GAC Motors’ plan to enter the U.S. market with a midsize crossover SUV has been delayed by about half a year to the first half of 2020, company officials said Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The automaker announced a year ago at the same show that it planned to sell the first of its cars here by the end of 2019. “I cannot say that there is no impact at all,” from the U.S.-China trade dispute, Yu Jun, president of GAC Motors, said.
The automaker’s product rollout plan is unchanged. Officials said it will first launch the GS8 two-row midsize SUV with front- or all-wheel-drive and a 199-hp 2.0-liter four. Numerous models will then follow as GAC builds out its U.S.-market lineup.
GAC officials won’t say whether it will require North American dealerships to sell its vehicles in dedicated sales and service facilities, or whether it will allow “dualed” dealerships with other brands. GAC attended the U.S. National Auto Dealers Association meeting and met with hundreds of dealers, officials said, and they plan to return to this year’s meeting at the end of January, in San Francisco. An announcement on which dealers GAC has signed up is expected at that conference.
To try and underscore its commitment to the North American market, Wang Qiujing, president of GAC Engineering Institute, said that operations have begun at the automaker’s new research & development center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, near Detroit. GAC also announced that its regional sales headquarters will be located in Irvine, California.
GAC says it sold about 535,000 vehicles in its home country in calendar year 2018, up about 5 percent over 2017, while the entire Chinese auto market declined about 4 percent. It remains the world’s largest market.