What Does This Design Patent Mean for America?

trumpchi GS7, Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

It may look like a strange amalgam of Ford and General Motors styling cues, maybe with a dash of something else (Nissan?), but the model in the image you see above is no mystery. And it’s certainly not domestic.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office bestowed a design patent on a certain automaker today and, while the model isn’t named, we know exactly what it is. Does this Trumpchi get your vote?

The model’s name — Trumpchi GS8 — has nothing to do with President Donald Trump; rather, it’s a reference to “China’s trump card.” The three-row GS8 is a larger sibling to the five-seat GS7 launched in China in September. All Trumpchi models are built by Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. (GAC), to which this American patent was issued.

trumpchi GS7, Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Certainly, this model, like its little brother, looks the business. Unlike some other Chinese brands (*cough* Landwind *cough*), Trumpchi models aren’t complete ripoffs of existing designs. There’s not much to get upset about while looking at this design. But why are we looking at it at all? GAC Motor has no dealer network in the United States, and no Chinese automaker has yet to offer a model in the country. Buick, with its Envision crossover, already offers American buyers a Chinese-built vehicle.

The automaker originally filed for the patent on September 23rd, 2016. According to Bloomberg, which spoke to GAC Motor general Manager Yu Jun in June, the company could be planning to piggyback on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in order to get vehicles into buyers’ hands. The two automakers already have a joint venture going in China.

“We will not rule out a cooperation in the future with Fiat Chrysler in the U.S. market,â€� Yu said. “Not only to share the sales channel but also in other work in the future — it is possible.â€�

Trumpchi GS7, Image: YouTube

The executive told Bloomberg to expect a much larger GAC Motor display at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It was also invited to the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association, Yu said. From there it can recruit willing retailers.

While the automaker has a tentative goal of entering the U.S. market in 2019, it first needs to lay the groundwork. Yu said he expected the company to set up a U.S. office in Silicon Valley by October of this year, tasked with handling the research, product development, and sales side of the venture.

[Images: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, YouTube]