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APEC Plays Off Hyundai, GM, BMW

Automakers from South Korea, Germany and the U.S. will show off their luxury cars to the world during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Busan (Pusan) slated for Nov. 12 to 19.

The Hyundai Automotive Group, BMW and GM Daewoo Auto & Technology will offer official vehicles for APEC participants.

Though GM Daewoo will provide the Statesman sedan produced in South Korea, the domestic automaker’s technology is somewhat influenced by its parent U.S. General Motors.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors of the Hyundai Automotive Group delivered 424 cars, including Equus limos, Opirus sedans and new Sonata sedans, to Busan for leaders and delegates from 21 countries.

First ladies and ministers will use BMW’s seven-series sedans while being driven in the nation’s second-largest city. The Seoul office of the German carmaker delivered 150 units.

GM Daewoo will provide 40 statesman sedans for officials. General Motors, the world’s No. 1 carmaker, is taking steps to turn its Korean venture into a key export base for compact vehicles.

The Hyundai Automotive Group and BMW are the world’s eighth- and 12th largest carmakers, respectively.

The APEC is a golden opportunity for the global carmakers to maximize public relations (PR) effects as about 1,000 chief executive officers and buyers in the world’s business and finance sector are set to visit Busan.

Most of the cars delivered to Busan have been reserved for purchase by domestic consumers after the APEC summit. The vehicles are marked with special “APEC Limited’’ labels.

While imported cars from the U.S., Germany, Sweden and Japan are drawing keen attention from Korean consumers, the issue is how Hyundai and Kia will appeal to domestic and foreign drivers via PR activities at home and abroad.

The Hyundai Automotive Group is the last fortress of the domestic car industry while its competitors, such as GM Daewoo, Ssangyong Motor and Renault-Samsung Motors, were acquired by foreign capital.

French automaker Renault SA holds a 70.1 percent stake in Korean subsidiary Renault Samsung and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) Motor owns 50.91 percent shares of Ssangyong Motor.

“We will keep our pride as the nation’s representative carmaker,’’ a Kia official said. He added that there is low possibility that the automotive group will face a hostile takeover by foreign investors.

Some analysts speculate that Renault SA and SAIC Motor will sell their Korean subsidiaries amid a slump in domestic sales of Renault Samsung and Ssangyong Motor.

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