General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) is taking its entry level luxury sedan, the Cadillac ATS, to China, initially as a U.S. made import but possibly a locally made car by 2015. GM already sells the XTS, the full-sixed luxury sedan that entered China earlier this year, and other Cadillac brands since first entering the market in 2004.
The Chinese press is reporting that the ATS will initially be imported from the U.S. but will start being manufactured in China in 2015. The XTS is already locally manufactured and GM broke ground in June on a new Cadillac factory in Shanghai. In addition to the XTS, Cadillac currently offers the CTS luxury sedan and coupe, the SRX luxury utility vehicle and the Escalade luxury SUV.
Shanghai General Motors announced on its Chinese-language website Sunday the Lansing, Michigan-made four door luxury compact sedan would be in Chinese showrooms sometime in the fourth quarter to go after the same young, new-money consumers buying the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, the most popular luxury compact in China. Cadillac sales rose 40 percent in the first seven months of the year, to 23,346 units, on strong XTS and SRX demand. In August sales surged 69 percent to 4,244 units.
Citing local media, China Car Times reports that the ATS will be priced at 300,000 yuan (about $49,000), considerably less than the German cars GM says its ATS holds its ground against in terms of performance and power. The U.S. starting price for the 2014 Cadillac ATS is $33,065.
Shanghai General Motors is a joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, China’s largest automaker that consistently sells over 300,000 cars a month. GM would not comment on Monday regarding the prospect of a Chinese-made XTS, but there’s no reason to think a shift to local manufacturing isn’t in the works. A similar shift occurred with the SRX in 2011.
GM is trying to push Cadillac as a world-class luxury automobile. For example, GM’s aggressive YouTube advertising campaign is touting that “the Germans no longer have a corner on the corner,” a reference to the domination of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi in the luxury car market and the scope of the Detroit automaker’s effort.