A real Chevy: Canadian-built Camaro is on its way to Korea. GM-Daewoo-designed Cruze recently went into production in Ohio

A real Chevy: Canadian-built Camaro is on its way to Korea. GM-Daewoo-designed Cruze recently went into production in Ohio

GM Daewoo Auto and Technology reportedly will switch South Korean branding from Daewoo to Chevrolet for all new vehicles this year.

The Korea Herald said the bold move reflects its newly found confidence from debt repayment and improved performance but has gotten mixed reactions from market watchers.

The automaker plans to unveil its new brand strategies in the near future, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

Reports and sources said the company is planning to market all of its eight new models planned for the year under the Chevrolet brand.

The new models scheduled for launch this year include the Orlando, Aveo ? sedan and hatchback ? that will replace the Gentra, Lacetti Premiere hatchback, and the follow up models for the Winstorm SUV and the midsized sedan Tosca.

These are already sold under the Chevrolet brand, and with different model names, in export markets apart from Australia, where Holden is used.

The switch to Chevrolet for Korea is an open secret with GM Daewoo president Mike Arcamone telling just-auto last year it would happen and noting the number of Daewoo owners who had rebadged their cars Chevrolet using parts available easily at local dealers. Many bow-tie badged cars were seen on roads in and around Seoul.

According to the local paper, GM-Daewoo will also begin importing the Chevrolet Camaro to Korea, and may be planning to add the Corvette at a later date. With the exception of the Camaro and the Corvette, which the company had planned from the outset to sell under the Chevrolet brand to lead its entry into the Korean market, all of the new models will be manufactured at facilities in Korea.

Arcamone had in fact said as long ago as last April the company plans to bring the Chevrolet brand to Korea to expand its domestic market share and boost profits.

But the spokesman said that no decision has been made.

“As president Mike Arcamone said, there will be an announcement about the company’s brand strategies in the near future,” he said.

“At the moment, we are unable to say which vehicle will be launched under which brand.”

Local analysts noted that GM Daewoo’s supposed branding decision is emerging in the wake of its repayment of debt and a sharp growth in sales last year.

Last month the company repaid all of more than KRW1.1 trillion (US$978m) in debt owed to the Korea Development Bank, freeing itself from a potential opponent to its new strategies.

The company’s share of the domestic market also jumped 19.9% last year.

However, some experts remain doubtful about the impact the Chevrolet brand will have on the local market.

“It will only be the marque that will be changed while the vehicles remain unchanged, so I am not sure if consumers will perceive them as imported vehicles,” IBK Securities analyst Lee Hyun-soo told the Korea Herald.

“But the introduction of the brand will have a positive effect for the company, but it is unlikely that a significant influence will be exerted on the market or the company’s sales.”

Critics said the move appears to be a step toward ultimately removing the Daewoo name from its models.

GM Daewoo, however, said that decisions regarding its branding strategies have been made with the best interests of the company in mind.