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Daewoo dealership stands by its plans

The dealer plans to add a showroom to increase sales of the South Korean car line. Daewoo is trying to recover from recent financial problems.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2001

HOMOSASSA -- Despite Daewoo Motor Co.'s financial troubles, Chad Halleen says he has no regrets about adding the Korean car line to his dealership on U.S. 19.

The Love dealership, which also sells Honda and Nissan, added the Daewoo line in May and has since sold more than 70 vehicles.

Not bad, said Halleen, but he hopes to sell 20 or more cars per month once a showroom is built and as confidence in the automaker is rebuilt.

Daewoo Motor Co. has been trying to regain its footing since its parent company went bankrupt in 1999. Daewoo has been restructuring and laying off employees in hopes of becoming more attractive for purchase.

Customers who bought vehicles from Love Daewoo were initially concerned but have relaxed knowing parts and service is still available, said Halleen, general manager of the family-owned dealership.

From a consumer standpoint, the cars are appealing on several fronts, Halleen said. First, they are affordable, starting at less than $10,000 for the Lanos model. The higher-end Leganza sells for less than $20,000.

The vehicles come with a three-year, 36,000-mile overall coverage, a five-year powertrain warranty and one year of free maintenance, including oil changes.

"In this area everybody does a lot of driving to get anywhere, and it's nice to have a car that is inexpensive, gets good gas mileage and is reliable," Halleen said.

The combination of low prices, long warranties and increasing quality has helped boost American sales of all three Korean manufacturers. Combined sales by Daewoo, Kia and Hyundai climbed to nearly 500,000 in 2000, the New York Times reported.

The vehicles still lack the sophistication of competitors, but "the Koreans are getting better every year," Csaba Csere, editor in chief of Car & Driver magazine, recently told the New York Times.

Love has been seeking to augment its Hondas and Nissan offerings with a more affordable line.

"By no stretch of the imagination is a Honda inexpensive," Halleen said. "We tried to bring in an (affordable) car for this area so people don't have to go to big cities to shop. We want people to spend money in this county."

He said the company created seven jobs to sell Daewoos.

Love, which is a few miles south of Crystal River, has the Daewoos on the edge of its sprawling lot. Halleen said a planned showroom should give Daewoo a "here-to-stay look."

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