Great Wall Motors lays off all European employees

The EV cooldown is taking a further toll. According to German media outlets, Chinese automotive giant Great Wall Motors is closing down its European headquarters in Munich. Late last year, the company announced it would expand into eight more European countries, but it is now abruptly aborting these plans. It will remain present in the EU, though.

By the end of August, all 100 Great Wall Motors employees in Munich will be out of a job. German Manager Magazin, citing sources close to the organisation, revealed that GWM has informed its staff and network about the decision. The move affects all employees and also top management.

Small in absolute numbers

While this closure signals a dramatic strategic shift, Great Wall Motors will continue to serve its existing European markets from its headquarters in China. Next to Germany, the company currently operates in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, and Israel. The importer network will have to align directly with the management of the Great Wall in Baoding, China.

GWM’s entry in Europe hasn’t been a smashing sucess. In 2023, the company registered 7,186 units in all its markets, a modest result in absolute numbers. The city car Ora was most popular, especially in Germany, where it accounted for 4,578 units. The more luxurious Wey brand didn’t get much of a foothold, except in Israel where more than 80% of the models found a new owner.

The strategy at Great Wall Motors hasn’t been consistent, as it rapidly changed the names of its introduced models from Ora Funky Cat and Wey Coffee 01 to GWM Ora 03 and GWM Wey 05. It wasn’t regarded as the best marketing trick in the book.

Impressive 2023 growth

Great Wall Motors’ decision to close its Munich headquarters and halt further European expansion reflects a significant re-evaluation of its international strategy. As new and higher European import tariffs for Chinese EVs are expected to be released early June, it seems GWM is anticipating on these foreseeable challenges.

Overall, GWM is still a strong performer. In its sales and production report for 2023, it announced impressive growth. New vehicle sales rose by 15.3% year-over-year, a surge that was driven by a remarkable 82.5% increase in overseas sales. But the decision to wind down its European operations could be a change of the tide.

CWM is not the only car maker curbing its employee mass. After Tesla laid off 14,000 staffers, Lucid this week announced it was reducing its workforce by 6% to secure its future.


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