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Renault Samsung Motors (Korean:르노삼성자동차) is a South Korean automobile manufacturer. It was first established as Samsung Motors in 1994 and started selling cars in 1998, just before South Korea was hit by the Asian financial crisis. Negotiations with Renault started in December 1998 and in September 2000 Renault bought a 70% stake for $512 million.
Samsung Motors (also known as SMI) was built out by the will of the Samsung group's chairman, Mr.Kun Hee Lee, who regarded automotive industry was a sum of many industries. For the group, that would have meant the co-operation between its subsidiaries such as Samsung Electrics and Samsung Electronics. Nevertheless, his plan was cut short by the Asian financial crisis, and soon the group jettisoned SMI (along with other non-core subsidiaries). SMI was up for grabs, firstly by Daewoo Motors, but it was itself hit by the same crisis and was bought by GM. Hyundai Motors was also considered to be a suitor, but politics and strife between Samsung group and Hyundai group made this impossible.
Coupled with his personal affection for cars, Mr. Lee's dream of building SMI as a global force started out with technical assistance from Nissan, which company at the time of SMI's early stages was in dire financial straits. SMI's affiliation with Nissan could have been one of the reasons for Renault buying a major share of the company, as Renault had become a major shareholder of Nissan by then. For reference, one of the very early planners for SMI have stated that technical affiliations for SMI were initially considered with either Volkswagen or Honda. However, the financial situation had Nissan disclose its technology and engineering expertise to SMI. Also, Nissan has supplied SMI with its engines, one of them being Nissan famed V6 engines, VQ25DE. (currently replaced with VQ35DE)
Today, Renault Samsung Motors (hence RSM) maintains a good position within the Korean automotive market, with its SM5 vehicle continuing to hold its ground against its competitors. Also, RSM is in the phase of changing its products from Nissan based architecture to Renault based one. For example, the next generation of Megane will take over the Nissan Sylphy as the base for SM3. Also, according to the development trend of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, gasoline engines will be continued to be provided by Nissan, whereas diesel engines will be provided by Renault. In addition, a cross over vehicle (code name: H45) is being co-developed with Nissan (who is also using the H45 as the basis for its next Xtrail, code name P32M). It will appear in mid-to-late 2007 for Korea and Europe, and more new vehicles are planned in the future. This will increase the current company production capacity of 125,000~130,000 units to around 250,000 by 2010, as much of the increased production will target BRICs countries such as China, Russia, and also parts of Europe.
As Renault does not have any R&D center and have a few factories in Asia, RSM will spearhead the Renault's expansion efforts into the rapidly developing Asian market. Also, it should be noted that Renault is continuing the use of 'Samsung' name until 2010 under a license agreement with the Samsung group. It remains to be seen how long Samsung will allow the use of its brand to RSM, and how it will play its remaining 19.9% of shares. However, as the value of Samsung's brand continues to increase, Renault's desire to associate its brand in regions where Renault's brand is weak is considerable: recent events of Renault's attempts at associating itself with GM could be seen in the same text, as Renault does not have any existence in North America since its exit in the 1980s.
- SM7 (based on the Nissan Teana)
- SM5 (previously based on the 1995 Nissan Cefiro and Nissan Maxima, replaced in 2005 by a model based on the Nissan Teana)
- SM3 (based on the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy, replaced in 2005 by a face lifted model. Also sold by Nissan as Almera in Latin America.
- SV110 (Yamouzine) (1-ton truck, based on the Nissan Atlas)
- Big Thumb (11-ton~19-ton truck, based on the Nissan Diesel design from Nissan Big Thumb)
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|Kun Hee Lee||Corporate website||a subsidiary of the Renault Group|