Even with the final bidders in the auction for Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. set to be announced in March, the beleaguered Korean automaker is proceeding with business as usual in North America by unleashing a $30 million ad campaign this spring and considering bringing its Musso 4-door sport/utility vehicle to the U.S.

“It potentially could be for this market,” says Bill Tucker, of Daewoo Motor America, of the SUV currently sold in Eastern Europe and Asia/Pacific. Musso's arrival here would at least be a couple of years away because its current incarnation is rather rough around the edges as a workhorse vehicle.

Daewoo will make a splash in the SUV market a lot sooner than that, however. The '01 Korando 2-door compact SUV will hit dealer showrooms this spring with a price tag around $20,000, says Mr. Tucker. The automaker forecasts initial annual sales of 15,000 units. Ultimately, Daewoo believes it can sell 20,000-25,000 Korandos each year.

A national ad campaign and an expanding franchised dealer network are among the plans Daewoo has in place to help it reach its sales goal of 100,000 units in 2000 compared to 39,000 in 1999. Over the next three to four months, Daewoo will spend $30 million on its first true national marketing campaign. Ads will be aimed at 25- to 55-year-olds and will run in news and sports mediums such as ESPN and CNN. “We need awareness. We need people to know we exist,” Mr. Tucker says flatly.

Daewoo, which currently has some 300 retail outlets nationwide, also hopes to have 450 showrooms in the U.S. by year's end. Mr. Tucker says Daewoo operations in the U.S. have been unaffected by the uncertainty facing its parent in Korea. But he admits that could change. “Can I tell you that events down the road won't impact us? No,” Mr. Tucker concedes.