The Trumpchi E-jet, a Chinese plug-in hybrid, will debut in the upcoming fourth Transformers movie.
Yup, you read that right. The E-jet, a product of China’s state-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) will be featured in Transformers: Age of Extinction, with a mid-2014 release date.
The E-jet, which looks a bit like the offspring of an Infiniti Q50 and Volvo S60, is a concept car that debuted at the 2013 Detroit auto show back in January. Its electric motor produces 127 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque, getting the E-jet to a top speed of 99 mph. There’s also a 1.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline range-extender. So far, GAC has no plans to put the E-jet into production.
Given the Chinese government’s interest in promoting electric cars and plug-in hybrids, it’s not surprising that GAC built the E-jet. Why put it on the big screen, though?
“Product placements with ‘Transformers’ would boost the profile of GAC’s car brands both at home and abroad,” a source close to GAC told Reuters. The last Transformers movie, Dark of the Moon, was a major hit in China, grossing $165 million. Chinese singer/actor Han Geng will also have a role in the new movie.
Trumpchi isn’t the first automaker to get cozy with the Transformers producers, though. General Motors essentially turned the movies into commercials for its products. Who doesn’t look at a yellow Camaro and think of Bumblebee?
What’s not clear is whether the E-jet will be cast as a heroic Autobot, or an evil Decepticon. In the first two Transformers movies, main sponsor GM’s vehicles made up most of the Autobot roster, but a Ferrari 458 Italia and Mercedes-Benz E-Class joined the team in Dark of the Moon.
While viewers probably won’t be flocking to Transformers: Age of Extinction for its plot or character development, it will have a few goodies for car enthusiasts. In addition to the E-jet, a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and a Bugatti Veyron will be part of the cast.