Chinese automaker GAC Group (Guangzhou Automobile Group Co) opened its first R&D center in Europe, choosing Milan, Italy as a fitting location and presenting the Barchetta concept car during the opening ceremony. Designers at the new premises will work together with their colleagues in Los Angeles, U.S., and Shanghai, China, creating the future vehicles of GAC and its sub-brands including Aion, Hycan, and Trumpchi.
Starting with the new Barchetta concept which is on display at the Milan studio, it looks quite futuristic with an extremely low height and semi-exposed wheels. The aerodynamic silhouette is accentuated when the canopy is closed and the headrests are retracted into the bodywork for a pebble-like appearance.
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The Barchetta doesn’t have doors, windscreen, or windows, with two holes on the profile reminiscent of Bertone’s 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero concept and fancy wheels with wire rims. The company was coy on details but from the official renderings, we can see it has two power units (presumably electric), a GPU, and a CPU all located on the passenger side.
GAC’s New Milan Studio
The GAC R&D Center Europe is located in Via Tortona, a design district in Milan, Italy. The building used to be the studio of the late Giovanni Gastel, a renowned Milanese photographer, writer, and poet. The company hopes that the new premises will become a “global design hub, ready to welcome talents from Italy and around the world”. The Guangzhou-based company also has a design studio in Shanghai, China, and the GAC Advanced Design in Los Angeles, U.S.
The team of 25 employees in the fields of vehicle design, experience design, and visual branding is headed by French automotive designer Stephane Janin. The RCA graduate has worked for Renault, Dacia, Alpine, Samsung Motors, Infiniti, and Nissan, before joining GAC. He said that the location of the new center is important as “car designers need inspiration and big cities are the ideal places to capture the spirit of the times”, adding that the studio will be “completely digitized”.
Zhang Fan, Vice President of GAC R&D Center, said: “Design is one of the most important values for the GAC Group and, in today’s market, a key decision factor for customers. We have chosen the city of Milan as our first European design hub for its strong cultural and creative identity, which combines ideas in motion, innovation, and heritage of style and design. We are confident that this center will enable the meeting of creative resources and the development of cutting-edge ideas between our country, Italy, and the rest of the world”.