|President Moon Jae-in preorders a Casper mini SUV produced by Gwangju Global Motors, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor and Gwangju Metropolitan Government, from his office, Tuesday. Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae|
By Baek Byung-yeul
Gwangju Global Motors (GGM), a joint venture between Hyundai Motor and Gwangju Metropolitan Government, will begin mass production of its first model, the Casper compact SUV, Wednesday.
Attention is growing toward the mini SUV as the joint venture is the Moon Jae-in administration's first outcome from a job creation model it proposed, in which Hyundai Motor builds car factories and central and regional governments pay for financial and welfare support packages.
In 2019, the government reached an agreement with the country's largest carmaker aiming to reinvigorate regional economies while helping the company reduce labor costs.
Under the agreement, GGM employees receive an average salary of 35 million won ($29,880) a year for 44-hour workweek. To bolster the relatively low wage, the central and regional government provide various support such as housing, welfare and childcare facilities for employees.
|A Hyundai Casper / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor|
Given GGM is the first example of such a job creation model being put into practice, industry officials said its successful establishment is expected to bring significant changes not only to the domestic automotive industry but also other manufacturing sectors.
Hyundai Motor said Tuesday that it began taking online preorders for the Casper while actual sales will start Sept. 29. Consumers showed high interest in the SUV as the online homepage crashed as soon as reservations started.
President Moon also joined the reservation parade as the presidential office said he succeeded in ordering his own Casper. Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said Moon preordered the compact SUV Casper as he plans to use it after his presidency ends.
"President Moon Jae-in preordered the mini SUV Casper, produced by the Gwangju-type job model, this morning online, the first day of applications for an advanced booking. The Casper has been purchased by President Moon for personal use and will continue to be used after his retirement," Park told reporters.
"Starting with GGM, eight regional governments have agreed to establish the so-called Gwangju-type job model," the spokeswoman said, adding, "they are expected to draw a total of 51 trillion won worth of investment and create around 130,000 jobs."
GGM has hired 539 employees so far, with 93.4 percent of them coming from Gwangju and the metropolitan city's nearby area in South Jeolla Province, the company said. It plans to increase its employee base to around 1,000 by next year, adding it expects to create about 11,000 indirect job opportunities as well.
|Hyundai Motor's Casper SUV / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor|
Since Hyundai unveiled a picture of the mini SUV, consumers have shown great interest due to its "cute" image and inexpensive price range. It is the first vehicle that Hyundai is selling only through online channels in Korea. The price of the Casper ranges from 13.85 million to and 20.57 million won.