DETROIT -- Cadillac is developing a small crossover that would be slotted below the popular SRX, the brand's top executive said.
"We're working hard on it," Bob Ferguson, vice president of global Cadillac, told Automotive News Thursday when asked about the prospect of a small Cadillac crossover. "I spent 7 o'clock till noon today at the design center on that subject."
Ferguson, named to the newly created post atop Cadillac in October, said a small crossover would be "a little younger and a little more urban" than the mid-sized SRX, which competes with the Lexus RX 350, BMW X5 and others.
Asked whether the vehicle has been green-lighted for production or whether it was under consideration, Ferguson said: "It's beyond 'under consideration.'"
The move would be in line with some rivals -- and even other GM brands -- that have recently introduced diminutive crossovers.
Last year, BMW launched the X1 in the United States, the smallest of four crossovers that it sells in the market. Audi is expected to import its Q3 for sale in the United States, likely starting late this year or in early 2014, and showed an even smaller crossover concept at the Paris auto show last fall.
Next month, Buick will roll out the Encore, a petite crossover that is a sibling to the recently launched Opel Mokka in Europe. Lincoln plans to show the MKC Concept, a small crossover, at the Detroit auto show next week.
Luxury automakers see small crossovers as a way to give consumers some of the functionality and feel of an SUV but with better fuel economy, which also will help the companies meet stricter federal fuel economy regulations.
Ferguson was tapped by GM CEO Dan Akerson to spearhead Cadillac's growth in international markets such as China, where the brand lags luxury rivals, and in Europe, where it's almost nonexistent. A small crossover is appealing for both those markets, Ferguson said.
"If you're thinking: 'OK, I've really got to grow this business in China, and I need the right vehicle for western Europe,' I think you get even more enthusiastic about the idea," he said.
Jim Hall, managing director of the 2953 Analytics consultancy, says Cadillac's growth ambitions for China and Europe are the likely impetus for Ferguson's enthusiasm.
"To relaunch Cadillac in Europe, that car is essential. And it's probably important for China too," Hall said. "I have no doubt that they're going to do the product. The question is whether the U.S. gets it."
To pull the trigger for the United States, Cadillac would probably want to nudge up the price of the SRX to create room for the new vehicle, Hall said. He believes GM will wait to see how well the Encore sells before making any decisions on the United States.