GM Daewoo Looks to Pursue Sustainable Growth
By Kim Hyun-cheol
Celebrating the sixth anniversary of its ``new establishment,'' GM Daewoo is poised for a new takeoff on the back of its rebirth in 2002.
The automaker has enjoyed three consecutive profitable years since 2005. Last year its domestic and international sales amounted to nearly 1.9 million vehicles, more than four times that of 2002, when the company was renamed GM Daewoo from Daewoo Motor.
The company has been faithful in playing its role as the global base of American marquee GM's small vehicles production, continually building up its muscle on research and development (R&D). It has invested 3 trillion won ($2.43 billion) in new product development and production facilities over the past three years, and plans to pump an additional three trillion until next year.
It is an expensive effort, but the outcome has not been in vain. The maker has secured state-of-the-art technology in six-speed automatic transmission, diesel engines and power trains, and also introduced an innovative marketing and after-sales service system here.
Even though the company was re-launched at the cost of a huge lay-off, the company eventually ended reinstating all of its workers in May 2006, and even doubled the number of employees later.
Mutual understanding and cooperation between the management and the GM Daewoo union led to all these remarkable outcomes despite adverse domestic and global business environments, the Incheon-based maker said.
In January this year, the manufacturer held a ceremony to announce a new corporate slogan and image. The slogan, ``New Ways, Always,'' is the automaker's declaration of its pursuit of innovation in its search for long-term, sustainable growth.
``The phrase suggests the direction we should be headed for, amid intensifying global competition for survival in worsening conditions including skyrocketing prices of oil and other raw materials,'' GM Daewoo said.
With the new launch, Michael Grimaldi, GM Daewoo president and CEO, will go on a ``pep-up tour'' of the company's six local plants in November to celebrate its achievements over the past six years and share his blueprint for the future with employees in a series of business forums.
This year also leaves a meaningful mark for its parent company GM, as the automotive giant celebrates its 100th anniversary.
As one of the oldest car manufacturers, the American maker has produced numerous technical innovations that have helped shape the face of automobiles, such as electric starters, fully automatic transmissions and catalytic converters. It now has production facilities in 35 countries worldwide, with over 220,000 staff in total.
Since its foundation in 1908, GM has sold over 450 million vehicles, with 9.4 million sold last year. It has also led in the development of eco-friendly and high fuel-efficient vehicles by introducing models featuring state-of-the-art technologies such as the Chevrolet Volt, which made its debut at the 2008 Paris International Motor Show.
Starting as a new part of the global automotive goliath, GM Daewoo is now one of its leading lights.
Six years after being absorbed by GM, GM Daewoo's exports have increased nearly eightfold. Last year, the Korean unit produced nearly 1.8 billion vehicles (including complete knock-down products), up 25.6 percent from a year earlier, ranking it as one of the biggest exporters within the GM Group.
A series of new products add to the maker's new lineup this year with the newest edition of its mid-sized sedan the Tosca Premium 6, sports utility vehicle Winstorm MAXX and the new large size sedan Veritas.
In addition, GM Daewoo designed three GM mini concept cars ― the Chevrolet Beat, the Groove, and the Trax ― which were unveiled at the 2007 New York International Motor Show in April last year. Of the three, the Beat was chosen as the GM Global compact car and was on display again at this year's Detroit Motor Show; proof of GM Daewoo's advancing design and technology.
GM unveiled the Chevrolet Volt in September in celebration of its 100th anniversary. The innovative electric vehicle was introduced at the 2008 Paris Motor Show along with the compact sedan, Chevrolet Cruze, and the next-generation minivan, Chevrolet Orlando, both of which GM Daewoo and GM Global developed in collaboration.
The Chevrolet Cruze will be launched in Korea next month under the name of the Lacetti Premier.
Work by the Korean company is not confined to design, as it has also been consistently trying to re-equip facilities with cutting-edge technology.
GM Daewoo built its T4 engine plant in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, in December 2002. With the construction of the plant, the company was able to produce 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2-liter engines and obtain a robust position in the mini- and small-sized vehicle market.
In addition, GM Daewoo acquired the former Daewoo Power-train in Boryeong, South Chungcheong, in 2003, providing the company with the capacity to produce automatic transmissions.
In February, the Boryeong plant began to produce the cutting-edge hydromatic six-speed automatic transmissions which have been loaded into the Tosca Premium 6 and will also equip the Lacetti Premier.
In 2006, GM Daewoo launched a diesel engine plant in Gunsan, North Jeolla province, which manufactures eco-friendly high-tech common rail diesel engines with a 90 percent automation rate at the production line.
The design center at the Bupyeong plant in Incheon, since its foundation in November 2003, has played an important role within GM's global network by creating a variety of new and innovative vehicle designs.
GM Daewoo has also established a new knock-down packing center at Incheon Port and started full operation in July 2006. It now enables GM Daewoo to pack up to an annual 1.4 million kits to be assembled in the Asia Pacific region, South America and Eastern Europe.
GM Daewoo built the Cheong-Na Proving Ground, which is equipped with high-tech test-driving track and a research facility, in the Incheon Free Economic Zone in October 2007.
This multi-purpose center is GM's global base for mini and small-sized models, and is where various models are developed to meet demand for GM brands on the global automotive market.
The company is also accelerating development of eco-friendly futuristic vehicles, which are expected to be the biggest trendsetter in the future.
GM Daewoo also held a test-drive of the Chevrolet Equinox, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, at the Gunsan International Auto Expo last month. In its second showing of the vehicle at Gunsan, following the Busan Motor Show in 2007, GM Daewoo showed its ambition to produce next-generation eco-friendly cars.
To be a global leader in car design, quality and customer services, GM Daewoo and GM Global are set to develop cutting-edge and eco-friendly vehicles as a growth engine for the future, as well as pursuing sustainable growth on both domestic and overseas markets.