GM wants to be a 'substantial player' in Europe's EV market

After selling Opel, General Motors is once again branching out in Europe and will offer a range of electric vehicles.

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General Motors has retreated from a multitude of markets over the past decade, but it’s planning to expand its presence in Europe once again with a range of electric vehicles.

Whether this presages a greater global rollout of its latest Ultium-based EVs is unclear. GM has yet to confirm any of its EVs for Australian GMSV showrooms, which sell the Corvette and Silverado.

Autocar reports GM will offer a range of EVs in Europe, with GM Europe boss Mahmoud Samara saying “we feel very confident we will be a substantial player” albeit without quoting any proposed targets or models.

“With what the customers need in Europe and what we’ve done to transform our company, we feel this is a unique opportunity for us,” he said, noting the rapid adoption of EVs in the UK and Europe have opened the door for GM.

“Chevrolet is a global brand, Cadillac is a global brand, Hummer is a global brand, so we have global brands that are fit for purpose.

“What’s so beautiful about transitioning to EVs is the flexibility that we can deliver with those platforms. It will be fit for purpose in Europe.”

It’ll reportedly announce its plans for Europe early next year.

Though the UK appears to be in line to receive GM EVs like Europe, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee right-hand drive vehicles will be developed as GM has a history of selling left-hand drive vehicles in the right-hand drive UK market.

With the sale of Opel and Vauxhall to Groupe PSA in 2017, GM has maintained a limited import operation in Europe.

It has sold only the Chevrolet Corvette plus a limited range of Cadillac vehicles. Of the latter, it now offers only the XT4 crossover.

GM is in the midst of rolling out a range of vehicles on a dedicated electric vehicle architecture it’s referring to as Ultium.

The first such vehicle was the enormous GMC Hummer EV, which was followed by the BMW X5-sized Cadillac Lyriq. Autocar reports both are in line to be sold there, along with vehicles and services from the new BrightDrop electric commercial vehicle division.

GM is transitioning to electric vehicles with the aim to sell sell only zero-emissions vehicles globally by 2035. The Buick and Cadillac brands will switch to EV-only lineups by 2030.

It has a range of Ultium-based products coming out over the next few years, led by the Chevrolet Silverado EV, Equinox EV and Blazer EV next year.

Other products include the flagship Cadillac Celestiq and, reportedly, a Chevrolet Colorado EV, along with potentially more Europe-friendly models like a new entry-level electric Cadillac SUV to replace the XT4.

Mr Samara notes GM Europe will act like a rapid start-up, now that there’s no Opel/Vauxhall operation to serve as an anchor.

That suggests it could operate a largely online retail model, as with Tesla, Polestar and Genesis.

Samara was formerly Cadillac’s North American vice president of sales, service and marketing before being appointed head of a relaunched GM Europe in 2021.

GM’s global footprint has shrunk markedly over the past several years.

It withdrew the Chevrolet brand there in 2013 except for low-volume imports, and sold Opel and Vauxhall in 2017.

It left Thailand in 2020 following the sale of its Rayong plant, which produced the Holden/Chevrolet Colorado and TrailBlazer, to Great Wall Motors.

It’s also withdrawn from markets like South Africa and curtailed its presence in major markets like India and Indonesia.

In Australia, it ended local Holden production the same year before retiring the Aussie brand in 2020.

GM Specialty Vehicles rose from the ashes of Holden as an importer of niche vehicles – the factory right-hand drive Corvette, and the locally remanufactured Chevrolet Silverado and, formerly, the Camaro.

More recently, it stopped exporting vehicles to Russia following that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

With its retreat from numerous markets, GM has instead focused on its core markets of China, North America and South America, though it also sells vehicles in markets like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

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William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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