China’s GAC likely to debut in Europe with an EV

October 3, 2018 06:01 CET

PARIS — Chinese carmaker GAC Motor probably will enter Europe with an electric vehicle, but the timing is still uncertain, the top management said in Paris.

GAC brought to the Paris auto show the new GS5 SUV, which will be on sale in China at the end of this month. But the company will not sell it in Europe anytime soon.

“We are studying how to enter the European market, and most likely it will be with an electric vehicle first,” GAC President Yu Jun told journalists in Paris.

GAC so far has expanded in selected emerging markets — currently 16 — within the “one belt, one road” initiative, which focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among countries spread across Asia, Africa and Europe. The percentage of foreign sales is around 10 percent, and the long-term target, Yu said, is to have a 50-50 split between sales in China and abroad.

However, GAC still has to venture into developed markets such as Europe or the United States. Yu said in Paris that the current trade dispute between the United States and China “might delay the launch of GAC’s first car in the U.S. to the first half of 2020.”

When the Chinese automaker attended the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, GAC said it would launch the GS8 SUV in the States by the end of 2019.

GAC already has a design and technical center in the Silicon Valley. Zhang Fan, vice president for design and r&d, said GAC “can also consider to open such a center in Europe.”

Alongside the new GS5, in Paris GAC is showing most of its product range, comprising SUVs, sedans and EVs. The most recent version of the electric GE3 SUV has a 410 km range, Zhang said. A further version will enter production next year with a 500 km range, he said.

The GE3 “has the potential for the European market, but it must be improved in certain areas, especially regarding the very strict safety regulations,” Zhang told Automotive News Europe. “We don’t want to come here with any product and maybe incur problems and suffer a bad reputation.”

Another hurdle, Zhang said, would be the recharging system, which is different.

How many EVs has GAC sold in China this year? “I can’t give you overall figures,” Zhang said, “but for this most recent version of the GE3, we received 5,000 orders so far. But we can deliver just 1,500 per month due to insufficient supply of batteries.”

You can reach Andrea Malan at amalan@autonews.com.

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