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Manufacturers / South Korea / Daewoo

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Daewoo vehicles


The company was first established as National Motor in 1937 in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, South Korea. The name was changed to Saenara Motor in November 1962.Saenara was assembling and selling Datsuns Bluebird P310. Very first automobile company in Korea, Saenara was equipped with modern assembly facilities, and was established after the Automobile Industry Promotion Policy was announced by the South Korean government in 1962. Saenara Motor was then bought by Shinjin Industrial in 1965, which changed its name to Shinjin Motor after establishing collaborations with Toyota. Shinjin range included various Toyota models, such as the Publica, T40 Corona and Crown.


After Toyota's withdrawal in 1972, Shinjin Motor started a joint venture with General Motors under the name General Motors Korea (GMK), but was renamed again in 1976 to Saehan Motor. GMK shortly sold their Rekord under the GMK marque, together with the Holden Torana based Chevrolet 1700. When GMK was renamed to Saehan, the 1700 became Saehan Camina.

Saehan's range was composed of diverse GM models : the Saehan Gemini was based on 1974 Isuzu's Belett Gemini, then replaced by the Maepsy (known under the Saehan Bird name in export versions), which was a development of the Gemini. Its pickup derivate, the Saehan Max is now a part of Korean automobile history. Saehan also marketed the Opel Rekord E and created later on, on this basis, their Royale Series, composed of the Royale Diesel, Royale Automatic and Royale Salon models.


Daewoo Maepsy-Na   (1982)

After the Daewoo Group gained control in 1982 the name was changed to Daewoo Motor Co.. Until 1996 all cars were based on models from General Motors. All Saehan models were named Daewoos, the Maepsy being refreshed became Maepsy-Na. The Royale Series models were kept, Daewoo addding the Royale XQ and Royale Duke (March 1982), Royale Prince (July 1983) and Royale Salon Super (March 1986). Above the Royale range was added in 1989 the Daewoo Imperial flagship luxury car, which styling was reminiscent of the contemporary Chrysler Imperial and New Yorker, but also luxury Japanese sedans. It was produced until 1993.

The first Daewoo addition was the 1986 Daewoo LeMans, based on the Opel Kadett E ; 3-door versions were called Racer, and 5-door Penta-5. This car had an internation ambition for GM, as it was sold almost worldwide, as the Pontiac LeMans, Asüna GT and SE, or Passport Optima. This car was produced until February 1997, being one of Daewoo Motor's greatest successes. 1986 was also the year Daewoo offered a badge-engineered version of Nissan's Vanette.


Daewoo Espero - Aranos   (1990)

In 1990 was created the Espero, designed by Bertone of Italy, initiating a tradition at Daewoo Motor of models created by Italian designers.

Daewoo Heavy Industries (DHI) introduced in 1991 the Tico mini car, which was sold at Daewoo Motor's dealers. DHI was also selling since 1981 the Damas minivan and Labo mini pickup - Tico, Damas and Labo being based on Suzuki models. When the Royale Series range was discontinued, its models were slightly refreshed and offered under the Prince and Super Salon/Brougham names until respectively 1997 and 1999.

In 1992, the joint-venture with GM ended, leaving Daewoo Motor as an independent company.

Daewoo Brougham , Prince concept (1991)

In 1994, Daewoo started importing the second generation Honda Legend to replace the discontinued flagship Imperial, under the name of Arcadia. This year, the LeMans got a slight refresh, and all variants (3,4 and 5-door) were then sold under the Cielo name.

The first "real" Daewoo Motor product, the Lanos, was introduced in late 1996. it spawned 3 variants : 4-door, 3-door called Romeo and 5-door Juliet - being the first model of a whole new family of cars to be created. Styling was a cooperation of Giorgetto Giugiaro and Italdesign. One of its main features was the all-new 3-parts corporate grill, reminding of the Daewoo Motor emblem, and which was going to be used on many Daewoo cars to come. February 1997 saw the birth of the Nubira, first Daewoo model to be produced in their then new Kunsan motor plant and designed by Italian I.DE.A Institute. In March 1997, the mid-size Leganza followed, also designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, borrowing some styling cues of the existing 1990 Jaguar Kensington concept-car.

In 1998, after the Asian financial crisis, Daewoo Motor took over the troubled 4WD specialist SsangYong Motor. Its SUVs models, such as Korando, Musso and Rexton were sold under the Daewoo-SsangYong badge in South-Korea (contrary to other areas such as Europe where the Daewoo Korando existed, as an example). SsangYong's flagship limousine, the Chairman was on its part integrated to the Daewoo range, becoming the Daewoo Chairman with a new 3-parts Daewoo corporate grill. The Istana van was also renamed Daewoo.

Daewoo Tico  concept (1993)

1998 was also the introduction of one of Daewoo Motor's best known car : the Matiz, whose design signed by Giorgetto Giugiaro was based on the 1992 concept car Lucciola which was initially imagined as a replacement for the Fiat Cinquecento. This car has been Daewoo Motor's best-seller for the next four years. In 1999, Daewoo presented the Magnus, which was a development of the existing Leganza. Sold alongside the Leganza in Korea until the end of the latter's production in 2002, it existed in 2 variants : Classic and Eagle (sportier). The Rezzo mini MPV was introduced in early 2000. Matiz, Lanos and Nubira got a mid-life facelift in 2001, becoming Matiz II, Lanos II and Nubira II. In 2002, the L6 Magnus was introduced, equipped with Daewoo's first straight-six engine, with new front grill and lamps - and Daewoo also presented the Kalos subcompact to replace the Lanos.

By 1999, the whole Daewoo Group ran into financial trouble, and was forced to sell its automotive division. Candidates for the operation included Hyundai associated with DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company and the GM-Fiat alliance. Finally, General Motors was the one who bought Daewoo Motor's assets.


Daewoo Rezzo , Tacuma concept (2000)

In 2001 General Motors bought most of Daewoo Motor's assets to form GM Daewoo. The new company started operations on October 17, 2002, with GM and its partners Suzuki and SAIC holding a stake of 66.7% with investments of US$400 million. The GM holding was formally purchased by GM Holden Ltd which holds a seat on the board. The remaining equity stake of 33.3% was held by Korea Development Bank and several other Korean creditors with investments of US$197 million. The deal did not include 15 plants, especially Daewoo's oldest plant in Bupyeong-gu which now operates under the name Daewoo Incheon Motor Company as a supplier to GM Daewoo. In 2004, Tata Motors purchased Daewoo's Truck manufacturing unit. In February 2005, GM invested US$49 million to raise its share in the company to 48.2%. In 2008, General Motors owned 50.9%, Suzuki 11.2 %, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation 9.9 % and the Daewoo Motor Creditors Committee the remaining 28%. In October 2009, GM increased its GMDAT holding; as of this date, GM is 70.1 percent owner, the Korean Development Bank holds 17 percent, Suzuki 6.8 percent and SAIC 6 percent.

GM DAT has design, engineering, research & development facilities that are involved in development for various GM products, above all small-size cars. On November 25, 2003, the design center was relocated to the new 2-story building at the Bupyeong-gu headquarters.

The first car to be produced under the GM Daewoo nameplate was the 2002 Lacetti, replacing the Nubira. This car was developed under the Daewoo Motor era, but its fate became incredible, becoming GM's world car, sold under many different marques all around the globe. After a few years without real new car to present, GM Daewoo introduced in 2005 the Holden based Statesman luxury car replacing the discontinued Daewoo Chairman. The third generation of Matiz was introduced, refreshed by the GM Daewoo desing team, and an evolution of the 4-door Kalos appeared : the Gentra.

Daewoo Matiz  concept (2000)

In early 2006, GM Daewoo presented the L6 Magnus replacement, the Tosca. GM Daewoo's official press releases says that Tosca is an acronym for "Tomorrow Standard Car".The end of the same year, GM Daewoo introduced the Winstorm - its first proper SUV, which is, as the Lacetti, sold worldwide under different marques and names including Opel, Chevrolet, Holden or Saturn. It featured a common rail Diesel engine for the first time in a Daewoo vehicle, in addition to regular four and six cylinder gasoline engines. The diesel engine design is licensed from the Italian engine maker VM Motori.

2007 has seen the introduction of the wagon version of the Lacetti and Kalos hatchback's facelift, becoming Gentra X. For 2008, GM Daewoo introduced the first korean roadster : the G2X sports car, a badge-engineered Saturn Sky, and started to sell the Opel Antara under the name of Winstorm MaXX. The Statesman flagship was also replaced by the new Veritas still on a Holden basis.

Late 2008 and early 2009 were a major period for GM Daewoo with the introduction of the all-new Lacetti Premiere, which is the basis of the Chevrolet Cruze, a very important car for GM worldwide. The latest GM Daewoo product today is the all-new Matiz Creative, third generation of Matiz mini car.

Daewoo Magnus , Evanda concept (2000)

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