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Detroit show: GAC steps up with SUV trio

Chinese takeaway: Chinese motor manufacturer GAC Auto has delayed its export rollout to western markets, but says it is still coming.

China’s GAC wheels out an SUV trifecta, but no Trumpchi to be seen


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10 Jan 2017

CHINESE car-maker GAC Auto underlined its export plans for major western markets such as the United States and Australia when it unveiled a trio of SUVs – two production cars and a concept – at the Detroit motor show this week.

However, it appears to have quietly dropped the name it previously used for its range of own-brand vehicles, Trumpchi. No prizes for guessing why, especially in Motown – one of the areas that helped to install anti-import president-elect Donald Trump in the White House.

This time flying its cars under the GAC badge, China’s sixth largest car-maker and joint-venture partner of Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler is making its first appearance on the main floor of North America’s biggest auto expo, although it has shown some of its cars elsewhere at the show in previous years.

As GoAuto has reported, GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Group Co) is also keen on Australia where it registered its trademark in 2011.

A GAC executive told GoAuto at the 2015 Dubai motor show that it hoped to be ready to launch its brand on the Australian market “within two or three years”.

America’s Automotive News reports from Detroit that after previously flagging 2017 as the launch date in North America, GAC now hopes to get started in the US in 2019.

So far, state-controlled GAC is exporting vehicles to 14 developing countries such as Dubai and Nigeria, but like contemporaries Great Wall, SAIC and Geely, it has designs on a global audience.

In Detroit, GAC is showing a sizeable GS7 SUV that is likely to be in the vanguard for the company when it takes the export leap.

At 4730mm long and 1910mm wide, the GS7 splits the difference between the medium and large SUV categories.

Like similar vehicles from Chinese brands such as Haval, the 150kW GS7 is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, in this case hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Chinese reports suggest the vehicle is a five-seat short-wheelbase version of the full-sized, seven-seat GS8 that is already available on the Chinese market.

The GS7 is also destined for sales in China where it reportedly will be launched at the Shanghai motor show in April.

Also at Detroit and in the pipeline for China – and potentially markets such as the US and Australia – is a smaller, all-electric SUV, the GE3.

At 4337mm long, it is 62mm longer than Mazda’s CX3 and powered by a 121kW/290Nm electric motor reportedly capable of a 310km driving range.

Looking a little like Darth Vader in its black-and-white two-tone paint job, the GE3 is supposedly just weeks away from its Chinese market launch.

After that, selected export markets beckon.

Also at Detroit, GAC is showing a rejig of its 2015 EV Coupe concept, this time dubbed EnSpirit and sporting a plug-in hybrid powertrain in place of the full electric unit in the EV.

The coupe-style crossover vehicle gets loads of natural wood – even a bonsai tree parked on the back-seat console.

Chinese reporters expect a production version of the EnSpirit in 2018 or 2019, with or without in-car tree.

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