Great Wall Motor retreats from Europe amidst sales slump

Max McDee, 30 May 2024

In a surprising turn of events, Great Wall Motor (GWM), a prominent Chinese automaker, has decided to shutter its European headquarters in Munich by the end of August. The move will result in the termination of approximately 100 employees. The decision comes in the wake of disappointing sales figures in the European market.

Despite ambitious plans unveiled in 2021 to penetrate the European electric vehicle market with its ORA brand, GWM has struggled to gain traction. In 2022, the company entered into a partnership with Emil Frey, Europe's largest car dealer group, to distribute its Ora and Wey branded vehicles. However, the collaboration failed to yield the desired results, with GWM reportedly registering only 6,300 new vehicles in Europe in 2023.

GWM ORA Funky Cat GWM ORA Funky Cat

The Munich headquarters' closure doesn't signal GWM's complete withdrawal from Europe. The company intends to continue providing services in existing markets. Still, European operations will be managed from its headquarters in China. Expansion into new European markets has been put on hold indefinitely.

GWM's retreat from Europe contrasts sharply with the ambitious expansion plans of other Chinese EV startups, such as Nio and XPeng. Nio recently opened an eight-story Nio House in the Netherlands, its largest in Europe, and XPeng launched the G9 and G6 in France.

Interior of GWM ORA Funky Cat Interior of GWM ORA Funky Cat

This development raises questions about the ability of Chinese automakers to compete in the European market, which is becoming increasingly crowded with established players and new entrants. GWM's struggles could also be attributed to the ongoing anti-subsidy investigation launched by the European Commission into EVs from China, which has created uncertainty and could lead to additional tariffs.

Despite the setback, GWM remains a significant player in the global automotive industry. The company sold over 1.2 million vehicles in 2023, with overseas sales accounting for 25.68% of the total. However, the company recently postponed its goal of achieving 1 million annual sales overseas to 2030, acknowledging the challenging global market conditions.



Reader comments

As being a part of people who thinks European car brands are usually quite terrible (with notable exceptions), I can't really imagine myself owning something like BMW, Mercedes, VW or Škoda ... Honda, Toyota, Subaru or Lexus on the hand sounds m...

They will survive. Maybe not as easily in more wealthy markets as back home but still there are many people that cannot afford quality and will prioritize price. And that's ok. I bought my BMW iX (being European) and wouldn't exchange it fo...

Europeans are still loyal to their European cars, that being said China produces cars like bread with no regard to quality and support. They have to change their business strategies if they want to survive.



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