91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Chinese company poised to enter U.S. market. It's just gotta change the brand name.

Tracy Samilton

A Chinese automaker finally appears poised to break into the lucrative American market.

That's after years of Chinese car companies showing not-ready-for-prime-time cars at the North American International Auto Show.

GAC says it will launch a seven-seat SUV in the U.S. by the end of 2019.

Aaron Bragman is the Detroit Bureau Chief for Cars.com. He says it's a smart decision to start with the kind of vehicle that is in great demand right now, and the vehicle itself is extremely well done.

"It feels like a fully ready, North American production spec vehicle," says Bragman. "In fact, they're nicer than a lot of the vehicles that I see out on the show floor."

Bragman says GAC has been able to take advantage of the Chinese government's demand that foreign automakers share their knowledge as a condition of selling cars in China. Some of the design elements in the cars are familiar to American buyers, and GAC is using many of the same suppliers as Western automakers.

He says Hyundai probably stands to lose the most customers once GAC does come to the U.S. That's because Hyundai buyers tend to be younger and don't have many years of loyalty to the brand yet.

However, GAC will have to change the name of the brand it will be launching. 

The automaker had decided to call its debut U.S. brand "Trumpchi," as that sounded close to the Chinese name for the brand. That was before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. 

Bragman says there is no doubt that GAC will switch the name before it arrives in the U.S.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Related Content