According to Korean business publication Pulse News, GM Korea plans to start building the unnamed new crossover model at the Changwon plant by 2022. It will build around 270,000 units of the vehicle per year once it reaches maximum capacity. The Changwon plant is located in South Korea’s South Gyeongsang Province in the southeast corner of the country.
GM Korea currently builds the Chevrolet Spark as well as the Chevrolet Damas and Labo mini trucks at the Changwon facility. The Labo and Damas are set to go out of production by 2021, Pulse News reports, leaving excess capacity at the plant. The future of the Chevrolet Spark in South Korea and outside of the country is not currently known.
The Changwon investment is unrelated to production of the new Buick Encore GX and Chevrolet Trailblazer. The two new subcompact-plus crossovers will be built in Korea for local consumption and export, but assembled side-by-side at GM Korea’s Bupyeong facility in Incheon – just outside of Seoul. The current Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore are currently built at the Bupyeong plant as well.
According to Pulse News, GM Korea produced 600,000 vehicles annually prior to 2015, after which weakened global car demand began to have an impact on local manufacturing, dropping it to around 500,000 units in 2016 and 2017 and then 440,000 units in 2018. However, the new plan for the Changwon plant will bump GM Korea’s production output to around 710,000 units per year.
Last month, GM was forced to clarify its plans for its South Korean arm after rumors began to surface that it may pull out of the country. An ongoing dispute with the Korean labor union and declining sales brought the viability of GM Korea’s business into question, but with new production plans being made, it seems the automaker does indeed plan to continue operating in the country as outlined in its 2018 GM Korea bailout plan.
It’s not clear what crossover model will be built in Changwon, nor if it will be for local consumption, export or both. We’ll provide an update on the matter once more information is available.