GM‘s new Corvette debuts in Seoul
By Kim Tae-gyu
GM Korea looks to extend its recent success in the domestic market by bringing the legendary Chevrolet Corvette here, beginning next month.
The Incheon-based automaker unveiled the 2012 Corvette Coupe on Monday, which its newly-appointed CEO Sergio Rocha expected will boost the footings of its Chevrolet brand.
The sports car will be available late this week with a price tag of 86.4 million won.
``The Corvette is an exceptional product that no other Korean manufacturer can match,’’ Rocha said during the unveiling event at the Hotel Shilla.
``As the most exciting Chevrolet product, the Corvette Coupe will raise the bar for the brand and products, and broaden our base of Chevrolet customers in Korea.’’
The first-generation of the Corvette made its debut in the United States in 1953 and has become one of the most celebrated sports cars.
GM Korea is confident that the 2012 Corvette Coupe will make a splash in Asia’s fourth-largest economy thanks to its advanced features.
Equipped with a 430-horsepower engine, the model can accelerate from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 4.3 seconds and its maximum speed is over 300 kilometers per hour.
On top of its expressive exterior design and interior craftsmanship, the firm said that the vehicle has such functionalities as remote keyless access, push-button starting, auto-dimming rearview mirrors and Bluetooth connectivity.
``As far as safety is concerned, the Corvette will be outstanding as it is designed to help drivers avoid crashes, while protecting occupants in the event an accident occurs,’’ a GM Korea official said.
Included in the safety features are four standard air bags, two-stage air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system and run-flat tires.
In a press conference held on the sidelines of the launch, GM Korea President Rocha also said that the company will increase investment in Korea so that the carmaker can improve its capacity, which he says is one of his top priorities.
Typically, GM Korea has channeled around 1 trillion won a year for research or investment but Rocha said that the figure would jump by up to 50 percent to around 1.5 trillion won this year.
Yet, the CEO who took charge of GM Korea earlier this year is worried about the slumping economy of such European countries as France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
Based on the introduction of the Chevrolet brand here, GM Korea sold more than 800,000 vehicles across the world last year. In Korea, its sales topped 140,000 to post an 11.9-percent rise from a year before.
The remaining vehicles were shipped abroad with Europe one of the biggest customers, with the continent accounted for around a third of its export volume.
This year, the company hopes its market share will increase to 10 percent from last year’s 9 percent. This will be a tall task due to the popularity of local powerhouses Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors as well as the rising popularity of imported brands among young drivers.