(16 Jan 2018) LEAD IN:
Chinese automaker GAC is changing its brand name as it readies to enter the US market - so that it sound less like Trump.
In China, CAG uses the brand name Trumpchi for its cars and SUVs, but the company says it wants to avoid any political links or confusion for its US customers.
Chinese automaker GAC Motor (Guangzhou Automobile Group) says it's on track to enter the U.S. market in the fourth quarter of next year.
Company officials made the statement Monday (15th January 2018) as they introduced two models at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that likely will come to the U.S.
At a packed press conference, GAC showed off a concept gull-wing compact electric SUV called the Enverge that one day could be produced.
The automaker says it will go over 370 miles on a single charge.
"We are in an era revolution in the automobile industry. While switching to our most sustainable energy source, how do we create the charm and the dynamic appearance that is unique to a modern EV? How to attract an impress young people? How to show our determination for the global market as an emergent car brand from China? Now, we have brought you the Everge concept and we strongly believe it's a great answer to those questions," said Zhang Fan, vice president of engineering for GAC Motors.
Also unveiled was the GA4 midsize sedan that will go on sale in China later this month.
GAC sold just over 500,000 automobiles in China last year, up 37 percent from 2016.
The company says it is negotiating with partner Fiat Chrysler about possible distribution of vehicles. It already has a research center in Silicon Valley and is working on another one in Detroit as well as a Los Angeles design center.
A spokeswoman says the company's first vehicle in the U.S. will be the GS8, an SUV. It showed video of seven different models during its presentation.
The Chinese automaker also said it would scrap the brand name it uses in China when it enters the U.S. market next year because it could be confused with President Donald Trump's surname.
For the past eight years, GAC has sold cars and SUVs under the brand Trumpchi in its home market, but is now researching new names before the company's expected U.S. debut in the fourth quarter of 2019.
President of Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), Quijing Wang said the company is renaming the brand because it does not want any links with politics.
"You know the name of the Trumpchi is actually just a coincidence. We actually named this is 2010 and the Chinese name is Trumpchi. For a Chinese company we always name an English name with a similar pronunciation, so Trumpchi, you know, actually four or five years later, Mr Trump has actually become president of the United States, so this is just a coincidence," he says.
GAC picked Trumpchi in 2010, well before Trump was elected. The similarity to Trump is just a coincidence, he added. GAC will continue to use the Chinese name there, the company said.
GAC also plans to enter other global markets after the U.S., including Europe. Commentators at the auto show were confident of its success.
"Oh, it's realistic, I mean you look at the Chinese automakers and they're way ahead, they know mass production, they can do this. What's interesting is going to be really is the American market ready for a car by GAC?" says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports.
GAC wasn't the only Asian automaker at the show.
South Korea's Kia also introduced a new model. The new 2019 Forte takes its inspiration from the Kia Striker.
The compact sedan sports an all-new power train and a host of driver comforts, including an eight-inch color touch pad.
Toyota took the wraps off its flagship luxury sedan, Avalon.
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