General Motors will launch its first Ultium platform-based electric sport utility vehicle, the Cadillac Lyriq, in South Korea later this year to expand its EV lineup in the country, the automaker announced Monday.
Ultium refers to Ultium Cells, a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution established in 2019 to set up and operate battery cell manufacturing facilities in the US. The two share three EV battery plants, the first of which began operating in Ohio last year. The second and third facilities are under construction in Tennessee and Michigan.
“The (Korean) vehicle market is highly competitive with domestic and import brands bringing their best portfolios to the market. And the EV uptake is growing exponentially with advanced plans for charging infrastructure in dense urban environments,” said Shilpan Amin, senior vice president at General Motors, in a video speech during a press conference held in Seoul.
“We have committed to bringing 10 EVs to the Korean market by 2025 and we remain on track,” he said.
The automaker also unveiled its plan to launch its next-generation Chevrolet Trax Crossover across the world in the first quarter. The new product will be released in Korea in the first quarter as well, according to Roberto Rempel, CEO of GM Korea.
GM reaffirmed its target of achieving a production capacity of 500,000 units per year at the three plants in Bupyeong in Incheon, Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, and Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province, before the end of the second quarter, almost doubling the production capacity from last year.
Rempel prioritized securing the half-million production capacity but hinted that if GM Korea can meet its production goal for the next two years with the local plants in full operation, a time could come when Korean plants will manufacture EVs.
The CEO told the press conference that GM will launch six new vehicles in Korea this year across the brands -- Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC.
“We have very exciting things planned for 2023. I’m sure that the foundation has been laid. And based on what we know today, we are ready to achieve a business turnaround and growth in 2023,” said Rempel. GM Korea was in the red for eight consecutive years until 2021.
As for the reasons behind being able to break even last year, the automaker pointed to cost-reducing efforts, expansion of a more profitable vehicle lineup and favorable exchange rates. GM Korea’s 2022 earnings will be released in April.
GM Korea on Monday also laid out plans to enhance customer service this year, such as expanding online sales and building an eight-story service center in eastern Seoul. The automaker said it will officially launch ACDelco -- GM’s global aftermarket parts and maintenance service network -- as well as OnStar, a connectivity service based on a satellite communications system, in the country this year. A smartphone app that allows drivers to check and control GM vehicles remotely is also in the pipeline.