2018 Detroit Auto Show: GAC Will Enter U.S. Market With Gas, Electric SUVs

January 16, 2018 by Sebastian Blanco, @SebastianBlanco

For its fourth appearance, Chinese automaker GAC Motor unveiled plans to enter the U.S. market with a seven-seat SUV at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The gas-powered SUV will be a version of the GS8 SUV which is already on sale in China. The U.S. model will enter the market in late 2019 and will likely have different powertrain and trim options than are available in China.

GAC did not provide specific details.

The current GS8 launched in China at the end of 2016 and currently sells over 10,000 units a month.

It has wireless phone charging, left and right lane cameras, a panoramic sunroof and eight airbags. There is also a 10-inch center infotainment screen and a 7-inch dashboard screen. It also has an artificial intelligence assistant that responds to voice commands called the T-Box Internet of Vehicles 3.0.

GAC plans to establish a North America sales division later this year. The company will release details on its market entrance strategy after completing its research phase.

To help determine its sales and distribution plan, the company will participate in the National Automobile Dealers Association conference in March to learn about the dealer network in the U.S., a GAC spokesperson told Trucks.com. GAC will also display its vehicles at the event.

The company is also testing the GS8 against U.S. safety standards.

“We are very serious and very cautious about the reliability, quality and safety of each product we are producing,” he said. “Eventually, we will be developing a global product that probably will be launched to the global market at the same time.”

GAC’s plan is to follow the GS8 with an electric SUV in 2020 or 2021, Zhang Fan, GAC vice president and head of design, told Trucks.com. The company’s all-electric Enverge, which it debuted in Detroit, is a concept car designed for the U.S. market.

  • GAC's gas-powdered, seven-seat SUV concept. (All photos: Brian Williams/Trucks.com)
GAC has been preparing to sell its vehicles in the U.S. for year, Fan said.

The company already sells the GE3 electric SUV in China. The Enverge’s platform is an updated version of the GE3, but with more range and a better battery management system.

The Enverge is meant to bring exciting design together with a new automotive spirit to try and reach a younger audience, Fan said.

“They spend more time playing video games, and this could be an answer to that,” Fan said. “When the car looks cool, maybe we can attract more young people.”

The exterior is defined by side windows that look like the sheet metal and giant wing doors that open with a voice command. Futuristic touches include 360-degree panoramic smart augmented reality glasses for the rear-seat passengers. Detachable front fog lights also turn into flash lights. The cabin is defined by a “floating space capsule” design with a large horizontal instrument panel screen.

The Enverge concept has a 71-kWh battery and a range of over 370 miles. The 175-kW motor offers a 0 to 60 mph time of under 4.4 seconds. Using a 350-kW DC fast charger, the Enverge refills its battery with 240 miles of range in 10 minutes. A wireless charging module also is available.

GAC is an emerging, global brand from China, according to Fan. As part of the company’s expansion overseas it dropped any mention of its Trumpchi brand of vehicles from its presentation, which was seen in previous GAC exhibits at the Detroit auto show.

Starting price in China for the GE3 is around $20,000. More electric models will be added to GAC lineup in China, Fan said. Two will be introduced in 2019. A fourth vehicle will debit in 2020. These new EV models will include both sedans and crossovers.

GAC Motor was established in 2008 and sold its first car in late 2010. Sales topped 500,000 in 2017. The company estimates it will sell over a million vehicles in 2020.

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