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Daewoo Is Dead; Will Anyone Mourn/Notice?

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On: Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 11:15AM | By: John Welch


Daewoo Is Dead; Will Anyone Mourn/Notice?

We remember the Daewoo brand fondly, don't we? The awe inspiring Nubria, the effervescent Lanos, the stunning Lacetti, the imaginative Matiz . . . wait, we never got the Matiz. Dang it. Our loss. All sarcasm aside, Daewoo has been responsible for more then its share of commuter boxes over the course of the last twelve years. Most Suzukis are actually Daewoos, most small Chevrolets, the Cobalt being the lone exception, are in fact Daewoo-designed vehicles. The Euro-market Chevrolet Lacetti, Spark, Captiva (can anyone say "Saturn Vue"?), and Orlando are all, in fact, Daewoo products. Which begs the question, "why aren't they Daewoos?"

Following the lead of Ford's "One Ford" global platform plan, GM has systematically phased out all semblance of Daewoo badging world-wide, placing bowties where a weird, tri-pointed waterfall once sat. Americans will hardly notice, we haven't had a Daewoo branded product since 2004. The question is, will Korea notice? Also, will Korea be willing to buy enough Chevrolets to give GM a coveted extra percentage point in the Korean market? GM thinks it can expand from 9% of South Korea's new car sales to 10%. They're sending over their best and brightest, begining with the Chevy Camaro. In return GM Daewoo is giving us the new Sonic small car, as well as the Spark/Matiz, possibly by the end of the calendar year. Possibly. Venture inside the post for GM's side of the story . . .

In a move designed to enhance its presence in Korea and to bolster its domestic sales operations, GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. (GM Daewoo) announced today that it is replacing the current nameplate with the world’s fastest-growing automotive brand, Chevrolet.

All of the company’s new product introductions and refreshes this year will be under the Chevrolet badge. Additionally, GM Daewoo announced that it will be changing its company name to GM Korea Co., which is globally consistent with all other GM country operations. The company name change is expected to be completed by the end of Q1.

“This important new brand strategy is designed to strengthen our commitment to the Korean market, recognizing it as one of the strongest-performing countries within GM’s global operations. We are well positioned to bring one of the world’s iconic brands to Korea,” said Mike Arcamone, President and CEO of GM Daewoo. “We cannot afford to sit still, and instead, choose to make a bold move with the launch of Chevrolet in Korea.”

GM’s market research overwhelmingly points to consumer acceptance of the Chevrolet brand in Korea. “This new growth opportunity will allow us to compete in brand new segments and offer our customers more choices than ever before, resulting in a strong future for our company, our employees and our sales agents,” said Arcamone.

This year, the company will begin its most aggressive vehicle launch plan in its history and will have an all-new product lineup with the introduction of eight new models carrying the Chevrolet name. The portfolio includes the Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Orlando, the Chevrolet Aveo global small car, as well as a new SUV and a new premium midsize sedan.

“Not only are we giving Korean consumers more vehicle choices than ever before, but in order to ensure Chevrolet’s long-term success in the domestic market, we are totally redesigning our dealerships, A/S networks, and sales networks so that customers will be able to enjoy Chevrolet’s award-winning dealership experience and service,” said Arcamone. “Our main goal is to achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.”

This next step of its evolution recognizes the company’s rich heritage and GM’s commitment to Korea, which is one of GM’s primary production and engineering operations. “Our sales increased 20 percent last year, our domestic market share increased double-digits and our exports soared 35 percent,” said Arcamone. “We are able to make this bold, strategic move to Chevrolet because of the hard work and dedication of our 17,000 employees, who have unflinchingly focused on increasing our domestic market share and supporting Chevrolet’s global growth in our export markets.”

According to GM, a Chevrolet was sold somewhere in the world every 7.4 seconds in 2010. Last year, more than 4.25 million Chevrolets were sold around the globe, and currently one out of every four Chevrolet vehicles is manufactured in Korea.

In step with its new brand strategy, the GM Daewoo Board of Directors, factoring in the best interests of the company, its employees, shareholders, dealers and suppliers, approved the new company name this morning. The current GM Korea will keep its name, GM Korea Ltd., and its focus will remain on the Cadillac brand.

“Changing our corporate name will increase our standing within GM globally while demonstrating our commitment to growing locally,” said Arcamone. “With the significant changes that we are announcing today, our goal is to increase our domestic sales and market share, generate additional revenue, strengthen our relationship with the customers, create new jobs, and expand our presence in Korea. We regard these moves as a key to our long-term success and fundamentally believe they will also bring added benefits to our customers and the Korean economy.”

Founded in 1911 and named after famous, Swiss-born race car driver Louis Chevrolet, Chevrolet is one of GM’s four core brands and its largest brand. Chevrolet’s celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with sales in more than 120 countries The Chevrolet brand constitutes 53 percent of GM’s global business.

GM Daewoo played a lead role in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of the Chevrolet Cruze global compact sedan, the new Chevrolet Spark global mini-car, and the new Chevrolet Aveo global small car.

“Chevrolet has enjoyed success in mature markets in North America and Europe, as well as in emerging markets in Asia Pacific, CIS countries, and Latin America,” said Arcamone. “We are confident our customers in Korea will embrace Chevrolet as well.”


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