History of Daewoo cars
aewoo (“Daewoo”) is a South Korean automobile company, a part of General Motors concern. A distinctive feature of Daewoo cars is a reasonable ratio of price and quality of assembly. It should be noted also that the Daewoo models are characterized as comfortable enough for its class cars, easy to operate and economical enough. In 1967, Kim Woo Chun from Korea was founded Daewoo group, which united a few companies, which were engaged, among other things, in the production of weapons, electrical appliances and electronic devices. History of Daewoo automobile manufacturer began in 1972, when the Korean authorities have officially authorized the production of cars for the companies Kia, Hyundai Motor, Asia Motors and Shinjin. After some time, was formed manufacturing alliance of Kia and Asia Motors. And Shinjin manufacturer became the company under the name Daewoo, which was founded by General Motors and Suzuki in 1972. After a while, the young Korean manufacturer received its new name Daewoo Motor. Up to 1993 Daewoo has been closely cooperating with the U.S. concern General Motors. For Daewoo the year 1995 was marked by the debut in Germany. Then Nexia and Espero models have been presented on German market. The basis for Daewoo Nexia was German Opel Kadett E, production of which has been carried out since 1986 in Korea. In the United States, Nexia is known as Pontiac Le Mans, and in South Korea the car was sold under the name Daewoo Racer. In the Russian car market Nexia appeared in 1993. Later the Daewoo Nexia has been assembled in Uzbekistan at the plant Uz-Daewoo, in Romania and Russia at the plant Krasny Aksai. In 1988, Daewoo began production of all-wheel drive hatchback Tico, which belonged to the class “mini”. The car was built on the basis of Suzuki Alto. Since 1996, production of Daewoo Tico was launched in Uzbekistan. Also in 1996, Daewoo opened three major technical centers: in Worthing, located in the UK, in Germany near Munich and in Puglia. Ulrich Betz, formerly working for BMW, becomes main head of new projects for the company. In 1993, Daewoo launches the Prince sedan and a more comfortable model called Brougham, based on the Opel Senator, which by then was removed from the assembly line. At the end of 1997, Daewoo introduced its most popular models in the history. They are the Lanos, Nubira and Leganza. Daewoo Lanos became the first independent project of Korean manufacturer. It was originally supposed that Lanos will replace earlier, but not less popular model Nexia. But, as the improvements were not significant, the Lanos just got its “additional” audience. However, this model could be called a people’s model. In Daewoo Lanos price and quality were perfectly combined. Since 2005 the car was called Chevrolet Lanos. Daewoo Nubira is a proper development of the English branch of the company. In Korean Nubira means “journey around the world. The Daewoo Nubira model had a transverse engine, front wheel drive and belonged to the golf class. In Russia, the car was known as Orion. In 2002 Nubira changed its platform and began to be produced under the Daewoo Lacetti name. Leganza is the first Daewoo car in the business class segment. This model is the most comfortable and equipped in the history of the company.
The design of the Daewoo Leganza was based on the withdrawn Opel Senator. In Russia, this car came out under the name “Condor”. In 1998, at the Geneva Motor Show the Daewoo Matiz made its debut. It was a small, comfortable, and most importantly – very maneuverable car, which came to the taste of many European buyers who prefer to drive small city cars. The modern and elegant design of the car was developed in the Atelier ItalDesign. The model Daewoo Matiz is the most famous of all cars Daewoo. Since 2001, the Matiz is assembled at the Uz-Daewoo plant in Uzbekistan. In 1998, the Asian crisis undermined the Daewoo company. The firm faced great difficulties. The South Korean authorities refused to nationalize the company. Many automakers fought for the right to purchase Daewoo. Since 2002, Daewoo is under the complete control of the U.S. corporation General Motors. After jurisdiction the company was renamed to GM Daewoo & Technology Co.
History of Daewoo
I remember at the dawn of Autoresponder, when I was just developing the structure of the blog, I formulated the main male themes – autos and whiskey. And if malt beverages are mastered by experience, with cars there was a discrepancy. Among foreign cars I have only driven an Audi, but I have written articles about Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen, and I plan to write about Rolls-Royce. Although I’m lying, I’ve driven a BMW a couple of times. But that’s not the point.
All these Caymans and Maybachs are too far removed from the people. I need something simpler, more life-like. So I thought: why are the cars I’ve driven so bad that I can’t devote a separate article to them? So I decided to give a short history of the car brands and cars, which I drove for many years. Especially since in the last year my garage has undergone changes from the people’s Nexia to VAZ classics, including off-road, to the legendary GAZ, which crowns the segment of domestic executive cars. But first things first.
Daewoo. People’s car
What is the most popular car in Russia can you name? Yes, of course, it is “Kalina” and “Granta”, and others? Of course, Renault-Logan and Daewoo-Nexia come to mind at once. That’s right, from the economy segment they are the most common cars in our country. VW Polo and Hyundai Solaris are more expensive. But for young people, and not very young people, and just people with normal earnings, needs and demands – Nexia will be just right. Yes, now it is already produced under the brand Ravon, but it is already another story. However, the lineup of South Korean brand is not limited only with Nexias.
The Daewoo concern was founded on March 22, 1967 by Kim Ujun. Interestingly, back in the XX century the company was liquidated. However, after its liquidation in South Korea, Daewoo has continued its existence in modus of separate companies. In particular, Daewoo cars were produced in Uzbekistan from 1992 to 2015. It is still produced today, but under the Ravon brand. Nevertheless, the continuity is preserved in the names of the models, even if the modern Ravon Nexia looks like two peas in a pod to Chevrolet.
The name “Daewoo” translates from Korean as “the great universe. This is exactly what the founder of the concern Kim Ujun (another pronunciation is Kim Woo Chun) aspired to make it. He was born in 1936. In 1960 he got a job at Hansung Industrial and became its director in just five years. But that wasn’t enough for him, and Kim Woojun registered his own company – a weaving company. Which he named Daewoo. In the beginning, they didn’t even have weaving machines. But that didn’t stop them from opening branches in Frankfurt and Sydney a year later.
The success in the textile industry prompted Kim Wujun to build a full-fledged industrial empire. At first the Korean aimed at the production of household electrical appliances, weapons, shipyards and finally in 1977 – cars. The first model of Daewoo became the clone of Opel Rekord, which received the name Maepsy. Later, the manufacturer sought to become a full-fledged competitor to Kia and Hyundai. And just for 5 years Daewoo has been increasing production of its own cars from 15 to 150 thousand per year.
The first Nexia.
Finally we got to the Nexia – so dear to Russian heart. It appeared in Korea in 1986 (but under the name Daewoo Racer), and reached Russia in 1993. It was based on the design of old-good Opel Kadette. Came from it to Nexia with 1.5-liter engine with 75 horsepower. After the restyling, Nexia was produced in Russia, as well as in Uzbekistan and Romania. Interestingly, the model is also available in German and American markets. In the last one Nexia was proudly called Pontiac Le Mans.
Tico and Espero
In addition to Nexia, at the turn of 80s and 90s Daewoo plant produced all-wheel drive hatchback Tico (1988) and sedans Prince, Brougham and Espero (1993). Together with the models the lineup of engines was expanding – 1.5, 1.8 and 2-liter capacity of 90, 95 and 105 hp, respectively.
The mid-1990s was the heyday of Daewoo. Kim Ujun sought to embody the idea of a “great universe,” his goal was the world domination of the brand. Thanks to the opening of factories in underdeveloped, but promising markets, production volume in the second half of the 1990s rose to 729,000 vehicles per year. The head of the concern planned to raise this level up to 2 mln Daewoo machines a year, but the company… suddenly died.
Crisis and demise of Daewoo
In 1998 Daewoo faced a deep Asian financial crisis. Politics and corruption scandals of the mid-1990s also affected the situation. Although Kim Ujin was acquitted by the court, relations with the Korean government began to deteriorate rapidly. In addition, the group’s management was unable to adjust to the renewed economic conditions. Instead of downsizing and optimization, Daewoo grew and added to its branches. As a result, in just one year, by 1999, the company’s debts grew by 40% to $80 billion. Daewoo went bankrupt.
Kim Ujung fled to France, where he stayed until 2005. Upon his return to Korea, he was arrested and convicted of swindling more than $40 billion, illegally borrowing $10 billion and smuggling another $3.2 billion. He was also charged with illegal arms sales to the Burmese junta and illegal transactions in Burmese oil. Ujjun was sentenced to 10 years, but was soon released under an amnesty.
Daewoo, as a South Korean car manufacturer, has ceased to exist. However, some subsidiaries, for example, in the field of electrical engineering, continued their activities in South Korea. And Daewoo cars were produced in the same Uzbekistan for another decade and a half. Only on October 8, 2015, Daewoo was renamed here to Ravon, which has already become popular.
By the way, the 1998 crisis also put an end to the Russian plans to produce Daewoo cars in Russia. Way back in 1995, negotiations began about the car assembly at the Krasny Aksai plant in Rostov-on-Don. While the parties were negotiating, an original assembly scheme was arranged: ready-made cars from Uzbekistan were disassembled and brought to the Russian territory as complete kits, and then assembled for the second time. About 20 thousand cars were “produced” this way.
The popularity of Daewoo in Russia was so high that they decided to produce the Korean cars at the Taganrog plant. They even invented their own names for the brand, Doninvest, and the models Assol (Lanos), Orion (Nubira), and Condor (Leganza). But the crisis of August 1998 put an end to those plans.
Lanos, Nubira and Leganza.
Soon death of Daewoo concern was so sad, that just before the crisis, in 1997, South-Korean plant released 3 new models. The Lanos became Daewoo’s first independent development. Actually, it was positioned as a full-fledged replacement for Nexia, but this did not happen, and Lanos just gathered an additional audience of motorists. Issue of Lanos was discontinued in 2004, but after that the model was still produced in Ukraine (ZAZ Chance) and in Vietnam (Chevrolet Lanos).
Daewoo Nubira was developed by special order in England. As a golf-class car, the model combines a relative cheapness with high quality of assembly. In 2002, the Nubira was reincarnated as Chevrolet Lacetti.
The first business-class car from Daewoo concern became the Leganza. And over the design of the model worked not other than Giorgetto Giugiaro, who, by the way, originally developed this concept for Jaguar. Among the fans of South Korean brand Leganza was considered the most comfortable. Production of the model was discontinued in 2003.
Behind all the “male” cars of the Korean concern one should not forget about the female segment. And it is represented by the most compact and attractive model of the brand – the famous Matiz. Daewoo Matiz was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998. A 0.8 liter engine, 5-speed manual, maximum speed of 144 km/h – what else does a nice girl need to move around the city! Ah, yes: compactness, maneuverability, comfort, friendly interior and attractive appearance. Till now at the wheel of “Matiz” you can meet beautiful girls, among whom the model enjoys well-deserved popularity. So, when my beloved wife, she will get her driving license, I think to buy Matiz!
Usually in articles of this blog I stick to objective style of statement. But in this case I simply cannot refrain from assessments, because I have been driving a good old Daewoo Nexia for more than a year. I bought my Nexia of sand-gold color from a friend in January 2014. In fact, it turned out to be a birthday present to myself. I drove it for more than three years and I can say with certainty: it’s a great car for life! Whatever they say about taste and color, to me it is very attractive. And also – practical, economical and dynamic. It is clear that the Nexia was not created for city racing with lane changing, but not everyone is interested in it. Much more important is a roominess, possibility to transport things from a country place and spending less than 6 liters of fuel when moving on highway with speed of 90-110 km/h.