GM Korea reaffirms production halt of two popular commercial vehicles

By Kim Kwang-tae

SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- GM Korea Co., the local unit of U.S. General Motors Co., reaffirmed Wednesday that it will discontinue the production of its two popular commercial vehicles from next year due to tightened environmental and safety regulations.

"Our position on halting production in December remains unchanged," a GM Korea official said. He asked not to be identified, citing company policy.

The comment came a day after several leaders of a private body that speaks for small businesses asked the carmaker to keep producing the Damas minivan and the Labo pickup truck.

The Damas and the Labo, which share the same platform and whose prices range between 7 million won (US$6,400) and 9 million won, are popular among small business owners and mom-and-pop stores for their driving convenience and low fuel costs.

GM Korea has said it will end the production of the two vehicles in December as it could not meet tightened environmental and safety regulations that will take effect next year. It also said it made its decision as it would take time and cost a lot of money to meet the tightened regulations.

South Korea requires all vehicles to be equipped with an on-board diagnostics II, an automatic system that informs the driver of a malfunction of the engine and gas emissions, starting next year.

GM Korea said its workers involved in the production of the Damas and the Labo will be assigned to build the subcompact Chevrolet Spark and its electric version in Changwon, a southeastern industrial city.

Last month, the carmaker unveiled the electric version of the Chevrolet Spark. The zero-emission car powered by rechargeable battery packs can travel 135 kilometers on a single charge.

Cumulative sales of the Damas and the Labo, both launched in 1991 by GM Korea's predecessor, have surpassed the 300,000 mark, according to the automaker.

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