GM pulled out of the European market in 2017 after it offloaded its Opel and Vauxhall brands to Peugeot owner Groupe PSA for $2.2 billion. While the automaker’s Cadillac brand still has a (very) small presence in the region, along with the Corvette sports car, it has not attempted to sell mass-market vehicles in Europe in large numbers since it decided to offload Opel and Vauxhall to the French five years ago.
Speaking at the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles last week, GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker’s transition to electric vehicles gives it a good opportunity to grow its business by re-entering the European market with more competitive offerings.
“About five years ago, we sold our Opel business to what is now Stellantis and we have no seller’s remorse from an internal combustion business,” Barra said, as quoted by InsideEVs. “But we are looking at the growth opportunity that we have now, because we can reenter Europe as an all-EV player. I’m looking forward to that.”
Battery-electric crossover models like the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq and 2024 Chevy Equinox EV could potentially be competitive offerings in Europe, rivalling other mass-market and luxury electric crossover models like the VW ID.4 and Mercedes-Benz EQC. GM is also working on a series of smaller, affordable EVs with its technology-sharing partner Honda, which may also be appropriate vehicles for the European market.
While GM is developing new EVs that may appeal to European consumers, it could still face roadblocks with regard to its retail and service coverage. The only GM brand operating in Europe, Cadillac, has a dealer network consisting of just 20 retail storefronts and 123 aftersales partners. It would likely have to make investments in its retail footprint in Europe in order to be competitive with rival automakers like VW, which have their own strong electric vehicle portfolios, and with the added benefit of strong brand recognition and much better retail coverage.
Barra did not offer any additional details on this planned expansion, so it’s not clear when we may see the automaker begin to grow its European business.