Daewoo was a South Korean conglomerate that started exporting cars in the mid-1990s. Like fellow South Korean “chaebols” Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, and LG, Daewoo produced a vast range of products and services with the significant support from the government, from electronics to ships to pipelines and refineries, and its company history dated back to the 1930s. But the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s pushed the heavily leveraged company beyond the brink, and Daewoo declared bankruptcy in 1999. Subsequently acquired as a subsidiary of General Motors, GM would soon abandon the tarnished Daewoo name in all markets save for South Korea and Vietnam.
Daewoo’s business model in the U.S. did away with commissioned salespeople and franchised dealerships and instead directed shoppers to visit the Daewoo website. Company-owned showrooms were established in nine states.
Three cars made up the initial Daewoo line in the U.S. and Canada. Entry-level was the Lanos, a bare-bones subcompact priced at just $8,749, available as a four-door sedan or three-door hatchback. The mid-sized Nubira came in sedan, hatchback, and station wagon configurations. The Camry-esque Leganza offered comfortable appointments and good handling at a competitive price point.
GM purchased the company in 2001, and Daewoo-badged cars would cease in most markets by about 2002. In established Daewoo markets where Chevrolet had no presence, the new parent company took the opportunity to introduce itself, and Daewoos simply became Chevys.
In the U.S. the subcompact hatchback Chevy Aveo is a Daewoo Gentra, previously known as the Daewoo Kalos, released in 2002. The Pontiac G3 Wave was another rebadged version, produced In Canada, now known there as the Suzuki Swift.
The first GM Daewoo released was the Lacetti, offered as a Pininfarina-styled sedan or hatchback, or Giorgetto Giugiaro-styled station wagon. The Lacetti was sold around the world under many different nameplates. In the U.S. it was sold as the Suzuki Forenza and Reno, slotted between the Aerio and Verona. The second-generation Lacetti was released in 2008, now called the Lacetti Premiere, but known in most markets as the Chevrolet Cruze.
The Winstorm is Daewoo GM’s first SUV, introduced in 2006. Like the Lacetti, it is sold in various markets around the world under many different badges.
In January of 2011, GM Daewoo announced that it would be changing its name. Going forward, the company will simply be known as GM Korea Co. GM Korea vehicles are sold on six continents around the world in 150 markets, branded variously as Suzukis, Holdens, Opels, Vauxhalls, and Chevrolets.. View more