Chana Mini Truck on the Kangding to Dégé road
We now leave Kangding to undertake a strenuous 14h and 586km / 364 miles bus journey to the small town of Dégé, the closest to the Tibetan province I am allowed to reach as a foreigner without a special permit. This is the 9th instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after Beijing, Xining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of Xining, Tongren, Xiahe in the Gansu province, the mountain road back from Xiahe to Xining, Chengdu in the Sichuan province and Kangding. This report doesn’t include the Mt Chola Pass (4888m) which is the last main obstacle before reaching the town of Dégé and will form a standalone report to come shortly.
The main learning from this part of our Chinese adventure is that the country’s countryside is where the Wuling Hongguang has, is and will be building its national domination of the sales charts. The vehicle is almost exclusively used as shared taxi to link various little villages along the way – and there were many! Buses like the one I took do exist but they are rather rare (at most two a day) and may not stop exactly where you want, or most likely they are full by the time they reach your village as they only travel between large cities, in my case from Kangding to Dégé. It was a continuous flow of old and new Hongguang all through the day as you can witness in the pictures below. In fact, between Kangding and Garze (386 km), the Wuling Hongguang represents one-third of all cars on the road.
Being a more remote area of China, pickup trucks are allowed and frequent on the road. They are logically dominated by the Great Wall Wingle 5, the national segment leader, but I saw no Wingle 6. The next best-selling pickups in the area are the Dongfeng Rich, ZX Auto Grand Tiger and Nissan D22 in this order.
Baojun Yechi, Chery QQ and Jiangnan Alto
Among popular private cars in the region, the more striking are a string of mini and very affordable cars: the Jiangnan Alto, Chery QQ and Baojun Yechi can be spotted everywhere. In the SUV aisle, notable popular models include the Leopaard CS10, Brilliance V3, JMC Yushu S350, Hyundai ix35, old gen Tucson, Toyota Land Cruiser and Prado. There is a strong heritage of Great Wall Hover H5 and as a result we can spot many H6, including the more recent H6 Sport and H6 Coupe. Surprisingly, Volkswagens are rare.
Of course I spotted the now traditional Ford F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tundra on the way…