DETROIT - As General Motors pushes to sell low-end Daewoos in Mexico, it faces a gap in that market segment in the United States.
Gary Cowger, president of GM North America, confirmed GM plans to sell Daewoos in Mexico "as quickly as the new company can get their new product lineup moving."
GM is expected to rebadge the Daewoos as Chevrolets in Mexico.
GM is the lead investor in a new company that is slated to buy most of Daewoo Motor Co.'s automotive assets. But the deal, signed April 29, faces several months of regulatory review, as well as possible lawsuits from U.S. Daewoo dealers.
U.S. dealers are angry at being left out of the deal, a move that seems likely to end Daewoo sales in the United States.
GM has been non-committal on whether it would rebadge Daewoos as Chevrolets in the United States.
But the replacement for the Chevrolet Cavalier, GM's prime entry-level car, "will not play at the very bottom," where Korean automakers have racked up strong sales, he said.
"I think that the market at the low end has stratified itself into the very low end, the middle low end and the upper," Cowger said. "It's gotten into three segments now.
The Cavalier replacement will "be more in the middle-premium segment of the low end," he added.
Cowger was interviewed as part of Automotive News' Talk from the Top series. An edited transcript will appear in the May 20, edition and on automotivenews.com.
Cowger said GM is not planning to cede the low end to Korean makers. It is trying to work out a strategy to put a profitable entry into that segment, he said.
"We think at the end of the day, that's what we're going to have to do," Cowger said. "You compete at all levels of the market."
GM is expected to build a Cavalier replacement on the new Delta architecture for the 2005 model year. The architecture is being introduced in North America this year with the Saturn Ion small car.
GM has been slow to renovate its Lordstown, Ohio, plant to build the Cavalier replacement. Last summer, it said it would announce plans last fall, but the issue has lingered.