For carmakers, G-20 is about more than diplomacy

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For carmakers, G-20 is about more than diplomacy

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This week’s G-20 Summit in Seoul is not just about diplomacy. For companies, the global gathering is an opportunity to promote their businesses to some of the world’s leading officials.

Among industries using unique marketing techniques to make their businesses stand out at the Seoul’s diplomatic event is the automobile sector - and it has been one of the busiest of them all. Carmakers are making their products, and their brand images, as visible as possible on the city’s streets.

Five automakers - Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Audi Korea, BMW Korea and Chrysler Korea - were selected by the event’s organizing committee in September to provide premium sedans for country leaders, their spouses and heads of international organizations.

A total of 240 vehicles will be used to shuttle dignitaries around the capital this week.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, the nation’s two largest automakers by sales, have provided 172 cars, including the Equus Limousine, Mohave, Grand Starex and Grand Carnival.

“Sponsoring the [G-20] will enhance our global brand and help the Korean automotive industry boost its global competitiveness,” said Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor, at last month’s ceremony to deliver the cars to the Presidential Committee for the G-20 Seoul Summit.

Hyundai Motor’s Equus, which will be provided to officials of the world’s leading economies, is the most luxurious vehicle made by a local automaker. The 146 million won ($130,000) limousine can put out 400 brake horsepower, has an engine displacement of 5,038 cubic centimeters and fuel efficiency of 8 kilometers per liter (18.8 miles per gallon). The sedan is more spacious than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and has a seat massage function.

Not everyone will be in the official G-20 cars.

United States President Barack Obama will arrive with his Cadillac, which is made by U.S.-based General Motors. It is worth more than 600 million won. The U.S. president will also bring with him two additional customized, bulletproof Cadillac limousines.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev will also bring in his own personal limousine made by Mercedes-Benz.

Leaders’ spouses will be provided with BMW’s high-end 750Li, which costs 180 million won and is the most expensive vehicles of the official G-20 cars, and Audi’s newly launched A8 sedan that costs 140 million won.

BMW sponsored the Asia-Europe Meeting held in 2000 in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in 2005 in Busan.

Chrysler Korea’s 300C Signature sedans, with diesel engines and worth 65.8 million won a piece, will be used by heads of international organizations.

The G-20 meeting will also promote the green-car industry.

Local electric vehicle makers will heavily promote their cars since the electric automobile industry in Korea has lagged behind other developed nations.

According to industry sources, CT&T and AD Motors are the major “green” automakers making the most use of the summit to introduce their products to leaders and officials, looking for export opportunities.

CT&T erected a large advertisement outside a building near Samseong-dong in southern Seoul, where the summit takes place. The ad emphasizes its eco-friendly image. Its products will also be used to escort leaders’ spouses when driving short distances in Seoul.

AD Motors is participating in a smart grid exhibition taking place in Jeju, where global officials will meet to discuss ideas to reduce carbon emissions. The company will display five of its electric vehicles.

“The [G-20] is an opportunity for us to let the world know about the technology that Korea has developed in the electric vehicle industry, which hasn’t been known globally as of yet,” said an industry official.

“It can lead Korean electric automakers to export their products to developed regions such as Europe, the largest electric vehicle market.”


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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