Great Wall Motors is determined to establish a production presence in North America, but the threat of policy changes in the US means the final location of any new factory hangs in the balance.
In an interview with Reuters, Great Wall chairman Wei Jianjun confirmed that there had been no change to plans to establish a presence in the North American market, but that potential policy changes from US President Donald Trump could have a significant impact on the location of any new factory.
"Our plans to go to the American market haven't changed," Jianjun told reporters at a conference in Shanghai. "First we want to see how things work and then make a decision."
Despite not yet having a presence in the North American market, Great Wall is looking to expand its global footprint, with a production facility slated to open in Russia later this year, joining assembly sites operated at various times across Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Great Wall’s North American factory location could hinge on the outcome of President Trump’s so called “big border tax” which would see automakers hit with an import tariff of up to 35 percent on goods manufactured in Mexico and sold in the US.
Jianjun revealed that three possible Mexican sites, and two in the US were under consideration, but that until trade issues were settled no decision would be made at this point.
In response to Trump’s border tax call Ford has already cancelled plans for a new Mexican factory, while Audi - ahead of calls for a border tax - opened its first North American factory in Mexico at the end of 2016, but claims to be unconcerned by the import tariff changes.
As for Great Wall Motors, the decision to establish North American production could be a way of escaping the existing 25 percent ‘chicken tax’ which applies to light trucks built outside of the US, although it’s likely that SUVs would also form part of the brand’s product range for the North American region as the company aims to sell up to 100,000 new cars globally by 2020.