: Cadillac may base European car on a Saab



HotRodSaint
01-13-04, 06:02 PM
Cadillac may base European car on a Saab


By Wim Oude Weernink and Rick Kranz
Automotive News / January 12, 2004

DETROIT -- General Motors is close to a decision on development of a small Cadillac based on the Saab 9-3 for sale outside North America.

Two variants of the 9-3, a sedan and a convertible, are being considered, according to GM sources in Europe. The models could provide much-needed volume for Cadillac's new independent distributor in Europe.

If approved for production, the Saab-based Cadillac sedan would be assembled at Saab's plant in Trollhattan, Sweden. A convertible version would be produced by Magna Steyr in Austria.

The Cadillac models would have front- and rear-end styling that draws on design themes from the current Cadillac CTS and SRX. Sales could begin around 2007.

A GM source said the Saab 9-3 is being considered for Cadillac because the Trollhattan plant is underutilized.

Magna Steyr builds the Saab 9-3 convertible.

Prototypes in Sweden

Company insiders say there are styling prototypes for the small Cadillac in Sweden. A photograph of the proposed model has been seen by representatives of Kroymans Corp., the Dutch company that imports Cadillacs to Europe.

"We have excellent potential in Europe, especially if we have a small model," says Kroymans CEO Ton Van Soest.

Last year Cadillac sold about 800 cars in Europe. "By the end of the decade that could be 10,000," said Cadillac General Manager Mark LaNeve. "But with a smaller Cadillac, it could be more." LaNeve was interviewed Jan. 4 at the Detroit auto show.

He would not confirm plans for a Saab-based model, but said Cadillac is studying the "low compact premium" segment.

"There are no plans or decisions," LaNeve said. "But we're looking at every asset GM has in terms platforms that could work for Europe."

LaNeve said a decision on whether to offer a small Cadillac would be made this year.

GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz would not discuss Cadillac's future product plans for Europe, but said, "Cadillac may at some point have more products, but we are not going to price below the CTS."

The mid-sized CTS sedan starts at 33,800 euros, or about $43,350 at current exchange rates.

Hogan: Nothing firm

Mark Hogan, GM group vice president for advanced vehicle development, denied that GM is developing a small Cadillac off the 9-3 platform.

"All I can say is, as far as I'm concerned, we're not working on it from a hard-engineering, product-development standpoint," Hogan said. "It is undoubtedly some testing or some market development (Cadillac) wants to do with respect to making sure the distributor has enough volume over there. It seems like that has a lot more work ahead of it."

But Hogan added: "Clearly we want Cadillac to be strong in Europe."

Cadillac's new European distributor will invest $50 million in a network of 25 large stand-alone dealerships. Kroymans Corp., of Hilversum, Netherlands, took over as Cadillac's distributor Oct. 1.

Cadillac sells the CTS sedan and STS full-sized sedan in Europe. The XLR roadster will be added this spring, and the SRX sport wagon will arrive in the second half of 2004.

BeelzeBob
01-14-04, 09:07 AM
This is good news. If Cadillac can make more money in Europe, that means better vehicles all around... It seems they want smaller cars around those parts - so I think this is a good thing. Thanks for posting 'the news'...