It Sounds Like GM Is Going Back To Europe

In better times.

In better times.
Photo: Getty Images (Getty Images)

When GM mostly left Europe in 2017 by selling Opel and Vauxhall, it seemed plenty ready to be done with it, having lost over $20 billion in the prior 18 years. It also made a certain amount of sense, since why would you buy a GM product in Europe when you could buy almost anything different? Like, I dunno, a Dacia Sandero or something. Still, GM said this week it might be going back to Europe without much evidence that anyone is asking.


GM says it thinks that has a chance with EVs, specifically, as opposed to all those internal-combustion Opels and Vauxhalls it lost so much money on. GM does still sell some Cadillacs and Corvettes over the pond, but in relatively small numbers. Its new ambitions seem to go beyond that.

From The Detroit Free Press:

“About five years ago, we sold our Opel business to what is now Stellantis and we have no seller’s remorse from an internal combustion business,” [GM CEO Mary Barra] said during an appearance at the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles. “But we are looking at the growth opportunity that we have now, because we can reenter Europe as an all-EV player. I’m looking forward to that.”

Barra also managed to congratulate GM on its timing in pulling out of Europe.

“This was a difficult decision for General Motors,” Barra said in 2017. “But we are unified in our belief that it is the right one.”

Barra reconfirmed that sentiment on Monday, noting that GM’s minimal presence in Europe at the moment — with high gasoline prices, costly raw materials and the Ukraine-Russia war — is a blessing.

“The specific conditions that are in Europe right now, we’re not facing,” Barra said.

I would guess that GM is looking to start with its Cadillac EVs in Europe, since Cadillac is already there, and see how those do and go from there. Possibly, GM will sell the Hummer EV in Europe, too, though that to me seems like a harder sell, so big and heavy as it is and the streets in European cities so tiny. If GM starts selling the Bolt EUV in Europe, that will be a sign of real ambition, or at least a sign that GM is going for volume. But, again, why would you buy a Bolt EUV when you can get the Honda E or even a Renault Zoe? The European car market has only further diverged from that in America since 2017, when GM was already probably too American for it.

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