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Daewoo plans to earn marketplace respect

Daewoo is gearing up for a sustained product attack on the marketplace following its acquisition by General Motors. Its vision is to become a “respected value” brand.

Hardy Spranger, executive in charge of the GM Daewoo transition team, is confident the company fits well within the GM brand portfolio.

“Saab clearly sits at the top, while Vauxhall/Opel is migrating up into a new customer group,” he says. “Our role is to support Vauxhall/ Opel so they don't have to reach into the bottom end of the market.”

The company launches the Kalos at the end of November, which it believes can reach 10,000 UK sales. The five-door supermini, designed by head of Italdesign Giorgetto Guigiaro, is based on a new platform developed at the Daewoo technical centre in Worthing, West Sussex.

A three-door, likely to be a sporty variant, is also under development and is due in 2004. Early next year, the Evanda, which replaces the ageing Leganza, will be launched, followed in May by the Nubira replacement, codenamed J200. Both have been wholly developed by Daewoo. Spranger believes it will be a couple of years before Daewoo models will come to market using GM platforms and engines.

The GM Daewoo Auto & Technology (DAT) business becomes operational next month. In the UK it will be headed by designated managing director Andy Carroll. It is likely to take on many of the staff employed by Daewoo Cars Ltd (DCL), which was not part of GM's acquisition, and is negotiating over the transfer of assets.

A question mark hovers over the 20 or so franchised dealers appointed by DCL in the past 12 months. Carroll says he is “hopeful” they will all meet GM DAT's franchising criteria, but there's no guarantee they will all be appointed to the new network. He has already been in talks with several large dealer groups that have strong connections with the Vauxhall brand.

“We are starting our dealer blueprint under the new block exemption regulations, so from day one we will have separate sales and servicing agreements,” says Carroll. “We have no plans to share showrooms with Vauxhall but there will be an opportunity to share sites, similar to some Vauxhall/Saab dealers.”

GM DAT is also considering shared service facilities as long as there is clear branding for the marque and is likely to work with the AA service centres in the short term to absorb demand while the new network is organised.

Carroll expects to have up to 40 dealers signed up by October with full market coverage, around 70-100 partners, early next year. The model strategy will help to attract dealers, while Daewoo is looking to get back to its peak UK sales of around 35,000 (in 1999) in 2004.

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