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THE WEEK THAT WAS: If it's Monday I must have got Seoul

By Graeme Roberts | 29 October 2010

Boxy Orlando has a flexible, practical cabin, takes Chevrolet outside North America into compact minivan niche

Boxy Orlando has a flexible, practical cabin, takes Chevrolet outside North America into compact minivan niche

In a pleasant change from same old, same old, my week began in Seoul, South Korea, listening to General Motors Daewoo Auto & Technology (aka GM-DAT) detail its plans to compete in more niches.

First out of the box is a European-size, seven-seat minivan called the Orlando which is built on the Opel Zafira platform and uses the same fold into the floor Flex 7 seating layout. It looks like a shrunken Buick GL8 - which GM still sells in vast numbers in China - so it ain't pretty but the boxy shape brings practicality and I - 200lbs and five-foot-six - fit in the third row comfortably enough for a short journey. The underpowered 1.8 petrol engine, notchy gearshift and jiggly ride on a very smooth test track suggest the likes of Ford's new Grand C-Max and S-Max will not be too threatened but, at the right price point, this new Chevrolet should do OK. I was more taken with the new small C-segment SUV - which will also, like the larger Capitva, eventually carry Opel, Vauxhall and probably Holden badges - which is not yet signed off but very likely to make production.

Elsewhere, our emerging markets specialist Mark Bursa took a look at what a Renault magician has achieved at AvtoVAZ and it was a good week for plants in the US with both Ford and Chrysler announcing some additional investments.

Having just been in Shanghai, also with GM, I was interested to learn of a potential tie-up between JLR and a Chinese partner. That'll follow on nicely from earlier confirmed plans to assemble in India.

It was also a week for fiscal Q2 and calendar Q3 results from around the globe. The general pattern was Things are On the Up - eg this from Ford.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts
Deputy/News Editor
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