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Great Wall wants it all

by Bill Cawthon on

Today’s edition of Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore claimed that Great Wall Motors is now looking at a way to fund an acquisition of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, including all brands — not just Jeep.

Great Wall’s Haval brand delivered 938,000 SUVs in 2016. 

Great Wall is still most interested in Jeep, since its goal is to become the world’s largest producer of utility vehicles, including SUVs and crossovers. Combining last year’s worldwide sales figures for Jeep and Haval, Great Wall’s SUV brand, yields a figure of slightly more than 2.34 million units delivered in 2016.

There are many complications involved in achieving Great Wall’s goal, but the biggest one is finances. Great Wall’s current market capitalization is about $16 billion, while Fiat Chrysler’s is around $39 billion. Great Wall would also have to pay a premium and assume billions in debt.

In exchange, Great Wall would get immediate access to North America and the EU, with a dealer and distribution network. In 2012, Great Wall announced its intention to enter the U.S. market, but those plans were later abandoned.

Since Great Wall is privately owned, it doesn’t have an inside track on obtaining government approval for the needed financing. The Wall Street Journal noted that Great Wall could be testing the waters by making its position known before officially approaching FCA. If the Beijing government doesn’t offer serious objection, Great Wall would probably be more confident in opening official talks with FCA.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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