By on April 6, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Impala V6-008

There are a lot of unhappy union executives in South Korea today after General Motors announced it won’t green light Chevrolet Impala production in the surging Asian market.

The model will continue to be imported from GM’s Hamtramck assembly plant, despite the popularity it has shown since going on sale in September of last year.

The union representing the bulk of GM Korea’s 17,000 workers isn’t taking the news lying down, saying the move threatens the existence of the company itself. Ko Nam-seok, leader of the GM Korea branch of the Korean Metal Workers Union, is expected to pan the decision in a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra later this month.

Sales of the full-size Impala have surpassed 10,000 in South Korea, and that’s where a game of he-said/she-said starts.

The union says GM Korea’s former CEO Sergio Rocha promised local production of the Impala if sales passed 10,000 units, but new leader James Kim moved that target to 30,000.

GM has refuted this claim, saying no one would have made that initial promise, as it’s too low a volume number and wouldn’t have turned a profit.

The automaker has had a long production presence in South Korea, but the union fears that rising labor costs are giving GM cold feet about staying.

As something of a consolation gesture, GM will boost production at their Bupyeong, South Korea plant to support sales of the next-generation Malibu, which goes on sale in that market next month. The next-generation Captiva SUV will also be produced at the plant.

[Sources: Reuters, Wards Auto] [Image: © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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19 Comments on “Sorry, No Impala Production For You, GM Tells Korea...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “The union says GM Korea’s former CEO Sergio Rocha promised local production of the Impala if sales passed 10,000 units, but new leader James Kim moved that target to 30,000.”

    Show us paper to that effect, union.

  • avatar

    Korea doesn’t need the impala. The Azera and Genesis are both far superior options.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      So, you’re saying the surprise popularity of the Impala is due to…?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t know about the Azera; it’s kind of stale. However, Kia did release images of the new 2017 K7/Cadenza, and it looks great…easily the most-handsome sedan in the segment.

      http://blog.caranddriver.com/all-new-2017-kia-cadenza-previewed-by-all-new-korean-k7-twin/

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Impala is the best large, upscale sedan on the market today and is superior to the Azera in a no. of ways (interior space, ride, etc.).

      That might change when the new Cadenza hits the US, but even the previous Cadenza was superior to the Azera.

      The Impala has been a hit for GM Korea – on track to sell 20k this year.

      The Genesis is in another whole price-range, esp. in Korea.

    • 0 avatar
      Shawnski

      Using that “logic” why does America need 400k Camry’s per year? There are better options. For South Koreans they are probably getting a lot of car for the money with the Impala. Or maybe like some on this site, perhaps they suffer from a national inferiority complex.

      • 0 avatar
        NN

        If you’ve been to Korea you’ll know the car landscape is extremely drab…almost everything is a white, black or gray Hyundai or Kia (with a smattering of Daewoo/Samsung/Ssangyong). Sure, they’re often nice cars, but there is a massive lack of diversity. Even if the Cadenza to our eyes is nicer, in Korea the Impala likely stands out as a bold (but not too bold!) and fashionable choice. 20k/annually is no little thing for an American car export to a single market. That’s a nice boost for the workers at Hamtramck when the car isn’t selling here as much as it used to. Also a mere drop in the bucket compared to the boatloads of Korean cars that we import.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      The Azera and the Genesis aren’t exactly the same in Korea as they are in the US. The Grandeur (USDM Azera) and the Genesis get many more options and aren’t just superior options, I would call them far superior options to the Impala by comparison.

      Not to mention the fact that the Genesis and the Grandeur are both made in Korea and continue to employ Koreans, it’s all the more reason to buy one if you’re Korean. Unless you work in support of the military, Koreans will give you the side eye for buying/owning an American car.

      I just left Korea to come back to the US before heading to Hawaii. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a Grandeur or a Genesis. You may hit two with the same rock.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Daewoo, that’s who.

  • avatar
    gasser

    This is the basic problem with reciprocal trade agreements. The other nations always think it means that the US will buy foreign goods, but they don’t want ours. Here the reason is “employment”, but there’s always a reason. NAFTA was and the TPP will be very problematical. Most of the college educated crowd ignores the problems of blue collar jobs in US, but wait until the H1B employees take the more technological positions, or even take them back to their native nations. Then many of the advocates of free trade will sit up and notice.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Um, evidently the Korean consumer wants the product (Impala).

      The problem is, the GM Korea workers want to build the Impala locally.

      Really doesn’t make sense for GM to undergo the cost of tooling another plant when Detroit and Oshawa have the capacity to supply the Korean market as well as the NA market.

      Also, the currency valuation has helped as well.

      Just shows when GM designs/builds a quality product that is appropriate for the market (Korea is one of the few Asian markets where larger sedans are popular) – that it can sell.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “…H1B employees take the more technological positions…”

      This is well underway where I work – the 21st century version of ‘indentured servitude’.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Its all about the manipulation of wages, its easy to save the money and then simply demand the same amount of work velocity despite the fact your new employees are largely incompetent.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The thing with Korean unions is, they don’t just sit down or picket – they’ve been known to riot, seize plants, and go after managers and executives. This could get really interesting.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Trump for President!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I, for one, are thrilled by this news. Yup, some just don’t like it when trade works in the direction that provides America the jobs….

  • avatar
    EAF

    Impala SS LS3 powered, yes please! Spotted one last week for the first time as an interceptor. Damn thing is gorgeous!

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