Tag: daewoo

By on August 12, 2011

If you have a pulse and a willful ignorance of the local speed limit, you’re probably not interested in the Chevrolet Spark. If you’re a media-savvy hipster who’s on Facebook sixteen hours a day, you’re probably not interested in the Spark, either. If you’re a techno-geek or an eco-geek, you’re probably still not interested in the Chevrolet Spark.

If you need something to get you from point Alpha to point Beta and aren’t willing to pay too much, you might be interested in the Spark. But only after all the alternatives have been removed from your short-list as being too sensible. And even then, a lobotomy might be required to help you make up your mind.

That’s a shame, because the Spark isn’t really that bad.

(Read More…)

By on August 10, 2011

Having been asked by a certain newspaper to review the new book “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China [more info on that review coming soon], I’ve been spending my quiet moments over the last week or so looking into GM’s Chinese operations. The book’s author, Michael Dunne, documents GM’s rise in the Middle Kingdom from the perspective of a well-informed outsider, revealing just how delicate one of GM’s best-performing global maneuvers really was. But after following the rise of GM in China, Dunne notes the December 2009 announcement that GM was selling a 1% stake in its Shanghai-GM (SGM) joint venture to its Chinese partner SAIC (for the paltry sum of $85m no less), arguing that GM had made a dangerous leap of necessity. This sale, implies Dunne, could well have been the tipping point that leads to GM being surpassed by its erstwhile junior (in size, technology and global reach) partner, SAIC. And, in the words of “one GM executive who used to work in China,” GM would need

good luck getting that back.

But, back in June, GM CEO Dan Akerson told GM’s shareholder meeting that he wants to do just that, saying

We have an option to buy that 1 percent. It’s our intention to exercise that.

With Akerson’s announcement, the mystery of GM’s “golden share” sale deepened. At first the question was simply “why would GM sell its 1%?” but now there’s another mystery: why would GM want it back? After some digging, it seems that we are now able to resolve the first mystery, and report why GM sold its one percent. But the whole deal is still surrounded by several layers of mystery which conceal whether GM will in fact be able to regain its 50-50 partnership in SGM, why it would want to and whether its gambit was ultimately worthwhile. And given how important China has been (and continues to be) to GM’s global business, this is definitely an issue that GM- and industry-watchers will want to better understand.

(Read More…)

By on February 24, 2011

GM is pushing its Chevrolet brand as a ”world brand,” reports the Freep. First battlefields for global bowtiefication: Europe and Korea. In Korea, the matter is easy: Last month, they took off the Daewoo badge and put a bowtie on instead. As predicted by TTAC nearly a year ago. There is not much that can go wrong in Korea: Hyundai dominates the market, Dawoo’s and now Chevrolet’s market share treads water in the single digits.

In Europe, any substantial market penetration by Chevrolet is “still a long-term goal,” concedes the Freep. And then, the Detroit paper proceeds to publish completely bogus numbers: (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2011

We, or rather the Financial Times saw it coming a year ago: “General Motors is considering replacing the Daewoo brand with the Chevrolet name in South Korea.” And so they finally did. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2010

AutoWeek reports:

GM doesn’t use [Continuously Variable Transmissions] now. But they could be used on models such as the Chevrolet Spark, Aveo and Cruze in the next three years, said Mike Arcamone, CEO of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology.

GM will have to improve the mileage on these models by at least 10 percent by the next full-model change, said Sohn Dongyoun, vice president of engineering at GM’s global small- and minicar development team at GM Daewoo. CVTs offer an easy, quick fix, he said.
Nissan has (in my eyes) refined its CVT to the point where it can be downright eager in applications like the Juke, but GM’s track record with the the CVT is less well-proven. GM hasn’t offered the transmission since dropping it as an option from the Saturn Ion coupe and Vue and the Opel Astra in 1995. And Daewoo’s CVT would have to be incredibly good to erase fears left from the previous experience, in which GM paid Saturn owners over $100m in settlements for transmission failure. Sohn’s line about CVTs being a “easy, quick fix” should ring a few alarm bells somewhere in the RenCen.
By on November 18, 2010

Between the years 1988 and 1993, GM decided to use Americans in a mass experiment, in which I found myself  an unwitting participant. Seemingly unable to determine on its own whether Korean-made cars would pass muster here, GM just sent boatloads of them over and slapped on the storied Pontiac LeMans name, no less. Then it looked for suckers/participants, both long and short term. Oddly enough, one actually had to pay to play. I ponied up for a week’s worth in the summer of 1990, and put it through the most difficult torture possible to try to kill it, in revenge for having been drafted by Hertz to do GM’s work. I hereby submit my results, in the hopes of getting my money back. Oh wait; that was the old GM. Well, someone’s going to pay to hear my evaluation, twenty years late or not. (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2010

GM’s Korean partner GM-Daewoo has an Aveo-based “SUV” in the final stages of design development… and it definitely looks like the 2007 “Chevy Trax” concept, right? Wrong. Of course.

Design chief Taewan Kim insists the design is “still not fixed” for production but the detailed study is finished to the sort of standard designers reach before wheeling in The Boss to sign it off as ready for production and the interior ‘mock-up’ looked all but sorted to give the suppliers the go for first off-tool samples. Looks? Cameras were banned but think ‘I shrunk the Capitiva’ and you get the idea.

Don’t know what a Captiva is? Well, do you remember the Saturn Vue? No? Well, there’s a new one anyway… take a look after the jump.

(Read More…)

By on July 31, 2010

I was born in 1971 and started actively reading about cars in 1976, subscribing to Car and Driver and absorbing the work of men such as LJK Setright, Gordon Jennings, and Gordon Baxter. Those men were waiting for America to create a truly outstanding small car, one that could meet the Germans (and, later, the Japanese) on equal ground and beat them in a fair fight. More particularly, since General Motors was the acknowledged leader of the American automotive industry, they were waiting for GM to create the Great American Small Car.

Those men are gone now, as dead as Julius Caesar and not nearly as well-remembered. I am standing here, waiting in their stead, waiting patiently for the Great American Small Car, waiting for General Motors to fulfill the promise they’ve made to us for nearly fifty years now.

The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car, although at least part of its goodness comes from the fact that it isn’t really that small. It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways. This is what it is: a good car, a bold car, a car for which no purchaser need make an excuse or feel any concern. This is what it might be: great. That’s for the buyer to decide. This is what it is not: American.

(Read More…)

By on April 29, 2010

If there were a global brand that GM should have killed, it’s probably Daewoo. Outside the South Korean market, the name is so associated with cheap, crummy cars, that GM rebadges nearly all of Daewoo’s exports as Chevrolets. And even then, the “Chevwoo” brand is tainted by the fact that GM refuses to take ownership of its troubled South Korean operations, and enforce a one-badge policy in line with Chevy’s global branding. And it’s not like the Daewoo name is all that beloved in Korea either, as The General recently figured out that as many as 40 percent of all Korean Daewoo buyers were replacing their badges with Chevy bowties supplied by the aftermarket. In fact, GM was threatening to get rid of the Daewoo name altogether and replacing it with Chevrolet. But apparently because of fears of alienating Korean customers and “resistance from labor unions,” GM has decided to introduce the Chevrolet brand to Korea without killing off Daewoo. As GM’s presser puts it:

today’s announcement is about brand coexistence, not brand replacement

Sound familiar?

(Read More…)

By on April 16, 2010

The latest Cruze-hyping video from GM shows the forthcoming compact ripping through a test track, as Vehicle Line Director Chuck Russell waxes eloquent about its engineering and reliability. His point is clear: this new Cruze is a truly global product, in contrast to the America-only Cavalier update that was the Cobalt it replaces. And comparing footage of the Cruze ripping through a slalom to that of a Civic negotiating the same obstacles, one is left with the impression that Russell isn’t just blowing smoke. But then, we knew that already. In his review of the European-spec Cruze, TTAC’s Martin Schwoerer notes:

In contrast to the engine, the Cruze’s ride and handling are perfectly acceptable in the grand scheme of things.

(Read More…)

By on March 12, 2010

All kinds of strange news are coming from GM’s Korean foster child Daewoo. Two days ago, Daewoo CEO Mike Arcamone announced: “In 2010, GM Daewoo will be profitable. That is my target.” That didn’t get much traction. Reporters wanted to know how bad last year’s numbers were. Arcamone remained tight-lipped. He admitted red ink for 2009, how much remains anybody’s guess. In 2008, it was $773m worth of red. Last October Daewoo-is-me had to be bailed out by the bailed-out GM to the tune of $413m. Arcamone has some soothing news: “We currently do not seek any other financial support from our creditors.” The operative word is “currently.” There is one way to stop the hemorrhage for good: Pack it in. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2010

If Borat jokes aren’t your thing, at least stick around for the amazing pronunciation of “double overhead camshaft” at 1:42. Jenkouye!

By on January 18, 2010

Sweep it under the rug...

An interview with Forbes the boss of the Korean Development Bank, which GM-Daewoo still owes several billion dollars, reveals that GM’s South Korean unit had a debt-to-equity ratio of 912 percent as recently as last June. GM “rescued” its crucial small-car development center by buying up all $413m of GM-Daewoo’s recent share offering, keeping the the KDB from imposing its will on the automaker. That was enough to keep the wolf from Daewoo’s door in the short term, but if Daewoo is ever going to develop a new generation of GM small cars and global products, it will have to address its $2b KDB debt and raise additional funds. For now though, GM-Daewoo is just hoping to keep a little momentum going.

(Read More…)

By on December 6, 2009

Panic in Detroit. And Shanghai. And Russelsheim. And Bupyeong...

News that GM is selling a control-shifting single share in GM Shanghai to its Chinese partner SAIC was the toads-from-heaven flourish at the end of an epic week for the RenCen. The day after the last of GM’s lifer CEOs left the building, Opel’s CFO followed suit. One management re-organization and a rough LA Auto Show later, came this symbolic surrender of GM’s largest market for a measly $85m. Accompanied by news that The General would buy out Suzuki’s stake in CAMI for an estimated $46.5m, no less. Oh yeah, and something about India. Freshly-minted CEO and notorious rattlesnake killer Ed Whitacre isn’t about be accused of not trying to shake things up. The only question is where will everything land?

(Read More…)

By on December 4, 2009

A little more green would have been nice...

Fresh details on GM’s Asian wranglings are coming in, and it seems that SAIC paid The General a mere $85m for the one percent needed to control the joint venture. GM’s Nick Reilly tells the New York Times:

the 51 percent stake would give S.A.I.C. the right to approve the venture’s budget, future plans and senior management. But the venture has a cooperative spirit in which S.A.I.C. has already been able to do so… S.A.I.C. wanted to have a majority stake to consolidate the venture in its financial reporting

Which is about as credible as the conclusion that the Shanghai and India deals are going to provide GM International with a meaningful amount of cash with which to rescue its European and Korean divisions. As it turns out, the Indian deal isn’t going to translate into free cash for GM. GM and SAIC will set up a joint Hong Kong-based investment company, which GM will give its Indian operations and SAIC will fund with $300-$530m, bringing its overall value to $650m.

(Read More…)

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