DETROIT – GAC Motor is supposed to start selling cars in the U.S. this year, according to previously announced plans.
The plan now is to begin selling its first vehicle in America in the first half of 2020.
The subsidiary that sells the Trumpchi series cars and SUVs under GAC Group, China’s fifth largest automaker by sales, returned to the North American International Automobile Show (NAIAS) in Detroit this past week for the third straight year and fifth time overall since 2013.
GAC Motor updated its plan regarding U.S. entry at the world premiere of its latest concept vehicle, aptly named ENTRANZE, at a press conference on January 14. It also announced several updates on its R&D and sales footprint in the U.S. as it continues to prepare for official entry, a process that has taken a bit longer than expected due to the ongoing trade tensions between China and the U.S. as well as product readiness related to the homologation process.
The ENTRANZE, what GAC Motor calls a hyper-modern family vehicle emphasizing the automaker’s human-centric approach to family vehicles, is the first concept vehicle ever developed by the GAC Advanced Design Center in Los Angeles.
Located in Newport Beach, California, GAC Advanced Design Center Los Angeles opened in April 2018 and is responsible for advanced design, UI/UX development and brand visuals for GAC Motor. It’s led by executive design director Pontus Fontaeus, an internationally recognized car designer who previously worked for Faraday Future.
GAC Motor also announced at the press conference that the GAC R&D Center Detroit has officially begun operation. Located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the new R&D center was built with an investment of $ 4.4 million and encompasses nearly 50,000 square feet of real estate.
It will serve as a hub to assist the design and R&D of GAC Group’s products for the U.S. and other overseas markets. Specifically, the center will focus on product development, groundbreaking technologies, talent recruitment and training.
Together with the GAC R&D Center Silicon Valley that was established in April 2017 in Sunnyvale, California, which aims to promote academic research in the development of a new generation of R&D talent for the region and support local product collaboration, the three U.S. R&D centers will connect with GAC’s R&D centers in China and contribute significantly to the advancement of the company’s global R&D and automobile manufacturing network.
Other highlights of the GAC R&D Center Silicon Valley include: more than 30 leading engineers on site; ongoing self-developed projects including in-vehicle gateway firewall, big data enabled battery performance prediction, user-based insurance (UBI), development of an autonomous driving architecture, safety simulation and thermal motor analysis; development of the self-driving sensory system installed on the GE3, including LiDAR and video perception mechanism; collaboration with world-renowned research institutions and enterprises in the fields of artificial intelligence algorithm, smart transportation and the development of advanced electric vehicle powertrains.
GAC Motor also officially announced that it has registered its North American Sales Company in Irvine, California, south of Los Angeles. The regional headquarters will be responsible for branding, marketing, product planning and financial affairs.
The bullet-inspired ENTRANZE concept is designed to meet the needs of American consumers and offers a revolutionary vision of future mobility, showcasing new energy breakthroughs, an upgraded user experience (UI), unique interior and exterior design concepts, and technology features.
Some of these include an exterior that introduces brand new proportions, new “3+2+2” seating arrangement and “aircraft inspired aisle,” two-side mounted displays for functional feature control, plus curved displays for passenger entertainment. With most of the car made of environmentally sustainable materials, the interior of ENTRANZE is more influenced by home decoration than cars and is a great contrast to the technology and the stark exterior.
“Ultimately, automotive products are a means for people to connect during life’s great journey. The ENTRANZE concept embodies our vision to provide mobility solutions that enrich lives,” said Yu Jun, president of GAC Motor. “In the future, we will continue to make our products more intelligent and transform to a mobility service provider so as to share the unique charm and value of the new era of ‘Made in China’ with global consumers.”
GAC Motor also displayed its portfolio of star vehicles of SUVs, sedans, minivans and NEVs, including GS8, GS4, GS5, GS7, GS3, GA4, GM8, GM6 and GE3 530. The GM6 and all-new GS5 SUVs made their first North American appearances.
NAIAS has been an important stage that bears witness to the internationalization of GAC Motor. Since its first appearance at NAIAS in 2013, the company has kept the global debuts of its star models GS4, GS7, GE3 and GA4 for this stage.
GAC Motor has participated in other major international auto shows to promote its presence in oversea markets. In the past year of 2018, besides the NAIAS, the company debuted at Moscow International Automobile Salon (MIAS) and revealed plans of entering the Russian market in 2019, attracting many local distributors.
It also made its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show last year, where it unveiled the all-new GS5 SUV and made its first foray into the European market by showcasing its latest vehicle lineup.
GAC Motor has continued to solidify and expand its business in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and countries in the Southeastern Asia in 2018. Now the company operates in 16 countries worldwide and keeps exploring ways of stepping into additional markets.
In 2018, it sold 535,168 vehicles globally, up 5.23 percent year-on-year. That accounted for about a quarter of GAC Group sales (including those of joint ventures), which were up 7.34 percent to nearly 2.15 million units.