VERONA, Italy - Daewoo Cars had plenty to think about when it launched its new Tacuma compact minivan to the press here at the end of last month.
Back in the UK, Daewoo was in the process of laying off 113 staff at its technical center in Worthing in the south of England. Meanwhile, at Daewoo's UK base near London, Ford's due diligence team was working its way through the offices as it prepared to finalize its bid to buy the troubled Korean automaker.
Daewoo spokeswoman Alison Moran said: 'It is a very busy time - and obviously quite a sad time having to lay off people at Worthing. On the plus side, we had initially feared we would have to lay off closer to 250 people. We do not expect any more job losses at this time.'
Around 750 technical and design staff work at the center, which has been responsible for a number of initiatives and input into the company's current and future models. Workers laid off were mainly test engineers.
The job losses followed demands by creditor banks for the financially troubled company to cut overheads. If Ford is successful in buying Daewoo, Moran said she believed the Worthing Technical Center would retain a key role within the organization.
'It has been Ford's policy to keep its units autonomous and Worthing will play a big part in the future of the Daewoo brand,' she added.
The new Tacuma is aimed at young families and costs 12,495 (E20,616) for the 1.8-liter SE or 13,495 for the 2.0-liter CDX, comfortably below rivals such as the Renault Scenic and Opel Zafira.
Optional equipment includes an entertainment system based around the Sony Playstation. A foldaway roof-mounted screen linked to a central control box allows rear-seat occupants to plug in a Playstation console and use it on the move.
Moran said: 'There is a definite split between parents who think the Playstation option is a great idea and those who believe their children spend far too much time at home on a Playstation and do not want it in the car.' The Tacuma has already been launched in Holland. German and Italian sales start shortly. The car will be introduced to the UK public at the Birmingham auto show in October when the right-hand-drive product becomes available.