FRANKFURT/BEIJING -- China's Great Wall Motor may consider building a plant in the European Union once again if its sales there hit 50,000 units a year, its Chairman Wei Jianjun said, as part of a push to seek growth in overseas markets.
The automaker has already had one attempt to produce vehicles in Europe after it opened a factory in Bulgaria in 2012 to assemble SUVs, pickup trucks and city cars. The plant closed in 2017.
Great Wall, the top SUV and pickup manufacturer in China, is now exploring sales and production in overseas markets to expand its global influence and seek higher profit, as growth in the world's largest auto market slows.
The company plans to start selling Wey-branded SUVs to the European Union in two years, Wei Jianjun told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Frankfurt auto show, referring to its more premium brand.
"We plan to produce cars from China and export to the EU in the early stage," Wei said, adding the company also plans to sell battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to Europe.
"We believe once we sell more than 50,000 units in the EU, we will begin to consider building a factory there," Wei said.
Asked if Great Wall might acquire a foreign brand, he said it did not need a new brand to enter new markets.
Great Wall, whose mass-market brand is Haval, also exports some pickup truck models to Italy, its website shows.
In June, Great Wall started production at a plant in the Tula region of central Russia with a manufacturing capacity of 80,000 cars a year.
Great Wall is not the only Chinese automaker to plan car production in Europe. Geely has manufacturing facilities for Volvo cars in Sweden and Belgium and also has plants in Belarus for its own Geely brand.
Great Wall previously expressed interest in entering the United States market, but the plan has been postponed due to the trade tension between the world's largest two economies.