Don Butler

Don Butler, Cadillac's vice president of marketing, says Cadillac will to return as the No. 1 luxury brand in the United States, some day.

"It's my goal that we're the No. 1 luxury brand in the U.S.," Butler said. "I'm not going to say when we hope to achieve that, yet, but there's no reason to aim for anything less."

Cadillac certainly has reason to think it's moving up. The all-new 2013 ATS arrives next month to directly compete with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C300. The larger Cadillac XTS launched last month, and next year, the third generation CTS arrives and new Escalade will also roll into dealerships.

"We've gone nearly three years without new product," Butler said. "Now we're bringing in some great vehicles."

Currently, Cadillac would need to add more than 100,000 units to take the top spot from Mercedes-Benz, which sold 261,573 units in 2011. Cadillac sold 152,389 vehicles in 2011. And that's just to top Mercedes. Lexus, which lost its top spot last year, has vowed to recapture it and Audi recently said it plans on becoming the No. 1 luxury brand in the world.

Cadillac sales are currently down 18.6 percent for the year, according to Autodata Corp. though that number will likely change dramatically when the ATS hits showrooms. Luxury vehicle sales are up 12.8 percent and luxury car sales are up 16.8 percent.

Butler readily admits that Cadillac has a lot of work to do to get back on top. The brand's name used to be synonymous with luxury; it was the Cadillac of luxury brands. But it hasn't been that for decades.

"We used to be up on a pedestal," he said. "Now, we're not."