GAC Motor in Detroit a sign of the next new auto empire

At this year’s Detroit auto show, GAC Motor, a division of China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group, announced it would enter the U.S. market in 2019 with several car models.

The years of Chinese startups unveiling concept cars that never make it out of their domestic market are coming to an end. The GAC announcement looks to be just the beginning of a wave of industrial goods coming out of China in the near future.

Thanks to an aggressive economic development campaign known as Made in China 2025, China aims to go global in a host of manufacturing marketplaces, including aerospace, robotics, rail equipment, biopharma, power generation and, of course, cars — electric and internal combustion. These are industries that were once considered too technologically sophisticated for the low-cost mass production for which China became known over the past two decades.

That’s where the Made in China initiative came into play. Launched in 2015, it has been dedicated to helping China take on top-tier manufacturers in the U.S., Europe and Japan by tapping cheap capital, searching out mergers and acquisitions, and attracting foreign investment.

What’s ahead?

The success China has had in the solar-panel market may provide a clue to where this wave is heading. Beginning in 2007, China provided as much as $18 billion in cheap capital to kick-start solar-panel companies. By 2012, major European and U.S. solar-panel manufacturers began filing anti-dumping challenges to the burgeoning Chinese industry, and by 2015, seven of the top 10 solar-panel manufacturers in the world were Chinese. And all this in less than a decade.

It’s unlikely to happen with conventional cars, but there is a strong chance with electric vehicles. China already leads globally in battery-electric vehicles, although they are primarily sold in China where consumers have more than 75 EV models to choose from.

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