GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. is introducing a diesel-powered version of its 5-seat Winstorm CUV in an effort to bolster sales of cross/utility vehicles in Korea.

The auto maker’s timing couldn’t be worse, as diesel fuel costs are skyrocketing and the country’s ports are crippled amid a nationwide strike by truck drivers in protest of high fuel prices.

But GMDAT is confident the new entry will resonate with Korean buyers due to its power, sports appeal, safety features and high quality.

In Korea, the Winstorm Maxx will sell alongside GMDAT’s gasoline-powered Winstorm, which is marketed in Europe and other export countries as the Chevrolet Captiva.

The Maxx has a powerful 150-hp 2.0L variable common-rail diesel engine and 5-speed select-shift automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive, antilock brakes, electronic stability control and a traction-control system are standard features. The premium interior boasts front bucket seats, a large instrument cluster and 3-spoke steering wheel.

The Maxx is offered in two trim levels, priced from 28.3 million won-29.9 million won ($27,518- $29,060).

GMDAT’s domestic Winstorm sales through May totaled 7,500 units, down from 12,700 year-ago. However, the Chevrolet Captiva version of the CUV is doing well in export markets.

In the year’s first five months, GMDAT exported 42,000 Captivas, (including 5,100 complete-knocked-down vehicles), compared with 36,000 (including 1,900 CKD vehicles) in like-2007.

The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Assn. reports SUV sales in Korea in the year’s first four months were down 18.2% from year-ago to 14,258 units.