Chinese e-car set for 'Transformers' movie debut

Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:15am EDT
 
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By Samuel Shen and Norihiko Shirouzu

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese-made car is set to make its international movie debut in the fourth "Transformers" film next year in a product placement aimed at raising the profile of Chinese models abroad.

The Trumpchi E-jet, a sleek, plug-in electric hybrid developed by state-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd (GAC), will feature in "Transformers: Age of Extinction", the fourth in the popular movie franchise due for release in mid-2014, said two people close to GAC, based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The "Transformers" series has previously featured other Chinese brands, including PC and TV makers Lenovo Group Ltd and TCL Corp, and Meters/bonwe, a leading leisurewear brand. The movies are among the most popular to be released in China, with "Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon" grossing $165 million in 2011.

"Product placements with "Transformers" would boost the profile of GAC's car brands both at home and abroad," said one of those close to the carmaker, which has local joint ventures with Fiat SpA, Honda Motor Co Ltd, Toyota Motor Corp and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Neither source wanted to be named due to confidentiality agreements they signed in connection with the upcoming film. A spokesperson for Paramount Pictures, the movie's distributor, said the company wouldn't confirm specific brands until nearer the release date. Paramount's local partner, China Movie Channel, declined to comment.

The new movie is being filmed in both the United States and China, with Chinese singer/actor Han Geng making his English-language debut, according to a blog posted on Paramount Pictures' Facebook page.

The film's producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, told the Beijing News earlier this month the movie would feature locally-made cars. "The world's coolest, most exciting cars will appear in the film, including Chinese vehicles, so whether you're a car enthusiast or not, it will be a feast for the eyes," he said.

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A Trumpchi E-jet car is displayed at an auto show in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer