GAC’s U.S. launch threatened by tariff battle with China


Li: Could vehicles be competitive?

CHONGQING, China — GAC Motor, angling to become the first homegrown Chinese automaker to export light vehicles to the U.S., says it may have to ice those plans after President Donald Trump’s threat to level tariffs on imported vehicles.

Li Shao, deputy general manager of parent company Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., said the decision hinges on whether tariffs make its vehicles too expensive to be competitive stateside.

Li noted that while the threatened tariffs are under study, “We believe the U.S. and Chinese leaders have the wisdom to deal with these conflicts.”

But he acknowledged that enacting duties could derail GAC’s plan to start selling its seven-passenger GS8 crossover in the U.S. in late 2019. GAC has begun recruiting American dealers.

“If they did increase the tariffs, it will have some effect on our plans,” Li said through an interpreter last week on the sidelines of the Global Automotive Forum here in western China.

“It’s still under discussion, so we will have to wait and see,” Li said. “We have to investigate whether we would be competitive enough in the American market. If our price competitiveness were not enough after a tariff increase, maybe we would delay our plans.”

GAC plans to sell the seven-seat GS8 crossover in the U.S. in 2019 and is even recruiting dealers. But tariffs could delay the launch.

The U.S. has launched a national security investigation into car and truck imports that could lead to new tariffs.

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