Great Wall Motors began vehicle production at its Rayong plant in Thailand this week, marking a major milestone in the company’s expansion into south-east Asia.

The Chinese automaker completed the acquisition of the 660,000 sq m plant from General Motors in October 2020 and spent just six months making refurbishments to accommodate production of its own models – starting with the hybrid Haval H6 SUV.

The plant now has a production capacity of 80,000 vehicles per year, creating an initial 1,000 direct jobs. The company aims to eventually export around 40% of output to neighbouring ASEAN countries once local sales networks are up and running.

Great Wall said it planned to launch nine models in Thailand in the next three years, most of which would be electric and hybrid vehicles. Local sales of the hybrid H6 are scheduled to begin later this month.

The Rayong plant is Great Wall’s second overseas plant, after its plant in the Russian city of Tula began operations in 2019.