Daewoo has had a rough year, admits Gary Connelly, Daewoo North America’s senior vice president of sales and operations. The import company had to lay off 50 of its staff members – mostly those in the public relations department, says Mr. Connelly. “It’s tough because we haven’t had the money coming in. We’ve had to slash advertising and that’s our biggest issue,” Mr. Connelly explains. Sales have dropped almost 26% this year.
That all may change, if General Motors indeed does complete the long-awaited purchase of the Korean company. As of press time, GM had yet to conclude the deal to purchase Daewoo, although, Mr. Connelly expects the deal will be done this month.
Once the deal is completed, then Daewoo will almost certainly start seeing that much needed money. “If we get the capitalization and can increase our marketing, we can easily sell 80,000 to 100,000 units,” Mr. Connelly states. With over 500 dealers, Mr. Connelly says the network is strong and capable. “They’ve done a great job, considering the situation.”
The biggest concern is getting the dealers profitable, says Mr. Connelly. “You can’t ask the dealers to upgrade facilities until they’re making money. But once they start being profitable, we’ll start focusing upgrading the look and the facilities.”
It’s not just about the money, though. It always comes back to product. Daewoo needs a sport utility vehicle to be competitive, and it’s anyone’s guess as to when and if that will happen. For now, dealers will have to make do with an updated Leganza coming in the second quarter this year. Also scheduled for launch toward the end of the year is a cross/utility vehicle, code-named for now the U-100.
For now, there isn’t much news – it’s an attitude of “wait and see,” Mr. Connelly says.