Those attending the North American International Auto Show in Detroit will get a chance to see what auto made in China look like these days. GAC Group (officially Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd) had a small stand not on the main floor, but out front in the lobby of the convention center. We had a chance to chat with GAC chief engineer Xu Jihan, who didn't want to appear in a video for EngineeringTV but agreed to speak with us about GAC's efforts.
One of the things we found interesting about the GAC coupes and sedans was their fit and finish. A few years ago the Chinese exhibited at NAIAS for the first time. We can still remember opening a door on one of their vehicles that year and hearing the hinge creak loudly. The body work gave the impression of being quite primitive.
Not anymore. What the GAC displayed this year had the appearance of being up to modern fit-and-finish standards. Car lovers who have read Bob Lutz's memoirs about his travails trying to turn around GM's car design efforts will probably recall his complaints about super-wide body seams on GM cars when he arrived. Our impression is that Lutz would find little to complain about on the GAC models. Jihan said GAC has been working with established automotive OEMs to get assembly techniques that are state-of-the-art.
Jihan also says a similar effort is underway with regard to engines and electric motors.
Of course, the million dollar question is when the Chinese will start marketing their vehicles in the U.S. Jihan says they are just observing U.S. markets for now. He seems to think will still be a few years before we'll see Chinese brands here.
A Chinese hybrid sedan with Jihan and Teschler chatting in the background.
A GAC coupe. Note the small, even seams between panels.