GM to wind down Australia, N Zealand ops, sell Thai plant

February 17, 2020 11:42
GM CEO Mary Barra has prioritized profit margins over sales volume and global presence. Photo: Reuters

General Motors is retreating from more markets outside of the United States and China, saying on Sunday that it will wind down sales, design and engineering operations in Australia and New Zealand, Reuters reports.

The US automaker also announced that China’s Great Wall Motor had agreed to buy GM’s Thailand manufacturing plant, a transaction expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

GM is "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 electric and autonomous vehicles, chairperson and CEO Mary Barra was quoted as saying in a statement.

The changes will lead to cash and non-cash charges of US$1.1 billion, as well as the loss of 1,500 jobs in Thailand and 828 in Australia and New Zealand, GM said.

Barra has prioritized profit margins over sales volume and global presence since taking over in 2014, the report noted.

In 2017, Barra sold GM’s European Opel and Vauxhall businesses to Peugeot and exited South Africa and other African markets.

Since then, she has decided to pull GM out of Vietnam, Indonesia and India. Great Wall agreed in January to buy a GM vehicle plant in India, a transaction expected to be completed by the second half of this year.

In rearranging its global operations, GM is accelerating its retreat from unprofitable markets, becoming more dependent on the United States, China, Latin America and South Korea.

With sales of GM’s Australian Holden brand plummeting, the company could not justify the investment to continue building right-hand drive vehicles, GM President Mark Reuss said in the Sunday statement.

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