China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models

We throw a laser focus on the all-new locally produced models hitting the Chinese market so you are up-to-date with all the latest news. No less than 11 new nameplates made their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts in April.

1. Chevrolet Equinox: 5.693 sales

Leading them all is the Chevrolet Equinox with an already very satisfying score. Manufactured by the Shanghai-GM joint-venture, the new generation Equinox is the first one to be produced in China and it’s another welcome breath of fresh air for the struggling Chevrolet brand after the arrival of the Cavalier sedan in September last year. Powered by a choice of 1.5T or 2.0T engines both matched with a nine-speed auto, the Equinox is priced from 174.900 to 249.900 yuan ($25.500-36.400), meaning Chevrolet had the choice of discontinuing the similarly priced Captiva or keep it at a discounted rate. Looking at the two lonely sales the Captiva managed to rack up in April, it would appear Chevrolet has decided to discontinue it instead.

The Equinox enters a very crowded foreign compact five-seater SUV segment that also includes the VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Ford Escape. It bodes well for its chances of strong sales and has emboldened us to lift its bar for success to 15.000. General Motors has also positioned it frankly below the hot-selling Buick Envision (209.900 to 349.900 yuan) which should eliminate the risk of cannibalisation among GM brands. The Equinox is destined to become the best-selling SUV Chevrolet has ever had in China so far, as it already comes close to the Trax’s personal best of 6.937 units.

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

2. Hyundai Celesta: 3.965 sales

Appearing in this month’s sales charts but already displaying a cumulative total of 11.983 sales, the Hyundai Celesta has chosen the wrong timing to enter the Chinese sales charts, in the midst of anti-Korean sentiment that has pulled both Hyundai and Kia sales down over 60% this month. Hopefully for the Korean carmaker this situation will recede shortly and its sales can return to their pre-crisis level. Under a new nameplate hides in fact the Hyundai Elantra Yuedong – the fourth generation Elantra – reskinned and with an updated interior. This is the same method Ford has adopted in China with the Escort, based on the previous generation Focus, and Chevrolet with the Cavalier which is a reskinned previous generation Cruze. Both the Escort and Cavalier compete with the Celesta.

Powered with the same 1.6L engine as the Yuedong matched with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, the Celesta is priced from 78.800 to 120.800 yuan (US$11.500-17.600) and adds to an already busy Hyundai sedan lineup. The Korean carmaker has indeed taken the habit of keeping older generations of the Elantra in production, and the Celesta slides above the new Verna (72.800-105.800 yuan) and the Elantra Yuedong (74.800-95.800 yuan) but below the two latest generations Elantra, the 5th – Langdong (105.800-127.800 yuan) and the 6th – Lingdong (99.800-151.800 yuan).

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

3. Venucia M50V: 2.704 sales

Unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show last April, the M50V is the first MPV by Venucia, Dongfeng-Nissan’s low cost brand. Previously Venucia models have been based on older Nissan platforms but the M50V is based on the Dongfeng Fengguang 360. It is powered by a choice of either 1.5 or 1.6L engines and comes in six or seven-seat configurations. As it is the case for all Venucia nameplates, the M50V is priced sharply at 65.800-84.900 yuan (US$9.600-12.400) which is slightly more expensive than the Dongfeng Fengguang 360 on which it is based (57.900-74.900). Venucia is a late-comer in the struggling MPV segment but its sharp design and modern interior for the segment will make it a worthy option and should trigger solid sales.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

4. Borgward BX5: 1.593 sales 

The BX5 is the second offering from the revived Borgward brand after the BX7 launched last year. Borgward is a German brand that was resuscitated with the financial backing of Foton Motor, a subsidiary of Beijing Auto. Despite being priced dearly, the BX7 has shown strong figures, peaking at 5.556 units last December, and the BX5 should too as it is more sharply designed and more affordable, priced between 149.800 and 216.800 yuan (US$21.800-31.600). The BX5 is powered by a 1.8T engine matched with either a six-speed auto or manual and both FWD and real-time 4WD configurations are available. A 1.4T and 1.4T hybrid are set to join the lineup in the near future.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

5. Cowin C3R: 1.093 sales

This month the Cowin C3 has been replaced by the C3R in the Chinese sales charts, a model that was launched in 2015 and a quirk of the rankings.

6. Chery eQ1: 1.035 sales

After the eQ, an electric version of the QQ, Chery launches the electric eQ1, a mini hatchback that fits right in with the latest mini electric offerings. Priced competitively from 49.800 to 99.800 yuan (US$7.250-14.500) including green car subsidies, the eQ1 features an attractive exterior design and very trendy interior filled with orange and a 10 inch touch screen. Its range is 180 km. A very interesting offering from Chery indeed, the brand having stepped up its design efforts with its latest launches.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

7. Skoda Kodiaq: 913 sales

The Kodiaq we know in Europe is now also produced in China. Sharing the same platform as the new VW Tiguan L, the Kodiaq is made here by the SAIC-Volkswagen joint-venture. It is available in a choice of three turbo engines: 1.4L, 1.8L and 2.0L and priced from 189.800 to 269.800 yuan (US$27.600-39.300), keeping in mind Skoda is positioned slightly more premium in China than it is in Europe. It competes with the likes of the Peugeot 4008 and Chevrolet Equinox we described earlier in the article.

The Kodiaq is the first in a four-pronged SUV attack by Skoda in China. Yet to come are the code named Model Q which will replace the existing Yeti, the code named model K which will be based on the current Yeti platform to spurn a budget crossover and a Kodiaq Coupe, the future flagship of the brand, to compete with the likes of the Honda Avancier and UR-V.

Changan CS55

Also launching in April are the electric JMC E160 (285 sales), the Peugeot 5008 (242) which is the same as the European one, the Buick Velite 5, a rebadged Chevrolet Volt (67) and the Changan CS55 (30), the one with the largest sales potential.

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