중앙데일리

5 cars make debut at motor show

‘I hope to see less girls and more cars next time. I’d like people to take pictures of cars, not girls.’

Apr 06,2007
Five Korean cars will make their world debut at the sixth Seoul Motor Show that runs April 6-15 at Kintex, an hour by subway from central Seoul.
The show’s slogan this year is, “Creation of the Imagination ― A New World is Coming.
Three carmakers ― Hyundai, Kia and Ssangyong ― will debut at least one model each at the show, including Ssangyong’s follow-up to its Kyron sport utility vehicle and a future-generation concept car, the Wz sport sedan.
Hyundai, however, opted for the New York Auto Show, which opened a day earlier than the Seoul event, as the venue for taking the wraps off its new critically acclaimed Genesis concept vehicle. The company only explained that the U.S. market is “significant.” The Genesis recently got rave reviews in Motor Trend magazine, a highly-respected U.S. publication.
One thing not lacking at the show, at least at yesterday’s media preview, were scantily clad models draped over products. Contrary to pledges made beforehand by several domestic carmakers to lower the flesh level, visitors saw no visible changes. Short skirts and skimpy tops were the order of the day at many booths.
“I hope to see less girls and more cars next time. I’d like people to take picture of cars, not girls,” said Stephen Nicholls, regional director of Saab Asia Pacific, who was on a brief visit to Korea to take a look at the show.
Among 14 cars making their first Asian appearance are Infinity’s G37 coupe and Ford’s New Mondeo wagon, which both were previously unveiled at international motor shows.
Seoul Motor Show organizers aim to rub shoulders with big wigs from Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris, Detroit and Tokyo auto shows.
Some 32 carmakers from eight countries are on hand, with almost 150 automotive parts and engine producers also in attendance. The number of diesel vehicles on display increased to 24 from 11 two years ago, a sign of concern about high gasoline prices.
In an interview at the Saab booth, Nicholls said the Korean show has made progress.
“One thing for sure is that the biennial show has made visible progress compared with two years ago in terms of the increased variety of cars and excellent facilities.” He suggested that organizers gain better control of the noise level and avoid the use of loud music when other booths are making presentations.
There seemed to be an upbeat mood among top managers of import brands, on expectations that the free trade deal between Korea and the United States will open up the market.
Although the majority of firms refused to offer detailed strategies, they made it clear that they would beef up sales and marketing to expand their shares here.
Wayne Chumley, chief executive of DaimlerChrysler Korea, said, “We will publicize how much cheaper our cars will become when the pact actually takes effect.” He also said the U.S. carmaker will boost the number of cars brought from the United States this year. Despite predictions that Japan will become a beneficiary of the Korea-U.S. free trade deal, Toyota Korea’s chief executive, Taizo Chigira, said bringing in U.S.-made vehicles was not on the agenda. Asked if Toyota may lower prices on Lexus cars to meet price reductions of competing brands after the trade deal is ratified, he said, “It won’t happen for the time being.”

By Seo Ji-eun Staff Writer [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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