Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Badaling, Great Wall of China Report

1 VW TouranVW Touran

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This is Part 25 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Report here. After taking you through Beijing streets, on a visit of the Chaoyang car market in Beijing-East, and through a selection of Chinese car brochures picked up in Chaoyang, let me finish the Chinese section of this Trans-Siberian series by a trip to the Great Wall of China in Badaling, 80 km North-East of Beijing. The first thing I was expecting by leaving central Beijing is to see more of the ultra-popular Wuling and co. LCV that I could hardly spot in the city…

2 FAW Xiali N5FAW Xiali N5

…and I was not disappointed. As soon as our bus left the Beijing gate, I could distinctly see a definite Chinese minivan flavour, but the most frequent was a surprise: the ChangAn Honor! Lots of Wuling everywhere of course (Sunshine and HongTu notably), but I also spotted a few Chana Star, Hafei and ChangAn minivans and Karry Q21…

3 ChangAn HonorChangAn Honor

The second thing I was expecting was to see less foreign brands and more local ones. Well it was still a flood of Volkswagens, albeit with older ones added like the previous generation Jetta and the Santana Vista, and a few Lavida, Tiguan and Touran, there was indeed more Chinese models around.

4 BYD S6 F3BYD S6 and F3

The Beijing E-Series pointed its bonnet, as well as many BYD, ChangAn and the odd Landwind X8.

5 Buick GL8Buick GL8

Overly popular in Beijing, the new generation Buick GL8 was also very frequent around the Great Wall of China, but I’m assuming these are official vehicle coming straight from Beijing anyway.

6 Wuling HongTuWuling HongTu

On the way back to Beijing, I was surprised by the amount of ChangAn Benben Mini and Gleagle Panda we passed. The aptly named Great Wall Haval H5 was also everywhere and has definitely marked the Chinese car landscape of its imprint before the H6 took the relay around one year ago. This concludes the Chinese section of my Trans-Siberian long-term Photo Report and with it the Report itself, hope you enjoyed it, I know it took a long time to go through all the different cities I visited but I tried to write commentary as close as my observations on the ground.

7 Toyota Highlander VW SantanaToyota Highlander and VW Santana Vista

I will endeavour to write a conclusion post to the entire trip in the next few days, but in any case if you want to check out any of the previous 24 Photo Report posts the portal to all of them is here.

8 Hafei MinivanHafei Minivan

9 Landwind X8Landwind X8

10 ChangAn Minivan VW TiguanDongFeng Minivan and VW Tiguan

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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: A selection of Chinese car brochures

Kia SportageKia Sportage

This is Part 24 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Report here. After taking you on a visit of the Chaoyang car market in Beijing, I thought I would share with you a selection of the car brochures I got my hands on in that same market as some models are marketed in a very interesting and different way in China than they would be in the rest of the world.

Kia K2Kia K2

Let’s start with Kia, which has kept the previous generation Sportage in the catalogue and has facelifted it complete with LED lights, new grille and aggressive bumper. All-in-all Kia brochures are very sophisticated, thick with glossy paper and playing with matt and shiny effects in their illustrations. The Kia K2 is even introduced as the “First Luxury”…

Baojun 630Baojun 630

In general Chinese manufacturers have not gone all out with their brochures: most of them only consist of one leaflet to the exception of Great Wall which has clearly spent some time designing the Great Wall Haval H6 brochure – not Haval-branded ones available yet though. Baojun’s brochures look nothing like the low-cost brand it’s supposed to be, they even look better than most BYD and Chery catalogues…

Ciimo Si MingCiimo Si-Ming

The Ciimo Si-Ming brochure is interestingly branded Honda, whereas the GM logo on the Baojun brochure is tiny on the right bottom corner…

Honda JadeHonda Jade

Onto Japanese manufacturers, and the all-new Honda Jade is strangely marketed as Sedan Avant-Garde whereas it is a mix of MPV and station-wagon…

Citroen C4L

Citroen C-Quatre

Citroen C-ElyseeCitroen C4L, C-Quatre and C-Elysee

Finally, it took fellow blogger Tycho and I some time to clearly understand the differences between the Citroen C4L, C-Quatre sedan and C-Elysee. All sized similarly, they only differ in their finition level. However the back of the C4L looks exactly the same as the C-Elysee’s while the C-Elysee’s front is impossible to distinguish from the C-Quatre sedan’s. Citroen have you become the new Volkswagen, making your cars all look the same?

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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: A visit to the Chaoyang car market in Beijing, China

1 Baojun rangeBaojun had its own dedicated (albeit small) dealership…

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This is Part 22 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Report here. After an introduction to the Beijing car landscape, I was lucky enough to be taken on a guided tour of the massive car dealership area in the Chaoyang district in Beijing by Tycho de Feijter, founder of the site Car News China. So this Photo Report is not so much representative of the cars in the streets of Beijing but more a harsh selection of the 300+ pictures I took in the two hours we visited the area which houses the dealerships of virtually every marque present in China.

2 Venucia logo…whereas Venucia models were sold alongside Nissan.

3 ChangAn CX20Newly facelifted ChangAn CX20

5 Audi Q3 Gleagle PandaGleagle Panda and Audi Q3 

5 Wuling HongguangWuling Hongguang

6 JAC Refine IVJAC Refine IV

7 Haval LogoHaval H6

8 Hawtai B35Hawtai B35

9 Citroen C-ElyseeCitroen C-Elysee

10 Wuling SunshineWuling Sunshine

Jeep Grand CherokeeJeep Grand Cherokee

11 VW JettaVW Jetta

Full Photo Report featuring 50 more models below (the models are classified in alphabetical order).

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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Beijing, China Photo Report

1 Buick GL8The Buick GL8 is everywhere in Beijing!

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This is Part 21 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Report here. When I said it was a big shock to go from one week in the Gobi desert in Mongolia to Ulaanbaatar, this was absolutely nothing compared to my arrival in Beijing! Granted, I cheated on this part of the trip and flew between the two capital cities. But I rather spend 1h30 in the plane and one more day in Beijing than 30 hours in the train! I hope you will understand and forgive me for this… Well as soon as I landed in Beijing I literally felt like a toddler in a sandpit. Nearly all cars I could see were new to me in the flesh. It’s one thing to report on the best-sellers in China every month for 10 years, it’s another to see all vehicles around you… My last (and only other) time in Beijing was in 2002, and all I can remember was FAW Xiali/Charade and VW Jettas. How things have changed…

2 Jinbei GranseThe Jinbei Granse is by far the most popular minibus in Beijing.

The first striking element in the Beijing car park is the frequency of Volkswagens and Audis, literally everywhere. I know I should have expected this based on national sales figures but once again it’s something else to see it with your own eyes. Even though China sales vehicles have been multiplied by ten since the last time I was here (!), you can still see a lot of people not owing a car and a lot of them take the taxi. There is a well-oiled (?) process at play here: when locals see a free taxi they run towards it as if their lives depended on it regardless of how many other people were there before them, waiting for one. This leaves tourists like me a little befuddled, especially when 10 people have jumped ahead of me, leaving me still taxi-less after 45 minutes… Anyhow, most taxis in Beijing are the locally (as in Beijing) produced Hyundai Elantra from two generations ago.

3 Hyundai Elantra taxiBeijing Taxi fleets continue to buy the Hyundai Elantra from two generations ago.

This Elantra is still sold as new in China, and this was the opportunity for me to learn that most basic models and older generations still in production are solely for taxi fleets. The second most popular taxi in Beijing is the VW Jetta. Now that the new generation has started production, VW executives are still juggling with the idea of keeping the old generation alive in order not to give up that market share to Hyundai. Same situation for Citroen, whose 15 year-old C-Elysee has just been replaced this month. Now I actually totally understand the decision of Citroen to launch the DS range as a separate brand: it is extremely difficult to sell the Citroen marque as a premium one when you have 15 years worth of very basic taxi models still swarming the streets…

4 Buick LaCrosseOne of many Buick LaCrosse I spotted in Beijing

Second very striking element of the Beijing car park: the huge success of Buick. It is indeed very startling to see so many Buicks in the streets of any country, let alone the biggest car market in the world, as the brand is virtually absent anywhere else except the States where it is much less successful than China. Seeing that many here prompted me to think that in a not-too-distant future the Buick brand could well only exist in China… Two models are omnipresent in the capital: the new generation GL8, absolutely and positively everywhere which is a big surprise given its relatively modest ranking in the national sales charts (#70 in September including sales of the old gen), and the LaCrosse here again way more frequent than its national ranking would let you believe (#46 in September).

5 Beijing E SeriesThe Beijing Auto E-Series is very popular in.. well Beijing.

Travelling to Beijing was also the opportunity to try and spot the particularities of the car park in the region, given no detailed sales data by province let alone city is available yet for China. I had anticipated that carmakers based in Beijing would get the favours of consumers. When meeting with Tycho de Feijter, founder of the site Car News China, I learnt that nothing was further from the truth. However cars produced in other provinces end up being more expensive in Beijing as their price takes into account a tax charged when entering a new province. As a result Beijing-produced cars do tend to be more successful in Beijing, but for price reasons, not emotional ones… This trend is best illustrated by the very high amount of Beijing Auto E-Series and Sedona I spotted in the capital city, at odds with their still discreet national rankings (respectively #81 and #201 in September).

6 Roewe 550Roewe 550

Other models I was surprised to see very often in Beijing include the Nissan Sunny, Roewe 550 and VW Bora, but reversely I saw very few Ford Focus, a very different picture that the one painted by the 2013 national sales charts. Sales figures for LCVs are also patchy for China, and I was glad to be able to observe that market with my own eyes. The Jinbei Granse is extremely successful, potentially in the Top 3 or 5 overall in Beijing, with its twin the Foton View also very popular. Minivans like the Wuling Sunshine are relatively rare in cities as Tycho explained to me, but a short trip to the Great Wall of China in Badaling confirmed the situation changes as soon as you leave the big metropolis (a dedicated Photo Report on the Great Wall will be uploaded shortly).

7 Brilliance H230Brilliance H230

The other extremely interesting element I was able to observe in Beijing is which imported cars are the most successful. As you know import data is virtually non-existent for China (hopefully not for too long), so I was curious to discover the most popular ones. Land Rover has been met with a warm welcome in Beijing, with many Range Rover Evoque and one new generation Range Rover spotted. I can understand why Jeep will return to local production as the previous generation Cherokee is still very frequent in Beijing streets: the new range will sell like hot dumplings here…

8 Range RoverNew generation Range Rover

The Toyota Alphard was another surprise success in Beijing, to such an extent that Toyota is reportedly thinking of kick starting local production for this model. A few Jaguar XF caught my eye, as well as solid numbers of Renault Koleos (in any case more than in Paris!), whereas Infiniti and Acura are still a little discreet for now.

9 Infinti MInfiniti M

Needless to say that all Chinese models I saw in Beijing I did so for the very first time and I have to say my Chinese brand logo recognition skills were definitely put to the test…

10 Toyota Corolla EXFacelifted Toyota Corolla EX

And I had a few surprises like discovering this facelifted Toyota Corolla EX above, I had no idea this model enjoyed a China-exclusive cleanup of its front earlier this year…

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