SEOUL - Samsung did not show its first car at Seoul, as it might have.
Samsung still plans to release a version of the Nissan Maxima in early 1998 in South Korea, but it has scaled back export plans. Plans to sell in the US have been cancelled and staff there made redundant.
Many Korean analysts are pessimistic about the group's automotive venture. They expect Samsung to build just 60,000-70,000 units a year. Meanwhile, profit margins in the group's core business, semiconductor manufacturing, have fallen recently, putting pressure on Samsung's capital resources.
Other Korean automakers have tried to block Samsung's entry in the past and continue to oppose it. Said Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-gyu: 'We would be better off without Samsung. The domestic market is saturated. They have decided to build one model but they are not big enough to be in the market.'
Chung said Samsung would have to set up sales and marketing channels and would not have enough volume to get good prices on parts. 'They will have a cost problem - but they are smart enough to solve that problem.'
Samsung has tried different routes into the market, including a bid to buy Kia in 1993, which was blocked by the Korean government following protests from Kia's management.
More recently, Samsung has been linked with a possible merger with Ssangyong Motors, though company sources suggest this deal was never seriously considered.