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GM to upgrade Bupyeong plant

July 21,2018
GM Korea is investing $50 million in its plant in Bupyeong District, Incheon, to increase production capacity, the company said on Friday.

Facility upgrades will begin soon, and according to GM, the additional production lines will start running next year. After the upgrades, the Bupyeong plant will have a total production capacity of roughly 390,000 cars per year. Cars made in Incheon will be sold both locally and globally.

The additional production lines will increase the annual SUV production capacity at the plant by up to 75,000 vehicles per year. The Bupyeong plant currently produces the small Chevrolet Trax SUV and other closely related models for domestic and international markets.

Barry Engle, the president of GM International, said GM has also set Korea as a core base to design, engineer and develop the automaker’s next-generation compact SUVs.

GM Korea will immediately begin hiring 100 new engineers to work on developing the new SUVs, bringing its total engineering workforce to over 3,000, the carmaker said.

The carmaker also plans to establish a new corporation dedicated to engineering and development of global products, dubbed the Engineering Services Unit, later this year. The engineers will move to this unit when it is established, according to a GM Korea spokesperson.

“These new investments are in addition to the $2.8 billion announced in May to build two all-new vehicles in Korea, as well as the $2.8 billion to restructure the company’s balance sheet, which has already been completed,” Engle said. “Today’s announcements are further evidence of GM’s long-term commitment to our operations in Korea.”

Engle also confirmed that GM is proceeding with its plans to establish a regional headquarters in Korea for Asia Pacific markets, with the exception of China. The Detroit-based auto giant signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korean government in May to establish its Asia Pacific head office in Korea to demonstrate its commitment.

The regional office is expected to play a vital role in delivering the voice of GM Korea to the Detroit headquarters when making important decisions on new vehicles and manufacturing locations.

“We welcome the new investments and appreciate the vote of confidence in our engineers to deliver these important global programs,” said GM Korea President and CEO Kaher Kazem.

He said the new investments will help the company with its turnaround plan.

“We have launched new products [this year], like the new Spark and Equinox, and achieved our best monthly sales this year in June,” Kazem said. “We have almost doubled our market share in the past three months.”

According to GM Korea, the company sold 46,546 cars in June, with 9,529 sold domestically and 37,017 exported.

These were GM Korea’s best monthly domestic sales this year, as they increased by 24.2 percent from May. However, when compared to the same time last year, June sales fell by 16.8 percent.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]