General Motors Corp. is considering launching its Chevrolet brand in South Korea to capture a larger share of the country's growing market for imported cars, a company executive said Friday.
The U.S. automaker will make a decision on the move after completing a study by the end of this year, said James H. Raymond, executive director of GM's Asia-Pacific vehicle sales, service and marketing division.
GM Korea currently sells Cadillac sedans at 41 million to 120 million Korea won ($39,000-115,000) each and Saab sedans at 37 million to 59 million won.
South Korea has become more important lately because imported vehicles are now claiming a bigger share of the market, said Raymond.
GM, the world's top car company by sales, is trying to stay ahead of fast-gaining No. 2, Toyota Motor Corp.
In South Korea, imported automobiles accounted for 6.2 percent of the passenger car market in April, up from 4.9 percent a year ago, according to figures from the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.
In the January-April period, imported car sales jumped 32 percent to 21,811 units from 16,496 units during the same period a year ago.
GM hopes to more than double its South Korea sales this year, Raymond said. It sold about 600 Cadillacs and Saabs last year.
However, it will be fighting against the market trend. The South Korean passenger car market share of the U.S. automakers based in the Detroit area — GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC — has shrunk to 11.7 percent in the January-April period from 15 percent in 2004, according to the importers' association.
GM said that its Cadillac sales have improved compared with last year with the release of new, more fuel-efficient models this year.