China's GAC lineup of flying cars, Toyota tech hybrids, BEVs and hydrogen are ready for the world's diverse customer needs
Shaun · Sep 26, 2023 04:29 PM
For the Malaysian market, GAC may be a name that's only recently started to make its presence felt, but the company has ambitious plans for the future with local partner WTC Automotif (WTCA, a Tan Chong Group company).
But before we walkthrough the plans for the powertrains of tomorrow, let’s take a closer look at GAC’s background.
Who is GAC?
The Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC Group) was established in June 1997 and headquartered in Zhujiang New Town. Currently, GAC Motor has expanded its sales and after-sales operations in several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
Malaysia was GAC Motor's first venture into the right-hand drive (RHD) market, introducing the GS3 as the inaugural RHD model. In May 2023, GAC initiated its local assembly (CKD) project in Malaysia at the WTCA Segambut factory - the first CKD project for GAC in the world.
WTCA is focused on enhancing the GAC brand image and intends to establish more than 21 GAC showrooms gradually. The first GAC flagship store is anticipated to commence operations in the fourth quarter of 2023.
WTCA also plans to introduce a range of right-hand drive GAC models, including SUVs, sedans, and MPVs, over the next five years to cater to the Malaysian market's demands.
One confirmed model is the GAC GS3 Emzoom, to which WTCA CEO Tan Keng Meng has said that CKD production is slated to commence in April 2024, with sales expected to kick off in mid-2024. Other models have yet to be announced, but we can make some speculations based on the current models in China.
Looking ahead, GAC has set its sights on an ambitious future that aligns with the global push towards carbon neutrality, with a range of powertrain technologies contributing to a sustainable future for the automotive industry.
One of them is the Mega Waves Hybrid technology, which matches a 2.0L hydrogen fuel combustion engine with the second-generation GMC electromechanical coupling system. This approach combines the benefits of hydrogen fuel while achieving carbon neutrality for passenger cars through hybrid technology.
Next up is hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (EV) technology. With a refuelling time of 3-5 minutes and a range of 650 to 800 km on a single tank, this could be the answer to long-distance driving and quick refilling.
Nevertheless, GAC acknowledges that the primary obstacle to hydrogen fuel cell adoption is cost, particularly concerning the hydrogen storage tank. However, there's optimism within the company as they suggest that hydrogen fuel cell technology could potentially enter production as soon as 2025.
GAC is also conducting research into battery technologies through its Aion EV sub-brand. Among their areas of exploration are Silicon Anode Technology, which is purported to offer a reduction in both volume and weight by as much as 20% when compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries.
There’s also the "magazine battery," which is said to have exceptional resistance to high temperatures and stability.
Finally, we arrive at a technological concept that was once confined to the realm of science fiction: flying cars.
GAC unveiled its first flying car, GOVE, which stands for GAC On the Go, Vertical. EV. This vehicle represents a modular design that seamlessly integrates attributes from both aircraft and automobiles, facilitating travel both in the skies and on the road.
But what’s the catch? We were informed of two primary hurdles to overcome: the weight of batteries impacting range and compliance with local aerial regulations. Hence, further studies are required. However, they also envision the possibility of commercialisation by the year 2030.
GAC's forward-looking vision for the future of mobility is evident, and they are taking a diversified approach. Similar to Toyota's multi-pathway strategy, GAC is addressing a wide spectrum of customer requirements worldwide by embracing hybrid, EV, and hydrogen technologies.
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