INCHEON, South Korea -- GM Daewoo already is General Motors' global center for small-car development and design. But r&d chief Sohn Dongyoun has bigger ambitions. He wants to position GM Daewoo as the company's center of electric vehicle development as well.
"North America is the development center of electric cars like the Volt, but they are working with a lot of Korean suppliers," said Sohn, vice president of engineering at GM's global small-car and minicar development team at GM Daewoo. "Doing that here would be much faster."
Sohn sees his operation evolving into a go-between for GM engineers in the United States who are working on battery-driven cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt, and South Korean companies such as LG Chem, which supplies the lithium ion batteries for the cars.
"I'm starting to take that kind of role inside General Motors," Sohn said in an interview. "And with the core technology located in Korea, this role will grow."
This fall GM began testing a fleet of electric-powered Chevrolet Cruzes in South Korea. The vehicles were developed jointly by GM Daewoo, LG Chem and LG Electronics.
GM hasn't sold a pure electric vehicle since the EV1 was dropped in the late 1990s. This month GM plans to begin selling the Volt, a plug-in hybrid that relies on a gasoline engine for extended driving range when battery power is depleted.