Chinese automaker GAC Motor moves closer to a U.S. launch

GAC GA8
After displaying three models at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, China’s GAC Motor will return to the heart of America’s car industry for the second year in a row. GAC, which sells cars in China under the Trumpchi and Gonow brands, will bring a new electric car concept as well as two of its existing models as the company prepares to enter the U.S. market in 2019.

One of the cars GAC is expected to bring to the 2018 Detroit Auto Show is its GA8 luxury sedan (pictured above). It’s about as long as a Genesis G80 or Volvo S90, but the only available engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit that produces just 198 horsepower. GAC will likely need a more powerful option to compete in the U.S. On the other hand, the GA8 sports an in-car refrigerator, something you’d normally expect to find on a Rolls-Royce or Bentley.

GAC is also expected to bring its GM8 minivan to Detroit. With just four real minivans — the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and Toyota Sienna — currently sold in the U.S., this segment could use a new competitor. But a Chinese firm most Americans have never heard of probably isn’t the brand to make minivans popular again. The third vehicle appearing in Detroit is an electric car concept, which GAC hasn’t released any details on.

GAC announced in November that it would begin exporting cars from its Trumpchi brand to the U.S. in 2019, although it may change the brand name because of its similarity with President Donald Trump’s surname, according to The New York Times. The first GAC vehicle sold in the U.S. will be the GS8, a big SUV the automaker brought to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

If GAC follows through with its plans, it will be the first Chinese automotive brand to sell cars here. Cars that are made in China, including the Buick Envision and Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid, are currently sold in the U.S., but they’re all the products of non-Chinese automakers. GAC and other Chinese firms have been trying to crack the U.S. market for years, but skepticism about the quality of their cars and other factors have prevented that from happening.

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