While big names like Corvette and NSX hogged the spotlight, one of the most visually attractive vehicles at this year's Detroit Auto Show came from a name that may be completely unfamiliar to the western autophile. China's Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) had the E-JET concept perched in the hallway of Cobo Hall, providing a warm welcome to those that entered through the doors feet beyond. The concept combines eye-capturing styling with green engineering.
The E-JET is a sporty but gas-frugal range-extending hybrid that receives primary motivation from a 95 kW permanent magnet motor and 13 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. That battery can send the car on a journey of up to 62 miles (100 km) before the 1.0-liter four-cylinder and 30 kW PM generator kick in to recharge it, extending the driving range to around 372 miles (600 km). GAC lists the fuel consumption at 2 liters per 100 kilometers.
The E-JET concept offers a solid all-electric range that leaves the ranges of existing plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt in the dust. It's gas-electric range is comparable to the Volt's 380 miles (612 km). The car could conceivably be driven as a full-electric for the vast majority of the time while still providing the opportunity to travel farther distances in areas without public charging stations.
Another advantage the E-JET concept has over the Chevy Volt is its stylish appearance. With a sporty four-door coupe shape, dramatic headlamps and tail lamps, and a sculpted body, the E-JET is a car that both environmentalists and car nuts could be proud to park in their driveways. The car uses an organic grille and vent design that appears to further the "Green Tech, Pleasant Life" theme of GAC's Detroit booth, which was decorated with design elements of oriental emerald bamboos and Yin Yang Tai Ji.
The E-JET doesn't exactly pack Tesla-like performance, but it will flow with the traffic. GAC lists a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) and a 0-31 mph (50 km/h) time of 4.5 seconds.
GAC doesn't mention production plans in its press release, but the buzz out of the show is that the Chinese automaker may put the concept into production as early as this year. We expect it may lose those huge tail lamps and the viney grille, but hopefully it will retain those proportions.
A GAC rep told us that the company was testing the U.S. market for possible entry. It defines itself as one of the largest auto manufacturers in China and builds both vehicles and vehicle parts.
In addition to offering its own vehicles, GAC manufactures and distributes other vehicles in the Chinese market. In Detroit, it signed an expanded agreement with Fiat-Chrysler, which will increase its role in distributing Fiat and Chrysler products, including some from the Jeep brand.