Sorry, No Impala Production For You, GM Tells Korea

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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6 of 19 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Apr 06, 2016

    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.

  • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Apr 06, 2016

    Trump for President!

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Apr 06, 2016

    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....

  • EAF EAF on Apr 07, 2016

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