Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Plant to get a new Cadillac
The new model is expected to be smaller than current Cadillacs.
By DON SHILLING
LORDSTOWN A new Cadillac model is one of the new cars coming to the Lordstown assembly plant, two analysts said.
The unnamed model should sell well because it will be a new size offering for Cadillac, said Erich Merkle, an analyst with IRN in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The United Auto Workers said Friday that the Lordstown plant would make the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 until 2009. Its new products would be a new small car in 2009, followed by two versions of a new midsize model in 2010.
Analysts said the midsize cars are expected to be new Pontiac and Cadillac models.
Greg Gardner, an analyst with Harbour & Associates in Troy, Mich., said the Cadillac car will be a new version of the BLS, a car that GM makes in Europe.
Merkle said the BLS hasn't sold well, but he expects that GM will make the necessary improvements for the U.S. model.
"If it's done right, they should be able to do very well," he said.
It will be smaller than the Cadillac CTS and designed to compete with the BMW 3 series, he said. He expects sales of the new model will total between 70,000 and 80,000 a year.
The other midsize model is expected to be a Pontiac.
Similar or different?
Gardner and Merkle differed on how the two models will compare.
Gardner said the Pontiac and Cadillac will be similar in appearance with some trim differences.
"They will be as similar as the Cobalt and the G5," he said.
Merkle said, however, that GM is determined to provide different cars for its divisions. The Lordstown Cadillac will have a different appearance and interior from the Pontiac, he said.
"GM has learned its lesson. This won't be another Cimarron," he said.
The Cimarron was made between 1982 and 1988 in Janesville, Wis., on the same underbody platform used to make the Chevrolet Cavalier, which was made in Lordstown. Many in the industry criticized the car for not being a true luxury car.
Merkle said the new Pontiac will be about the same size as the current Pontiac G6. Both cars apparently will be in production at the same time because the UAW said GM plans to keep making the G6 in Michigan until 2013.
Later this year, Pontiac is unveiling a larger car, called the G-8. It is being made in Australia but is expected to be made in the U.S. eventually, Merkle said.
Naming that car the G-8 raises the question of what the new Lordstown Pontiac will be called. "Maybe it will be a G-7," Merkle said.
Merkle said he expects the Lordstown Pontiac to sell about 90,000 units a year. The G-6 is selling 160,000 units a year, but GM is recasting Pontiac as its performance division with all models having rear-wheel drive, he said.
The cars will have a "muscular, athletic stance," which requires rear-wheel drive, he said.
"If you want an American look, you've got to have the proportions right," he said.
He said the new Pontiac probably will start at about $20,000 if there is a four-cylinder option, but most would sell in the high $20,000s and have a six-cylinder engine.
He said expects a top-of-the-line model to contain an eight-cylinder engine and cost about $36,000.
There still are differing opinions on what the new small car for Lordstown will be.
Automotive News, an industry publication, quoted an unnamed source as saying GM will produce the replacement for the Cobalt in Lordstown off of a smaller underbody platform, which will reduce costs.
Joe Langley, senior market analyst with CSM Worldwide in Northville, Mich., said the next Cobalt will be the same size as the current model but will be built in Mexico. Lordstown will receive a new subcompact model that's the same size as the Chevrolet Aveo, he said.
Gardner said he expects the small Lordstown car to be a new crossover vehicle.
Merkle said it isn't clear what small car GM will put in Lordstown yet. He noted that GM showed off three small concept cars at the New York Auto Show this year that impressed industry observers.
GM's next subcompact will have to take more chances in its styling than the Aveo, he said. The car would be aimed at younger buyers, who want to own "something a little different," he said.