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GAC may have given up on its ambitions to launch in the U.S., but the Chinese automaker is rapidly expanding elsewhere, currently operating in 28 countries spread cross multiple regions.

To help cater to tastes outside of its home market, GAC has established a European R&D center based in Milan, Italy. It joins similar facilities in Los Angeles and Shanghai.

Known as the GAC Research and Development Center Europe, the new R&D center is headed by Stéphane Janin, who was formerly in charge of concept development at Renault.

GAC recently hosted an event to mark the opening of the R&D center, where the automaker presented the Barchetta EV concept. As the name suggests, the concept is in the form of a small, lightweight roadster like so many barchettas of the past, but blends this with a futuristic look first seen on GAC’s Time concept from 2021.

To get the height of the vehicle so low, the designers imagined the battery form like the one in a mobile phone. And to keep weight low, they relied on lightweight materials including aluminum for the body, recycled plastic for the interior, and by-wire connections instead of mechanical ones.

The project is the first from GAC’s European R&D center and was built to showcase the talents of the center. It was fully designed using digital tools and was completed within two months, Janin said in a statement.

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