Business\Green China

GAC return highlights Chinese presence at Detroit auto show

By Paul Welitzkin in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-01-06 12:16

China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd's return to the North American International Auto Show - one of the world's most prestigious auto displays - represents another sign of a growing Sino presence in the global industry.

Now in its 29th year as an international event, the NAIAS officially opens to the public on Jan 14 in Detroit. The show's press review, one of the largest media events in North America, is scheduled to begin on Jan 9.

Guangzhou Automobile Group or GAC, introduced a sport utility vehicle called the GS4 at the 2015 event. The company didn't participate in the 2016 show. GAC has hinted that it might enter the US market as early as this year.

There are indications that GAC may debut a new model at the Detroit show and if so the company selected an ideal venue for the introduction. NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts noted that over 5,000 journalists from 60 countries attended the 2016 press preview which has become synonymous with attracting the world's top automotive leaders. Attending media saw 61 vehicle introductions with nearly 90 percent of them being worldwide reveals.

GAC return highlights Chinese presence at Detroit auto show

The global coverage that GAC received at the 2015 show was one of the key factors in the automaker's decision to come back to Detroit.

"GAC Motor's market share in China increased following the world debut of the GS4 two years ago and was a direct result of the international coverage we received," Zeng Qinghong, chairman of GAC said in a statement last year. "As we look to establish ourselves as a global brand we are optimistic we can gain more momentum following the announcements we will make this January in Detroit."

GAC is a symbol of the growing auto culture and industry in China, the world's largest auto market. In 2015, a total of 24.6 million cars, trucks and buses were sold in the mainland.

On Thursday, General Motors Co (GM) and its joint venture partners reported that they sold 3.87 million vehicles in China in 2016, up 7.1 percent from the previous year, cementing the country's position as the US automaker's top market for a fifth consecutive year. Sales of GM's budget Baojun brand, developed for China with JV partners SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and Guangxi Automobile Group Co Ltd, that surged nearly 50 percent last year helped drive growth. GM has pledged to introduce more models in the fast- growing sport-utility vehicle and multi-purpose vehicle segments by 2020.

As the US automotive industry continues its comeback after a near collapse from the financial crisis in 2008-09, China has been steadily expanding its presence in the Michigan-based market. Two Chinese companies with Michigan roots will be active participants in the Detroit show.

Yanfeng Automotive Interiors and Nexteer Automotive are set to hold press conferences on Jan 10. Companies like Yanfeng and Nexteer are now important members of the global automotive supply chain. In addition to providing critical components, Yanfeng and Nexteer may also be paving way the way for China's auto producers to enter the prestigious US auto market.

Yanfeng has several Detroit-area facilities and is now a Tier-one automotive supplier of interior components like instrument panels and door panels. Tier-one companies are direct suppliers to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like General Motors and FCA Chrysler.

Nexteer, which opened new global headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills last year, operates a plant that produces steering components for vehicles sold in the US like Ford Motor Co's popular F150 pickup truck. The company has a global workforce of more than 12,000, and 5,000 of its employees are based at its Saginaw, Michigan center.

On Jan 8, AutoMobili-D, a dedicated exposition focused on the rapidly evolving global automotive and mobility landscape including autonomous or self-driving vehicles will open.

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