China’s GWM taps Europe for next stage in global expansion

Great Wall Motor (GWM) is continuing its global expansion, reportedly looking at Europe as its next production location.

“We are currently examining where and why experienced Asian automakers have established their European sites,” Xiangjun Meng, president of Great Wall Motor Europe, told German publication Automobilwoche.

“The eastern German states could be a possible choice,” he added, noting “good labour and energy costs” there.

“Alternatively, Hungary or the Czech Republic are also possibilities.”

Ora Funky Cat

It’s unclear whether it is looking to buy an existing plant or build a new one, though Mr Meng notes the company has received “some purchase offers” for sites where other automakers plan to stop production.

The company plans to start production as early as “the next few years”.

Hungary is already home to factories owned by Audi and Suzuki, while Skoda, Hyundai, and Toyota manufacture cars in Czechia.

It’s not the first time GWM has looked at European production, indicating in 2019 it planned to build a factory there upon reaching 50,000 annual sales.

It subsequently weighed buying Nissan’s Barcelona plant in Spain back in 2021 before withdrawing its interest.

Wey Coffee 01

Chinese automakers have been entering the European market at a rapid pace, earning the ire of automakers like Stellantis which have called for higher tariffs on Chinese cars there.

Great Wall Motor entered the European market last year with its Ora and Wey brands, the former selling electric hatchbacks and the latter selling plug-in hybrid crossovers.

The company has been expanding its global presence, buying General Motors’ old Rayong, Thailand plant in 2020.

It hasn’t gone entirely smoothly, with Great Wall Motor scrapping plans to invest US$1 billion in India last year due to tensions between that country and China.

It laid off all its employees in India and scrapped plans to acquire a former General Motors plant there.

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