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Corvette in Korea: GM Unit to Import U.S.-Built Chevy

By Kyong-Ae Choi on April 30, 2012, 12:10 PM

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Chevy Corvettes at a Michgan dealership.

GM Korea Co. will begin importing its first Chevrolet model built in the U.S. from this Friday, a move driven by the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

The bilateral trade pact, which took effect on March 15, halved the import tax for U.S.-made vehicles to 4%. The U.S.-made Chevrolet Corvette Coupe will go on sale on May 4 in the domestic market and compete against the pricier Porsche 911 Carrera and BMW Z4.

GM Korea isn't expecting strong sales of the two-seater Corvette but hopes the luxury sports car will boost its brand image and broaden its base of customers in Korea. The Corvette has a six-speed automatic transmission engine and reaches 100 kilometers per hour in 4.3 seconds. It will have a sticker price of KRW86.4 million ($76,300).

GM will also start exporting its first Chevy model assembled in South Korea to the U.S. from May. The one-liter Chevrolet Spark is built in its Changwon plant.

Higher fuel costs seem to have generated demand for the mini car in the U.S. as commuter cars, company spokeswoman Lim Young-mi said.

GM Korea, a 70.1%-owned unit of Detroit-based General Motors Co., is GM's manufacturing base for mini and small vehicles.

Early in 2011, GM Korea dropped the Daewoo brand-name and adopted the Chevrolet brand-name in South Korea as part of GM's rebranding strategy. All its new and updated models carry the Chevy marque, except for three modelsthe Alpheon large sedan, and the Damas and Labo mini cars.

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