Slow sales force GM Daewoo to shut down factories until January 5

Seoul  - Swelling inventories of unsold vehicles have forced South Korea's second largest automaker to shut down all of its major facilities starting Monday for eight working days.

GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Company, the South Korean unit of the troubled US auto giant General Motors, halted work at all of its major plants on Monday, until January 5.

"As we announced previously, we are shutting down today all of our major car-making lines for two weeks from December 22 to January 4. Actual number of shutdown is eight days if we consider the holidays," a GM Daewoo spokesman said.

The closed period may be increased if the market condition deteriorates, he added.

Monday's shutdown of GM Daewoo's Bupyong and Changwon factories takes place after the automaker halted its main Bupyong plant on December 1 and closed its Gunsan factory on December 18.

GM Daewoo reported that its domestic auto sales in November 2008 decreased 56.9 per cent from 10.531 vehicles sold in November 2007, while the automaker's exports in November dropped by 24.7 per cent from the 76,860 vehicles exported in the same month last year.

The automaker's smaller Bupyong factory near Seoul and its Changwon factory in South Gyeongsang Province produce small Matiz sedans.

The main Bupyong plant produces Tosca sedans, Windstorm sport-utility vehicles and compact cars for the local market. It also exports the same models to Asia and Europe under the GM brand.

Since acquired by GM Motors in 2005, GM Daewoo Auto & Technology has five manufacturing factories in Korea as well as an assembly facility in Vietnam.

In 2007, GM Daewoo was praised for its brisk car sales, as the automaker also provides market and brand-specific vehicle kits for assembly at GM facilities in China, Thailand, India, Colombia and Venezuela.

GM Daewoo's shutdown follows the decision of Ssangyong Motor Company, the South Korean unit of China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, which has halted at all of its plants on Tuesday for ten working days to remove its swelling stock. SAIC said on Monday it cannot afford to pay December wages for its workers in time.

Renault Samsung Motors Corp, the third largest automaker in South Korea, said Monday it will halt production on December 24 at its plant in Busan, 453 kilometers south-east of Seoul, until the end of this year. (dpa)