General Motors plans a new offensive for Cadillac in Europe, this time with the new CTS that is due here in spring 2002. Automotive News Europe's Luca Ciferri spoke with General Motors President Richard Wagoner about Cadillac's plans in Europe and other subjects.
In the past 20 years, Cadillac has talked several times about getting more serious in Europe. What are your volume expectations this time?
Let me start with a more general assumption. We do not believe in globalization for mid- and lower-segment cars that have to be produced locally to avoid currency fluctuation problems.
Luxury brands offer the margins that permit them to be global, so Cadillac has plans for Europe, too. Basically, Cadillac's focal markets will remain the USA and Canada. But selected models will be exported in Europe, such as the CTS and the roadster to be derived from the Evoq concept car. Consequently, I'm very cautious in terms of volumes. Unlike what was done by my predecessors in the past, this time I'm not announcing any numbers (for Europe).
The CTS will replace the Europe-built Catera. On which platform and where it will be built?
It will be built in the USA only - in the new plant in Lansing, Michigan, and from there also exported to Europe. It is based on a brand new, rear-wheel-drive platform.
Europe wants smaller capacity gasoline engines than the USA, and it also wants diesels. What will the CTS offer to European motorists?
We are looking to smaller gasoline engines to better fit the European market, and also to diesels. Between Opel, Isuzu and Fiat Auto we have many diesel alternatives to choose from.
When will GM Europe announce the appointment of Carl-Peter Foster, former BMW head of production, as the new chairman of Opel?
It is not an announcement to come from GM. The Opel supervisory board will make its own decision.
GM Europe President Michael Burns said the company plans to consolidate local Opel and Saab organizations under a General Motors umbrella organization. Burns said this concept has already been implemented in Russia and Turkey, is under way in Norway and Austria, and studies for Denmark, Finland and France have been initiated. What about the UK? We will ever see Vauxhall becoming a subsidiary of a GM UK?
I've never heard that. It would be like putting something on top of Adam Opel AG in Germany.
CEO Jac Nasser said that the costs related to vehicle recalls last year reduced Ford Motor Co. operating profits by about $1 billion. How much did recalls cost GM? Do you fear these costs will rise in the future?
We do not disclose these numbers. They are part of our costs, period. I do not see any reason to foresee that the costs of recalls will rise in the near future. For GM, in year 2000, they were not substantially different from the recent past in North America. Globally, they were a little higher because of the recalls we had in Europe and Latin America.