When Daewoo divested itself of vehicle manufacturing in 2001, GM moved in and created GMDAT. Passenger car production soon was on the rise and over 900,000 units were made in 2007. However, since 2011, numbers have regularly dropped. It isn't just a GM Korea problem, total Korean car manufacturing has been down slightly. It is that GM Korea has dropped more than average. The ending of the Chevrolet brand in Europe was a big blow.
A new issue has arisen to unsettle GM's Korean workforce and that is GM's selling off its Opel/Vauxhall operation in Europe. For the year 2016, 147,500 cars were produced in GM's Korean plants for GM Europe. PSA is trying to rationalise its plants in Europe and bringing back production to Europe is part of that. More fully utilising European facilities is sensible for PSA.
On the flip side, GM is trying to make GM Korea profitable and this new development won't have helped. Workers at GM Korea's four plants earn wages that are quite high and they are inclined to strike. GM is walking away from business that is losing money, hence the recent departures from Russia, Europe, India, South Africa and Indonesia.
Summary: The question is can GM make its Korean operation a viable part of its company? Four plants (three assembling cars) seems too many. The Gunsan plant is well underutilised - perhaps operating at something like 30% of capacity - and appears will be sold. There is much speculation but the fact is there overcapacity and a need to make GM Korea profitable.
PS. The figures below exclude commercial vehicles which are small in volume anyway. Just passenger cars are shown.
|GM Korea PC Production|
|Year||PC (Units)||% Tot||+/-|