China July 2017 – Focus on the All-new models

Nissan Kicks. Picture auto.sina.com.cn 

Today we put a laser focus on the new locally-produced launches in China, the world’s fastest-evolving market, so you can stay up-to-date on the latest additions. The July 2017 promotion is a shy one with only three newcomers – all of them SUVs – and the first foreign launch in two months.

1. Nissan Kicks: 4.531 sales

Already launched and successful in Latin America and the Middle-East, the Nissan Kicks has now landed in China as a locally-produced nameplate. This is a very important car for Nissan in China, as it gives the Japanese brand a serious competitor to the incredibly successful XR-V/Vezel duo from Honda, and also an advantage over Toyota which is (disappointingly) yet to release a local version of the CH-R. It also competes with the likes of the Mitsubishi ASX and Suzuki Vitara, and in the Chinese aisle, the (much cheaper) Baojun 510 and MG GS and ZS. Had it launched a couple of years earlier, the Kicks would have almost definitely turned out to be Nissan’s biggest blockbuster in China. It’s now a little late in the game but should still deliver serious volumes for the brand. Priced between 99.800 and 134.800 yuan (US$15.100-20.400), it is significantly cheaper than the Honda twins (127.800-189.800 yuan) which augurs well for its chances of success. Nissan’s range in China is currently dominated by the Sylphy sedan ranking #6 overall so far in 2017, with the Qashqai (#30) and X-Trail (#31) a notch below. The Qashqai has never sold more than 16.000 monthly units in China (PB is 15.680 in November 2016) whereas the X-Trail has topped the 20.000 units three times, peaking at 20.504 in November 2015. In this context, we would want the Kicks to flirt with the 15.000 monthly units to fit with the gang, but it could certainly go much higher. For reference, the XR-V’s record is 19.714 (April 2017) and the Vezel 18.329 (November 2015).

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

2. GAC Trumpchi GE3: 32 sales

Debuting at the Detroit Auto Show last January as a semi-concept and unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, the GAC Trumpchi GE3 is the brand’s second electric SUV after the GS4 EV and is a compact SUV a la Kia Niro. It is powered by an electric motor with 177 hp, the range is 300Km and the top speed 156 km/h. The GE3 inaugurates a new platform developed solely for electric cars that will also underpin an MPV and a sedan. It enters the already large contingent of Chinese EV vehicles, most of them only playing a dummy role in the sales charts. Priced reasonably at 222.800-245.800 yuan (US$33.700-37.200), the GE3 should however not reach the highest ranks of the Chinese sales charts.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

3. BAW BJ90: 2 sales

The BJ90 already has a convoluted history. Spied in its final form since September 2015 and rumoured to be unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2016, the BJ90 only makes its appearance in the Chinese sales charts today, and with a lonely two units at that. No official launch has been set yet, there are no test-drives in the Chinese press which given the allure this large SUV sports is a sizeable missed opportunity. But the BJ90 isn’t really a BAW vehicle. It would appear that BAW uses imported Mercedes GL-Class and only changes badges, some body panels, some parts of the dashboard and the rear seats. All the rest, including the drivetrain is the same and almost nothing is actually manufactured in China! This sorcery is made possible by a technology-transfer agreement with Mercedes-Benz, one of BAIC’s joint-venture partners in China. Given the recent success of the BJ20 and BJ40 finally surfing on the Chinese SUV craze, delaying the BJ90 is total nonsense. Worse: competing with the Honqi LS5, it would appear this vehicle will be reserved to military or government officials. Its price should start around 800.000 yuan (US$121.100).

Bar for success: 200 monthly sales

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