(02/20/13) - One of this year's hottest cars is turning heads around the world.
It's being exported to dozens of countries and is offering stiff competition for Mercedes and BMW.
And as ABC12's Randy Conat reports, it's made right here in Michigan.
It was a proud moment for everyone connect to the car when the Cadillac ATS won 2013 North American Car of the Year.
"You can imagine the level of excitement of the whole team when we heard it was the ATS. As soon as it was announced, I got on my phone right away and was calling over here," said Tony Francavilla, Lansing Grand River Assembly plant manager.
"Ecstatic! You could tell we were proud. People were happy," said Scarlett Stevenson, production worker.
The ATS is a compact luxury sports car built at Lansing Grand River Assembly. Production started in July.
"It was an especially hard launch for this car. It's a different kind of a car," said Mike Green, UAW Local 652 president.
But the 1,600 members of the ATS team pulled together and soon the production line was humming.
"Obviously, the results we're seeing now prove we can compete in the small luxury car segment," Francavilla said.
Cadillac has a lot of confidence in the ATS. They're exporting to more than 40 countries.
"We take pride in our quality. We don't ship any defects. It's all about the quality and what we ship out that door to the customers," said production worker Lori Gentz, of Durand.
"You have to compete, not just here in Michigan, but globally. It shows this car will compete anywhere in the world," Green said.
The ATS is a nimble, rear-wheel drive sports car that can seat four comfortably. GM wants it to lure drivers away from the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class.
"That's exactly what it was built for, to compete with those cars," Green said.
The ATS also shows GM is regaining strength after the financial reorganization.
"A lot of people thought the American auto industry, the same as the Michigan workforce, we were on the ropes," Francavilla said.
"The ATS has meant a lot to us here in Lansing because, first of all, they added the second shift back on to this site," Green said.
Lansing Grand River will be getting even busier in a couple of years.
"We know the next generation Camaro, whenever that comes into play, will be built in the plant," Francavilla said.
"We are making the hot cars here. And with the Camaro coming, this is the place to work," Gentz said.
Made in Michigan means a lot to the men and women who build this car.
"Bring it on! We can build anything here!" Gentz said.
"With the ATS, you can see we've done it again," Francavilla said.
"It makes you very proud," Green said.
ABC12 Main Station