GM might start local sales of gas EquinoxGM Korea is considering adding the gasoline turbo versions of the Equinox sport utility vehicle to its lineup, with a final decision set to be made later this year, the company’s vice president said Monday.
As part of its broad turnaround efforts, the Korean unit of General Motors plans to introduce 15 vehicles to the local market over the next five years.
Early this month, the company launched the 1.6-liter diesel-powered Chevrolet Equinox SUV and the Chevy Spark minicar.
It picked the Traverse SUV as the next model to be released in the country, without providing details of the launch date.
To beef up its lineup with SUVs, GM Korea said it is considering introducing the Equinox models with 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter gasoline turbo engines as well.
The company will make a final decision on whether to bring the U.S.-built gasoline models to Korea at the end of this year, GM Korea Vice President Dale Sullivan said in a media test-drive event for the Equinox.
“We are studying that right now on whether we come with a gas version and another transmission. We need to do a few more studies of that to make sure that the value is there for the Korean customers when we bring that,” Sullivan said.
As for the question of the Equinox’s prices of 30 million to 39 million won ($27,000-$35,000) appearing to be less competitive, the vice president said the company was focused on “trying to get the value and safety of that vehicle out to Korean customers.”
He urged local customers “look at the value of the Equinox before they look at the price.” The Equinox carries a set of safety features such as a safety alert seat, front collision alert and low-speed forward automatic braking system, the company said.
The diesel Equinox comes with a six-speed automatic transmission that normally sends power to the front wheels. The car also has an all-wheel-drive option.
GM Korea plans to strengthen its lineup with more Chevy crossovers in order to make SUVs account for 60 percent of total sales in five years’ time from the current 14 percent.
In May, GM and the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), the two biggest shareholders in GM Korea, signed an agreement that will permit a combined 7.7-trillion-won lifeline — 6.9 trillion won from GM and 810 billion won from the KDB — to turn the loss-making Korean unit around.
Under the deal, GM Korea plans to domestically launch 15 new or face-lifted vehicles, including two global products that will be allocated to GM’s Korean plants, for the five years from 2018.
In the 2014-2017 period, the GM’s unit posted 3.134 trillion won ($2.9 billion) in accumulated net losses due to a lack of new models and weaker demand.