger. It looks like we may already be seeing the pendulum swing back toward Cadillac, however. Just a couple months ago, Consumer Reports ranked Cadillac’s latest offerings above the best Germany or Japan had to offer, and word from the company indicates this is just the beginning.

Rebuilding brand image is a difficult, often slow process, but Cadillac is committed to achieving perception levels equal to or better than its German rivals. Speaking with MotorAuthority, Cadillac Communications Manager Kevin Smith said the company’s short-term plan is to provide a driving experience as good as what Audi, BMW or Mercedes have to offer while priced well below the competition. In the longer term, as the company rebuilds brand perception it aims to not only meet but exceed Germany’s very best.

In order to do so, Cadillac will need to offer more models, and it has several in development. Already we’ve heard from company executives like Bob Lutz and Jim Taylor that the CTS and CTS-V will be joined in the new Cadillac line-up by an upcoming CTS coupe - including a possible AWD variant, a single model replacement for the STS and DTS large sedans (click here to read our review of the STS), a sub-CTS-sized model, the next-gen Escalade and an all-new crossover that may be called the BRX.

All of these new models are being designed with an eye to global use, meaning they will be built to fight the European marques on their home territory. Build quality, design and features will all have to meet or exceed their primary rivals in order to steal away market share, and that’s precisely what Cadillac plans to do. The new CTS already delivers on this promise, and the high-performance CTS-V is expected to be even more of a good thing. The next iteration of Cadillac’s new plan should come in the form of the CTS Coupe, which we’ve already seen in spy shots and was confirmed in January to begin production in mid-2009. Whether the CTS Coupe will see an all-wheel-drive option will depend primarily on whether the drivetrain development and production can be justified on the Coupe's expected lower volume sales, says Smith.

After the CTS Coupe, which Cadillac sees as a smaller sales-volume body style, the 7-series/A8/S-Class fighter that will replace the STS and DTS and a car aimed squarely at the 3-series/A4/C-Class that will slot below the CTS are planned. An even smaller car, possibly aimed at the 1-series/A1/A-Class could be called the ATS, but so far all we know is that the car could be coming in 2011, and may feature a RWD powertrain developed in conjunction with Holden, GM’s Australian arm.

When asked about the possibility of a new small hatchback for the U.S. and European markets, Kevin Smith said, “I can’t comment on that. To be more precise, I could comment but I won’t.”

We'll leave it up to you to decide what he means by that.

Cadillac CTS Coupe

Review: Cadillac STS