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Whatever happened to Daewoo?

BACK in December last year South Korean car-maker Daewoo announced that it was on the verge of entering Formula 1 racing - but then the project went quiet and seemed to disappear without trace.

Daewoo is South Korea's third largest car maker. Until 1992 it was involved in a partnership with General Motors which prevented it selling cars in Europe, but that deal is now over and the company is beginning marketing its Nexia and Espero (styled by Bertone) in Europe. The company has even set up a technical research center in Worthing, England, employing 350 people. Daewoo also hopes to enter the American automotive market in 1996 and is heavily involved in the rush of automobile makers into China.

Car-building, however, is only a small part of it Daewoo's business. The company employs 130,000 people in clothing, construction, heavy machinery, ship-building, financial services, electronics and consumer goods. Although founded as recently as 1967, it is one of Asia's largest companies and recently overtook Renault in size.

There is little doubt that Daewoo will become a major player on the world car markets. The company currently has 11 car factories under construction but the company's founder Kim Woo Choong decided to delay Daewoo's entry into F1 while the rest of the production business gears up.

The original plan was for Daewoo to badge an existing F1 engine, using European racing expertise to gain a foothold in F1, much as Yamaha is currently doing with John Judd's Rugby-based Engine Developments.

Daewoo had talks last winter with Lamborghini, Brian Hart and Oral Engineering, a Modena-based firm which consults for the motor industry.

It is worth noting that in 1993 Daewoo hired German Ulrich Bez to be Vice-President of Daewoo Motors. Bez was previously head of the Porsche research & development department and is best known in F1 circles as the man who led the ill-fated Porsche F1 program with Arrows in 1991.

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