Chinese SUV and pickup manufacturer Great Wall Motors (GWM) has signed a deal with US car giant General Motors (GM) to take over GM’s Thailand manufacturing facilities in Rayong.
The sale will see the Rayong vehicle assembly and powertrain facilities transferred to GWM. The firms aim to close the deal and complere the site handover by the end of 2020.
The acquisition of the plant aims to help the business development of GWM in Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market, said GWM’s global strategy vice president Liu Xiangshang said.
“Great Wall Motors’ investment will create more jobs in the local area, including direct and indirect employment and further enhance skill development in the automotive industry,” he said.
“We will also promote the development of the local supply chain, R&D and related industries, plus contribute more to the exchequer of both the local Rayong and Thailand governments.”
Since opening in 2000, the Rayong site has become a regional manufacturing hub for mid-size trucks, SUVs and diesel engines, with 1.4m trucks and large SUVs having left its doors for domestic and export markets.
The decision sees GM withdraw completely in Thailand, with operations there massively scaled back, leaving it only selling niche specialty vehicles.
GM’s international operations senior vice president, Julian Blissett, said the decision to cease manufacturing operations in Thailand had been a “difficult” one, taken after a detailed analysis of the business case for allocating future product programmes to the site.
He said: “Our decision to cease production at the Rayong site is based on GM’s global strategy and optimisation of our manufacturing footprint around the world. In this context, sale of the Rayong plants to GWM is the best option to support future vehicle manufacturing at this site.”
GM has also announced it is to pull out of major car production in loss-making areas Australia and New Zealand, after its International Operations division racked up losses of US$200m last year, including $100m in the fourth quarter alone.