In 2017, General Motors bowed out of the European market. The tactical retreat came after nearly two decades of struggling to make the region profitable and freed up cash the company could use to expand more profitable endeavors located elsewhere. This basically entailed widening its footprint in China, eliminating modestly sized passenger vehicles from its North American lineup, and setting aside any extra money for electric vehicle development. However, the automaker’s Western clientele has been slower to embrace EVs than hoped, even with gas prices becoming astonishingly high, and market analysts expect the United States to be the very last developed nation to see alternative powertrains go mainstream.
One possible solution for this conundrum is to sell those all-electric vehicles elsewhere — namely Europe.
According to a report from Bloomberg, there have been murmurings within GM that it may begin exporting the Cadillac Lyriq to the European Union. Talks are said to be preliminary, with unnamed sources also suggesting that subsequent EVs could follow. This includes the Hummer EV that’s supposed to commence production by 2023.
Broadening GM’s offering would expand its presence in a market where the company currently only sells luxury vehicles and the Corvette sports car in small numbers.
A GM spokesman said no final decisions had been made.
The move would be a renewed push in the region after the company sold its mass-market Opel and Vauxhall brands in 2017 to what is now Stellantis, following two decades of losses.
GM has recently revived the dormant Hummer brand, starting production of the electric pickup in December.
The nameplate was controversial among environmentalists with the Hummer H2 model that got about 10 miles to the gallon.
The automaker acquired the Hummer brand from military contractor AM General in the late 1990s, at the height of the U.S. SUV boom.
While the new Hummer won’t have to worry about today’s fuel prices, environmental activists may eventually realize that a 9,000-pound automobile (that’s over 4,000 kilograms, in case you’re European) probably isn’t going to be all that energy efficient either. But that’s hardly the only headwind GM will be confronting if it moves ahead with this plan. Europe’s new-vehicle sales have been on the decline for almost a year straight and the region is experiencing record inflation and crippling declines in consumer confidence following COVID lockdowns. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated these problems immensely, making it seem like it could be a bad time for GM to invest.
But it might work on a longer timeline. Europe is presently planning to prohibit the sale of gasoline (or diesel) powered automobiles by 2035 and Cadillac has set a goal to transition its entire lineup to EVs by 2030. In fact, stringent regulatory pressures were allegedly one of the reasons GM decided to sell off Opel and Vauxhall in 2017. Though we’d be surprised to learn it was the main reason considering the automaker had endured twenty years of consecutive financial losses selling to the market.
If you’re wondering what the real odds of General Motors taking another whack at Europe happen to be, the scenario seems quite plausible. Late in 2021, the former Cadillac VP Mahmoud Samara was tasked with trying to figure out how to restart operations across the pond. Considering he’s since been promoted to the president and managing director of General Motors Europe, one might assume the resulting strategy was well-received. We also know that the automaker wants to launch a mobility startup that foregoes the traditional dealer model — and that’s something that’ll be much easier for it to pull off there than here in North America.
[Images: General Motors]
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