The first European-bound shipload of 2,000 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedans have departed Gunsan, South Korea, bound for Belgium, Ward’s learns.

GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., which designed and developed the Cruze and produces the small car at its Gunsan assembly plant, held a dockside ceremony marking the premier launch before the vehicles departed Gunsan this week.

“Export of this segment-leading new product will play a pivotal role in the ongoing growth of General Motors (Corp.) and GM Daewoo,” says Rick Labelle, GMDAT vice president-vehicle sales, service and marketing. “It will also have a positive impact on the Korean economy.”

Half the cars in the inaugural shipment are equipped with GMDAT’s 2.0L Euro 4- compliant VCDi (variable turbocharged common-rail diesel injection) mill. The rest are powered by either a 1.6L or 1.8L gas engine.

The diesel mill was developed by GMDAT and VM Motori SpA of Italy and is produced at a dedicated plant adjacent to the Gunsan vehicle-assembly facility.

The inaugural shipment of the Chevrolet Cruze sedan is in addition to Europe-bound 5-door hatchback and wagon versions of the Chevrolet Lacetti Premiere, scheduled for next week.

The Lacetti uses the same platform as the Cruze and is built alongside it on the Gunsan assembly line.

The U.S.-built Cruze will be produced at General Motors Corp.’s Lordstown, OH, plant starting in 2010.