Asian Carmakers' European Plan

KOREA'S BIGGEST CARMAKERS are about to hit Europe with a wave of inexpensive autos. With the strong yen forcing the Japanese to raise prices, these new rivals are aiming at the bottom tier of Europe's car market, edging in on the likes of Nissan as well as Fiat and Ford. An additional plus for the Koreans: Many of their cars, unlike imports from Japan and the U.S., aren't subject to 10% duties in Europe. And, unlike the Japanese, they don't face import quotas.

The Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers Assn. fears that 360,000 Korean autos could be imported into the European Union by 2000--almost triple last year's level. Daewoo recently unveiled a series of hatchbacks and sedans it plans to roll out across Europe next spring. The $38 billion giant wants to be the most customer-focused auto maker in Britain, where it intends to set up company-owned car superstores, complete with cafeterias and nannies to mind the kids.

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