Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor has opened its first factory in Europe, a major part of its strategy to grow in the region. Great Wall’s plant in Bulgaria will assemble 50,000 units of the Hover SUV, Steed pick-up and Voleex city car models. The Hover is sold in Malaysia as the Haval H5, while the Steed is branded as Wingle here.

The factory in Lovech, 150 km northeast of capital Sofia, will initially build cars for its host market before exporting to other European countries. Investment in the Lovech plant by Litex Motors, a joint venture company in which Great Wall holds a minority stake, is targeted to reach 100 million euros.

Great Wall exported 83,000 vehicles from China to 120 countries last year. In Europe, Great Wall currently sells cars in Italy and Bulgaria. The company plans to launch the Steed/Wingle in the UK next month. The company is also making great strides in its Dakar Rally programme, click here to read more.