DETROIT - General Motors is trying to determine if it can transfer production of the Cadillac Eldorado from Detroit to Lansing, Mich.
GM's Hamtramck, Mich., assembly plant currently produces the luxury coupe. But the automaker wants to free up more floor space to make room for production of the redesigned DeVille sedan, says Frank Moultrie, shop chairman of UAW Local 22. If so, GM may move the Eldorado to the Lansing Craft Centre, Moultrie added.
'They've been studying this since the end of last year,' said Moultrie, who represents the Hamtramck plant. 'They've told us that it's a floor space issue.'
GM spokesman Vince Muniga declined comment. However, a UAW official in Lansing, who declined to be named, also said the study is under way.
The automaker plans to begin production of the redesigned 2000-model DeVille this year. To ensure a steady supply of cars, GM will produce the old and new versions simultaneously.
Hamtramck also produces the Cadillac Seville, Buick LeSabre and Eldorado.
The Lansing Craft Centre currently produces the EV1 electric coupe, plus the Pontiac Sunfire and Chevrolet Cavalier convertibles. The center produces 70 vehicles per day.
The feasibility study comes at a time when the long-term future of the Eldorado is in doubt. In recent years, Eldorado sales have tailed off as the market for luxury coupes has dried up. In 1998, Cadillac sold 15,765 Eldorados, down 23 percent from the previous year.
It is not yet clear whether GM will design a next-generation Eldorado based on the Sigma rear-wheel drive platform. Sigma will provide the underpinnings for a string of new Cadillacs to be introduced in the next decade.
A transfer to Lansing would not ensure the Eldorado's long-term prospects. But it would mean the Eldorado could survive for several more years.
The demise of the Buick Riviera and Lincoln Mark VIII last year leaves the Eldorado with less competition.