Saab CEO Reveals GM Forced Them to Pay for BLS Development

The fact that the Cadillac’s European special model, the BLS, didn’t enjoy much success on the old continent is well-known among the car enthusiasts out there reading this article. Less-known is that Saab paid for the development of this model, according to the Swedish company’s CEO, Jan Ake Jonsson. reports Jonsson told the Swedish media that GM’s Cadillac didn’t pay the bill for the BLS, but Saab did. Created at GM Vice President Bob Lutz’s insistence, the BLS has been ironically called the “Bob Lutz Special”.

Essentially a rebadged Saab 9-3, the BLS cost Saab about USD140 million to develop for Cadillac. The BLS was built in Sweden, in the Trollhattan assembly plant. The car was first launched as a sedan version and it was followed up by a wagon version, based heavily on the Saab 9-3 SportCombi.

The BLS was offered for the first time in the history of Cadillac with a diesel engine, a 1.9-liter developing 150 horsepower (upgraded to 180 horsepower in 2007). The other engines in the range were all gasoline units ranging from 175 to 320 horsepower (on the BLS-V fitted with a 2.8-liter turbo V6 and all-wheel drive).

Sales of the sedan began in March 2006, with the wagon joining in 2007. In the same year, the BLS was introduced in the Middle East, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. Commercial success of the BLS was very weak, amounting to less than 10 percent of Cadillac’s target figures. In 2006 only 3,257 units were produced, a year later the production dropping to 2,772. As a result, production of the BLS ended in 2009, the car failing to make Cadillac popular in Europe.
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