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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Chinese influx continues as GAC Motor heads to South Africa

Line-up of products and exact launch date remains unknown, though expectations are more details will emerge soon.

One the newest but also expanding Chinese automakers founded in 2008, the Guangzhou Automobile Group, better known by its abbreviation GAC Motor, has announced its entry to South Africa by means of a partnership with the Salvador Caetano Auto group.

Chinese are here

An agreement involving the distribution of GAC models, as well as parts and service, the announcement ups South Africa’s Chinese vehicle count to eight after Great Wall Motors (GWM) and its Haval division, Chery with its Omoda brand, commercial vehicle marque JAC, BAIC and most recently, BYD.

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An early second quarter premiere for Chery’s Jaecoo brand will see a total of nine brands originating from the People’s Republic being present before mid-year, with it being open to speculation as to whether others will deem South Africa viable before year-end.

China's GAC Motor coming to South Africa
Interior of the GAC GS3 Emzoom that went on-sale last year. Image: GAC Motor

In addition to GAC, the partnership spells the Salvador Caetano’s first foray in South Africa since its founding in Portugal in 1946.

Present in 41 countries and employing 7 000 employees, the organisation originally started in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle segment, but has since struck-up partnerships with amongst others, Toyota and BMW.

China's GAC Motor coming to South Africa
Empow sedan resembles the Infiniti Q50 once sold on local soil. Image: GAC Motor

“This agreement settles the beginning of an important milestone for Salvador Caetano Auto, starting with our presence in South Africa with the possibility to enlarge this partnership to other markets in the future,” Salvador Caetano’s CEO of Global Automotive Distribution, Sérgio Ribeiro, said in a joint statement

“This strategic partnership marks the beginning of a significant investment that will enable us to rapidly establish GAC Motor as a relevant automotive player in South Africa.”

No shortage of products

China's GAC Motor coming to South Africa
Dramatic looking Emkoo has seemingly been inspired visually by the Renault Austral. Image: GAC Motor

While no mentioning of the products GAC will introduce were made, its portfolio comprises sedans, SUVs and MPVs, largely powered by turbocharged petrol engines displacing between 1.5 and 2.0-litres.

Models on its sedan roster include the GA4, GA6, GA8 and the most recent introduction, the Empow that pairs styling from the current Nissan Skyline, sold as the Infiniti Q50 in South Africa, with a 1.5 or 2.0-litre turbocharged engine developing between 125 kW and 195 kW.

Chinese automaker GAC Motor says yes to South Africa
Zeekr 009-inspired GS8 tops GAC’s SUV range. Image: GAC Motor

Likely to attract the biggest attention though are the brand’s SUV range spanning seven models; the GS3, GS3 Power, GS4 and GS5.

Of the latest models that could be opted for is the GS3 Emzoom that makes 130kW/270Nm from its 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, the dramatic Emkoo powered by either a petrol or hybrid powerplant, and the full-size GS8 that seats seven and produces 185kW/400Nm from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

Chinese automaker GAC Motor says yes to South Africa
Current GS3 has been on-sale since 2017. Image: GAC Motor

Potential rivals for the Kia Carnival include GN6, GN8 and incoming M8 MPVs, the latter powered by either a conventional 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, or as a plug-in hybrid developing a combined 274kW/630Nm.

“Dedicated to the automotive industry for years and present on three continents, GAC Motor have accelerated the process of international business. This partnership with Salvador Caetano Auto in South Africa is the start-up of the cooperation of both parties.,” GAC’s Deputy General Manager, Wang Shunsheng, said.

Chinese automaker GAC Motor says yes to South Africa
GN6 could possibly take-on the Kia Carnival should it come to South Africa. Image: GAC Motor

“Both companies will leverage their respective strengths to bring quality products to South Africa, while building a strong dealership network focused on customer satisfaction.”

Exact details awaited

For the time being though, it remains uncertain as to when the first GAC branded vehicles will touch down on South African soil.

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