Economy, Auto

China's GAC in Search of Iran Partner

China's GAC in Search of Iran PartnerChina's GAC in Search of Iran Partner

Hoping to expand into new markets, Guangzhou Automotive Group Company has announced intentions to move into the Iranian and Russian markets.

According to Yibada, a Beijing-based website, the Chinese company intends to set up manufacturing facilities in the two markets and announced that it is looking for a local partner to construct the plant after studying the Russian market for a year and a half.

For Chinese automakers, Russia and Iran are key export markets. But when the Russian economy slid, sales of Chinese brands fell nearly 53% in 2015 to 39,085 vehicles, according to Automotive News China.

In Iran, Chery Automobile Company is the largest exporter among Chinese carmakers, with sales of about 40,000 vehicles in 2015. GAC's CEO Wu Song, however, did not reveal details about GAC's proposed assembly plant or the models to be produced in the plant in Iran.

It is likely that the facility would assemble cars for the Trumpchi brand, which GAC launched in 2010, the report said.

Last year, Trumpchi's global sales rose 45% to 195,134 vehicles, which included 1,455 vehicles shipped overseas.  GAC's export markets include the UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon and Qatar.

The Iranian market is currently cluttered with low-cost Chinese branded vehicles with local assemblers joining in on the action to produce a range of small, medium and large cars, including models like the Haima S7 and the FAW large sedan.

The report added that although GAC appears to be focused on Iran and Russia, it has also shown some interest in the US market, although Americans are wary of Chinese cars.

At the Detroit Auto Show in 2015 and 2016, GAC showcased the Trumpchi GS4 crossover.

Wu also told the press at the Shanghai Auto Show in April that the company planned to launch the GS4 in the US in 2017.

Wu did not disclose more details, but the report said GAC has not recruited dealers in the US yet.

GAC, based in Guangzhou, has joint ventures in China with Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler.