The China-made sport utility vehicle shown in the latest "Transformers" movie may hit U.S. showrooms as early as next year, testing demand by American consumers for Chinese autos.
Guangzhou Automobile Group plans to start exporting models including the Trumpchi GS5 featured in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” to the United States, according to Wu Song, head of the Trumpchi brand. The carmaker, which operates manufacturing joint ventures with Toyota Motor Corp. and Fiat SpA, started the brand in 2010.
“Our sponsorship of 'Transformers 4' will help more overseas dealers and consumers know about our cars and over the long run it will greatly contribute to our branding,” Wu said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We want to start exporting to the U.S. as quickly as possible, and I am confident that they will find our Trumpchi cars competitive.”
Guangzhou Auto joins BYD Co., Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and Great Wall Motor Co. among Chinese automakers with ambitions to crack the U.S. market. They’re seeking to challenge General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to burnish their own standing back home in China, where local Chinese brands are losing market share to foreign nameplates.
The film, which features actor Mark Wahlberg, is predicted to rank among the biggest-grossing of the year with U.S. ticket revenue projected at $265 million by BoxOffice.com.
The automaker was approached to participate in the fourth installment of the Transformers movie franchise after director Michael Bay saw the Trumpchi E-Jet electric car at an auto show, Wu said.
Guangzhou Auto currently exports its Trumpchi vehicles to the Middle East, South America and Russia. Demand for the brand has exceeded expectations, with total sales projected to reach 135,000 units this year versus an earlier target of 115,000 vehicles, Wu said.