By on February 17, 2020

GM Thailand

The news that General Motors will exile Holden to the Island of Lost Brands overshadows changes set to occur elsewhere in the world, all part of the automaker’s plan to cut costs via a streamlined global footprint.

China, despite its current problems, is still seen as a market with great growth potential, but the same can’t be said for another Asian nation.

Riding side-saddle to Sunday’s Australian announcement was news that the Chevrolet brand will bite the dust in Thailand. GM Thailand’s assembly plant in Rayong assembles the Colorado pickup (yes, there was also a Holden export version) and the overseas-only Trailblazer (not to be confused with the pint-sized crossover launched recently in North America), but that plant will soon have new ownership.

The automaker says the plant will be sold to China’s Great Wall Motors and Chevrolet sales will cease by the end of 2020. In doing this, GM forfeits any and all future pickup volume in a highly populous market.

Late last year, GM announced that its Thai plant would supply customers in Uzbekistan with the Trailblazer, citing that country’s “varied” road conditions and the SUV’s durability. Guess that plan’s off, then.

The net cost of pulling out of Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand is said to be $300 million. Already, the past few years has seen GM pull out of Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, to say nothing of Europe and Russia. The automaker offloaded its Opel and Vauxhall brands to the French back in 2017. Now, GM plans to tighten its focus on North America, Latin America, China, and South Korea.

“I’ve often said that we will do the right thing, even when it’s hard, and this is one of those times,” said GM CEO Mary Barra in a statement.  “We are restructuring our international operations, 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 the areas of EVs and AVs.”

Barra added that GM “will support our people, our customers and our partners, to ensure an orderly and respectful transition in the impacted markets.”

The automaker blamed “low plant utilization and forecast volumes” for the decision to leave the country and sell the Rayong facility. “Without domestic manufacturing, Chevrolet is unable [to] compete in Thailand’s new-vehicle market,” the company said.

While GM’s global footprint continues to shrink, it’s not completely vacating some markets. The automaker said it would turn its focus to niche, low-volume specialty vehicles in markets like Japan, Europe, and Russia. Australia could see the same.

[Image: GM Thailand]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

39 Comments on “Exodus: GM Isn’t Just Departing the Australian Market...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    “ The automaker said it would turn its focus to niche, low-volume specialty vehicles in markets like Japan, Europe, and Russia”

    Under Lutz this would be news to get excited about – because you knew they would have that special American flavor and we would be getting some cool stuff, under Barra this means Electric Aveos, and godawful Chineserados.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    GM is withering away and will eventually disappear. Maybe GM and Nissan should get together.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Makes perfect sense since Thailand is a RHD market as well.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    GM is the leader in full size pickup trucks in North America. If being in 3rd place counts.
    Why try to complete outside of North America when you can’t win in your home market?

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Shrinking one’s way to greatness!
    I’m guessing before long GM will be a North America and China only automaker (until SAIC buys out the China operation and the Buick brand).

    As for the low volume specialty products, I’m sure the profit margin per car is good given the $55k 4-cylinder Camaros and the $100k Cadillac CT6 (starting prices in Japan). That said, they sold 1500 cars total in Japan and the entire GM Europe sold 3000 cars total last year. That may be more than Lotus or Morgan, but is that really where they want to compete?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >>As for the low volume specialty products, <<

      The name of the game these days is average transaction price and gross margin per vehicle. They would rather sell a thousand $150,000 circus wagons than a million small sedans.

      Of course, the next question is when is GM Korea going to give up? The company nearly collapsed a couple years ago, saved by last minute cash from the GM mother ship and the Korea Development Bank.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        GM is probably doomed in Korea as well. Most Koreans I know have a dim view of the company given its labor issues, and it doesn’t have nearly the presence of H/K or even Samsung vehicles.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    GM is managing its decline

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      How is Acura doing with their decline to Honda+?

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        someone bought an Encore AND a Verano

        how dumb is that? doubling down on stupid

        once GM fails in China – and they will – there will be no Buick

        • 0 avatar
          redgolf

          I leased a Buick Encore for 3 years, It was a great small SUV, not one issue with it for the entire lease and I was always getting comments about how nice the color was ( river rock brown) aside from that it had plenty of power for this old geezer and wife and also had a very smooth ride, I was informed that it sold one week after turning it in!

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        The Honda Legend was introduced in Europe in… Idunno, whenever the “Acura” Legend was introduced in America, or perhaps a couple yers later. 35 years ago? And then, a decade or so(?) after that, the Honda NSX. Over here, no Honda ever had that silly logo with the tips of the H squeezed together at the top, and they did quite fine anyway.

        There is a difference between “GM is managing its decline” and whatever your point about “Acura” was: One is about rationalising away a (provenly) unnecessary sub-brand, the other about the whole concern going under.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      GM is merely “concluding their successful life cycle”.

      That’s the sort of corporate gobbldygook they were spouting when the ATS was axed.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      I am seriously starting to wonder whether GM is preparing to run the Eddie Lampert/Sears playbook, positioning the brand to wither in a slow, orderly way that maximizes the extraction of financial value from its assets, lining the pockets of a chosen few while shrinking its footprint until critical mass is lost and liquidation is all that’s left.

      At least when Studebaker wound down there were four large domestic carmakers to pick up the slack…

  • avatar

    “If management can’t sell Pontiacs, you don’t get rid of Pontiac. you get rid of management.”

    “Do enough surgery and eventually you’ll hit arteries.”

    Buickman
    founder
    GeneralWatch.com

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    GM will continue to shrink and so will its loyal customers.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    GM and Ford will become makers of pickups for the American market.

    Have you guys ever been to a country where American pickups also were popular? They seem to be too expensive and lack the real world ruggedness that could make them popular in say, Uzbekistan.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I doubt there’s much business to be made selling cheap sh*tboxes in Uzbekistan. I take it you didn’t see the kerfluffle when someone crash tested a Mexico-market Nissan Tsuru (the Sentra we had in the early ’90s) and it folded up like foil?

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Me rev you long time.

  • avatar

    Nissan is in far better shape than GM. Since their acquisition of Mitsubishi Nissan is almost twice the size of GM. Nissan also has a presence in the markets that GM is leaving. In terms of quality, Nissan has pulled far ahead of GM. If you don’t believe me look at the latest issue of Consumer Reports.

    Barra has turned GM into a much smaller and less relevant car company.

  • avatar

    Where is that savant from Down Under? Forgot his numerous nicknames but he would enlighten us in popular terms why GM and US by association suck why and how Holden has fallen. Does it mean Chinese are taking Australia over, not only militarily but also larger auto-market share. I am sure Australian buyers prefer superior Chinese vehicles to Ford’s and GM’s.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    GM only claim to fame is production of full size pick up trucks and mega sized SUV’s. The only market interested in these product is the USA and thus GM will withdraw from the rest of the world markets sooner or later. China will be the last to fall given GM investment there, but the Chinese are dumping GM products for German, Japanese and Korean brands. GM better hope that the American public love affair with pick up trucks continues otherwise GM brands will follow Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, etc….

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    When the Australian Government stopped subsidizing GM then GM pulled out of Australia. There are valid business reasons for a corporation to pull out of a market, but GM with their recent history seem to be doing more pulling out of markets and shrinking while their actual products are decreasing in quality. Cost cutting and raising earnings per share seem to be more important than making a quality product that buyers want to buy. GM in the past made some very good vehicles that buyers actually wanted. As for Chinese vehicles being sold in Australia this has been going on for years along with vehicles from Japan and South Korea. Chinese offer more vehicle for less money and the quality is not much different. We in the US are getting Chinese made Buick Envisions and Chinese made Volvos along with are Chinese made smartphones and I-phones.

  • avatar
    MBella

    This looks foolish. They will be entirely dependant on the US truck and SUV market, along with Buick sales in China. Any downturn in those will be brutal. Also takes away the economies of scale with less total units built on a platform. Remember when we were mocking Tesla’s market cap being hire than GM’s? Pretty soon won’t be too crazy.

  • avatar

    BK2025

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s fun to watch GM eat itself.

  • avatar
    Victor

    Ford will be under VWAg umbrella within five years, selling trucks and SUVs in America; Chrysler is now part of PSA. GM might be bought by the chinese, who knows? Someone will takeover, and Bloody Mary’s agenda is all about getting ready for it.

    I don’t think it would be too far fetched to think that Nissan could jump into bed with what will be left of GM – Buick will be SAIC’s, maybe Cadillac also – after they’re done with Renault. Even with Renault on board that would not be a bad move. Clearly Nissan wants to sell trucks in the US, they just don’t have enough appeal. And clearly trucks are the one thing GM will keep churning in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >>Ford will be under VWAg umbrella within five years,<<

      VAG is so huge in the EU, that I can't see them being allowed to take over any other automaker with sizeable EU operations.

      I just had an interesting thought on the thread about Renault's difficulties: Renault sells it's interest in Nissan and uses the cash to buy Ford's European and S American operations. That gives Renault the scale to continue R&D without Nissan, and beefs Renault up enough to compete with PSA and VAG in the mass market segment.

      All Hackett talks about is "Ford brand" products, not necessarily Ford designed and built products. Renault could probably buy Ford's S American ops for $1, and leverage it's cheap Dacia platforms to be a major player in that market. Then take over the Ford EU ops, so that the "Ford brand" products are rebadged Renaults, rather than rebadged VWs, just as the new Opels are rebadged Pugs.

      • 0 avatar
        Victor

        Steve, I do see some sort of compromise that would see EU allowing a Ford takeover of sorts by VWAg. But I also see your point. Ford might just sell its european arm to the chinese. Ford and VW have already been together before in Autolatina and Autoeuropa, and they are developing a new midsize truck together.

        As for South América, here in Brazil Ford has just closed up shop on the heavy trucks business, and they have been sending mixed signals about local production. Personally I wouldn’t bet on a next-gen Ka or Fiesta down here. While the Ka is a decent product – the wife drives one – and sells in decent numbers, it is getting long in the tooth without much investment.

        My point is, soon there might not be any Ford South American operation to begin with. In fact right now Renault is a lot stronger here than Ford both as a brand and as a company.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve203

          >>As for South América, here in Brazil Ford has just closed up shop on the heavy trucks business, and they have been sending mixed signals about local production.<<

          São Bernardo Assembly, iirc built in 67, also built the Fiesta, so the Fiesta died with the heavy trucks.

          Pacheco Stamping & Assembly, built in 62, in Argentina built the Focus and Ranger, but they dropped the Focus in 18, so that plant now only builds the Ranger.

          I looked at the Ford Brazil site tonight, both the Fiesta and Focus are gone, though they are both still on the Ford Argentina site.

          The Camaçari Plant, built in 2001, builds the Ka and Ecosport. Ford Europe already announced they are dropping the Ka. I doubt South America would generate anywhere near enough volume by itself to make investing in a new gen Ka profitable, so the Ka is essentially a zombie.

          The bottom line is, to be a factor in Europe or South America, you need to offer small and low priced cars. The Ford mothership in Dearborn has no interest in small and low priced cars for the domestic market, making it harder to justify investment in those products just for Europe and S America, where Ford is already losing money. In 2019, Ford lost $704M in S America, $47M in Europe, $23M in Asia/Pacific, $142M in Africa and $771M in China. The only place the company makes money is N America. The losses in S America are so large, I'm pretty sure Ford would sell the entire mess for $1 (one dollar) just to get the losses off it's income statement.

          Renault could probably use the Camaçari Plant as it is modern and flexible to make Ford badged versions of the Duster and Sandero, for instance. That sort of deal would delight Jim Hackett as he would collect a royalty on every vehicle that a Ford badge is stuck on, with no R&D costs, no production costs, no risk, pure profit. And Renault picks up enough market share to become 2nd in Brazil, between GM and VW.

          • 0 avatar
            Victor

            You’re right on the money, Sir. And yes, Camaçari is fairly recent and is said to be all modern and flexible. But Duster and Sandero are already produced in São José dos Pinhais, in the state of Paraná. Renault do Brasil has been saying for quite some time now that they are willing to drop Dacia hardware altogether and instead focus on Renault-only products such as the european Clio. While I myself do not believe it – it is easier to think the next-gen Sandero will look more Clio-like, while still being a Dacia – could we see the Dacia cars move to Ford? I wouldn’t rule that out.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve203

            >>But Duster and Sandero are already produced in São José dos Pinhais, in the state of Paraná. <<

            They could as easily specialize each plant, have one build all the Sanderos for both Renault and Ford and the other build all Dusters for both Renault and Ford, just give the Ford versions a different front clip and interior to differentiate it from the Renault version.

            Or, switching the Renault brand in Brazil to the EU Renault line, and passing the Dacia hardware to Camaçari and position Ford as the "value" line would differentiate the two even more, but might confuse people as to what is a Renault and what is a Ford. One year a Sandero is a Renault, the next year it's a Ford, and now the Renault that size is the Cleo and it costs more.

            Ultimately, I wouldn't put a lot of effort into the Ford brand in S America. I would be looking to phase out the Ford brand, if for no other reason than to stop paying royalties to Ford for the use of the name, and transition the Ford customer base to Renault.

  • avatar

    The GM dead watch has returned. This time GM does not need a website site to announce its imminent death. It is doing that all by itself this time.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    there is absolutely nothing to get excited about when it came to Bob Yutz’s involvement in products. He was proud to be the father of the hideous and awful first generation Buick LaTosse. His involvement in GM was to remove plastic cladding from Pontiacs and to shove old fashioned expensive junk from the land of Kangaroos onto America. It would be one thing if he was peddling classing Pontiac GTO’s – but that that bland and awful Kangaroo thing should never have been shipped here – ever. It was just a sorry excuse to add volume to Holden to keep the plant open longer. That awful GTO in name only likely never made a profit after all costs were considered.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    It should be noted that per the terms of the GM bankruptcy and bailout that the entire European operations were to have been closed down; unfortunately for the American taxpayers who were screwed out of $30 billion, GM failed to sell off those worthless assets as they were required to do and upwards of $2 billion of taxpayer dollars were diverted to expand GM’s chinese operations.

    Perhaps if GM had not had to develop new nameplates for each two bit country they sold cars in, they would have just been able to sell chevrolets around the world and produce them like the Japanese do with the Camjunk and Accordians. There is no need to build local if you want to stay profitable. Pick a centralized country and build to ship elsewhere – one plant for 10, two bit countries.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • cprescott: The title of the article is repugnant. But the Kia Telluride is a first rate product that makes its...
  • Lie2me: It was the already built Hornet with a lopped-off trunk, so the design actually came from the other direction
  • Lie2me: I get high just looking at that dashboard. A lot of kids got these for high school graduation
  • Lie2me: This Telluride is everything that new Cadillac X…something should have been at $25K less. I see these...
  • Lie2me: I had a 2nd gen Maxima that I gave to my son with a 183K miles and he drove it another 50K miles and sold it...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Timothy Cain
  • Matthew Guy
  • Ronnie Schreiber
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth