China September 2016: Focus on the All-new models

baojun-310-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-comThe Baojun 310 is one of nine new Chinese-made nameplates to enter the Chinese market.

* See the Top 70 China-made brands and Top 400 models by clicking here *

In September the Chinese market was up a whopping 29% and this dynamism is partly due to the large amount – and success – of all-new China-made nameplates making their appearance in the charts. The September 2016 class amounts to nine new entrants, only one of them below 1.000 units. The sedan/SUV ratio goes to sedans this month at 6 vs. 3.

chevrolet-cavalier-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-auto-sohu-comChevrolet Cavalier 

1. Chevrolet Cavalier (#73 – 9.741 sales)

Chevrolet is reviving the Cavalier nameplate for China only after discontinuing the U.S. version back in 2005. By far the most successful new launch this month with almost 10.000 sales, the Chevrolet Cavalier is in fact a reskined previous generation Cruze, sold at a cut-thorat price: between 79.900 and 109.900 yuan (US$11.800-16.300). Powered by a 1.5L engine matched to a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearbox, the Cavalier slots in between the Sail (59.900-73.900) and Cruze (109.900-169.900) with absolutely no price overlay within the Chevrolet lineup.

The 4.54m Cavalier is aggressively priced: it stands at the same price point as the 4.32m Ford Fiesta sedan (79.900-111.900) and undercuts all its direct competitors by a large margin: the Ford Escort  (96.800-119.800 yuan), VW Jetta (82.800-119.300) and Santana (84.900-123.800). The Cavalier should definitely help the brand stop its sales decline in China and could even pretend at a highesr monthly sales rate as the Cruze, the same way the Ford Escort now regularly outsells the Focus. Given the September sales figures of the Escort (28.944), Jetta (34.313) and Santana (25.680), the Cavalier can reasonably aim at a minimum 20.000 monthly sales peak and an average of 17.500 in the long run.

Bar for success: 17.500 sales

swm-x7-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-autohome-com-cn

2. SWM X7 (#124 – 6.000 sales)

SWM Motors is a new entrant in the tentacular Chinese passenger car brand scene. Originally an Italian motorcycle brand, SWM was bought by Xinyuan Holding in 2014 and is owned by a joint-venture between Brilliance Auto and Xinyuan Holding (aka Shineray). SWM Motors is headquartered in Chongqing, where it has a production capacity of 300.000 annual vehicles (!). Its initials stand for Sironi Vergani-Vimercate Milano but Chinese management canned that to replace it with Start Win More, in the same fashion as fellow Chinese brand BYD stands for Build Your Dreams. SWM has announced no less than 10 new models in the next few years, including MPVs, SUVs and pickup trucks.

swm-x7-interior-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-autohome-com-cnSWM X7 interior

The brand’s first launch is, very adequately, a 7-seater SUV logically baptised X7. Do an internet search on its Chinese name 华晨鑫源 斯威 X7 and you will find that Google Images assimilates it to a BMW, so striking is its resemblance with the BMW X5. The German manufacturer is Brilliance’s joint-venture partner in China. The X7 is priced at 85.900-101.900 yuan (US$ 12.700-15.100), a sharp deal for such roominess inside. It competes with the likes of the BYD S6 (79.900-123.900 yuan), Changan CX70 (68.900-84.900), Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (72.900-99.999) and Dongfeng Fengxing SX6 (69.900-102.900). Three of these four nameplates have crossed the four-digit monthly sales figure threshold: the S6 (15.012), 580 (13.022) and CX70 (10.058). In this context the X7’s start is still very impressive at 6.000 units given it’s a new brand. A long-term average of 8.000 would seal the brand as a solid player in China.

Bar for success: 8.000 sales

baojun-310-back-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-com

3. Baojun 310 (#132 – 5.310 sales)

The Baojun brand is one of the main success stories in the Chinese car world of the past couple of years with the tremendous success of the 730 MPV (personal best at 47.690 sales in December 2015) and 560 SUV (42.077). The brand has been more timid in the sedan category with the 630 (10.220) and Lechi (4.384). In this context, the 310 launch last April at the Beijing Auto Show seemed a little like a lost opportunity as a smaller SUV slotting below the 560 would have been by far a most obvious – and lucrative – choice. The first sales figures seem to indicate otherwise with the 310 instantly towering above 5.000 sales.

baojun-310-interior-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-comLooking a lot more expensive than US$5.400: the Baojun 310 interior.

At 4.03m long and powered by a 1.5L engine paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox, the 310 is priced at an impossibly low 36.800 to 49.800 yuan (US$ 5.400-7.400), in effect killing the antediluvian Lechi, actually priced higher at 39.800-49.800. It undercuts both the more powerful Chery Fulwin 2 (54.800-69.800) and low-cost Venucia R30 (39.900-49.900). The most impressive fact in the Baojun 310 launch is that these bleeding-throat prices do not come with sub-par quality. Both the exterior and interior designs have nothing to be ashamed of compared to cars costing two or there times the price. In the low-cost minicar the new SUV in China? The next few months will tell.

Bar for success: 8.000 sales

chery-tiggo-7-china-september-2016

4. Chery Tiggo7 (#136 – 5.223 sales)

Unveiled at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, the Tiggo7 inaugurates a new era for Chery with a new design language for the brand created by Granstudio, the design agency established by former Pininfarina design director Lowie Vermeersch. At 4.51m long, the Tiggo7 is 9cm longer than the Tiggo3, exactly the same length as the Tiggo5 but has a longer wheelbase (2.67m) and lower roof (1.67m in height). It shares its two engine options with the 5, a 2.0L and turbo 1.5L which will account for the overwhelming majority of sales. All variants are FWD.

chery-tiggo7-interior-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-comChery Tiggo7 interior

Priced from 97.900 to 153.900 yuan (US$ 14.500-22.800), the Tiggo7 enters the wildly popular compact Chinese SUV segment that houses some of the best-selling SUVs in the country such as the Haval H6 Coupe (118.300-159.800),GAC Trumpchi GS4 (99.800-153.800), Roewe RX5 (97.800-177.800), Geely Boyue (98.800-157.900) and Leopaard CS10 (96.300-146.400). As such, it is likely to provide a welcome boost to Chery’s stagnating sales at home and should aim at peaking at 20.000 monthly sales at least, with a 17.500 long-term average a good compromise.

Bar for success: 17.500 sales

geely-emgrand-gl-china-september-2016

5. Geely Emgrand GL (#187 – 2.874 sales)

Geely continues its unbridled lineup renewal with this Emgrand GL, the sedan version of the recently-launched Emgrand GS, produced in Zhangjiakou in the Hebei province. Powered by 1.3T and 1.8L engines matched to 6MT or 6DCT like the Emgrand GS, the GL slots in Geely’s sedan lineup above the best-seller Emgrand EC7 and below the GC9. At 4.72m long, it is priced between 78.800 and 113.800 yuan (US$ 11.700-16.800) vs. 77.800-108.800 for the GS and 119.800-229.800 for the GC9.

geely-emgrand-gl-china-september-2016bGeely Emgrand GL

The GL is one of China’s finest looking sedans and comes into a hotly contested segment. It competes with the likes of the Changan Eado (73.900-119.900), Roewe 350 (78.700-140.700), FAW Junpai A70 (64.800-87.800) and FAW Besturn B30 (69.800-92.800). In terms of foreign entries, the GL will fight against the Buick Excelle GT (109.900-159.900), VW Jetta (82.800-119.300), Santana (84.900-123.800) and matches almost exactly the Chevrolet Cavalier – detailed above – in price (79.900-109.900). Given the success of the Emgrand EC7 (personal best at 25.841) and Vision (14.646), Geely would be in its own right to expect at least a five-digit sales figure from the GL.

Bar for success: 10.000 sales

jac-iev-china-september-2016JAC iEV5

6. JAC iEV (#226 – 1.665 sales)

While JAC has been selling iEV-named cars in its home province of Anhui since 2014, the overall sub-brand only appears this month in the Chinese ranking, and it’s unclear whether the sales figure is for the month or year-to-date. So far, the iEV5, iEV6 and iEV7 have been unveiled, and the iEV6 and iEV7 were scheduled to launch around this month, so this may have prompted JAC to release figures, just as they announced a joint-venture with Volkswagen to produce electric cars under a new brand.

Bar for success: 2.000 sales

jac-iev-interior-china-september-2016JAC iEV5 interiormitsubishi-outlander-china-september-2016

7. Mitsubishi Outlander (#230 – 1.479 sales)

Unveiled in March 2015 in New York, it took 18 months for Mitsubishi to finally kick-start local production of the facelifted Outlander, boosting its China-made SUV lineup to four nameplates along with the ASX, Pajero Sport and Pajero but the Pajero hasn’t sold a single unit since June 2015. The Outlander from two generations ago used to be assembled locally by the Beijing-Mitsubishi joint-venture, but this one is by the GAC-Mitsubishi joint-venture in at its factory in Changsha, Hunan. It is powered with either 2.0l or 2.4l petrol engines. The 2.0l model is a FWD five-seater while the 2.4l is a 4WD seven-seater. Prices range from 159.800 to 223.800 yuan (US$ 23.600-33.100). The ASX peaked at 7.900 sales in December 2015 and the Outlander should reach at least half on a regular basis to be considered a success.

Bar for success: 4.500 sales

jaguar-xfl-china-september-2016

8. Jaguar XFL (#240 – 1.272 sales)

The Jaguar XFL is a long-wheelbase version of the Jaguar XF exclusive to China. It was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April and is produced by the Chery Jaguar Land Rover joint-venture in Changshu in the Jiangsu province. The XFL’s wheelbase is 14cm longer than the XF at 3.10m, bringing the overall length of the car to 5.09m. The engine options are 2.0T 200hp, 2.0T 240hp and 3.0T V6, all mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The XFL is priced from 388.000 to 688.000 yuan (US$ 57.400-101.800) and competes with such strong sellers as the Audi A6L (383.000-742.000), BMW 5Li (428.600-797.600) and Mercedes E-Class L (443.000-779.000). Given the Chery Jaguar Land Rover is only starting to assemble cars in China, the sales figures of the aforementioned three models will remain unattainable for a while for the XFL.

Bar for success: 4.000 sales

citroen-c6-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-58che-com

9. Citroen C6 (#305 – 544 sales)

Yet another new entrant that was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show, the Citroen C6 is a China-only sedan manufactured by the Dongfeng-PSA joint-venture and the brand’s new flagship. Just as the Chinese market can’t get enough of SUVs, Citroen/DS insist on launching increasingly irrelevant hatches and sedans such as the DS 4S and this C6. No wonder the brand is down 15% so far in 2016. The C6 comes with either a 1.6T or 1.8T petrol engine, both matched with a six-speed auto, but is in fact the same car as the Dongfeng Fengshen A9 with a different dashboard, exterior design and logo.

It is priced from 189.900 to 279.900 yuan (US$ 28.100-41.400) vs. 179.700-229.700 for the A9 which is only available as a 1.8T. The Citroen C6 enters a segment already very established that includes the Ford Mondeo (179.800-265.800), VW Passat and Magotan (183.900-332.900) at the lower end, and the Ford Taurus (249.800-349.800), Buick LaCrosse (259.900-369.900) and Toyota Crown (279.800-385.800) at the higher end. The Citroen C5 never managed to reach 4.500 monthly units and although the C6 won’t be enough to turn Citroen’s fortunes around, anything under 3.500 sales will be deem a failure.

Bar for success: 4.000 sales

China September post: China September 2016: Market up 29% anticipating expiring incentives

Previous month: China August 2016: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China September 2015: Focus on the All-new models

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