Daewoo is a subsidiary of the General Motors corporation. The Korean auto manufacturer was a producer of entry-level economy cars for both the Korean and worldwide markets. General Motors purchased the company in 2001 in order to shore up what had become a flagging economy car lineup. This lead to the end of Daewoo’s being sold under their own name in North America as well as parts of Europe, instead being re-branded as Chevrolets and in some cases Suzukis. The used Daewoo line consists mostly of compact cars.
Daewoo began in the 1930’s under a different name in Incheon, South Korea. The company was eventually purchased by Shinjin Industrial in the mid-1960’s, and the manufacturer formed an alliance with Japanese automaker Toyota. The relationship was short-lived, however, and the company that would become Daewoo as it is known today formed in 1982 after it was taken over by the larger industrial Daewoo Group.
Daewoo Motors, as it was then called, again took advantage of a relationship with a more established automotive giant. By partnering with General Motors, Daewoo were able to sell their vehicles worldwide, under a variety of different brands. Chevrolet, Pontiac, Opel and Holden all made use of Daewoo constructed cars, which were sometimes sold alongside their namesakes. Eventually, in the 90’s, Daewoo Motors were able to crack the American, European and Canadian market without the use of any General Motors brand names.
Modern Day Daewoo
When Daewoo Motors was purchased by GM in 2001, it signaled the end of the company’s presence in North America under its own guises. General Motors used the company not only to bolster its own domestic economy car efforts, but also as a method for giving Chevrolet a better foothold in the global marketplace. By re-badging a significant portion of the Daewoo lineup as a Chevrolet, the American brand was sold in markets in which it had previously seen little success. Whereas Chevrolet is known more for its trucks and family cars in the United States, Daewoo has allowed the company to pursue a wider image in other countries that includes city cars, small people movers and light utility vehicles. The badge engineering went both ways, and Daewoo were able to sell their own versions of certain vehicles from the General Motors family, notably the Saturn Sky. Suzuki also still has access to Daewoo designs.
GM Daewoo, as the company is now called, uses facilities in Korea as well as Vietnam to produce 1.5 million vehicles a year, almost all of which are exported for sale in other countries. Since the takeover, Daewoo has seen its sales volume skyrocket by 400 percent. General Motors and Daewoo also use the company’s engineering brain trust to research and develop new environmentally-friendly engines and vehicle systems that can be implemented on a global scale.
The company would narrowly avoid bankruptcy in 1980 thanks to financial assistance in the form of a 1.5 billion dollar loan from the U.S. government, a loan which was fully repaid within 3 years. In 1998, the company was acquired by Daimler-Benz, causing it to be renamed DaimlerChrysler Motors Company LLC. After suffering financially, despite the success of several newly introduced vehicle models, Chrysler phased out the Plymouth brand and ended their long partnership with Mitsubishi. In 2007, the Chrysler Group of brands was sold to Cerberus Capital Management for the price of 7.4 billion dollars. The company would again be reorganized following its bankruptcy in 2009.