GM Koreas slow-selling Alpheon is locally assembled variant of North American Buick LaCrosse

GM Korea's slow-selling Alpheon is locally assembled variant of North American Buick LaCrosse

General Motors could introduce its upscale Cadillac brand to South Korea in a bid to capture some of the premium sedan market, having struggled with the locally assembled Buick LaCrosse-based Alpheon which was launched two years ago.

The automaker had hoped the Alpheon - which is sold as a stand-alone brand/model and not badged Chevrolet like the rest of GM Korea's line - would compete with premium Hyundai and Kia models but the company sold only 4,398 in the first seven months of this year, down 36.7% year on year.

In contrast Kia sold 9,241 K7s while parent Hyundai sold 10,977 Genesis and 53,480 Grandeur units in the January-July period. The Alpheon also lagged behind the imported BMW 520d.

The Korea Herald said industry insiders believe the poor fuel efficiency of the three-litre petrol V6 Alpheon is the main concern among buyers. It achieves 9.3km/litre while the Grandeur and the K7 get 11.6 km/litre.

Insiders have now suggested GM Korea may choose to manufacture Cadillac premium sedans locally as a substitute.

A small number of imported Cadillacs have been being sold in Korea but observers told the Herald production at GM Korea’s factories could be a breakthrough.

GM Korea sold 60,720 vehicles in July although its domestic sales and exports dropped by 7.7% and 9% respectively year on year. It has targeted over 10% of the local market annually, and has introduced a Cruze electric vehicle test fleet and the Volt as part of its commitment to the development of next generation technology.