GENEVA -- General Motors plans to build a new Cadillac mid-sized car at its Saab plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, a top GM executive said on Monday, providing some assurance for the plant's future.
A second executive with the world's largest automaker also said that Saab's continued presence in Sweden is key to the brand.
"I will say tomorrow that the Cadillac will be built in Trollhattan," Carl Peter Forster, president of GM Europe, told Reuters at a briefing ahead of the Geneva auto show. "There's more products for our Trollhattan plant. Otherwise we wouldn't put the Cadillac there."
Both the new Cadillac BLS sedan and the new Saab SportCombi mid-sized wagon, which will also be shown at the Geneva auto show, will be built in Trollhattan in addition to the 9-3 sedan and the 9-5 sedan and wagon, Saab officials said. Later this year, GM will begin production of a refreshed version of the 9-5 cars, Saab officials said.
"Saab is a Swedish car and a Swedish brand. It's important to have a foothold in the market where you have that heritage," Saab President Peter Augustsson told Reuters.
Speculation has mounted that GM could close its Swedish plant, if it chooses another GM plant in Germany to build a next-generation of mid-sized cars. GM is to announce by the end of March where it will build the new cars, which will replace the Opel Vectra and the Saab 9-3.
Both Saab and and GM's Germany-based brand Opel have posted years of losses. Opel said on Friday that 4,500 staff in Germany had taken a voluntary retirement package, meeting its goal for cutting jobs this year and avoiding forced layoffs.
Another 1,500 jobs are slated to go in Bochum, Germany, by 2007. GM said last fall that it aims to chop up to 12,000 jobs in Europe -- nearly a fifth of its workforce -- to stem chronic losses in the region.
GM officials declined to say where the next-generation cars would be built. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Monday that GM had picked the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany over the Trollhattan plant.
Opel's works council denied that a decision had already been made. "There has been no decision yet and neither, therefore, has anything been signed yet," works council chief Klaus Franz told Reuters.
He confirmed, however, that the automaker would hold a press conference in Ruesselsheim on Friday.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in its Tuesday edition that GM agreed to place new models in the Swedish plant after workers agreed to concessions on pay and work hours and the Swedish government agreed to invest in infrastructure.
GM last week dismissed as "preposterous" a report in a Swedish newspaper that it was trying to sell the money-losing Saab brand.
"We are very committed to Saab's future," Forster said on Monday.