Chinese carmaker GAC plans to enter U.S. market in 2019

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group is planning to enter the U.S. auto market in 2019 with a new electric SUV and sedan that it unveiled at the Detroit auto show Monday.

GAC Motors' electric SUV concept called the Enverge made its world premiere. GAC says the compact crossover gets 370 miles on electric power and can travel over 200 miles on a ten-minute charge.

GAC Motors, which has been the only Chinese automaker attending the Detroit auto show in recent years, took the wraps off an electric concept called the Enverge and a sedan called the GA4. GAC has marketed cars and SUVs known as Trumpchi in China since 2010, but the company says the name was not inspired by U.S. President Donald Trump and it will not be used here.

Feng Xingya, President of GAC Group and Chairman of GAC Motors, said during a press conference at the Detroit auto show that the Enverge will be "all-electric" and it will its first SUV designed for the U.S. market.

Zhang Fan, vice president of engineering for GAC Motors, added the Enverge will have a 71-kilowatt hour battery and it will have a driving range of over 370 miles.

"We are in an era of revolution in the automobile industry," he said. "While switching to our most expendable energy source, how do we create the charm and the dynamic appearance that is unique to a modern EV? Now we have brought you the Enverge Concept and we strongly believe it's a great answer to those questions. As a compact crossover, it fits perfect in the fastest growing car market. It is able to undertake various heavy duty off road tasks."

Fan said GAC Motors is planning to take the Enverge "from China to America and then to the entire world, with our understanding of the future, progress innovation and passion for life."

GAC Motor President Yu Jun said the GA4 will be "another blockbuster model on a strategic level."

GAC Motors has partnered in the past with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, but the company appears poised to be attempting to break into the U.S. market on its own now.

"For the first time ever, we have attended the NADA in Las Vegas this March in preparation for entering the North American market in the first quarter of 2019," Jun said.

This year marks the third time the Chinese automaker has had a presence at the NAIAS.

Founded in 2008, the company sold 500,000 vehicles in 2017 and aims to reach 1,000,000 vehicles by 2020.