Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor (GWM) has appointed Sándor Gacsó as its logistics manager for Europe. He spoke to Automotive Logistics about the market in Europe, GWM’s plans for expanding its footprint in the continent, and what he will bring to the position.

Since being founded in 1984, the privately owned GWM is among the largest OEMs in China, hitting 1.28m sales in 2021. But now the carmaker has its sights set on global expansion. Two years ago, GWM opened its European headquarters in Munich, Germany covering R&D, sales and management, and has since expanded its Munich team to around 300 staff. The appointment of Gacsó is another step in the company’s European strategy to enhance cooperation between GWM and its suppliers, as well as investing in the supply chain. GWM has been investing in Europe’s transition to EVs, with its subsidiary Svolt Energy Technology recently picking Saarland, Germany for two battery gigafactories worth €2 billion ($2.2 billion).

cropped Sandor Gacso GWM

Gacsó plans to implement more digital solutions in his new role at GWM

Gacsó, who previously managed 4PL operations for Stellantis outbound vehicle logistics in central Europe, will help grow the vehicle logistics team in Europe in his new role. He said the OEM is focusing on expanding across the continent through the rolling out its new EV subsidiary, GWM ORA. Launched in 2018, the brand currently has two models, the GWM ORA Funky Cat and soon to be released GWM ORA Funky Cat GT. GWM also has a range of four hybrid models through its Wey brand, two of which are yet to be released in Europe. “While the ORA is fully electric, the Wey models are plug in hybrid SUVs,” he told Automotive Logistics. “In the long term, these could become fully electric vehicles, but certain markets in Europe and their charging infrastructure might not support this idea for a while.”

A lack of charging infrastructure isn’t the only problem he faces. “We are already seeing challenges in ro-ro capacity too,” he said. “We are at a sensitive stage with the market launch. Storage at ports is not the easiest to secure, and there are not many options to pick from due to the requirements for entry points to get to Europe. Deepsea transportation and the geopolitical situation between Russia and the Ukraine could make it even more challenging.”

To overcome these challenges, Gacsó plans to implement more digital solutions such as planning and tracking tools and artificial intelligence. “We need to consider using more software tools” he said. “We need visibility and transparency. These are crucial, whether the software is outsourced or developed internally.”

He is also relying on support from GWM and its distribution partners. He said: “We work with our sales enabling team and a bigger logistics team, which is headquartered in China. We are growing our wider network for vehicle logistics in Europe by relying on distribution partners in different countries across the continent.” This will help in the rollout of the ORA and Wey brands too. “The UK, Ireland, Israel, Germany and Sweden are already selling these models that are produced in China,” he said. These are transported through a mix of ro-ro and container shipping, according to Gacsó.