DETROIT -- General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said today that the company plans to expand Cadillac production outside of North America by the end of 2012 as part of its plan to make GM's premium brand a true global marque.
Akerson said overseas Cadillac production would reduce the risk of foreign-currency fluctuations and let GM better manage its supply chain.
Cadillac vehicles are sold in China and other international markets. Today, besides North America, GM assembles one of its models, the Cadillac SLS, in China for that market. The SLS is a stretched version of the STS. Akerson did not say where GM would make Cadillacs abroad.
GM plans to accelerate overseas sales of Cadillac, which the automaker increasingly is positioning to take on European rivals such as Mercedes and BMW.
"We're going to try to define a slightly different brand and product strategy by having a global premium brand, Cadillac, and a global value brand, Chevrolet," Akerson said, speaking to reporters before GM's first annual shareholders meeting since its initial public stock offering last fall.
Akerson said that strategy is similar to that of Toyota, with its namesake brand and its global luxury marque, Lexus. He said Chevrolet and Cadillac will continue to be buttressed by regional brands such as Opel in Europe and Buick, which is strong in North America and China.
Akerson, 62, became GM's CEO in September. Since then, he has shuffled GM's executive ranks and pressed lieutenants to shed GM's bureaucratic culture and move faster, such as pulling ahead the launch of the next-generation Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan from summer 2012 to early next year.
GM's stock price has slid since its November IPO. But today GM shares closed higher at $28.78 on the New York Stock Exchange, up 0.8 percent.
It is the first time GM held its annual stockholders meeting in the company's hometown since 1990.