By: Kiel Watson
GAC, otherwise known as the Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd., is one of China’s largest automakers. At this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) they displayed an impressive fleet of production vehicles and concepts. One of which, the GS8 crossover, the company intends to have available for purchase in the U.S. in 2020.
Despite the other vehicles being debuted on the floor aGACt Cobo Hall–including an electric vehicle which has become a rapidly growing U.S. segment–the GS8 is the only vehicle they currently have plans to sell here. A rep from the company also stated there are no plans to build any production facilities stateside.
The GS8 is well equipped to compete, with available all-wheel drive and seating for seven. The turbo-charged 2.0L engine delivers solid fuel economy with a current combined estimate of 35 mpg, and the available panoramic sunroof and 10 inch touchscreen give the vehicle a premium feel.
If you’re interested in buying your next three-row from GAC, you may not want to hold your breath. After multiple announcements that they were entering the U.S. market at previous auto shows, it’s difficult to say if it will happen this time.
The vehicle is currently produced under GAC’s Trumpchi brand–something which could change according to Feng Xingya, GAC Group President in an interview with Reuters. “At first I’d never thought of it, why change the name? It’s the president Americans selected, it’s similar to the president’s name, this has to be good right?”
Xingya’s theory was proven wrong as attendee’s of last year’s NAIAS snapped pictures of the Trumpchi logo to roast on social media. The ‘trump’ portion of company’s name was chosen partly for its positive connotation associated with winning, a perception President Trump himself is very concerned with.
Given the historic first-year negative approval ratings of President Trump, the company is considering changing any incidental ties it may have to the world leader. An entire new brand may be created as a result as the company enters the U.S. market.
GAC is currently the fifth-largest automaker in China despite having been founded as recently as 1997. One of the hurdles the company will face, especially in Michigan, is the lack of an established dealer network. Michigan is one of several parts of the country where it is legally difficult to purchase a car without going through a dealer. This is a strategy the Big Three has employed in their home state to stave of competition from upstart companies such as Tesla, which threaten to eat away at their sales.