UK car buyers are returning to Daewoo, the troubled South Korean car maker bought by America’s General Motors almost two years ago.

Sales are already up 30% and the plan is to sell more than 18,000 vehicles this year, up from 13,000 in 2003.

Marketing chief Rob Smettem said: “When our the new company was formed in October 2002 and started selling Daewoo cars in the UK again we knew we had a big job to re-build the brand.”

He added that customers had been very loyal and stuck with the despite a legacy of shuttered dealers, the result of Daewoo going bankrupt. “Now we have 80 dealers, half of them Vauxhall (GM’s UK arm), and we will have over a hundred by the end of this year.”

More new product is one the way. Daewoo has just launched Lacetti five-door 1.4 and 1.6 litre hatchbacks this week. This model joins the new Nubira saloon launched last September and goes on sale in May.

Smettem expects 50% of Daewoo’s growth in sales this year, around 3,000 units, to be accounted for by the new Lacetti models with the 1.6 model taking 75% of that total.

A 1.8-litre Lacetti engine option will be added later and a five door Nubira estate (wagon) will also join the model range.