By on January 13, 2015

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When the 2015 Detroit Auto Show opens to the public Wednesday, those in line to buy their tickets will get to see the GAC GS4 crossover in the lobby of Cobo Hall, a harbinger of the day when the Chinese will grace the United States with auto sales.

Power for the GS4 comes from a 1.3-liter or 1.5-liter mill, both of which are turbocharged; no power or torque figures were made available, however. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic handles power delivery, though where the power goes wasn’t mentioned.

Styling is derived from GAC’s “light sculpture 2.0” and “flying dynamics” design language, while the interior has soft-touch materials and the appearance that you’re sitting in something by Hyundai.

Other details include: Euro5 emissions compliance; disc brakes on all fours inside 18-inch wheels; Geometric Absorption Control; and Bosch electronic stability.

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24 Comments on “NAIAS 2015: GAC GS4 Debuts In Cobo Hall Lobby...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    Frankly, I’m looking forward to the day when the Chinese automakers have established a foothold and offer decent cars.

    That said, I don’t see the Chinese successfully avoiding the problems Japan and Korea both had when introducing themselves to the US: Namely, offering nothing better than bargain-priced rust-prone rattle-traps for the first round of their offerings.

    If they can skip that phase entirely, they could do pretty well and give the Koreans (HyunKia and GM/Daewoo) a real run for their money in the “competent car for a value price” market. If they don’t, I don’t think the market will have any patience for round 2 absent ruinously low bargain pricing.

    • 0 avatar
      kovakp

      I agree except to say that there’s such a thing as arriving too late to the party. I fully accept that the Chinese can build whatever they desire to whatever point of quality and price they wish. But they’re problem is going to be finding that everybody’s bought something else and gone home.

      How many competing brands can there be before the consumer gets terminal shopper’s headache, just says eff it and chooses the one they already know?

      • 0 avatar

        I think the biggest challenge for a brand-new automaker would be building a dealer network. New brand franchises usually end up either at shady buy-here-pay-here dealerships looking to move into new car sales, or in that crappy building in the back of a bigger name franchise. Dealers don’t want to invest a lot of money into building nice showrooms for unproven brands, and that makes customers nervous about buying them.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Well, I think the bigger issue for a new entrant today is that the market is fundamentally different than it was in the 1970s through the late 2000s: back then you had a few entrenched big guns that got fat and lazy, providing a ripe opportunity for upstarts.

      Today’s automakers are far more saavy, nimble and not nearly as tone deaf (on a sliding scale, of course). Toyota, Honda, Lexus and Acura gained big by exploiting that laziness. Newer brands like Scion have struggled, brands like Mini succeed because they’re hyper-focused on a niche (and they’ve learned their limits in the last two years). Otherwise, you’re hard pressed to buy a “really bad” car these days (cue the jokes about VW….).

      Even Hyundai and Kia are plateauing.

      For the Chinese to compete in the US they need to offer some unique value proposition that the Koreans, Japanese, Europeans and Americans *don’t* offer. It is not enough to throw something into the marketplace and expect it to succeed when the amount of good, established, known-quantity competitors exists already.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    At the 2006 (?) NAIAS, Geely was in the lobby doing the same thing. They’re still not here.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      That’s because Geely doesn’t need to be here right now with their budget cars, they’re already going to be bringing their cars here via Volvos assembled at their plants and selling a $40,000 luxury car has much better margins than fighting for the bottom of the market. I suspect that Geely will still come someday but they’re probably waiting until their budget cars have incorporated enough trickle down tech from Volvo such that they’ll actually be competitive not just on price when they show up.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        I agree – Geely’s move with Volvo, specifically the new S60 long wheelbase model, was a stealth way of gaining a foothold by hiding behind a respectable European nameplate.

        I’m still of the opinion that Volvo is a dead man walking (at least in North America) by virtue of the fact that they still have not established a good reason for the brand to exist. Everyone has co-opted their core values (Subaru and Audi, mainly) and while I genuinely like their product there is nothing to compel me into one.

  • avatar
    EAF

    GAC Group needs to adopt better names.

    For example, they could name this truck the “Lo Mein.” Add a turbocharger and some AWD protein and now you have the “Chicken Lo Mein.”

  • avatar
    mjz

    Who wants to buy a Gac(k)?

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      You would think they would have somebody who spoke a little English help them eliminate names that are completely ridiculous. Hey GAC, ask the guy at Honda who wanted to call their Jazz the Fitta (which is another Swedish word like ‘snippa’).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Oh a Guang-Chi Trumpchi! I thought that name was only to be on the sedan one based on the old Alfa 166. Guess not.

    I think they could have picked a more pleasing color than premium 70s gold for a display model, but whatever. It looks alright I guess, the gauges look a little 1998 though.

    I do think they’ll have a very hard time breaking into our market. This isn’t the 80s when malaise was in full swing and it was hard to find a decent car. And it’s not the 90s when the Japanese luxury brands invaded and showed us high quality at a lower price. There are high quality cars at low/med/hi price points – nobody is starved for choice.

    And I’d argue that Americans have a much lower perception of China now than they did of Japan in the 70s. But maybe someone older needs to comment.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      The Koreans (HyunKia and GM Korea/Daewoo), after a false start, and no obvious impetus for their cars, are now doing a respectable job. And that false start was terrible, so it shows that with some effort, breaking in is possible.

      That said, I’m not sure the Chinese have the luxury of the false start. And they’ll have to compete against the Koreans in the “cheap respectable car” market.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “I’m not sure the Chinese have the luxury of the false start. And they’ll have to compete against the Koreans in the “cheap respectable car” market.”

        Except that “the Koreans” aren’t really that “cheap” anymore.

        In fact, in the subcompact, compact AND huge midsize sedan segments, “the Koreans” either are on par, or MORE, than equivalent Japanese vehicles, in terms of price.

        Hyundai & Kia have seen rapidly slowing sales growth rates as their vehicle pricing has risen to the approximate level of Honda, Toyota & Nissan (not to mention Ford, Chevy, VW, etc.).

        That “bargain price” space that Hyundai & Kia USED TO OCCUPY IS NOW EMPTY YET AGAIN.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          DW –

          Good point, but the question I have is whether the Chinese will be able to truly manufacture and distribute a competitive product at a “bargain price”. Auto manufacturing and retailing is insanely expensive with a high cost structure. Will an upstart Chinese brand be able to design, manufacture, distribute, support and market their product at a significant enough discount to allow them to be the new bargain brand?

          Remember the lesson of Tata Nano in India: they thought that by bringing over a sub $10,000 new car that they’d storm the Indian market by being the bargain brand. Unfortunately for them what they discovered was that (especially) the least affluent, who Tata thought would be their core market, skipped right past Tata and went for other, more established brands, in the used car market.

          Are the Chinese economies of scale good enough that they can sell something competitive at a 30-50% discount? I’m not sure.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Chinese auto parts manufacturers that supply both Chinese AND foreign (including “American”) vehicle manufacturers already have massive economies of scale, and dwarf their Indian counterparts in both shear scale of volume and range of technical capabilities (they can build to parameters that clients specify, pretty much).

            In fact, China has received more essentially free technology transfers from foreign firms as their government saw it to require any automaker or even component manufacturer wishing to exploit inexpensive Chinese labor & low regulatory burden environment to have a Chinese Company as a joint venture partner.

            I would be shocked if General Motors hasn’t already adopted a manufacturing & business model whereby there’s nearly complete overlap between their Chinese & North American operations to fully scale up the benefits of this dynamic, and GM is already the 2nd largest producer of vehicles (and their parts/components) after Volkswagen.

            Look for increasingly higher Chinese produced & exported parts content (including entire subsystems such as motors, transmissions, etc.) in that Chevrolet one uses to see the USA year after year.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I remember going to the Cobo Auto Show back in th 90s when a Chinese vehicle was on display (in the “basement,” with the tuner & SEMA cars), and the talk of “what if China builds & imports a massively cheaper car than anyone else can produce?”.

    I remember going to the Cobo Auto Show back in 2006 or 2007 when a/some Chinese vehicle(s) from Great Wall (and maybe another from Wuilang?) was/were on display, and there was talk of how they were going to be imported into the U.S within a year or so for $7,800 USD or some similarly low price, and the anxiety this caused SOME in protectionist circles

    Now, we can all collectively declare that “it doesn’t matter anymore,” as the % of Chinese made parts, that are the essential vehicle itself when assembled in sufficient quantity, has rapidly risen, even as incorporated into Heartbeat of America Chevrolets & Johnny Speed Mustang 5.0s (e.g. Getrag MT-82 transmission).

    Chinese made cars are increasingly being sold in North America with each passing year, as the “foreign & domestic part content” of the window stickers quickly affirms.

    I look forward to the Cadillac CAT8, made of parts fabricated entirely in Guangdong Province, assembled in Detroit, & unveiled by Johan the Zohan & Melody CT Lee at the 2016 New York City/Manhattan Auto Show.

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-05-27/that-car-war-with-china-u-s-already-lost

    “The U.S. auto-supplier system has already been largely hollowed out by Chinese competition. As the overall U.S. vehicle trade deficit has grown from $100 million in 2004 to $5.3 billion in 2013, the gap in auto-parts gap has also ballooned: from $3.2 billion in 2004 to $10.5 billion last year. The flow of Chinese parts to the U.S. has grown by 700 percent in the last decade. Truth be told, the vehicles we are shipping to China are likely made with so many Chinese-sourced parts, we shouldn’t call them exports so much as returns. Again, GM is a key player in this dynamic, with its longstanding pressure on suppliers to match the “China cost” killing some makers and possibly lowering the quality (and safety) of some parts.”

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Sorry, this just looks like another Chinese parts bin special. Kudos to the Euro5 emissions compliance and stability control, though.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Derivative, cribbing from the Evoque on external style but looks pretty decent. The Chinese are coming, the Chinese are coming! In fact I’m surprised one of them hasn’t stepped forward to be the first to try.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Their own car market has grown so fast recently that they were better off fighting for domestic market share at home instead of wasting efforts abroad but now that Chinese car sales are slowing they’re probably going to focus more on trying to make the leap.

      • 0 avatar
        RedStapler

        For now. 10-15 years from now when the market consolidates to 4-6 major OEMs that a ready for prime time in the North American & EU core.

        Kia (pre Hyundai merger) did ok creeping into the US market with cribbed styling and questionable quality at rock bottom prices.

  • avatar

    Looks better than what Hyundai debuted here in the 80’s. Heck, looks better than every Nissan CUV after the first Murano.

  • avatar

    The vehicle looks decent, but it would help if they had a name that didn’t sound like a cat hacking up a hairball, and a logo that didn’t look like they took the Nissan logo and chopped out part of the middle.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Looks nice.

    This could succeed if they offered:

    1. A strong dealer network. Maybe they could partner with Tesla in the courtroom and try direct sales.
    2. Great warranty – they’d have to beat H/K and Mitsubishi on warranty terms.
    3. Low price. People are tired of $5k option packages.
    4. Guaranteed trade-in value. They could use such a gimmick to buy market share.

    Decent quality would be important, but not essential if the trade-in value is guaranteed.


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