GM to produce next-generation electric car in South Korea: executive

SEOUL Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:34am EDT

A General Motors logo is seen on a vehicle for sale at the GM dealership in Carlsbad, California January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A General Motors logo is seen on a vehicle for sale at the GM dealership in Carlsbad, California January 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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SEOUL (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM) (GM.N) will produce its next-generation electric cars in South Korea, the head of its South Korean unit told Reuters on Thursday, as the U.S. carmaker tries to revive momentum for the stalling vehicle technology.

Sergio Rocha, CEO of GM Korea, gave no time frame for the launch of the new vehicles, but said they would be slightly bigger than the Spark small car and use a thoroughly new design, unlike the Spark EV which was based on an existing gasoline engine model.

GM will continue working with South Korea's LG Chem Ltd (051910.KS) to supply batteries for its second generation of electric vehicles, which will be produced at GM's plant in Bupyeong, near Seoul, he added.

"This (next-generation electric) car has a lot of similarities with the products we produce today in Bupyeong," Rocha said in the interview, on the sidelines of the Seoul auto show.

GM Korea, which makes more than 40 percent of GM's Chevrolet-branded vehicles and specializes in developing small cars for the U.S. company, produces the Aveo, Trax, Captiva and Malibu at its Bupyeong plant.

Electric vehicles such as GM's Volt and Nissan Motor Co's (7201.T) Leaf are struggling to gain traction, hobbled by limited driving range, a lack of charging infrastructure and high prices.

GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson said early this month that the U.S. automaker was developing new EVs, including one with a 100-mile range and another with a 200-mile range.

GM Korea started production of its current generation of Spark EVs in Korea this month for export to the U.S. market and plans to begin selling it in South Korea and Europe in the second half of the year.

LG Chem makes the lithium-ion batteries for GM's electric vehicles, which are produced in Korea and the United States.

(Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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Comments (2)
brotherkenny4 wrote:
Why wouldn’t they do that. The American media as directed by the oil companies vilify electric vehicles and lithium ion batteries. Because we are such good compliant followers we always defend the status quo. We fear the new. How many people have the impression that electric vehicle batteries are dangerous? Most I would guess, but they drive around with a tank of gasoline under their seat all the time. GM, however, also could do more. In an article here at reuters, they reported that the cost to manufacture the Volt is $24K, and yet it sells for nearly $40K. What gives? Is GM really trying or not, or is it just greed. Sure, the story also said that the development cost for the Volt were 1.2 billion, but GM will have gotten that back this year, after they pass the 75,000 unit mark. Even as we speak the cost of the electric drive components is dropping and gasoline prices are increasing, making the economic case for electric vehicles even stronger. But no, we have range anxiety, and are afraid the batteries will blow up, and we can imagine wanting to take a road trip that an EV would make difficult. Never mind that most families have multiple cars, and in fact many individuals have multiple cars, we argue that the family of four who owns one car would not be served by EVs. All very weak and irrational arguments. The minority are a family of four with one car. So, irrational fears and irrational arguments lead the fight against EVs and protect our oil industry, as do thousands of american soldiers, and trillions of dollars in tax payer money. But we can’t imagine driving an electric vehicle. We are such good slaves.

Mar 28, 2013 9:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ThePhenx wrote:
The Leaf and Volt suffer more from being an eco based platform, with a super high price tag than from anything else.

This is why Tesla is well received and they are not. No one in their right mind spends $45,000 on an electric econobox.

Mar 28, 2013 2:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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