GAC Group announced the opening of its Research and Development Centre Europe in Milan, Italy.

The automaker said in a statement: “As part of GAC’s ongoing mission to go global, the launch of [the European centre] marks another milestone in the company’s expansion strategy.

“The hub pools together the world’s top industry resources including leading suppliers and R&D institutions, forming an ecosystem of global excellence to strengthen overall innovative and design capability.”

GAC has a strategy called “Design First, Other Fields to Follow” and the European facility “will prioritise prospective research in the design of concept cars and pre production models and explore the field of emerging technologies at a later stage”.

Centre VP Zhang Fan said: “Design is one of [our] most important values and, in today’s market, a key decision factor for customers. We have chosen 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.”

Stephane Janin, director of GAC Advanced Design Europe, will oversee operations at the new facility.

GAC said Janin was known as “the master of concept cars” in the design industry and was a former head of Renault’s concept car department.

He will head a team of “Made in Europe” talent, joined by members of the GAC Design studios in China and the US.

GAC Motor said it could now “leverage Europe’s sophisticated culture and talent, as well as the region’s extensive experience in production, R&D network and progressive design outlook to maximize our vehicles’ appeal and perceived value”.

The carmaker exported 23,544 units between January and September 2022, up 84% year on year.

Since entering international markets, it has established distribution networks in 28 countries and regions.

“In view of the automobile industry’s promising export potential, the inauguration of GAC R&D Centre Europe will offer a rare opportunity to gain deeper access to customers abroad with the variety of resources now available to the brand,” the automaker said.