NAIAS 2018 | Episode 15 : GAC

It’s official, the Chinese are coming.  GAC had a large exhibit at the Detroit show and formally announced their intention to actively seek dealer representation with a view to beginning retail sales in the US in 2019.  It remains to be seen how the Trump administration will react to the idea of Chinese cars entering the market at the 2.5% tariff presently in effect.  At least the brand name will be changed from Trumpchi as used by GAC in China!!!

The range of products that are planned for sale (although not yet certified) is quite large, with 3 sedans, 4 SUV’s and a people carrier.  The products themselves are not that exciting, but certainly competitive in the market – especially if they are priced aggressively.  The GS3 sedan and GA4 SUV are both new models announced at the show.  They are competent designs and the GA4 has a very current, (now almost de rigueur in the segment) connection between the side glass and the backlight.

To emphasize their intentions, GAC also revealed the Enverge electric vehicle concept at the show.  It is an exciting sedan/crossover design with 2 massive forward hinged side doors providing access to the quite spacious and futuristic four-seat interior.  Strangely the side “windows” were body color and opaque.  It made for an interesting look, but not too practical.  The wrap-around full width taillamp demonstrated understated elegance and overall we are quite impressed with this first Chinese concept.

NAIAS 2017 | Episode 15 : GAC, VLF

The GAC Group became the first Chinese auto company to exhibit on the floor of the NAIAS.
The full name of the company is the Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor Company Limited, which is headquartered in the city of Guangzhou, the origin of the ancient Silk Road. The corporate philosophy apparently is “Green-tech, Pleasant Life” and the company is presently studying participation in both the North American and European markets. In the “You cannot make this up” category. GAC is talking about selling cars in these markets under the ‘Trumpchi’ brand!

The exhibit displayed four cars. The GS7 SUV and the GS8 mid-size 4-door sedan, both are somewhat generic designs, although the lights of the GS7 were quite bold and modern. The GE3 is a small SUV around the size of a Chevy Trax. It is a pure electric vehicle that goes on sale in China this June. The EnSpirit concept is a small four-door sedan with a coupe bodystyle and a soft fabric roof. To emphasize the open feeling in the car there was a Bonsai tree growing in the center console!

During the show, Fiat-Chrysler and GAC signed a framework agreement to expand their cooperation in China and who knows, perhaps in the US too.

In addition to the Destino and Force 1 V10 shown last year, VLF Automotive displayed a large, very orange SUV based on the Chevy Colorado mid-size truck frame and mechanicals. The front end is reminiscent of the now defunct Hummer H2, complete with a “knock-off” Jeep-like grille.
The overall design of the vehicle was very disappointing and not worthy of Henrik Fisker, who’s work I usually admire. Apparently, the vehicle could find a decent market in China.

All in all, the NAIAS was a pretty good show with plenty to see and talk about. There a lot of uncertainty hanging over the US industry following the presidential elections last year, notably the potential renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement, possible changes to the fuel economy standards and perhaps even new border taxes. Any one of these factors could have a dramatic effect on the industry as a whole. 2017 will be an interesting year.