Big upgrade in little China: GAC Group will have a main-floor display at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show

It's going to take more than a big stage to convince Americans to accept Chinese automakers with open arms, though.

Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

Earlier this year, GAC Group unveiled its GS4 SUV in the lobby adjacent to the NAIAS main hall.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

In 2015, GAC Group (otherwise known as Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd.) had an exhibit in the front-most hall of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, where it showed off its GS4 SUV. This year, instead of being out in the lobby, GAC Group will be in the main hall, among the heavy hitters in the US car industry.

"GAC Group's return to NAIAS is very exciting for our show as it underscores the significant coverage and impact automakers receive in markets across the globe when unveiling products at our show," said Sam Slaughter, NAIAS chairman and possessor of an awesome name. Being in front of an international audience, and the attention that comes with it, is one of the driving reasons that brought GAC Group back for a second year.

It's not just about the media, either -- it's about networking opportunities. Rubbing shoulders with established players can do great things for a group that's trying in earnest to break into the US. Auto shows are helpful in this way. Look at Lyft: Rumor has it that talks during the LA Auto Show and Connected Car Expo helped create its current relationship with General Motors.

While convincing automakers to team up or at least share ideas is one thing, it's another thing entirely to convince the American buying public to accept a Chinese automaker wholesale. Preconceived notions can be overturned, but our political rhetoric isn't exactly fostering a Sinophilic attitude here in the States. Hell, we noticed a fair bit of crying foul when Buick announced its intent to sell the Chinese-built Envision SUV in the US.

But those sentiments can, and likely will, change over time. What's important is that GAC Group is swinging for the fences, and NAIAS is giving the company the chance to step up to the plate.

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