NEW YORK – The strike late Monday morning by the United Auto Workers union is putting a crimp in General Motors Corp. plans to launch right-hand-drive Cadillac CTS production for export markets.

The union called a nationwide strike at GM plants after it failed to reach a new contract with the auto maker in time to meet a self-imposed 11 a.m. deadline Monday.

RHD versions of the new CTS, revamped for ’08, were to begin rolling down the line at GM’s Lansing, MI, assembly plant this week. Among markets slated to get the RHD models are Australia and South Africa, both set to offer the CTS for the first time.

CTS Vehicle Line Executive Randy Schwarz said last week prior to the walkout that the domestic pipeline for the car now had been adequately filled, because the plant had reached its 400-unit per day target.

He said GM expects to sell 60,000 CTS sedans in the revamped car’s first full year on the market, but the Lansing plant has capacity to build more – without necessitating a third shift – if demand warrants.

The plant, which also builds the Cadillac STS and SRX, employed two shifts with some overtime prior to the walkout.

The average transaction price for the ’08 CTS is in the $37,000-$38,000 range.

The new direct-injection V-6 now accounts for about 35% of the CTS sales mix, but Schwarz said that should drop to 30% after the initial new-model purchasing rush. The 3.6L V-6 is a “free flow” option, meaning it can be ordered as a standalone option, not strictly part of some broader package.

Schwarz forecasts 30%-40% of the cars will be purchased with optional all-wheel drive.