Life after Funky Cat: How China's Great Wall will crack Europe

So with just one brand and two cars in the market, why should UK buyers care about GWM’s niche name? Because, before long, it might not be so niche.

Having already cracked Australia and parts of South America, GWM is promising to turn its focus to Europe. “No brand is ruled out when it comes to expanding into our European markets,” says Thiemo Jahnke, GWM’s European brand and marketing director, adding: “Especially the UK.”

Key to this wide-reaching ambition is that GWM is already well established in other European markets, especially Germany.

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In Bavaria it sells the Wey 05 (formerly the Coffee 01), a Europe-only, Mazda CX-5-sized hybrid SUV, while the smaller 03 is on the way. Both are tipped to come to the UK. Its Haval SUV and Poer pick-up truck brands are also well known in eastern Europe.

In Russia, GWM’s Tula manufacturing and engine plant – opened in 2018, in a first for a Chinese car maker outside of its home market – produces 150,000 cars for markets such as Russia and Bulgaria, where it previously also had a factory. Other locations in Europe are being looked at.

What could hold it back, however, is that GWM’s European business will now be conducted from China after it closed its Munich base last month, with the loss of 100 jobs. This decision, it says, was due to tough market conditions and the “very concrete threat of punitive taxes” on imported Chinese cars that are currently being considered by EU legislators.

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