General Motors Korea will start production of the Chevrolet Malibu sedan later this year and will begin exporting the model starting around the end of 2011.
As South Korea is a very important market for GM, it will be the first market to have the new Malibu model, which will launch around October, Ankush Arora, GM Korea‘s vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, told Dow Jones.
Sales of the new model will start in the US early next year, a company spokesman told the news agency.
GM in June stopped production for four weeks at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to reconfigure it for North American Malibu production and increased VOLT output.
The Malibu replaces GM Korea’s Daewoo Tosca sedan, known for its transverse I6 engines, which was exported as a Chevrolet and a Holden and known in most export markets, apart from Iceland, as the Epica. In North America it replaces a domestically designed and built model line that stretches back numerous generations.
“The mid-size segment is the largest in Korea, and we haven’t had new models in this segment for a while. The Malibu will be launched in Korea before any other markets. The upper-medium market is another big opportunity for us,” Mike Arcamone, CEO of GM Korea, told the Korea Times.
Arcamone stressed the importance of the Korean market, saying that one out of every four Chevrolet vehicles sold globally is now built in Korea.
Dow Jones noted that GM Korea officially adopted the Chevrolet brand after dropping the Daewoo name as part of GM’s rebranding strategy. Under the strategy all of the company’s new and upgraded models will carry the Chevrolet brand, except for three independent brands: the Alpheon upper midsize sedan, and the Damas and Labo mini cars.
GM Korea has launched six Chevrolet models so far this year: the seven-seat Orlando sport-utility vehicle, the Camaro sports car, the Captiva SUV, the five-seat Aveo hatchback, the Aveo subcompact sedan and the Cruze5 hatchback.
GM Korea said that aside from the Malibu sedan, the company also plans to launch the fuel-efficient eAssist Alpheon large sedan in the second half. The Alpheon is based on the North American Buick LaCrosse.
Helped by strong demand for Aveo, Cruze and Spark models in Europe and emerging markets, GM Korea sold a total 480,081 units between January and July, up 9.3% from a year earlier. Exports rose 7.3% from a year earlier during the period to 398,015 units.