electrive.com — 2023-05-31
The Chinese manufacturer Great Wall wants to build cars in Europe in the future and is also looking at Germany. But other countries in Eastern Europe are probably also in the running. At this stage, different concepts for the European factory are also still being examined.
“The eastern German states could come into question,” says Xiangjun Meng, President of Great Wall Motor Europe, as quoted by the German publication Automobilwoche. The company is currently analysing “where and why the experienced Asian manufacturers have set up their European locations”. Alternatively, Hungary or the Czech Republic are also under consideration.
The Chinese battery company CATL has settled in Germany, but Hungary is also often the target of Chinese e-mobility investments: CATL is also building in Debrecen, and the Chinese cell manufacturer and BMW partner Eve Energy has also chosen Debrecen. BMW is building a pure electric car plant for the New Class there, Mercedes is already manufacturing the EQB in Kecskemét and is retrofitting the plant for other EV platforms. Samsung SDI is also rumoured to have plans for cylindrical cell production in Hungary, and numerous Asian battery suppliers have also settled there. SK On is also manufacturing battery cells in Hungary, BYD its electric buses.
In the case of Great Wall’s European plans, it is not only the location question that is still unresolved: it is also open whether Great Wall wants to build a new factory or take over an existing plant. According to Meng, GWM has received “a number of offers” to buy plants where the existing manufacturers want to stop production. Names or locations are not mentioned in the report – so it is open whether or not the Opel plant in Eisenach, Thuringia, has also been offered for sale by Stellantis.
In Europe, Great Wall has so far offered the BEV compact model Ora Funky Cat (read the driving review here) and the PHEV SUV Wey Coffee 01. By the end of 2023 April, 268 Great Wall vehicles had been newly registered in Germany. “Great Wall Motor is a private company and has no pressure of expectation from the government,” Meng said in the interview. “We are therefore more pragmatic than many other Chinese manufacturers and have not set specific sales targets in the initial phase.”
Great Wall also plans to manufacture electric cars in Thailand starting in 2024. The manufacturer already has a plant there and Great Wall is also finalising plans for a new battery pack assembly plant in Thailand. The Chinese carmaker also reportedly plans to open a plant in Brazil in 2024 that will exclusively produce electrified vehicles.