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Auto special:Chinese automaker GAC Motor a charismatic star brand

By Li Fusheng (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-12 07:40

Chinese automaker GAC Motor is consolidating its leading position in the Nigerian auto market with a second dealership in the state of Lagos, which opened on April 7.

The opening ceremony attracted more than 200 participants, including Chinese Consul-General to Lagos Liu Kan, the Oba of Lagos Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Oshu Aderemi Adedapo, and the Oba of Lekki Saheed Elegushi, as well as Nollywood star Stephanie Linus.

"We visited the showroom, whose fashionable appearance, modern interior decoration and professional functional design deeply impressed me," Liu told the audience.

He said that GAC Motor is a powerful Chinese company that enjoys a high reputation, and it is becoming increasingly recognized both in China and worldwide for the quality of its cars.

"I am firmly convinced that, with its advanced technologies and high quality products, GAC will gain a strong foothold here and achieve common development with Nigeria," Liu said.

Diana Chen, chairperson of CIG Motors, distributor of GAC Motor in Nigeria, said GAC, as a middle- and high-end brand, is winning the hearts of more and more local people.

Besides its brand image and quality products, GAC's emphasis on after-sales service has played a crucial role in its popularity in Nigeria.

A CIG spokesman said that to ensure the cars are in good condition, its employees call or even visit their customers so that their cars are maintained on a regular basis.

Their enthusiasm and professional service have helped GAC establish its fame as a responsible brand and some even drive cars of other brands to GAC stores for maintenance.

Image boosters

GAC is not only appealing to ordinary consumers but also competitive in government purchase.

In September 2015, the Chinese brand won orders from the Lagos police after besting many global competitors.

One month later, GAC attracted a large crowd to its stand at the annual Abuja auto show with its lineup of models like GA3 and GS5. Many placed orders onsite.

GAC, due to its rising reputation, was chosen as the sole sponsor of the Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards held in March. The event's previous sponsors were Japanese or South Korean brands.

Two GAC SUVs were presented as prizes to Kemi Lala Akindoju, who won the Trailblazer award, and Stephanie Linus, who starred in Dry, which was voted the best movie of the year.

Linus, the Nollywood actress, director and producer, shared photos on Instagram of her receiving a brand new car and said with gratitude that "the car symbolizes a lot".

Focus on quality

GAC's outstanding performance is attributed to the automaker's commitment to the image of Chinese brands.

"As we go global, we should be at least at the level of Japanese and South Korean brands, and even perhaps better than United States brands," said Wu Song, general manager of GAC Motor.

"As a young Chinese carmaker, we are growing rapidly both in the domestic and overseas markets, based on the principles of making quality, safe cars."

Founded in 2008 in Guangzhou, capital of China's Guangdong province, GAC has built a sales network covering 15 countries and regions.

In Kuwait, for instance, GAC was recently hailed as "the best Chinese carmaker" after its sales ranked first among Chinese brands available in the local market.

Chang Hua, Chinese ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said the popularity of Chinese brands such as GAC has boosted Chinese people's pride and helped change some foreign people's stereotypes about Chinese products.

Brand first

GAC's reputation in overseas markets is the result of its "brand image first" strategy its general manager Wu proposed.

"Rome was not built in a day. We should establish our brand and then we will see bigger and bigger sales gradually."

Wu's confidence in building GAC's reputation arose from its performance in the Chinese market.

It sold 132,000 units of the GS4 model in 2015, after it was launched in April. In January this year, its sales reached a record high of 30,000 units, ranking top 10 in the SUV segment.

"China is the world's largest auto market and a market where you can find the most auto brands. That means, if you can do a better job than international brands in the Chinese market, you have developed into an international brand," said Wu.

At the 2015 Detroit auto show, Yahoo Finance presented GAC its Innovation For The Future Award, saying, "the introduction of the GS4 reflects the company's determination to compete in the international market with its models now on par with its global rivals".

At the Dubai auto show the same year, GAC Motor's stand attracted hundreds of reporters including those from Yahoo, Reuters and the Associated Press with its lineup of models including the GS4, GS5 Super and GA6, with many stories calling GAC the "best Chinese car brand" in their headlines.

GAC said those models are its era 2.0 products and independently developed.

Industry insiders said that GAC has found a way to succeed in overseas markets by putting the brand first.

Chinese brands such as GAC will grow into important players in the global auto market in about a decade as China promotes its Road and Belt initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013��for reviving the ancient trade routes that span Asia, Africa and Europe, they predicted.

lifusheng@chinadaily.com.cn

 Auto special:Chinese automaker GAC Motor a charismatic star brand

Left: Wu Song, general manager of GAC Motor. Right: GAC Motor's second dealership launching ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria.

 Auto special:Chinese automaker GAC Motor a charismatic star brand

Left: Delivery ceremony between GAC Motor and the Nigerian police. Right: Stephanie Linus receives a GAC SUV as the prize for her lead role in the best overall movie of the year at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards in March. Photos Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 04/12/2016 page7)

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