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GM studies multi-franchise options with Daewoo range

General Motors is considering selling Daewoo models alongside Vauxhall cars at its UK dealer network. A GM transfer team, due in the country within a month, will be assessing the opportunities for multi-franchising. Daewoo Motor has revealed that it is in talks with former affiliate Daewoo International, which owns the overseas licence for the Daewoo brand. It is expecting to pay an unspecified amount for the licence, but says this will not affect its purchase by GM.

GM has already announced plans to rebadge Daewoo cars in the US under its own brand, but this is unlikely to happen in the UK, despite the licensing complications. “It wouldn't make sense,” says a Daewoo spokesman. “GM has made a firm commitment to the Daewoo brand throughout Europe and to rebrand in one country would be peculiar.”

Daewoo believes the two brands are compatible to sell side-by-side, and says Vauxhall dealers are among the groups showing interest in retailing its cars, which would broaden their range with minimum product overlap. “Daewoo will be the accessible GM brand. Vauxhall is very strong in the fleet market, but we have deliberately moved away from this sector and have concentrated on retail sales,” says the spokesman.

The GM transfer team is likely to recommend that Daewoos are sold next to Vauxhalls at some high profile dealerships, but the company will be reluctant to encourage all retailers to multi-franchise. Professor Garel Rhys, director of automotive research Cardiff Business School, says: “GM wants to follow the model pursued by Citroen Peugeot by having brand separation. They need to focus on marketing and use the Vauxhall/ Opel and Daewoo brands to build up market share in Europe.”

GM needs to make a prompt judgment on Daewoo's plans to bring SsangYong back to the UK - its Rexton sports utility vehicle is scheduled for launch in September. The 4x4 Rexton, likely to cost between £20,000 and £24,000, is the first of three new models from SsangYong. An MPV to compete with Chrysler's Voyager and Kia's Sedona is due in 2004, and a replacement for the Musso, still badged as Daewoo, is expected one year later.

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