DETROIT - General Motors intends to build its next-generation Cadillac Catera in Hamtramck, Mich., moving production from Russelsheim, Germany.
Cadillac and GM officials had said earlier that the new Catera, due in the 2002 model year, would be produced in North America. Since the Catera is a rear-drive vehicle, there had been speculation that it would be built at Ste. Therese, Quebec, home of the rear-drive Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.
Cadillac spokesman Tom Wilkinson would not comment. But suppliers and a GM executive say the vehicle will be moved to Hamtramck, in metropolitan Detroit, where all other Cadillacs are made.
According to supplier reports, the Catera, code-named GMX320, will be the first of several vehicles on the 'Prestige' platform, a new rear-drive platform for GM luxury cars.
Prestige could be a stand-alone platform, or it could be part of a global rear-drive program GM is working on called Sigma.
Several brands have been mentioned for the Sigma platform, including Cadillac, Buick, the Holden Commodore in Australia and the Camaro and Firebird.
It is unlikely, however, that both the Camaro and Firebird will survive if either makes it to the next generation.
The supplier reports show Prestige production numbers of 60,000 units in 2002, presumably just Cateras, rising to 250,000 units by 2006.
It is likely that other GM vehicles, not just Cadillacs, will be built off the Prestige platform, because sales of Cadillac rear-drive vehicles probably will not reach 250,000 by 2006. The DeVille, Cadillac's top seller, will stay front-drive under GM plans.
The naming of Hamtramck for the Catera could spell doom for Ste. Therese. Union officials at that plant have been told there is no new product scheduled there after 2001. They were hoping the Catera and other rear-drive cars would be produced at Ste. Therese.
But a decision has not been made on Ste. Therese, a GM official insists.
In addition to its current lineup, Cadillac has plans for a sport wagon and possibly a two-seat roadster.
The current Catera is a derivative of the Opel Omega and has been built at Russelsheim since it went on sale in October 1996.
Supplier sources also say it is likely the Opel Sintra minivan, produced at Doraville, Ga., will be moved to Russelsheim when the next-generation minivans debut in the 2002 model year.