Five years ago, General Motors sold its European operations — including its Opel and Vauxhall brands — to Stellantis. It looked at the time as though GM was through with Europe, and vice versa. Then earlier this year, GM CEO Mary Barra surprised the automotive world by announcing the company was planning to re-enter the European market.
Barra told an audience in May, “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. But we are looking at the growth opportunity that we have now, because we can re-enter Europe as an all-EV player. I’m looking forward to that.”
At that time, Mahmoud Samara was named to be the managing director of GM Europe. Samara had been Cadillac’s North America head of sales and marketing, where he helped transition that brand to an all-electric lineup. His mission in Europe was to create a sustainable, profitable “non-traditional mobility start-up” for EVs and autonomous vehicles, software, connectivity services, logistics, and defense.
Recently, Samara chose to leave the company. On November 1, GM announced that Jaclyn McQuaid would assume the position of president and managing director of GM Europe, where she will lead the implementation of GM’s new mobility start up business. McQuaid has had a long and distinguished career at GM, most recently as the executive engineer in charge of full size trucks.
Since November 2021, GM has significantly expanded its operations in Europe, as it prepares to launch a new, non-traditional startup, leveraging GM’s global growth investments. In the past year, GM Europe has grown its customer and technology-focused teams, announced a European Design Center based in the UK, and continued to grow its IT innovation hub in Ireland.
“European customers are switching to electric vehicles at a faster rate than anywhere in the world, and GM is investing $35 billion through 2025 in electric and autonomous vehicle technology to be a major driver of our industry’s transformation,” said McQuaid. “Our flexible Ultium battery platform and the breadth and depth of our EV portfolio enable GM to offer customers in Europe a variety of products and services to support their lifestyles while also contributing to a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” she added.
Electrive notes this latest announcement came from Cadillac, which might suggest GM is thinking about selling its Lyriq and Celestiq electric cars in Europe. On the other hand, the company is also manufacturing Brightdrop electric delivery vans and owns Cruise, an autonomous ride sharing service. Brigthdrop has also recently unveiled its e-Cart, designed to serve the needs of those who want to shop online and have their groceries delivered to their door.
GM no longer has a dealer network or manufacturing presence in Europe, which suggests any products it sells there will be imported from the US or Canada. That, of course, brings up the new Inflation Reduction Act and its “Made in America” focus — a sore topic in Europe.
Very little is known about what plans GM has for the Continent. It did business there for 90 years, but lost piles of money on its European operations for much of that time. Will the fact that its new venture will focus on electric vehicles change the profitability equation for GM? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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