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June 13, 2003

SOUTH KOREA: Now there are six car makers – report

South Korea now has a sixth car maker after Protomotors registered with the government on Friday, a company official told Dow Jones. Since the company was established in 1997, it has worked with major players like Hyundai Motor on technology, the news agency said, adding that Protomotors successfully built the first stretch limousine in South Korea and was commissioned to build a special convertible limousine for the country's president last year.

By bcusack

South Korea now has a sixth car maker after Protomotors registered with the government on Friday, a company official told Dow Jones.

Since the company was established in 1997, it has worked with major players like Hyundai Motor on technology, the news agency said, adding that Protomotors successfully built the first stretch limousine in South Korea and was commissioned to build a special convertible limousine for the country’s president last year.

In July, the car maker will ship 10 Spirras to US car dealers, chief executive officer Kim Han-Chul told Dow Jones.

The shipment marks its first sale and the company plans to begin domestic sales in October after securing government approval, he reportedly said.

According to Dow Jones, Kim said Protomotors aims to sell 50 Spirras this year in South Korea and overseas, and is negotiating with several foreign car dealers, including agents in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and China.

The news agency said Protomotors has a plant in Yongin, southeast of Seoul, with an annual production capacity of 500 units, and has 1.4 billion won in capital and 20 employees.

The newcomer must compete with five established car makers, such as domestic leader Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Daewoo Automotive & Technology, Ssangyong Motor and Renault Samsung Motors, Dow Jones noted.

“The existing local car makers only focus on mass production while we are interested in entering a market for made-to-order cars, for example Ferrari,” Kim told the news agency.

Protomotors developed about 70% of the parts for Spirra, but secures engines and transmissions from other specialised automotive parts makers, Kim added, according to Dow Jones.

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