Is Great Wall Motors set to get a go-ahead signal soon?

by Sumantra B Barooah 01 Apr 2021

The Great Wall Motors stall at the Auto Expo 2020, held in New Delhi.

It’s been a little over a year since the India plans of Great Wall Motors, the Chinese SUV and pick-up major, came to a halt. The Indo-Chinese diplomatic relation hasn’t normalised yet but Great Wall Motors seems to be hopeful to start executing its plans in a few months. Autocar Professional learns that the OEM, which has set up an office in Gurugram, will resume its brand communication activities soon.

What also reflects Great Wall Motors’ hope of getting the necessary approval soon is its recruitment drive to complete building the Great Wall Motors India team.

Currently, there are around 20 members in Great Wall Motors India. According to a source, another 90 positions in the organisation are to be filled. This includes the key position of the marketing and sales head, which got vacated with the exit of Hardeep Singh Brar, who moved to Kia Motors India recently. When contacted, the OEM declined to comment about its next plan of action in India.

Great Wall Motors is one among the OEMs who are focusing on India as a key market, as most Chinese OEMs are now seriously looking at growing their international presence. The Baoding headquartered Great Wall Motors is set to be the next major OEM, after SAIC, in tapping the Indian PV market, which currently stands at number 5 globally, and poised to climb to the number 3 position in a couple of years.

According to Vinay Piparsania, former executive director at Ford India, and an industry observer, it is in both Great Wall Motors’ and India’s interest for the OEM’s plans to to get executed. “The opportunity still remains. It’s just that the whole operating approach may have to change while staying true to the strategy,” says Piparsania. And that’s what may be happening at Great Wall Motors. Even as it remains interested in the Indian market, there may be some tweaking of plans in terms of brand and models.  

At 37 years, Great Wall Motors is a young player in the automotive world. Last year, it sold around 1,100,000 vehicles of which close to 95 percent were sold in its home market.

With SUVs being Great Wall Motors’ main focus segment, the Indian market can be key for the OEM’s internationalisation plans as the SUV segment is on the driver’s seat in India, and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future too. Currently, SUVs contribute nearly 40 percent of overall passenger vehicle (PV) sales in India.

Great Wall Motors had showcased a slew of SUVs, and a few EVs too at Auto Expo 2020. A meet with a select set of around 50 leading automobile dealers were also held at the Auto Expo venue. It is learnt that the OEM also received expression of interest from around 600 dealer principals. 

Prior to Auto Expo 2020, on January 17, 2020,  Great Wall Motors had signed an agreement with General Motors to acquire its plant in Talegaon, Maharashtra. On that occasion, Great Wall Motors’ VP—global strategy, Liu Xiangshang had said, “The Indian market has great potential, rapid economic growth and a good investment environment. Entering the Indian market is an important step for Great Wall Motors’ global strategy.”

The Talegaon production facility is one of two GM plants – a plant in Rayong, Thailand being the other, that Great Wall Motors had signed a deal to acquire. With these two plants Great Wall Motors would have an additional production capacity of at least 310,000 units annually. While the Rayong plant is set to start rolling out vehicles under the new ownership, the Talegaon plant will have to wait till the necessary clearance from the government. Great Wall Motors would hope the wait won’t be long from now.    

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