GM Korea has joined the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA), a move that it says will help the struggling Chevrolet brand locally.
But according to English-language Korea business publication Pulse News, this move is also stoking fear that GM Korea could be looking to wind down its manufacturing operations in the region and begin to rely more on products imported from the United States and elsewhere.
The main purpose of KAIDA is to lobby on behalf of its members to change Korean automotive import laws to benefit them. While GM Korea was not a member until now, Cadillac Korea is a member, as all of its vehicles are imported from abroad.
GM Korea recently announced it would start importing the Chevrolet Colorado and Chevrolet Traverse from the US to South Korea. The Colorado has no real competitors in the country, though Hyundai is believed to be working on a small unibody pickup that will be sold locally, while the Traverse arrives just as Hyundai is launching the three-row Palisade. It currently imports the Bolt EV, Equinox, Impala and Camaro for local consumption as well.
GM Korea also makes vehicles locally – including the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Spark, Malibu and Trax. Additionally, the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and Buick Encore GX will also be built in South Korea for export to the United States and elsewhere. That likely means that GM Korea isn’t planning on ending local production anytime soon, though the future of the Encore, Spark, Malibu and Trax isn’t looking great, with those vehicles in need of replacement soon.
The GM Gunsan Plant in South Korea was closed in May of last year, with 3,000 workers losing there jobs. The automaker cited dwindling sales of the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Orlando as its reasoning for closing the plant. Additionally, it announced earlier this year that it would reduce production output at its Bupyeong Plant by 30% and cut one of the plant’s three shifts.