Trade war slows China’s GAC Motor’s play for U.S. market

The Chinese are coming, still.

A year after GAC Motor said it would use its seven-seat GS8 SUV to penetrate the rich U.S. market, the Chinese automaker is using the Detroit auto show to bow to economic reality: GAC’s plans will be delayed until at least the first half of 2020 because of the costly trade war between China and the United States.

President Donald Trump’s proposed 25 percent tariff on foreign-built vehicles “will hurt our competitiveness in the U.S. market as a new player,” GAC President Yu Jun said in an interview Monday at the North American International Auto Show. “We cannot say this has no impact at all.”

But the unit of Guangzhou Automobile Group Motor Co. Ltd., based in the southern city of Guangzhou, is nonetheless moving forward with its plans. On Tuesday, GAC is set to open a research and development center in Farmington Hills, a third U.S. facility joining an R&D center in Silicon Valley and a design center in Los Angeles.