GM is proving that advanced technology can remove the automobile from the environmental debate and reduce our dependence on petroleum.
Kim Yon-se - Korea Times - Nov 7, 2006
GM-Daewoo Winstorm - Hybrid SUV for Korea.
SHANGHAI - General Motors’ Asia-Pacific president Nick Reilly hinted that China will possibly overtake South Korea in automobile technology, if the latter neglects investment in auto research and development (R&D).
In a news conference here, Reilly said, “Continued investment in research and development is required for Korea to stay ahead of China.”
Saying that the automotive technology gap between the two countries is at least six to eight years, he said there was a possibility that the gap could be narrowed soon if Korean carmakers fail to stay alert to China’s challenges.
“There are an increasing number of technical centers being set up in China,” Reilly said. “I’m sure the Korean government realizes the situation and knows the way to stay ahead of some of the developing countries like China.”
He said, however, Chinese automakers are not capable of producing a vehicle with their own technology and depend on joint ventures, such as GM Shanghai and Beijing Hyundai.
Asked about the business environment for foreign investors, he said the regulations of China are more restrictive than those of Korea. “Foreign companies are not allowed to own more than 50 percent of car manufacturers in China.”
But he pointed out the growth potential of the auto market there, citing a huge domestic demand for cars compared to Korea. Reilly added, Korean companies including Hyundai Motor, should not just rely on the domestic market but rely on the much more overseas sales.
Reilly said GM will introduce a hybrid car in Korea in late 2007 or early 2008. Through GM Daewoo Auto & Technology, GM’s Korean operation, the carmaker is expected to unveil a hybrid-version of the Winstorm.
“The issue is whether or not the government decides to support hybrid vehicles with some tax incentives,” he said, pointing out the higher price tags of hybrid cars.
In a separate meeting with reporters, Larry Burns, GM vice president in charge of R&D and strategic planning, said, “General Motors is proving that advanced technology can remove the automobile from the environmental debate and reduce our dependence on petroleum.”