HAMBURG -- General Motors remains coy about what it plans to do with the Daewoo name in Europe, but it is keeping open the option to use the Chevrolet brand in all European countries.
GM Europe could officially announce that it will market all its Daewoo models as Chevrolets in all of Europe at the Paris auto show in September.
"We cannot confirm this but cannot deny it either," said GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz.
The change would reduce market confusion. In 11 countries including Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Turkey, GM Daewoo models are already being sold as Chevrolets.
Sales boosted after change
But in 16 western and central European markets including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Korean-built models still carry the Daewoo name.
Hardy Spranger, the head of GM Daewoo Europe, said Daewoo sales have increased in markets where the brand name has been changed to Chevrolet.
"The Chevrolet badge has made our cars more aspirational," said Spranger at the launch of the Daewoo Nubira station wagon here.
But he also cited a potential image issue. "The problem with the Chevrolet brand in western Europe is that it is perceived as a big American gas guzzler," he added.
Spranger said this is not the perception in other markets such as South America where the Chevrolet badge has been used on European-built GM models for many years.
He said having just one nameplate would save on marketing and merchandising.
All of GM Daewoo Europe belongs to GM Daewoo Auto & Technology in Korea, of which GM and GM affiliates have owned 44.6 percent since GM Daewoo Auto was founded in 2002.
North American way
In North America, Daewoo models are already being sold with a Chevy logo.
Last year GM Daewoo Europe boosted sales more than 20 percent. But GM, faced with enormous extra costs, is focused on profitability. The Chevrolet changeover would mean dealers and country representatives must change names.
The move would provide cost savings. In the future, the Daewoo automobile brand would then only exist in Asia.
Some experts believe a change to Chevrolet could hurt GM Daewoo sales in Europe.
"The manufacturer has a bad image here," said Ferdinand Dudenhöffer of the Center of Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
"GM lacks in feeling for brands and markets over here," he said. "Hyundai and Kia will be pleased."
– Matthias Pfannmüller contributed