Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group Company, (otherwise known as the much-easier abbreviation GAC) introduced three vehicles at the 2017 North American International Auto Show today: a 5-passenger midsize SUV, an all-electric car, and a plug-in hybrid crossover concept.


The SUV, dubbed GS7, is set to go on sale in its home market later this year, but like GAC's other vehicles has no exact timetable for possible sale in the U.S. Aesthetically, the GAC GS7 is a substantial SUV with  a handsome front that houses a multifaceted headlight design and a rear three-quarters that reminds of a Nissan Armada. Under the hood is GAC's G-series 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine tuned to make just under 200 horsepower and roughly 236 lb-ft of torque.


The second introduction is the GE3, which GAC says is its first electric vehicle developed on the automaker's new EV platform. The vehicle, which looks something like a Chevrolet Bolt, has a range of approximately 190 miles, GAC says. The electric motor is rated at 160 horsepower and 213 lb-ft of torque.

A car with a bonsai tree

Filling out the debuts is the EnSpirit, is a plug-in hybrid crossover concept vehicle, "designed to appeal to the millennial car buyers who enjoy the diversity of a hybrid," the automaker said. Aiming to combine "the best elements of a sedan, SUV and convertible together in one vehicle for the ultimate fun and freedom," the EnSpirit can at least be called unique.

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A pure concept, the EnSpirit boasts an interior filled with ribbons of wood and soft materials, and a bonsai tree planted between the rear seats and mounted on a wood rail resembling a surfboard. In the rear hatch are two skateboards mounted in the floor, completing the active-lifestyle theme.

U.S. opportunity

This marks the first time the Chinese automaker has unveiled vehicles on the main floor of the Detroit auto show. At its last appearance, in 2015, GAC's display was in a side concourse outside where the rest of the major car introductions were taking place. This year, GAC's presence inside the main hall in a further testament that the automaker aims to be taken as seriously as other major players.

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Of course, to be taken seriously by American car buyers -- or even be known by them -- the automaker will need to start selling cars in the United States. At the moment, the Chinese state-owned automaker sells its passenger and commercial vehicles in 14 countries, but not here. When we asked three different spokesmen when American buyers could get into a GAC, we received three different answers, ranging from 1-2, to 3 to five years. Exact time tables aside, the automaker hopes its unveilings at the 2017 Detroit auto show can bring it one day closer to U.S. buyers than it was yesterday.


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