Insights Into Chinese Brand GAC's Bold Plan to Break Into the Top 10 in Australia - Latest Global News

Insights Into Chinese Brand GAC’s Bold Plan to Break Into the Top 10 in Australia

GAC is another Chinese carmaker coming to Australia with serious volume ambitions, planning to offer a range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric models across various segments.

Even if it’s not about the top spot, the company plans to be among the top 10 here by 2030.

CarExpert first reported in early 2023 that GAC’s Aion electric vehicle (EV) brand would be coming to Australia.

Now AGA Auto – appointed as GAC’s Australian distributor in 2022 – has confirmed that GAC’s core brand is also coming here.

The core brand, known as Trumpchi in China and GAC everywhere else, offers a range of petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, some of which use hybrid systems from Toyota, with which GAC has a joint venture.

GAC and Aion vehicles are scheduled to arrive here in the second half of 2025.

“Most likely [they’ll] sold under one roof,” said Charles Lau, chief operating officer of AGA Auto.

“[GAC] We also understand how difficult it is to establish a brand with just one model when that is not really enough to sustain a dealer network.”

He noted that it has not yet been confirmed whether Aion vehicles will be labeled as GACs.

“The manufacturer obviously has the final say on this,” Mr Lau said.

Like other Chinese brands such as BYD and Chery, GAC wants to become a major player in Australia.

“We don’t exactly want to enter the market with a very, very ambitious goal,” Mr. Lau said.

“We actually want to be in the top 10 in the next three to five years.”

He says this would work out to around 30,000 to 40,000 annual sales, although in particular the 10th best selling brand in Australia last year – Isuzu Ute – sold 45,341 vehicles.

This target includes sales of the GAC and Aion brands.

He said there was increasing interest at GAC in targeting the Australian market and that the head office was refocusing on right-hand drive production. This includes building a factory in Thailand to produce Aion electric vehicles.

Currently, the core GAC brand only has one right-hand drive vehicle, the GS3 hatchback, which is probably off the table for our market.

AGA Auto’s relationship with GAC is non-exclusive and leaves open the possibility of bringing products from other automobile manufacturers to our market.

GAC

GAC’s product range is set to launch with a people mover, which is perhaps an unusual choice given the size of this segment in Australia.

However, people movers are much more popular in China and are often used to transport executives.

“One of the things that [GAC] asked us to conduct an assessment of MPVs,” said Mr Lau, adding that there was an opportunity for a well-equipped people mover to take on vehicles like the Kia Carnival and suggested that these vehicles be considered halo models could serve for new brands.

“The right-hand drive vehicles currently being considered and developed are the [current, petrol and hybrid] M8 People Mover and the GS8 all-wheel drive as well as their plug-in hybrid cousins [the E9 and ES9].

“You will be subjected to a very serious test [for right-hand drive] at the moment.”

The M8 and E9 would serve as competitors to the aforementioned Carnival and LDV MIFA models, while the three-row GS8 and ES9 unibody SUVs would compete against rivals like the Hyundai Palisade and Toyota Kluger.

GAC is currently phasing out its GS-badged models in favor of sharper-looking new-generation products like the Hyundai i30-rivaling Empow sedan and the Toyota RAV4-rivaling Emkoo crossover.

“One of the ones I like is the Emkoo, which is similar to a RAV4 SUV,” he said, adding that it has not yet been confirmed for right-hand drive.

Aion

The Aion range will launch with a new, never-before-seen electric hatchback to compete with the MG 4, as well as a mid-size electric SUV.

“The V… the new second generation is being launched, so that would probably be one of the first models to come alongside an Aion hatchback that hasn’t been launched or sold anywhere yet,” Mr Lau said.

Higher quality models are also planned.

“The [Aion] “Hyper HT will be launched in right-hand drive in Thailand in July this year, so this will be eligible for assessment for the Australian market,” Mr Lau said, noting it was “strongly” eligible.

Even the SSR electric super sports car is emerging as a possibility.

“The SSR is something they’ve actually thought about, building a series of right-hand drive cars on a limited scale [production],” he said.

“There has been a lot of interest in the SSR since it launched in Thailand, and obviously they are right-hand drive, which means we might see some too.”

However, the Aion series will initially start with only one or two models.

“We hope the hatchback is available, we hope the new Aion V is available and also the Hyper HT which will be sold together at launch, in a perfect world,” Mr Lau said.

“In an imperfect world it will probably be the case that, say, in the first six months of our launch we might have the V or the hatchback on offer and within the six months of launch a second model will be launched.

“But we assume we want to have two at launch.”

While he said it was too early to confirm prices, Mr Lau said Aion electric vehicles would not be the cheapest electric vehicles on the market.

“That’s not what we’re here for,” he said.

How the cars are sold

The initial focus is on large metropolitan areas such as Sydney.

“We have kept our options open, but the one that stands out to us at the moment is the hybrid agency model,” said Mr Lau, confirming that the company wants to have more control over how vehicles are sold to ensure consistent – and excellent – ​​customer experience.

This would result in dealers signing up for a GAC ​​franchise but not having to purchase the inventory, while customers would pay the same price no matter which GAC dealer they go to.

“I think it helps a lot of retailers who are currently following the traditional model where their floor plan and storage costs have now skyrocketed,” Mr Lau said.

“The fact that they don’t have to hold inventory will, in theory, reduce their operational costs of running a dealership.

“One of the things we keep in mind is that we also want our brands to be present in every location, just as we want to build our brand image.

“To ensure that, it has to be a one-way street. Our retail network that ends up becoming part of us may need to invest more than it would expect from other brands that it ultimately adds.”

GAC vehicles will be sold through showrooms, but flagship studios and delivery centers are also planned.

The company also wants to use a third party to increase service coverage, similar to the agreement BYD has with mycar.

“Having only one dealer network to service your cars is a double-edged sword,” Mr Lau said.

“If you don’t have enough dealers, you don’t have enough service locations and are therefore limited to covering your own customers.”

He said he wants customers to have an emotional connection to the brand that is “driven by customer experience and customer satisfaction.”

To this end, a major focus is on parts availability and a large parts distribution center is planned.

Mr Lau said battery recycling was also on the company’s radar, as old batteries that no longer provide enough charge for an electric vehicle could still be reused for other applications such as powering homes.

“We can use a partnership to safely transport them to our sites where they can be repurposed or recycled,” he said.

“We are not here to market ourselves as green warriors. [EVs] Although they are not completely environmentally friendly, they still produce more emissions and cost more emissions and materials than a gasoline car.

“But from an owner perspective, we still want to be able to do our part…Right now, as far as we know, battery recycling has very, very great potential to make sure that waste is minimized.”

MORE: Brand Profile: China’s Aion

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