Guangzhou Auto Sees Fiat Chrysler Dealers as Route to US GAC Motor

Guangzhou Auto Sees Fiat Chrysler Dealers as Route to US

To prepare for its entry in U.S., GAC will open an office in Silicon Valley in October with functions including research, product development and sales.

Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. said it may try to collaborate with the existing dealer network of a carmaker such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV as it seeks a path to sell its made-in-China vehicles in the U.S.

The Chinese manufacturer plans to enter the U.S. in 2019 and is examining a range of options to do so, Yu Jun, general manager of GAC Motor, said Wednesday in an interview at a mobility conference in Montreal sponsored by tiremaker Michelin & Cie.

“GAC has a joint venture with Fiat Chrysler in China. We will not rule out a cooperation in the future with Fiat Chrysler in the U.S. market,” Yu said. “Not only to share the sales channel but also in other work in the future -- it is possible.”

Fiat Chrysler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

GAC aims to increase the size of its display at the Detroit auto show in January and said it was invited to the National Automobile Dealers Association annual convention, where it can recruit retailers. If it pulls it all off, it will be the first Chinese carmaker to crack the lucrative U.S. market with a new brand -- an uphill battle after President Donald Trump’s comments on trade and alleged currency manipulation raised tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. GAC will also have to meet tough American regulatory standards and consumer expectations.

To prepare for its entry in U.S., GAC will open an office in Silicon Valley in October with functions including research, product development and sales, according to Yu.

The company is working with consultants to select a brand name for the U.S., which it aims to do this year. The Trumpchi brand it displayed in Detroit in January -- its third year at the show -- is a phonetic rendering of the brand’s Chinese name and a play on “China’s trump card,” not a nod to the U.S. president.

“I promise when we created this brand back in 2010, we didn’t know Mr. Donald Trump and had no idea he would become the U.S. president,” Yu quipped during remarks Wednesday.

By Frederic Tomesco and Jamie Butters

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