General Motors will sell U.S.-built Chevrolet vehicles in South Korea and — conversely — South Korean-assembled vehicles in the U.S. for the first time, thanks to a free-trade agreement that went into effect mid-March.
The first car to be exported from the U.S. is the Chevy Corvette Coupe, which will go on sale in South Korea on Friday with a price of KRW 86.4 million ($76,300) — including a 4 percent import tax. The tariff is down from the 8 percent rate in place before the free-trade agreement went into effect March 15th.
“The Corvette Coupe will raise the bar for the brand and products, and broaden our base of Chevrolet customers in Korea,” GM Korea Chief Executive Sergio Rocha said in a statement.
Conversely, GM Korea — which has served as a production base for small GM vehicles — will export the Spark city car, built at the company’s Changwon plant in South Korea, to the U.S. starting in May. The General has already been exporting the Spark to Europe and other international markets, but this will be the first time that it will ship a model to the U.S.
General Motors replaced Daewoo in Korea with the Chevrolet brand in January 2011 as part of its rebranding strategy. All new and updated models carry the Chevy Boe Tie, except for three models–the Alpheon (Buick LaCrosse) sedan, as well as the Damas and Labo mini cars.
The news comes on the heels of rumors that General Motors may be planning to shutter its Korean manufacturing operations. Notably, however, the automaker plans to import the subcompact Buick Encore crossover from Korea to North America, a scheme that may not come to fruition if the company does away with Korean manufacturing operations.
The GM Authority Take
Given the halved import tax between the U.S. and South Korea, we find it highly unlikely that GM will make any adverse changes to its Korean manufacturing operations in the near future; but we may be wrong about that. Even so, the Corvette will make a name for itself, and for Chevy, on the streets of South Korea; and that we know for sure.