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First Chinese Auto Plant Opens in Europe

Can cheap Chinese cars crack the European market?

by on Feb.28, 2012

The first car rolls off the assembly plant at the new Great Wall factory in Bulgaria, China's first in the EU.

Europe’s ongoing debt crisis has been crippling the Continental economy, sending automakers into a tailspin.  By most estimates, European car sales will buck the global turnaround and post at least a modest decline this year.

But that could be good news for the Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor which hopes to appeal to increasingly budget-minded European buyers with models like the Hover SUV, Steed pickup and Voleex city car.  All three will be produced at a new plant in the village of Bahovitsa, Bulgaria, and carry prices ranging from around $11,000 to $16,000.

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While Bulgaria itself is not a name normally associated with car manufacturing what’s all the more significant is that the three products will be produced at what is the first Chinese-run auto plant in the European Union.  The factory is part of a joint venture between Great Wall and its Bulgarian partner Litex Motors.