General Motors announced this week that it would be discontinuing the Holden brand and pulling out of the Australian market, but that isn’t the only major change it’s making to its international operations.
GM has also announced it will withdraw Chevrolet from the domestic market in Thailand by the end of 2020. It will no longer operate any manufacturing facilities in the country, either, signing a binding agreement to sell its Rayong plant to Chinese company Great Wall Motors. The company first established its Thai operations in 2000.
Rayong currently builds the global Chevrolet Colorado and Chevrolet Trailblazer, which are also exported to Australia and New Zealand as the Holden Colorado and Trailblazer. The automaker says it “undertook a detailed analysis of the business case for future production at the Rayong manufacturing facility in Thailand,” and decided that “low plant utilization and forecast volumes have made continued GM production at the site unsustainable.”
“Our decision to cease production at the Rayong site is based on GM’s global strategy and optimization of our manufacturing footprint around the world. In this context, sale of the Rayong plants to (Great Wall Motors) is the best option to support future vehicle manufacturing at this site,” GM international operations senior VP Julian Blissett said in a statement.
The decision to pull out of Thailand comes as GM is looking to free up cash flow to invest in new technology such as electric and autonomous vehicles. Its operations in Thailand, along with those in Australia and New Zealand, would have also required investment to keep them competitive going forward, so GM is instead focusing on markets that are already driving significant returns, such as China, Latin America and South Korea.
“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are restructuring our international operations, focusing on markets where we have the right strategies to drive robust returns, and prioritizing global investments that will drive growth in the future of mobility, especially in the areas of EVs and AVs.
GWM is expected to build vehicles from its Haval brand at the former GM Rayong plant, which will be sold locally and exported to Australia. Haval produces a range of crossover and SUV models that will fill the gap that will be left by the departure of the Chevrolet brand.
Just like in New Zealand and Australia, GM says it “will honor all warranties and continue to provide servicing and spare parts,” In Thailand. It also said local operations “will continue to handle all recall and any safety-related issues, working with the appropriate governmental agencies.”