Daewoo Cars

Daewoo Motors is a Korean automobile company that was founded in 1978 and sold most of its holdings to General Motors after going bankrupt in the early 2000s. The company was once a part of the larger Daewoo Group, a powerful Korean conglomerate that produced everything from consumer to heavy industry goods.

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Daewoo Through The Years

While Daewoo Motors could be regarded as a company with a relatively brief history, it can in fact trace its roots back to the National Motor company, which was founded in South Korea as far back as 1937. In 1962, the company underwent the first of many name changes and re-brandings to emerge as Saenara Motors, establishing itself as the first Korean automotive company in the process.

In 1965, Saenara Motors was acquired by Shinjin Industrial who rechristened it Shinjin Motors and began a professional relationship with Japanese automaker, Toyota. However, Toyota’s involvement wasn’t destined to last, and in 1972, the company partnered with General Motors under the marque General Motors Korea. However, in 1976, the company changed its name again, this time to Saehan Motor.

Finally, in 1982, the Daewoo Group took over the company, changing it to what it’s currently known as the Daewoo Motor Company. The company began producing cars based on General Motors models. Early Daewoos included such models as the Royale XQ, Royale Duke, and Royale Salon Super.

Daewoo’s joint venture with GM eventually collapsed, which rendered Daewoo an independent automobile company in 1992. Four years later, the company introduced its first vehicle, which wasn’t based on a GM vehicle, the Lanos.

Daewoo in America

After successfully and independently operating from GM, Daewoo Motors ran into financial trouble. In an effort to downsize itself, the company sold its automotive division to General Motors in 1999.

During this period of transition, Daewoo began producing the popular Leganza, a midsize sedan that sold well in the U.S. in 1997 to 2002. The Lanos was another Daewoo model that was briefly popular, stateside. However, that model was discontinued in 2002 to make way for the Daewoo Kalos, which was also known as the Chevrolet Aveo.

Although the Daewoo brand ceased to introduce new cars into the U.S. market in 2002, the company continues to produce cars like the Aveo that enter the North American market through its partnership with GM.

Daewoo Models

Daewoo produced a number of different models aimed at various segments of the markets over the years. The Leganza was popular in the U.S. as to a lesser extent was the Lanos.

The Leganza was a midsize sedan and notably styled by renowned Italian auto designer Giorgetta Giugiaro, who designed cars for Alfa Romeo, BMW and Lamborghini among others. The Leganza was powered by a four-cylinder engine and came equipped with a five-speed manual transmission.

The Lanos was available as a hatchback and a sedan during its production run, which lasted from 1997 until 2002. The car was powered by a 105-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and came with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The Lanos was known for cornering well and providing good fuel economy. The Lanos was eventually phased out to make way for the Daewoo Kalos, which remains in worldwide production under different names today.

Daewoo Products and Technologies

The Daewoo Group largely made its name in Korea by offering quality technology and household goods that were affordable. Things were really no different when it came to cars. Daewoo Motors entered the U.S. market by providing affordable vehicles that were generally reliable and fuel efficient.

Daewoo continues to be involved in cars produced in partnership with GM through GM Korea. In fact, the company currently manufactures versions of the popular Chevrolet models, the Malibu, and Orlando. However, Daewoo’s bankruptcy and buyout by General Motors in 2002 effectively ended the production of Daewoo vehicles in the United States. Nonetheless, many used Leganzas, Kalos, and Lanos remain on the road today. Drivers continue to appreciate the various Daewoo models now as they did then, for being fuel-efficient compacts that offered a certain style, while perhaps not always being the most reliable of vehicles.

The Chevrolet Aveo is the closest thing to a Daewoo vehicle that’s still available to American drivers. The Aveo is in fact marketed around the world under a variety of different names and brands. Nonetheless, it remains a popular seller throughout North America, the Middle East, Chile, Israel, Japan, Australasia, and parts of Central and South American. The Aveo features a six-speed automatic transmission and a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. Recently, the Aveo was rebranded in the U.S. as the Chevrolet Sonic.

Select a Daewoo Model

Daewoo Lanos

2002-1999 | Compact, Hatchback, Sedan

The Daewoo Lanos is the smallest of the three cars that Daewoo sold in the U.S. from model years 1999 to 2002.

Daewoo Leganza

2002-1999 | Midsize, Sedan

The Daewoo Laganza name combines the Italian elegante and forza (meaning power).

Daewoo Nubira

2002-1999 | Compact, Hatchback, Sedan, Wagon

The Daewoo Nubira is a compact car produced by the South Korean Daewoo Motors company.