GM Cadillac to start making ELR plug-in hybrid in late 2013

DETROIT, Tue Oct 16, 2012 – The production of the Cadillac ELR, the first luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicle from General Motors Co, is to begin in late 2013 at the same plant that makes the Chevrolet Volt, a top GM official said on Tuesday.

The ELR will be introduced to the U.S. market shortly after the start of production, but GM did not announce timing of the first sales for the Cadillac ELR. The ELR is the production version of the concept Cadillac Converj introduced at the Detroit auto show in 2009.

Mark Reuss, GM’s North American president, announced production plants for the ELR at an industry conference in Detroit.

“The ELR will be in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology,” Reuss said. “People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design.”

Production of the ELR will be at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which also makes the Volt and its near-twin models, the Opel Ampera, the Vauxhall Ampera and the Holden Volt.

Production of the Volt, the Ampera and the Holden Volt resumed on Monday after being suspended for four weeks.

While auto analysts said that the suspension was in part due to poor sales of the Volt, GM has said that the temporary plant shutdown was to allow for some retooling for the production of the newly designed 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which is to begin at the plant in early 2013.

The plant also makes the Chevrolet Malibu sedan. Production of the Malibu also resumed on Monday, GM said.

GM names Robert Ferguson Cadillac global brand chief

Tue Oct 9, 2012 – General Motors Co. has created the new position of global brand chief for Cadillac as the U.S. automaker looks to broaden global demand for the luxury line of vehicles.

Robert Ferguson, who assumes the position immediately, will lead Cadillac’s worldwide growth and development, and report directly to Chief Executive Dan Akerson. GM has designated Cadillac and Chevrolet as its two global brands.

Ferguson, 53, will be responsible for marketing, brand management and advertising for Cadillac in markets around the world. Responsibility for sales is also expected to shift to Ferguson at the start of 2013, GM said on Tuesday.

“The opportunity to strengthen and grow Cadillac is ours for the taking,” Ferguson said in a statement.

Ferguson’s new job comes at a time when GM’s luxury brand is planning its most extensive round of product launches and upgrades in its history, including the new ATS small luxury sedan.

Cadillac executives said the brand should be challenging foreign automakers for the top spot in U.S. luxury auto sales in a few years, a position it had not held in 15 years.

GM sees Cadillac near U.S. luxury car market top soon

BIRMINGHAM, Mich., Tue Aug 28, 2012 – General Motors Co.’s top executive for Cadillac said the brand should be challenging foreign automakers for the top spot in U.S. luxury auto sales within a couple of years.

Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac, told reporters on Tuesday that sales for the brand should be double what they were in 2010 “within a couple years.”

Cadillac’s U.S. sales in 2010 were about 147,000 vehicles.

U.S. sales of the luxury brand rose 3.7 percent in 2011 to about 153,000, or 63 percent of the sales of luxury leader Bayerische Motoren Werke, or BMW.

Through July this year, Cadillac U.S. sales were down 12.6 percent from a year earlier to 76,229, according to Autodata Corp.

GM expects to boost sales in large part due to the appeal of its soon-to-be-introduced ATS model, which is smaller that most previous Cadillac offerings. GM sees the ATS as a challenger to BMW’s 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-class cars.

The ATS is Cadillac’s first attempt at making a small luxury car since its much-maligned Cimarron in the 1980s.

The ATS is one of 10 all-new or significantly refreshed products that Cadillac will introduce in the next three years, Butler told reporters in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, Michigan, on Tuesday.

In 2011, German carmakers led the lucrative U.S. luxury market after Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand had been champion for 11 straight years.

BMW took the top spot last year at about 248,000 in sales, followed closely by Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand. Lexus was third.

Through July this year, Mercedes-Benz held the lead at 159,412 in U.S. sales, followed by BMW at 147,801 and Lexus at 126,367.

GM recalls 50,500 Cadillac SRXs in North America

DETROIT ― General Motors Co. is recalling 50,500 Cadillac SRX luxury crossover vehicles because the performance of the front passenger airbag differs from the owner’s manual.

The recall, announced by GM Friday, affects 47,401 vehicles in the United States and the rest in Canada and Mexico from the 2011 model year. The U.S. automaker said it knew of no crashes, injuries or complaints related to the issue.

The SRX and the CTS sedan are the top-selling Cadillac models in the United States this year, both with more than 22,000 sales. SRX sales rose 18 percent in the first five months.

GM said the SRX air bags are programmed to turn off the right side roof-rail airbag if someone sits in the front passenger seat, but the owner’s manual says that airbag will deploy whether or not the seat is occupied. Because the action of the airbag and the manual do not match, that violates federal safety standards.

The repair entails only a software reprogramming, GM said. It is an issue only in North America because that is where the automatic occupant sensing system is used; exported models use a manual key to disable the passenger side airbag. The key disable system does not suppress the roof rail airbags.