Daewoo aims to boost German sales by a third in 2004

The GM subsidiary extends its model range and its German sales network

Zurich. Daewoo Europe boss Erhard Spranger told Automobilwoche that the automaker wants to increase the number of new registrations in Germany by more than 30 percent in 2004. That would put sales in Europe's largest market at about 17,000.

"In western Europe I expect an increase from 133,000 to 145,000 new registrations," he said. "In the whole of Europe it should be approximately 175,000 units."

Daewoo Europe hopes to cross the "200,000-unit mark" by 2005, Spranger said.

Germany is the South Korean brand's third largest European market after Italy and Spain. Daewoo has a presence in 43 percent of the overall European market.

The automaker, 42 percent owned by General Motors, had a 157 percent sales increase in Germany last year to 12,800 new registrations, giving it the largest growth percentage of any automaker in Germany last year.

Daewoo has 260 dealers at 280 locations and 76 service partners in Germany.

"This year another 100 authorized dealers and 25 service partners will join," Daewoo Germany boss Guenther Sommerlad said.

Daewoo will significantly expand its product range this year. By the end of March the five-door Lacetti, which competes against the Volkswagen Golf in the lower-medium segment, will be launched in Germany. The face-lifted version of the Matiz minicar will come to Germany in April, the Nubira station wagon will arrive in September and the three-door Kalos small car goes on the market at the end of 2004.

Spranger said: "We also plan to launch a small SUV -- a redeveloped European version of the Chevrolet Niva, which is already being built and sold in Russia as part of the GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture. He said Europewide sales of the SUV could reach 14,000 units. A larger Daewoo SUV will follow by the end of 2005.

"The SUV model will share the components matrix with two GM brand cars. Sources tell Automobilwoche that the models are the successor to the Opel Frontera and the Saturn VUE. Spranger said the SUV "will have its own design nonetheless."

He expects sales of about 20,000 units of the larger Daewoo SUV in Europe.

The SUV will be the first Daewoo to be fitted with a diesel engine. The automaker will offer 1.9- and 1.3-liter diesel motors for the vehicle. The new engines will be manufactured as part of the GM-Fiat Powertrain joint venture.

"By the beginning of 2007, at the latest, we will be offering at least one diesel version of each model," Spranger said.

Unlike its South Korean competitors Hyundai and Kia, Daewoo has no plans for a plant in Europe.

"In Korea we have capacities of up to 800,000 units and therefore sufficient leeway," Spranger said. The automaker hopes to increase production to 650,000 units this year from 443,000 in 2002.

Spranger also thinks a European-based design engineering center is unnecessary: "We can always use the GM resources."

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