GAC Motor Bringing Plug-in Vehicles To America By 2019

A major Chinese automaker says it will be getting its foothold in the U.S. market during 2019 by introducing at least one plug-in electrified vehicle.

Last week at Michelin’s sustainable mobility summit in Montreal, GAC Motor president Yu Jun said that seven “new energy vehicle” models – battery electric and plug-in hybrid – will come to market during this year.

The company has already opened an R&D office in Silicon Valley in anticipation of the 2019 market entry.

GAC has only been around for about six years but has already sold about 1 million vehicles – with 207,000 sold during the first five months of 2017.

The automaker’s mission is to sell 1 million units annually by 2020, with 20 percent being new energy vehicles. This year’s target is 500,000 total new vehicles sold, Yu said.

At Auto Show Shanghai 2017 in April, the Chinese automaker unveiled six new models, including the GA3S plug-in hybrid sedan, GS4 PHEV SUV, and the battery electric crossover vehicle GE3.

Some of these, like the GE3 seen in the photo, will get the Trumpchi brand name. During the Detroit auto show in January, the company drew flak for how close the name was to the newly electric president’s surname. GAC Motor said that the brand had been chosen long before the election.

Yu said that his company’s product planning for new energy vehicles will have to stay open to market dynamics – and it’s still too early to tell whether BEVs, PHEVs, or fuel cell vehicles will dominate – or what type of vehicle will take off.

“In the area of new energy, the best practice is not to prescribe one certain formula. Enterprises should experiment and explore different pathways. The coexistence of many pathways might be the best choice now. It shall be up to the market,” he said.

China’s government policy if leaning toward zero emission vehicles, following the state of California’s lead. That mean PHEVs could fall out of favor, with BEVs and FCVs being necessities.

The automaker’s chief thinks that will take quite a few years, and BEVs and FCVs so far haven’t found popularity.

“I can still recall when some car manufacturer predicted the world would enter the age of hydrogen fuel. But how large are the sales of FCVs even in 2017? The situation for BEV seems better.

“But in China, without the supporting measures to limit the purchase and use of conventional vehicles and the high subsidies to purchase NEVs, consumers are still reluctant to buy electric cars. A market that survives on compulsory government policies will not be a sustainable one,” he said.

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It’s not all about China and the U.S. for GAC Motor. The company has set up a global sales and service network for 14 countries.

The company has put into place strategic partnership with 10 major auto suppliers. One of these suppliers is Michelin, and GAC Motor was the only Chinese auto brand playing a visible role at its Michelin Movin’On 2017 summit last week, according to Green Car Congress.

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