As is the tradition on BSCB tradition, after exploring October data in detail, we now go through the all-new locally produced models that enter the sales charts this month and study their sales perspectives. This section is reserved to models that have kick-started local production, import launches will be covered within the import data monthly updates. After welcoming 4 new nameplates in July, 6 in August and 5 in September, four newcomers make their first appearance in the Chinese charts this month. For once, we have two sedans in the lot, accompanied with one SUV and one MPV, with 3 out of 4 launches selling over 2.300 units in October.
1. Nissan Lannia (#145 with 3.756 sales)
This is a very important nameplate for Nissan and the first one it has totally dedicated to China. As I detailed in my highlights report of this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, the Lannia is a Chinese mid-size sedan designed by and for Chinese youth. Its Chinese name is “Lan Niao”, which translates to “bluebird”, although there is no connection with the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy. The core target for the Lannia is consumers born in the 80s and 90s that want edgy design and a car that distances them from what their parents are buying. Sounds familiar? That’s because Chinese car buyers are fast catching up with Western ones in terms of purchase triggers.
The Lannia is produced exclusively in China by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint-venture and is priced from 105.900 to 145.900 yuan (US$ 16.600 – 22.900) and one 1.6L engine available for now, mated with either a manual or automatic gearbox. Interestingly, this means it is actually playing in the same sandpit as the more conservative Nissan Sylphy (99.800-169.800) but will act as the ‘trendier’ option. Lannia total length is 4.68m vs. 4.66m for the Sylphy. The Lannia will compete with such blockbusters as the Hyundai Elantra Langdong (105.800-149.800 yuan), Honda Crider (114.800-149.800 yuan), Kia K3 (102.800-149.800) and VW Bora (107.800-148.300). However given it is Nissan’s second offering in this segment it is unreasonable to expect similar sales figures.
Bar for success: #80 or 7.000 monthly sales
2. Beijing Auto Huansu H3 (#147 with 3.607 units)
Despite the segment losing some of its steam lately, clones of the tremendously successful Wuling Hongguang keep popping in. The latest is the Beijing Auto Huansu H3, and credit to the state-owned manufacturer for making its design look a little more modern than the rest of the Hongguang clones. The H3 slots in above the H2 launched last year with a 4.66m length vs. 4.52 for the H2 that enables it to fit 7 or 8 passengers. As is the case for the majority of Chinese MPV in the market, its price is impossible to beat: ranging from just 55.800 yuan (US$ 8.750) to 62.800 yuan (US$ 9.850) for different trims of the 1.5L manual variant.
As it was also the case for the Jinbei 750 launched last month, the Huansu H3 undercuts both segment leaders in price: the Wuling Hongguang S 1.5L (65.800-69.800 yuan) and the Baojun 730 1.5L (69.400-80.800 yuan), but it also fights against the top-end variants of another Beijing Auto low-cost MPV: the Weiwang M20 (46.800-63.800 yuan). Its launch month already sees the Huansu H3 outsell its smaller colleague the H2 by 2-to-1 and rank #12 among all MPVs in China. A good sign is it hasn’t affected sales of the Weiwang M20, reaching a record 16.248 units this month. The H3 could be an all-out winner for Beijing Auto, enabling the manufacturer to extend its footprint in the low-cost MPV segment currently suffocated by SAIC-GM-Wuling.
Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales
3. Citroen C4 (#178 with 2.369 deliveries)
Launched in France in 2004, the C4 nameplate had never been used in China until now, Dongfeng-PSA preferring to use C-Quatre – the French spelling of the number four – in order to avoid the unlucky associations the number 4 often has in Chinese. The C-Quatre, launched in 2008 here and peaking at #22 and 13.618 sales in November 2013, is replaced by the C4, a different model altogether than the C4 available in Europe. But Dongfeng-PSA wouldn’t make the transition that simple: the C4 is still very confusingly called C4 C-Quatre in Chinese (C4 世嘉).
The C4 slots above the C-Elysée and below the C4L. Prices for the new C4 aren’t available yet but as a benchmark the C-Quatre ranged between 107.800 and 129.800 yuan (US$ 16.900-20.400), which may increase slightly for the C4, available with either a 1.6L or a new 3-cylinder 1.2L turbo engine. This is a very crowded segment in China and Dongfeng-PSA now has three offers sitting very closely to each other, but it should expect at least the same sales level as the C-Quatre.
Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales
4. Beijing Auto Senova X25 (#364 with 4 sales)
The last new entrant in the Chinese sales charts this month makes a very discreet appearance all the way down the bottom of the ranking with just four sales, however be assured it won’t stay there for very long. A rare fact, this is the only all-new SUV to enter the Chinese ranking this month, but the second Beijing Auto nameplate. Surfing on the incredible tsunami of SUV success this year (+61% in October alone), this is one of four Senova SUVs expected to launch in the space of 18 months after the X65 (February 2015) and before the X55 (later in 2015) and X45 (2016). Unveiled at the Chengdu Auto Show in September, the Senova X25 is based on the Senova D20 hatchback and comes right on time to quench the Chinese youth’s insatiable thirst for small, trendy crossovers.
The X25 is just 4.11m long, powered by a choice of 1.3L or 1.5L engines and priced between 55.000 and 75.000 yuan, an incredibly low US$ 8.600-11.800. It competes at the low-end of the fast-expanding Chinese SUV offering, along the likes of the JAC Refine S2 launched last month and ranking at #87 in October, the FAW Junpai D60 (#183), Lifan X50 (#190), Weichai Enranger G3 (#232), Beijing Auto Huansu S2 (#233) and Zotye T200 (#307). Apart from the JAC Refine S2 delivering a promising first couple of months, this price range of crossovers has not been met with tremendous success yet, with similarly sized but dearer nameplates being favoured by (mostly female) Chinese city buyers so far. Cue the ChangAn CS35 (#36), Brilliance V3 (#78) and Haval H1 (#97). The other Beijing Auto Senova SUV in market, the X65, is still ramping up, hitting a best ranking of #136 last month and highest volume so far of 3.971 this month. In this context, BAIC should keep its hopes relatively constrained for the X25.
Bar for success: #120 or 4.500 monthly sales
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