A LEG UPThe 33rd Bangkok International Motor Show opened to the media, 27 March 2012, with the highlight on eco-cars, at Impact Muang Thong Thani. The fair runs until April 8. Bangkok Post Photo/PHRAKRIT JUNTAWONG
A 'pretty' helps sell cars at the Bangkok Motor Show. General Motors has announced it will sell its manufacturing plant in Rayong to a Chinese firm. Photo Phrakrit Juntawong / Bkk Post/ AFP

US car giant General Motors will sell its manufacturing plant in Thailand to a Chinese carmaker as part of several moves to transform its operations in Southeast Asia and Australia.

Senior executives of GM announced on Monday that the group will sell its plant in Rayong, which has suffered low utilization, to Great Wall Motors.

“Low plant utilization [and low] forecast domestic and export volumes impacted the business case significantly,” Andy Dunstan, GM president for strategic markets, alliances and distributors, said.

GM will also stop selling its Chevrolet brand in Thailand at the end of this year.

General Motors is getting out of both Thailand and Australia. It said on Monday that it would wind down sales, design and engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand and retire the Holden brand by 2021.

Bosses of GM said they had to take action in markets that cannot earn an adequate return for shareholders. The company would focus instead on its core business, such as specialty vehicles, plus seeking to achieve cost efficiencies.

The sale of GM’s vehicle manufacturing facilities in Rayong are expected to be agreed on with Great Wall Motors by the end of the year. 

GM will continue to support existing Chevrolet customers for ongoing aftersales, warranty and repair work through its authorized service outlets.

The American conglomerate spent more than US$1 billion setting up two manufacturing facilities at an industrial estate in Rayong in the early 2000s.

The car plant has produced more than 1.4 million vehicles over the past two decades and can assemble up to 180,000 units a year.

GM has 1,900 employees in Thailand, most of whom work at its manufacturing facilities.

Great Wall Motors said the car plant in eastern Thailand will be its 11th “full-process complete vehicle manufacturing base globally and its third outside China”.

It also has a facility in Russia’s Tula region, which went into operation in June last year, plus one in Talegaon, India, which it also bought from General Motors earlier this year.

Liu Xiangshang, the Great Wall’s global strategy vice president, said the purchase would boost its reach in Thailand and ASEAN markets. It would help export products to both the region and countries like Australia.

“The ASEAN automotive market is developing with great prospects and potential,” Liu said. “Our investment will create more jobs for the locals, improve their skills and stimulate supporting, R&D and related industries there.”

GWM has its headquarters in Baoding in northern China’s Hebei province. It has several SUV and car brands like Haval, Great Wall, WEY and ORA.