China's GAC Motor Ltd is in the process of establishing an R&D centre in North America to help drive its global expansion ambitions, according to local reports quoting company sources.

The new centre is expected to become operational by the end of the year and will focus on researching new technologies such as autonomous driving and new-energy vehicles.

The Guangzhou-based carmaker's head of design Zhang Fan told reporters of the importance of having a presence in advanced global markets such as North America and Europe in order to fulfill the company's growth ambitions.

GAC Motorsaid it sold close to 256,000 vehicles in the first nine months of the year – 138% higher than in the same period of last year.

The company launched a new seven-seater version of the GS8 SUV in China this week, taking on foreign models such as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Edge.