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Second time lucky? China’s GAC Group will return to the Detroit Auto Show in 2017

GAC Trumpchi GS5
Auto show season just ended, but Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group Company (also known as GAC Group) is already looking ahead to next year. GAC will exhibit at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, marking its second appearance at the Motor City show and the latest attempt by a Chinese company to break into the U.S. market.

There is no indication yet of what GAC will unveil in Detroit. In 2015, it unveiled the Trumpchi GS4, a small crossover about the size of a Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester. At the time, GAC said it could sell the GS4 for significantly less than the Japanese mainstays, but plans for a U.S. launch appear to have stalled. GAC also wants to use the show to make connections with other carmakers and suppliers, a company press release said.

GAC currently sells cars, SUVs, and trucks in its home market under multiple brand names. A Trumpchi GA5 was notably featured on an episode of Top Gear, but otherwise the company’s products aren’t too well known outside of China. Like most Chinese carmakers, GAC has engaged in joint ventures with Western firms, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Honda, and Toyota.

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Talk of Chinese cars coming to the U.S. has gone on for years, partly because of the vastness of the Chinese car industry, partly because the cars it produces are expected to be very cheap. But so far it hasn’t happened. In addition to GAC, BYD (Build Your Dreams) appeared at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. The company is a giant in China, but so far it has only managed to lease its e6 electric car to some Uber drivers in Chicago, and sell a handful of electric buses.

It’s more likely that cars made in China will be sold here by established Western companies. Last year, Volvo (which is owned by Chinese carmaker Geely) announced that it would begin importing Chinese-made cars to the U.S. General Motors will sell the Chinese-made Buick Envision and Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid here.

A Chinese auto-parts giant also owns the former Fisker Automotive, which plans to restart production of a car last built in 2012 under the Karma Automotive name. What was once the Fisker Karma will be relaunched as the Karma Revero, but will be built in California, not China.

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