Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall is to commence production of off-road vehicles in the northern Bulgarian town of Lovech by the end of 2010, the Chinese Xinhua reported, cited by Investor.bg
Great Wall Motor signed an agreement with Litex Motors worth 80 million euro on November 15, 2009 and the deal was hailed as “Bulgaria’s chance to prove that the current business climate in the country is sound and stable”, Investor said.
The Chinese car maker will pay $4 million for its stake in the company that is envisioned to manufacture sport utility vehicles that would be sold at a price of less than $15,000.
As China’s first private automobile enterprise listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company has more than 30 subsidiaries and more than 22,000 people on its payroll. Great Wall Motor now manufactures sedans and sports utility vehicles and pickups, with an annual capacity of 400,000 complete vehicles.
The company has anticipated on exporting production in Eastern Europe since 2006, and the Litex Motors deal signed in November 2009 can be seen a cornerstone in future expansion in southern Europe. The total output of its Bulgarian joint venture remains as yet undisclosed.
Previously British car manufacturer Rover was contemplating on shifting production of their Maestro and Montego ranges to Varna, an investment which at the time was estimated at $20 million, with an annual output of 10,000 vehicles. Subsequently, Rover Group which owned 51 percent of the shares and the Bulgarian Daru Group with 49 percent commenced operation in 1995.
The vehicles manufactured in Bulgaria, however, were perceived to be poorly marketed and overpriced, and the Rover Maestro scheme in Bulgaria eventually collapsed on April 4, 1996 with only 2,200 vehicles produced.