Detroit -- More than 1,000 factory workers in Lansing, Mich., are feeling a little better about themselves this morning after learning that the car  they've been assembling, the Cadillac ATS, was christened the 2013 Car of the Year at the North American Auto Show. A previous model of this car lost the contest five years ago.


General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) invested $190 million in the Grand River facility, specifically to build Chrysler Group's ATS after moving production of the Chevrolet Traverse crossover from Grand River to the Delta Township factory in Spring Hill, Tenn, in 2009. The Grand River facility also makes Cadillac's CTS sedans and wagons.


GM hopes that the ATS can hold its own in head-to-head competition with the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series. The first ATS rolled off the line in July. The car starts at $33,990 with fuel economy of up to 30 mpg.

General Motors Co.’s CEO Dan Akerson, 64, said last week that he expects worldwide GM sales to break 15 million from 14.5 million.


The company's sales grew less than 4 percent last year compared to industry-wide growth of 13 percent, which was led by record-breaking growth for European and Japanese automakers. Although GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, its bonds are still trading at junk levels. As a result of the auto bailout in 2008, the U.S. government still owns 19 percent of the company; the automaker owes the government $22 billion out of the $50 billion it received during its Chapter 11 proceedings.


Cadillac brand sales grew 2.4 percent last year to 140,625 units, spiking 12.2 percent in December compared to last year.


This was the first car-of-the-year win for Cadillac in the award's 20-year history. A panel of 49  American and Canadian auto critics participate in the voting. GM vehicles have won the award five times. The Chevrolet Volt was the last GM vehicle to win, in 2011.