Cadillac may introduce ATS, ELR in China by mid-2014 -GM exec

DETROIT Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:59pm EST

DETROIT Jan 14 (Reuters) - General Motors Co's Cadillac brand may introduce the ATS small car and plug-in hybrid ELR car in China by the middle of next year, the brand's top executive said on Monday.

On the heels of a sales increase of almost 21 percent to about 29,000 vehicles last year, Cadillac also expects its strongest-ever sales increase in China this year, Bob Ferguson, vice president of global Cadillac, said on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. Cadillac will begin production of its XTS in China in about two weeks.

GM has no exact schedule for bringing to China the ATS small car, which went on sale in the United States last summer, he said.

"We are in full planning there and we'll get the XTS out and the ATS will follow shortly behind that," Ferguson said. "Whether that is the second half of this year or early next year is still to be determined."

GM begins production of the ELR, which GM will show at the auto show on Tuesday, in the United States late in 2013 and will begin selling the plug-in hybrid car early in 2014. Ferguson said the car will be introduced in China "promptly" after its U.S. debut.

"That car has such a powerful impact on brand perception that we'll want to be aggressive with that car in markets where we have sufficient scale," he said.

GM has said it wants Cadillac to be a global luxury brand, pairing it with its global mainstream Chevrolet brand. Ferguson said GM will focus initially on the U.S. and China markets as it strives to achieve that goal, as well as select other markets such as Russia. Ferguson said GM exceeded its internal sales targets for 2012 in China.

To help achieve that goal, Cadillac will expand its product lineup, said Ferguson, who declined to say what vehicles would be added. He said the company is studying such options as a small crossover vehicle and a flagship sedan.

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