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GM Korea takes preorders for micro commercial cars

GM Korea Co., South Korea’s third-largest carmaker, said Monday it has started receiving pre-contract orders for its reintroduced Damas and Labo micro commercial vehicles.

The cars will reach show windows in earnest in August after production was halted last year.

The company said it has invested in updating vehicle engineering and manufacturing plant facilities at its Changwon plant, located some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Damas and Labo were popular as they were the only vehicles in the market that offered benefits associated with a minicar and a commercial vehicle. They are cheap to buy and run, and their compact size allows them to fit into narrow alleys and confined parking spaces. The biggest demand for these cars has come from small merchants.

Over 300,000 units of the two vehicles have been sold since their launch in September 1991.

GM Korea, the South Korean unit of U.S. automaker General Motors Co., announced in June 2013 it would halt production of the two models because it could not afford the research and development needed to upgrade the cars to meet revised safety and emission standards. Seoul, however, decided to waive occupant safety and carbon dioxide emission rules for the cars for a maximum of six years in the face of petitions by local merchants.

Sales of the Damas microvans hit 10,969 last year, with 9,693 Labo microtrucks being sold. On average, some 1,722 Damas and Labo vehicles were sold on a monthly basis in 2013.

The vehicles share an 800 cubic centimeter engine that uses liquefied petroleum gas as fuel and are equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox that sends power to the front wheels only.

GM Korea said the 2015 Damas five-seater vehicle will be priced from 9.64 million won ($9,370), with the base two-seater model of the van coming in at 9.58 million won. For the Labo, the base vehicle’s sticker price is set at 8.07 million won, with the “large cargo” model going up to 8.84 million won for a fully loaded car. (Yonhap)
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