Thailand April 2016: Honda Civic up 4-fold to land on podium

Honda Civic Thailand April 2016. Picture courtesy’s a Honda Civic invasion: 2.408 Thai sales in April alone.

* See the Top 15 best-selling brands and Top 65 models by clicking on the title *

For the third time in the past 6 months, the Thai new light vehicle market is up year-on-year at +2% to 54.986 registrations, with the year-to-date total now down just 6% to 236.546 units. On paper, Toyota is back on track in the brands ranking with sales up 13% to 14.895 and 27.1% share, but it’s not that simple. At the same time last year the Toyota Hilux was in the middle of a generation changeover, giving it a 41% rise to 6.927 sales yet still an astounding 3.000 units below its archenemy the Isuzu D-Max which only needed a mild refresh to gain 4%. The D-Max cements its year-to-date leadership at 42.248 units so far in 2016 (+7%), each month moving further out of reach of the Hilux now at 33.226 (-12%). The other thorn on Toyota’s side has been the Vios, whose production has been stalled to give way of the 2016 model with a new 1.5 Dual VVT-i engine. It is now back with 1.765 sales, albeit 19% down year-on-year and lagging behind segment leader the Honda City (2.291). Lastly, with sales down 21% to 1.052, the Corolla has been hit full frontal by the arrival of the new generation Civic posting extraordinary numbers at 2.408 deliveries in third place overall.

Chevrolet Colorado Thailand April 2016. Picture courtesy facelifted Chevrolet Colorado was unveiled in Thailand on April 26. 

Back to the brands ranking where Isuzu holds strong at #2 and 21.7% share (+2%) above Honda at 16.6% (+6%). Below Mitsubishi at #4 (-3%), Mazda continues to gear up with sales up 13% to 3.443 and 6.3% share, overtaking Nissan this month (-29% to 5.3%). Chevrolet is down 24% and awaits the arrival of the facelifted Colorado with impatience. Chinese carmaker MG is up 5-fold on April 2015 to break its market share record at a splendid 1.3%: the MG 3 is up 6-fold to #25, the MG 5 up 6 spots on last month to #41, the MG GS up 3 to #51 and the MG 6 up 117% year-on-year to #54. In other models news, the Mazda2 is starting to threaten the Honda City with sales up 37% to 1.854, the Ford Ranger is strong at #6 (+25%), the Toyota Fortuner (+231%) continues to benefit from the new model a lot more than the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (+131%) and the Honda BR-V recedes 7 spots on March to #18.

Previous month: Thailand March 2016: Isuzu D-Max increases gap over Toyota Hilux

One year ago: Thailand April 2015: Hilux changeover lifts Isuzu D-Max to #1 year-to-date

Full April 2016 Top 15 brands and Top 65 models below.


Indonesia April 2016: First year-on-year gain in 20 months (+4%)

Toyota Avanza Indonesia April 2016. Picture courtesy Toyota Avanza posts its strongest market share since last October at 15%. 

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

Finally! For the first time since August 2014, the Indonesian new car market manages to gain ground year-on-year with sales 4% in April to 84.703 units, limiting the year-to-date drop to -4% at 351.947 deliveries. The perennial market leader, the Toyota Avanza, celebrates with a 9% improvement to 15% market share, its best since last October, but is still haemorrhaging 14% year-to-date at 12.1% share. The Toyota Agya shoots back up 21% to 2nd place overall with the 2016 success story the Honda BR-V dropping to #3 and 5.4% share but remaining 2nd year-to-date. The Daihatsu Ayla (+45%), Honda Mobilio (+83%), Daihatsu Xenia (+54%) and Suzuki Ertiga (+27%) all deliver spectacular growth, and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport holds its spot inside the Top 20.

Previous month: Indonesia March 2016: Honda BR-V settles at #2, HR-V and Mobilio up

One year ago: Indonesia April 2015: New Toyota Rush breaks into Top 5

Full April 2016 Top 20 models Ranking Table below.


Slovenia April 2016: Clio and Captur shine, Hyundai up 60%

Renault Captur Slovenia April 2016. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Renault Captur is up to #5 in Slovenia this month. 

* See the Top 35 All-brands and Top 185 All-models by clicking on the title *

Slovenian new car sales are up a shy 2% year-on-year in April to 5.472 units, pulling the year-to-date total up 5.6% to 22.163 units. Volkswagen gains 1% to hold onto the brands lead at 15.6% share, a full two-percentage point advance over Renault (-16%) at 13.6%. Skoda (+7%), Opel (stable) and Hyundai (+61%) round up the Top 5. Fiat (+96%), Suzuki (+85%) and Volvo (+173%) shine in the Top 20. The models ranking is reordering itself back closer to its year-to-date form, with the Renault Clio in the lead followed by the VW Golf, Polo and Skoda Octavia. The Renault Captur is up 7 spots on March to 5th place and now ranks 7th year-to-date vs. #10 over the Full Year 2015. The Fiat 500 soars 32 ranks to #10, the Hyundai i20 is up 19 spots to #11, the Peugeot 2008 is up 6 to #15 and the Kia Cee’d up 21 to #18.

Previous month: Slovenia March 2016: VW Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Juke inside Top 4

One year ago: Slovenia April 2015: Volkswagen places 3 models in Top 5

Full April 2016 Top 35 All-brands and Top 185 All-models below.


Romania April 2016: Mercedes GLE solid again in market up 13%

Mercedes GLE Romania April 2016The Mercedes GLE ranks at a stunning 15th place in Romania this month. 

* See the Top 35 All-brands and Top 205 All-models by clicking on the title *

Another month of double-digit gains for Romania in April, up 13% to 6.174 registrations leading to a 19% increase so far this year to 23.645 registrations. This month homegrown Dacia is falling behind market growth at +1% to 1.685 units, resulting in a lower 27.3% share vs. 29.2% so far in 2016. Skoda is very dynamic in 2nd place at +30% but Volkswagen drops 7% to #3, ahead of Renault (+85%), Ford (-18%) and Mercedes (+44%). Opel (+87%) and BMW (+88%) excel. Model-wise, the Dacia Logan (15.8%) and Duster (6.4%) continue to dominate above the Skoda Octavia (4.4%) while the Skoda Rapid and Ford Focus knock the Dacia Sandero down to #6. Volkswagen stacks the Passat, Golf and Polo all inside the Top 10 and the Mercedes GLE impresses once again at #15.

Previous month: Romania March 2016: Homegrown Dacia outpaces market up 23%

One year ago: Romania April 2015: Ford and Fiat pull market up 11%

Full April 2016 Top 35 All-brands and Top 205 All-models below.


Greece April 2016: Toyota and Yaris back in charge in market up 25%

Suzuki Baleno Greece April 2016. Picture courtesy karoto.grThe Suzuki Baleno lands directly inside the Greek Top 40 in April. 

* See the Top 35 All-brands and Top 175 All-models by clicking on the title *

Finally a breath of fresh air for the Greek new car market, up year-on-year for the first time in 2016 at +25% to 9.735 registrations, the largest year-on-year gain since April 2015 (+43%), evening up the year-to-date total with the same period last year (25.061 vs. 25.072). After a Nissan triumph in March motivated by the end of the Japanese financial year, Toyota reclaims the lead of the Greek brands ranking in April with 11.3% share, outpacing the market at +35% as does Opel in 2nd place and 10.1%. Peugeot is up a flamboyant 78% in third position, distancing Nissan (+14%) and Suzuki (+50%) while Volkswagen crumbles down 28% to #6, The models ranking returns to “normal” also with the Toyota Yaris in the lead (+53%) above the Opel Corsa (+26%) while the Fiat Panda surges 158% to #3. The Opel Astra (+65%) and Peugeot 108 (119%) also post spectacular gains, but none as outstanding as the Peugeot 308, up 7-fold on April 2015 to #13. The Suzuki Baleno starts well at #36 with 89 deliveries.

Previous month: Greece March 2016: Nissan triumphs with the Micra

One year ago: Greece April 2015: VW Polo and Opel Corsa in the lead

Full April 2016 Top 35 All-brands and Top 175 All-models below.


Austria April 2016: 10 Volkswagen Group nameplates in the Top 12

Audi A4 Austria April 2016. Picture courtesy autobild.deThe Audi A4 is up 99% year-on-year in Austria thanks to the new model. 

* See the Top 48 All-brands and Top 280 All-models by clicking on the title *

The Austrian new car market is up 5% year-on-year in April to 31.102 registrations, slowly but surely lifting up the year-to-date total to 109.557 units (+4.7%). Top 3 best-selling brands all lose ground year-on-year: Volkswagen (-3%), Skoda (-5%) and Opel (-3%) distance a slew of double-digit growing marques: Audi (+19%), BMW (+32%), Renault (+14%) and Ford (+31%). Kia (+45%), Land Rover (+40%), Jaguar (+559%) and Ssangyong (+225%) fare the best among smaller brands. The VW Golf remains by far the most popular in the country at 5.8% share above the Skoda Octavia (3%), VW Tiguan (2.9%) and VW Polo (2.1%) with the Opel Astra the best-selling non-VAG nameplate at #5. The Skoda Fabia (#6), Seat Ibiza (#7), Audi A4 (#9), VW Bus (#10), VW Passat (#11) and Seat Leon (#12) make it 10 VAG models in the Top 12. Below, the Kia Sportage soars 24 spots on March to #13 and the Hyundai Tucson is back up 16 ranks to #17.

Previous month: Austria March 2016: Suzuki Vitara shines in VW-dominated market

One year ago: Austria April 2015: Skoda Fabia and Fiat 500 up

Full April 2016 Top 48 All-brands and Top 280 All-models below.


Argentina April 2016: Toyota Hilux leads, Renault Duster Oroch lands

Toyota Hilux Argentina April 2016. Picture courtesy Toyota Hilux is the best-selling nameplate in Argentina in April. 

* See the Top 35 All-brands and Top 190 All-models by clicking on the title *

New car sales in Argentina are up a very encouraging 16% year-on-year in April to 59.550 units, lifting the year-to-date total up 7% to 221.591 registrations. Volkswagen (+7%) underperforms but stays in the lead with 17.1% share above Chevrolet (+21%) and Ford (+11%). Renault (#3) and Peugeot (#7) are the most dynamic in the Top 10, each gaining a stunning 67% on April 2015 thanks respectively to the all-new Duster Oroch pickup landing directly at #20 with 1.022 sales vs. just 358 for the “standard” Duster and the 2008 soaring to #23. Toyota (+40%), Fiat (+23%), Citroen (+46%), Honda (+51%) and Nissan (+41%) also outpace the market while Jeep is up 13-fold thanks to the arrival of the Renegade.

Renault Duster Oroch Argentina April 2016. Picture courtesy Renault Duster Oroch lands directly at #20 in Argentina.

Model-wise the Toyota Hilux snaps the pole position thanks to the new generation now spreading into dealerships with sales up 28% to 3.135 and 5.3%. It is the first time since October 2014 that the Hilux ranks #1 in Argentina and this fine performance propels it to #2 year-to-date at 9.739 units, still a fair distance from the Chevrolet Classic (10.658) which is enjoying a new youth in 2016 with sales up another 71% in April to 2.728. The Fiat Palio (+38%), Renault Clio Mio (+27%), Toyota Etios (+35%), VW Amarok (+74%) and Peugeot 208 (+48%) all post spectacular gains in the Top 10.

Previous month: Argentina March 2016: Chevrolet Classic gets second life at #1

One year ago: Argentina April 2015: VW Gol Trend back in charge

Full April 2016 Top 35 All-brands and Top 190 All-models below.


China April 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Haval H7 China April 2016. Picture courtesy sxac.comThe Haval H7 finally launches in China, one year after its unveiling in Shanghai. 

* See the April 2016 Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands here *

After a record 12 new locally-produced nameplates hit Chinese dealerships in March, the pace of new launches slows down in April, yet there are a further seven new models landing this month. The SUV tap certainly has not dried up, with four of these new launches belonging to this segment and spanning the entire spectrum of price: from low-cost (Lifan) to luxury (Cadillac). Volkswagen is trying out a new format for China and Dongfeng launches its flagship sedan into its home market…

VW Golf Sportsvan China April 2016

1. VW Golf Sportsvan (#133 – 3.659 sales)

Volkswagen just launched local production of the two year-old Golf Sportsvan in China through its joint-venture with FAW at its plant in Foshan, Guangdong. The German brand, by far the #1 in the country and the foreign manufacturer with the longest presence in China, has the midas touch here: of all its China-made nameplates, only two have never crossed the symbolic 10.000 monthly sales barrier: the luxurious CC (all-time high of 5.783) and the Touran MPV (5.206). Even a risky bet such as the VW Lamando managed 16.452 units in March this year… In this context, a five-digit monthly figure seems a logical target for the Sportsvan even though this is unchartered territory for the brand: Chinese consumers are not used to this type of format. So much so that similarly to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer launched last month, the Sportsvan is categorised as a sedan instead of an MPV in China. The Golf Sportsvan is priced between 131.900 and 197.900 yuan (US$20.000-30.100).

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Lifan MyWay China April 2016. Picture courtesy

2. Lifan Myway (#168 – 2.342 sales)

Lifan has been posting catastrophic results at home with sales down by an abysmal 74% so far in 2016 to just 15,375 units. To its credit, the manufacturer has rebooted at the Beijing Auto Show last month with *exactly* the format it needs to launch in current market conditions: a 7-seater cutthroat-priced SUV: the MyWay, also starting a new nameplate nomenclature. This the “make or break” model for the struggling manufacturer, and with a solid start at 2.342 sales, the MyWay already accounts for a whopping 44% of the brand’s sales in April. At 4.44m long and powered by a 1.5L petrol engine, it is priced between an almost impossibly low 57.300 and 73.800 yuan (US$8.700-11.200), making it no less than the cheapest 7-seater SUV in China, just below the BAIC Huansu S3 (61.800-72.800 yuan) which peaked at a stunning 20.868 sales last December.

Lifan MyWay China April 2016. Picture courtesy

The MyWay also competes in price with smaller crossovers such as the BAIC Senova X25 (10.593 sales in April), Brilliance V3 (peak at 9.325), JAC Refine S2 (8.073) and Changan CS15 (5.680) but also, thanks to its boxy shape and 7 seats – and this is where Lifan’s strategy is really smart – with a slew of extraordinarily successful local 7-seater MPVs that have been trying to look more like crossovers in recent times. I’m pointing at none other than the Wuling Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan), BAIC Huansu H3 (55.800-62.800) and Karry K50 (46.800-69.800). In other words, Lifan has delivered the perfect offer to get itself out of the sales ditch it currently is in. Now consumers need to respond favourably. The brand’s other two SUV offerings’ monthly volume records are 4.011 for the X50 and 9.273 for the X60. In less desperate times, levelling with the X50 would have been good enough, but Lifan needs much more out of the MyWay.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

Cadillac XT5 China April 2016

3. Cadillac XT5 (#187 – 1.863 sales)

The Cadillac XT5 appears for the first time simultaneously in the U.S. (#231 with 304 sales) and in China in April, with its Chinese score already vastly outpacing its performance at home. A sign of things to come for the Cadillac brand, as the XT5 fully taps into the most dynamic segment in China. Produced at SAIC-GM’s Jinqiao plant in Pudong, Shanghai, at 4.81m long and powered by a 2.0T engine, the XT5 replaces the SRX and is priced at 359.900-539.900 yuan (US$54.800-82.200). It competes with the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and the imported Lexus RX and Porsche Macan. Let’s pause here for a second and stress that the XT5 starts at US$39.990 in the U.S.A – a staggering US$15.000 than in China – and ends at $63.495. Another example of foreign manufacturers marking up their Chinese offering even though they are manufactured locally at reduced cost. The best monthly score for a Cadillac in China so far is 4.054 from the XTS, matching this is a pre-requisite for success for the XT5 which is evolving in a much more potent segment.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Haval H7 China April 2016. Picture courtesy

4. Haval H7 (#219 – 1.290 sales)

The H7 was unveiled a year ago at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show and finally makes its appearance in market with a shy score for now. The Haval brand is now at a crossroads and the H7 is an extremely significant test. Until now, Haval has built its success on high quality, low-priced SUVs: the H6’s historical overall pole position in April had a lot to do with a third price cut bringing its starting tariff down to 88.000 yuan (US$13.400). The H1’s price range (68.900-82.900 yuan) and the H2 (88.800-128.800) are also on the affordable end. Both have been exceptional sales successes but are now losing steam: the H1 is down 9% in April and the H2 down 25%.

It is therefore now time for Haval to look elsewhere for engines of growth, and the H7 represents the up-market direction the brand would like to take moving forward. At 4.70m long and powered by a 2.0T engine mated with a DCT gearbox, it is priced between 149.800 and 169.800 yuan (US$22.800-25.900), logically slotting above the H6 (88.800-162.800) and H6 Coupe (122.800-171.800). It also competes in price with smaller foreign SUVs such as the Honda XR-V or Hyundai ix25, a ‘real world’ test of sorts for Haval. Problem is, the brand has failed so far with its high-end lineup: the H8 (158.800-256.800) peaked at a paltry 1.373 sales while the H9 (209.800-272.800) has an all-time best of 3.066 but is now struggling to reach four-digit monthly volumes. For Haval, a lot rests on the success of the H7: the pressure is real and it will need to reach five-digit figures to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Nissan Maxima China April 2016. Picture courtesy

5. Nissan Maxima (#225 – 1.158 sales)

Nissan wants to bank on the success of the Lannia with this Maxima, the same model as the one sold in the U.S and spreading the brand’s new design language across its Chinese lineup. In China, the Maxima slots above the Teana (177.800-244.800 yuan) and is priced from 234.800 to 267.800 yuan (US$35.800-40.800). Unlike Cadillac with the XT5 above, the prices are in line with what the Maxima sells for in the U.S.A. ($33.345-40.795). The Maxima goes full frontal with the very successful Buick LaCrosse (all-time high of 11.672 monthly units), about to be refreshed, and if Nissan managed to find room in its lineup for a Lannia that matches the Sylphy in size and price, it can definitely do so for the Maxima.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Aeolus A9 China April 2016. Picture courtesy

6. Dongfeng Aeolus A9 (#337 – 148 sales)

Two years after unveiling it as “Concept 1″ at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, Dongfeng makes the plunge with the Aeolus A9, the brand’s new flagship sedan. The A9 mission isn’t volume but brand image, and so far it has succeeded in lifting up the Dongfeng marque at home (see our list of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show) and is generating dithyrambic reviews from the local press. Priced between 179.700 and 279.700 yuan (US$27.400-42.600), the A9 competes with other Chinese flagships such as the more powerful Roewe 950 (189.800-309.900) or the GAC Trumpchi GA8 (169.800-299.800). It is however helpless against the Zotye Z700 (99.800-158.800) or the very impressive Geely GC9 (119.800-229.800). If the latter hit a stunning 6.001 sales last December, the Zotye Z700 (748 sales in April) is a more realistic target as Chinese nameplates in this segment traditionally struggle to post four-digit monthly sales figures. It should be an objective for the A9 but in the end this model is not designed to break sales records, rather showcase the marque’s potential. So far so good.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

BAW BJ80 China April 2016. Picture courtesy

7. BAW BJ80 (#374 – 10 sales)

BAW just introduced this clone of Mercedes G-Class and wants to emulate the success of the B40 which peaked at 1.628 sales in June 2014. With the BJ80, BAIC is nicely expanding its “rough-as-guts” BAW lineup and can expect a solid success with the Chinese army and police forces. The general public may be more cautious however, and a stint above 1.000 monthly units at some stage during the next year would label the BJ80 as a success.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

China April 2016 article: Haval H6 first SUV to lead the overall ranking

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

One year ago: China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Beijing Auto Show 2016: The most impressive Chinese carmakers (5/6)

Dongfeng A9Dongfeng Aeolus A9

Drumroll…. This is the 2nd most impressive carmaker at this year’s Beijing Auto Show. You can see Part 1 (#30 to #21) herePart 2 (#20 to #11) herePart 3 (#10 to #6) here and Part 4 (#5 to #3) here. All the justifications behind the ranking are below.

2. Dongfeng (11,5)

After dropping to 11th place in Shanghai last year, Dongfeng surges to 2nd place overall in our list of most impressive carmakers at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show. As is the case for the majority of manufacturers in the Top 10, Dongfeng has grown to a size at which it is able to display multiple facets. Firstly, two years after unveiling it as “Concept Number 1″ in Beijing 2014, Dongfeng is finally launching a production version of its flagship sedan, calling it the Aeolus A9, and it’s every bit as impressive as it should be, propelling Dongfeng into the league of such Chinese treats as the Hongqi H7 or Roewe 950, despite a refined design still looking decidedly VW-inspired.

Dongfeng A9 Beijing 2016Dongfeng Aeolus A9
Dongfeng Stand detailDongfeng stand decorationDongfeng SX6Dongfeng Joyear SX6

The Dongfeng stands themselves (one for DFSK, one for DFM) and their decoration mark a frank progress and now almost aligns with Haval or Geely. Playing right into the SUV tsunami that is engulfing the Chinese market, Dongfeng unveiled no less than four new entrants in this segment and one production-ready concept, the most of any Chinese or international manufacturers at the Show. Though it may lack a bit of personality, the Joyear SX6 is the most current-looking design-wise and is a crossover version of the Joyear S500 MPV.

Dongfeng Fengguang 580 Pic2 Dongfeng Fengguang 580 Pic3Dongfeng Fengguang 580Dongfeng Fengguang 580 interior Pic2Dongfeng Fengguang 580 interior

The Fengguang 580 was the new launch Dongfeng shouted the loudest about in Beijing with its entire DFSK stand dedicated to it. The interior is lightyears beyond what Dongfeng had got us used to in the past. All the gadgets the Chinese consumer is now demanding are here including a massive touch screen in the central console, the closing door noise and glove box opening softness are on-par with foreign manufacturers and the characteristic plastic smell that still taints many Chinese cars is absent. Dongfeng just stepped into world-class.

Dongfeng Fengshen AX5Dongfeng Fengshen AX5

Building on the success of the Fengshen AX7, omnipresent in more remote areas as we’ll soon see in this year China Photo Report, Dongfeng unveiled the AX3 in Guangzhou and is adding a third member to the Fengshen SUV family in less than 18 months: the AX5. Bonus points for the logical nomenclature, despite common sense still a rarity in China, but the AX5’s interior was blacked out and the doors locked. Dongfeng also presented the Fengdu MX5, slotting below the recently launched MX6 – itself a rebadge of the previous generation Nissan X-Trail.

Dongfeng HUV ConceptDongfeng HUV Concept

In Beijing, Dongfeng also revealed a very playful HUV Concept looking like a big toy and a potential successor to the defunct Toyota FJ Cruiser in the hearts of 4WD fans? Its looks deserve a commercialisation as soon as possible.

Dongfeng HumveeDongfeng Humvee in glorious golden robe

At every major Chinese Show, Dongfeng consistently exhibits its Humvee military vehicle as a link connecting its passenger car lineup with the heavy truck core capability that has made the brand famous in China. But far from lazily showing the same model over and over again, the marque makes sure to vary the pleasures and adds a different spin each time. This year, it was a shining gold example that was shown, and the model continues to bring a lot of attention from the press and the general public.

Dongfeng MilitaryDongfeng Military Truck

Dongfeng asserted even further its aspirations in the SUV segment by choosing to exhibit one of the largest vehicles in the entire show: its military truck pictured above. Adding another layer to the brand’s personality that connects it further with its heavy truck heritage, this armoured vehicle is begging for a private-use variant and looks surprisingly good – at least from the front.

Dongfeng E300Dongfeng E300

Finally, the recent kick-start of local production with its joint-venture partner Renault has already spawned the Dongfeng E300, in fact a Renault Fluence EV.

China April 2016: Haval H6 first SUV to lead the overall ranking

Haval H6 Coupe China April 2016. Picture courtesy ever pole position for the Haval H6 thanks to sales up 43%. H6 Coupe pictured.

* See the Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands by clicking on the title *

The Chinese light vehicle market is up a very satisfying 6.5% year-on-year in April to 1.78 million units, lifting the year-to-date total up 6.7% to 7.45 million registrations. When including commercial vehicles, these figures climb to 2.122 million (+6.3%) for April and 8.65 million (+6.1%) year-to-date. While the China growth softening has been a headline subject in the past year, these results are to be compared with a 3% increase to 5.6 million units in the U.S., a market supposedly in record shape. It’s all a question of perspective… No surprises as to where the engine of Chinese growth lies this month: once again the SUV segment is the sole responsible for the market dynamism with sales up a staggering 32% to 616.524 units. MPV have significantly slowed their growth to just 5% at 177.238 deliveries while sedans are down 3% to 909.173 and microvans continue to freefall at -22% to 85.000 sales. A very symbolic illustration of the drastic consumer  towards SUVs is this month’s overall lead of the Haval H6 thanks to sales up a whopping 43% to 43.946. It is the first time in the history of automobile in China that an SUV is the overall best-selling vehicle in the country.

VW Lavida China April 2016. Picture courtesy cheshen.cnThe Lavida (+53%) helps the VW Group reclaim the overall lead off General Motors.

After being outsold by General Motors for the first time in a decade in 2015, the Volkswagen Group has now reclaimed the title of China’s largest manufacturer despite weaker year-on-year gains at 295.300 deliveries in April (+0.1%) vs. just 277.979 (+7.5%) for GM. In April, the Volkswagen brand is down 2% to 216.700, Audi is up 9% to 49.576 and Skoda up 4% to 23.800. Note CAAM-sourced data has VW up 10% to 227.710 units – potentially due to a different methodology (retail sales vs. wholesale). In the GM aisle, SUVs helped boost the carmaker’s sales with combined sales of crossovers and SUVs under the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Baojun brands up 107%. Buick is up another 56% to 98.992, Baojun up 56% to 37.915, Cadillac up 13% to 7.007 but Wuling is down 14% to 98.580 and Chevrolet down 29% to 35.431. Its solid April score enables the Volkswagen Group to get past GM year-to-date with 1.25 million deliveries (+4.8%) vs. 1.24 million for the U.S. carmaker (+1.7%).

Wuling Hongguang S1 China April 2016. Picture courtsy is counting on a revised Hongguang S1 to revive lagging sales. 

The resurgence of Volkswagen is built on outstanding sedan sales, going against the overall market trend: the VW Lavida is up 53% to 41.408 units, the Jetta up 16% to 29.494, the Sagitar up 26% to 29.279 and the Magotan up 53% to 12.454. Reversely at GM, the Buick Envision is on fire again (+68%) but if the Baojun 560 was teasing the Haval H6 for the SUV title last month with a record 42.077 units, in April it is down to 24.963 while the Baojun 730 MPV drops a harsh 42% year-on-year to 15.072. Meanwhile the perennial market leader, the Wuling Hongguang, is now under attack with sales down 25% to 40.002 in third place for April and down 15% to 207.158 year-to-date vs. 200.973 (+18%) for the VW Lavida. Wuling and Baojun were offering very aggressive price cuts across their entire micro and minivan lineup in April while I was in the country, and Wuling just unveiled a facelifted version of the one year-old Hongguang S1, taking design cues from the SUV segment (pictured above).

Honda XR-V China April 2016. Picture courtesy Honda XR-V sells a record 16.072 units in April. 

Among other brands, Honda is by far the most impressive with sales up 23% to 96.393 (CAAM figures) leading to a 35% year-to-date increase at 326.583. Toyota is up 9% to 101.100, with its year-to-date total up 22% to 392.100, Hyundai is up 7% to 96.222 but Nissan is up just 0.7% to 96.200 (including Infiniti and Venucia), in line with a meagre 0.8% year-to-date increase at 394.800 units. Among Chinese brands, Changan is up 19% to 88.526, while Great Wall is up just 2% to 79.607 as the company is now struggling to sell anything other than the top-selling Haval H6 SUV and the H7 just hit the market (more on this shortly). Great Wall-branded cars are down 76% while Haval is up 19%. BAIC is up 53% to 50.358, riding on the success of Huansu and Senova-branded crossovers and MPV, and Geely is up 11% to 44.668 thanks to the success of its low-priced sedans and the gearing-up of the Boyue SUV.

Land Rover Discovery China April 2016The Land Rover Discovery Sport is manufactured in China. 

In the luxury aisle, below Audi up 9% to 49.576, Mercedes overtakes archenemy BMW thanks to sales up 32% to 35.625 while BMW posts an uncharacteristic 7.4% drop to 35.100 units due to the X1 generation changeover. Year-to-date, Audi is up 5.9% to 189.611, BMW up 6% to 162.221 and Mercedes up 35% to 142.266. Jaguar Land Rover is finally reporting China-made sales albeit not the model split between the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The group’s sales are up 10% year-on-year in April to 9.135, 54% of which are produced locally vs. a 41% ratio in February. So far this year, JLR sales are up 17% to 37.099. Later this year, the very first Jaguar to be made in China, the XFL, will be launched.

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China April 2016The GAC Trumpchi GS4 has sold 230.000 units in one year. 

In other model news, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 breaks back into the Top 10 to hit an all-time best 8th place overall thanks to 25.073 sales, adding up to just under 230.000 in 12 months: an incredible success putting the GAC Trumpchi brand on the map. The Honda XR-V is up 84% to hit a record 16.072 units, becoming the single best-selling Honda nameplate in China for the first time. Adding sales of its twin Vezel (+57%) brings the April total for Honda’s small crossovers to 30.265, equivalent to an extremely impressive 4th place overall this month. The Honda CR-V (+47%) even benefits from this smashing success. Notice also the Zotye T600 is up 27% and another list of models breaking their volume record this month: the Chana Oushang (11.784), Beijing Auto Senova X25 (10.593), Jeep Cherokee (9.201), Changan CS15 (5.680), Zotye SR7 (5.068) and Chana CX70 (4.285).

Chery Arrizo 5 China April 2016. Picture courtesy Arrizo 5 sales are up 49% on last month to 8.109. 

Among the numerous China-made nameplates launched last month, the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong improves 32% and 33 spots on an already stunning start to 14.665 units (#25), the Chery Arrizo 5 logically surges 49% to 8.109 (#71), the Kia KX5 is up 30% to 7.813, the Geely Boyue soars 293% to 4.002 deliveries, still a far cry from my 20.000 monthly sales bar for success for this nameplate but already the brand’s best-selling SUV. The BYD Yuan is turning out to be yet another SUV success for the brand, up 254% to 3.109, the Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 is up 996% to 2.061 units and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is up 54% to 1.709. Reversely the Renault Kadjar is down 40% to 1.641, the Qoros 5 SUV is down 4% to 1.178, the Changhe Q25 up just 5% to 829.

Previous month: China March 2016: Haval H6 and Baojun 560 beat records, market up 9%

One year ago: China April 2015: Growth cool down and SUV surge accentuate

Full April 2016 Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands below.