By on May 22, 2019

Guangzhou Automobile Group, better known as GAC Motor, has delayed plans to commence sales of Chinese-branded cars in the United States. Apparently, there’s some kind of trade dispute between the the two countries that influenced the company’s decision.

However, back in 2018, GAC Motor was at the North American International Auto Show telling yours truly that it planned to ship product to the U.S. as early as the following year (as PR reps simultaneously requested we stop commenting on the faux tailpipes we noticed on several models).

Months later, GAC revised its business plan. The entry into the America market would come closer to 2020, it said. Now, the automaker claims the trade war has forced it to postpone things even further. This time, there’s no target.

“The current relationship between the U.S. and China, the trade war, makes the relationship is uncertain,” Zeng Hebin, president of international sales, said in a corporate address. “We’ve postponed the plan to enter the North American market.”

In a separate statement to Bloomberg, GAC explained its reasoning, similarly claiming that “the escalation of China-US trade frictions” and other “uncertainties” influenced its decision.

Unlike the previous delays, GAC provided no revised timeline for its move to America. Interesting, considering it already courted the National Automobile Dealers Association in the hopes of establishing a regional sales network. In January, GAC announced it would establish its U.S. headquarters in Irvine, CA.

It could mean the automaker is throwing in the towel, though a more likely scenario is that diplomatic tensions (and resulting tariffs) simply reached a point where it no longer makes any sense to issue bold promises.

Chinese manufacturers have spent years promising to make inroads into the U.S., with zero automakers achieving their ultimate goal. While some have gotten closer than others — namely Volvo-parent Geely, Zotye, and Great Wall Motors — by setting up trade show displays and establishing R&D centers or corporate HQs in the U.S., none would admit whether the trade dispute has forced them to alter their strategies when questioned.

[Image: GAC Motor]

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17 Comments on “Thumbs Down: China’s GAC Motor Throws U.S. Push Onto the Back Burner...”

  • avatar

    I can see the immediate problem.

    Telling friends “I’m just going down to a gac dealer in town”

  • avatar

    I wonder if these guys realize that their hand gesture is considered rude and offensive in about half of the world?

  • avatar

    I have to quote my baseball coach on my 10-year olds team when he was told that the worst player on our team wouldn’t be at the game the next Saturday – “big loss”.

  • avatar

    The imminence of the Chinese Industrial Juggernaut is quite surreal.

    I think everyone is assuming that their products couldn’t possibly be anything more than hollow shells of western equivalents. But what if they are more? What if they do manage to go toe to toe with the big three or apple or amazon.

    How are western economies going to respond to viable Chinese competition? Is this trade war just the first wave of protections against a global free market?

    The US is certainly trying to arrange a “China vs. The World” coalition in NA and Europe but it has the unflattering stench of an economic coldwar. If feels like the economic power of China is aimed squarely at the western concept of a blue-collar middle class.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I’m all for a global free market, but the current China-US trade relationship has been unbalanced for years (in terms of applied tariffs), and Mr Trump is trying to level the playing field. Announcements like this show how effective this approach is, and I applaud it.

      As for quality: You are correct; there *could* be excellent products coming from China. However, the good ones I’ve seen are only due to extreme vigilance and oversight by their Western corporate owners, often requiring “boots on the ground” to monitor quality in real time.

      The issue with Chinese quality seems to be a cultural one, driven by 3 generations of communist rule and the cultural notion of ‘saving face’. Cutting corners on designs, materials, and processes is an accepted way to meet schedules and price points (making the customer happy) – as long as they don’t get caught. I don’t see that mindset changing quickly.

      In the bigger picture, introducing a new brand to the US is exceptionally difficult, expensive, and fraught with peril. Current exhibits include Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Tesla, Hyundai/Kia (1985-2000), and PSA’s latest overtures. A Chinese entry would have the added challenge of overcoming some xenophobia and anti-communist sentiments, not to mention the obvious embedded strong competition. In my mind, any new entry to this market must be prepared to spend billions of dollars and years of effort to gain a foothold.

      • 0 avatar

        Great points. Look at how Volkswagen has struggled in the US market.

        As for China; until they change, they are not a competitor, they are a totalitarian adversary. They are at economic war with us and they use every economic tool of state power against us. Once they have broken us, a shooting war will be unnecessary. We either fight now, or we are screwed. This battle has been too long coming. Thank goodness we finally have a president willing to fight.

        • 0 avatar

          “Look at how Volkswagen has struggled in the US market.”

          And they deserve every bit of their hard-earned reputation.

          There’s a field south of Fort Carson, CO, Army Post, along I-25, where there were hundreds of those polluting buy-back VW diesels parked, waiting to be exported out of the US or crushed.

          But, yeah, this confrontation with the Chinese was way overdue, and now it is here.

          OTOH, Americans need a source for cheap, throw-away transportation, just like when the first German, Japanese and South Korean cars hit our dealer lots.

          The long and the short of it is, tariff the hell out of imported goods to the same extent as American goods are tariffed by them.

          That’ll balance things out and make trade fair again.

  • avatar

    Dang. There goes my big Christmas gift idea.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The issue for me about this brand would be for 1k to 2k more I would rather have a brand with known reliability. If they tried to sell this for a lot less then the Chinese would be accused of dumping. I tend to keep my vehicles longer than many so it is not worth saving a couple of grand to get a vehicle of unknown quality.

  • avatar

    Face it boys and girls, we are in a long term cultural/geopolitical struggle with the bad guys who run the Chinese Government. The Chinese Communists want it both ways, they love $$, but they also love silencing their opponents and dragging them away in the middle of the night, to be sent away to reeducation camps. Supporting their propped up companies peddling their substandard products is lunacy, and will do nothing for our country, or for you in the long run. They mean to do us harm in any way possible, AND they take the long view.

    So yeah, I am not down with their cheating, their lying, their stealing of our Intellectual Property, and their forcing foreign companies doing business in China to do so at the point of a gun (51% forced Chinese ownership), forcing the free handover of knowledge, processes and information to gain access to their market.

    We should learn that our thought and negotiation processes of trying to get something done in the next 72 hours is not shared by the Asians, and plan accordingly.

    The Donald is the first person at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. who gets it, and it is sad that our previous Administrations were complete fools in negotiating with the Chinese. Keep hammering them into the ground, and hold them fully accountable for their behavior.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    We are now at the point where many of the things we buy are made in China. We have become dependent on China for many of our consumer goods. Agree this is not a good thing and China is not our friend. It use to be that Chinese goods were much cheaper but that is no longer true for many of the consumer goods we buy. If someone really wants to buy a Chinese made vehicle look no further than the Buick Envision–GM at its best. Even much of the outdoor power equipment is either made in China or has Chinese components. I have a Troy-Bilt rear engine riding mower and the engine is made in China.

    • 0 avatar

      And the Chinese are so proud of it. They slap big labels on everything “MADE IN CHINA”. I have a standby generator made by Cummins that has a natural gas fired Briggs and Stratton V twin engine. Still under warranty and it got to where it would not start when needed. The company came out and replaced the starter motor. Sure enough, MADE IN CHINA. While there they changed the Autolite spark plugs. Again, MADE IN CHINA.

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