China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Tagong and Daocheng Airport

Wuling Hongguang Tagong 5The Wuling Hongguang dominates the Tagong car landscape.

This is the 12th and last instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongrenXiahe in the Gansu province, the mountain road back from Xiahe to XiningChengdu in the Sichuan provinceKangdingthe Kangding to Dégé road, the Chola Pass and Dégé.

China map with Tagong and DaochengLocation of Tagong and Daocheng in China – connected with the yellow line. 

At 3.700 metres altitude (12.139 ft), small Tagong (aka Lhagang) is home to just under 9.000 inhabitants. It is surrounded by stunning grasslands and monastery galore. This is the county of yak butter tea and mani stones carved with the mantra of Buddha’s path. The Lhagang Monastery and Ser Gyergo nunnery lost in the grassland are two of the main attractions here.

Jya Drolma and Gayla's GuesthouseTagong MonasteryTagong snaps Chana ZX Auto Pickup TagongChana and ZX Auto Pickups in Lhagang Monastic school.Tagong street sceneTagong streetDongfeng Rich TagongDongfeng Rich on Tagong’s main square

As for the car park in town, once again it is obliterated by the Wuling Hongguang, not as a private car but a shared minivan to link the small town to its surroundings: numerous monasteries, Kangding or other towns closeby. A few pickups, including a shining new bright yellow Dongfeng Rich pictured above, remind us we are well in the countryside. Formerly very quiet, Tagong shakes every time a Dongfeng or Howo heavy truck roars through its main artery blaring its horns at full volume so that everyone runs out of the way and they don’t have to slow down…

Tagong street scene 5Tagong’s main squareMG GS TagongMG GS Tagong street scene 2Monks in TagongBrilliance V3 TagongBrilliance V3 and Wuling Hongguang Wuling Hongguang Tagong 2Wuling HongguangDaocheng Yading AirportDaocheng Yading Airport

Getting to the nearby Daocheng Yading Airport isn’t a very easy task: first I need a private minivan to get me to Kangding Airport 50km away, then a very short flight lands me at Daocheng Yading, the highest civilian airport in the world, altitude 4.411 metres (14.472 ft). The previous record-holder, Qamdo Bamda Airport is also closeby across in Tibet at 4.334 metres (14.219 ft). The airport is less than 3 years old as it opened in September 2013. It cuts the journey time between Daocheng and Chengdu to one hour, instead of two days by bus… There, it’s an armada of new gen VW Jetta taxis that are waiting patiently in the airport’s parking.

This report concludes our 2016 China Photo Reports, we hope you have enjoyed travelling with us as much as we did exploring these places and writing about it. We’ll explore yet another region of China after the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show next April!

VW Jetta Daocheng Yading AirportVW Jetta taxi armada in Daocheng Yading Airport 

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Dégé, Sichuan Province

1. Wuling Rongguang DegeWuling Rongguang in Dégé, Sichuan Province.

After climbing the legendary Chola Pass, we now arrive at the small town of Dégé. This is the 11th instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongrenXiahe in the Gansu province, the mountain road back from Xiahe to XiningChengdu in the Sichuan provinceKangding, the Kangding to Dégé road and the Chola Pass.

China map with DegeLocation of Dégé in ChinaDégé townTraditional Tibetan houses in Dégé

Dégé, altitude 3.262 metres (10.702 ft) and population 58.600, is known for its printing monastery dating back to 1792. It is an ongoing printing operation that still uses traditional woodblock manual printing methods, and can print an astounding 70% of Tibet’s literary heritage thanks 320.000 scripture plates resting in storage chambers. Observing the lightning fast moves and meditative prayers of the army of printers working in a maelstrom of paper, ink and wood blocks is an utterly fascinating experience.

Wuling Hongguang Dege 7

2. Wuling Hongguang Dege 1

Wuling Hongguang Dege 5

Wuling Hongguang Dege 3

Wuling Hongguang Dege 2

Wuling Hongguang Dege 6

Wuling Hongguang Dege 4Wuling Hongguang’s are everywhere in town.

As is was the case all the way from Kangding, the Wuling Hongguang is master in command in the Dégé car landscape, used everywhere as shared minivan. The all-new S1 variant is already present here, as pictured at the start of the Hongguang photo series above. In these parts of China, the Hongguang is almost always white and very often adorned with “sporty” red and grey stickers on the side.

3. Liebao Black King DegeLiebao Black EditionJiangnan Alto DegeJiangnan Alto

As we’re getting closer to the Tibetan Province and the border with India, the taste in private cars also moves to a closer picture of these two neighbours. The Liebao Black Edition is extremely popular in town. It’s a 1990s Mitsubishi Pajero manufactured locally under license and the overall best-seller in Tibet in 2014. The newer Leopaard Q6 (the new name of the brand) is also and logically successful here. Also, the Jiangnan Alto, the cheapest new car available in China at 19.600 yuan (US$2.900), is one of the favourites in town, replicating a long-held success in neighbouring India and – further away – Pakistan.

4. Toyota Prado DegeToyota PradoWuling Rongguang Dege 2Wuling Rongguang

The Toyota Prado and Land Cruiser are the most successful foreign 4WDs in town, which also displays a clear heritage of Wuling Rongguang minivans (not so many Wuling Sunshine): they must have ruled the Dégé sales charts before the arrival of the Hongguang.

VW Jetta Liebao Black King DegeVW Jetta taxi and Liebao Black Edition

The Dégé taxi fleet is almost entirely composed of previous generations VW Jetta, with the new model still struggling to make its mark here.

Great Wall Wingle 5 DegeGreat Wall Wingle 5Nissan D22 DegeNissan D22

Pickup-wise, we find the best-seller Great Wall Wingle 5 as the logical best-seller here, with the Nissan D22 and Dongfeng Rich also popular. This concludes our study of the cars of Dégé, our next (and last) stop will take us back towards Kangding in Tagong, then to the highest commercial airport in the world in Daocheng. Stay tuned!

Liebao Black King Wuling Hongguang DegeLiebao Black Edition, Wuling Hongguang/Rongguang and Leopaard CS10

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The Chola Pass, Sichuan Province

Chola Pass 12Just after the summit at Chola Pass, Sichuan Province.

Resuming our Chinese adventure, we now launch on the legendary (/terrifying?) Chola Pass, currently the only way to the town of Dégé.  This is the 10th instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongrenXiahe in the Gansu province, the mountain road back from Xiahe to XiningChengdu in the Sichuan provinceKangding and the Kangding to Dégé road.

China map with Chola PassChola Pass location: the yellow section just east of Dégé on the map.

Chola Mountain is part of a mountain range of the same name, whose highest peak is 6.168 metres high (20.236 ft). The National Road G-317 climbs the moutain via the Chola Pass, culminating at 5.050 metres (16.568 ft), according to the marking at the Pass. However, my measurements through the Altimeter iPhone altitude app showed a high point of 4.888 metres (16.037 ft), still the highest point on earth I have ever set foot on and higher than the 4.807 metres Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the whole of Europe.

Chola Pass 14End of the descent on the way back 

I had the chance / horror to do a return trip on the Mt. Chola pass, to and from Dégé, at a two-day interval (and with the same bus drivers!). On the way into Dégé it was snowing heavily whereas on the way back the sun was shining bright. This makes for two very distinct sets of photos I will share with you today.

1. Chola Pass, Manigange – Dégé way

The Mt. Chola Pass is a strenuous 1.5 hour ride on a slim and ill-maintained dirt track carved into the mountain side. Given it is still the only way to access Dégé from the Sichuan side for now, the full gamut of traffic has no choice but undertake the Pass climb, including heavy and large trucks that manoeuvre precociously inches away from the precipice at each crossing. My intense excitement at climbing the Pass once I read about it on the Lonely Planet China guide quickly morphed into disbelief at how insanely naive I was to want to undertake this trip as soon as the climb started.

Chola Pass 1 Chola Pass 3

The bus was swaying widely and uncontrollably at each pothole in the track all while the road was becoming more and more slippery with the melted snow and ice that fast accumulated on it during our climb. Fortunately, I was sitting just behind the – very experienced – driver and therefore could anticipate almost all movements of the bus as I was intensely checking the track ahead of us.

Chola Pass 4The dirt track got a lot snowier as we descended on the way to Dégé. 

Chola Pass 5 Chola Pass 6Just after sunset on the return climb to the Chola Pass

2. Chola Pass, Dégé – Manigange way

A departure just after sunrise on a very clear day on the way back offered a much more serene – even if still agitated – experience. The breath-taking panoramas of snowy mountains are worth all the trouble the climb is.

Chola Pass 8

Chola Pass 7

Chola Pass 9Just before the summit…Chola Pass 10The Chola Pass itselfChola Pass 11 Chola Pass 13

This striking but mandatory experience is about to come to an end though, as a tunnel was nearing the end of its construction at the time I took the Pass (9-11 May 2016). After 90 minutes of high emotion driving, the entire crowd of the bus – all locals as I was the only foreigner, as it has been the case for almost the entirety of this Sichuan adventure – roared in applause when spotting the mouth of the tunnel down the valley (pictured below).

Chola Pass 15Mouth of the Chola tunnel under construction (as of 11 May 2016).

Chola Pass 16Even though still under construction, the nearby Gaesar Airport is already signposted.

China 2016 Photo Reports: The Kangding to Dégé road, Sichuan province

Chana Mini Truck China 2016Chana Mini Truck on the Kangding to Dégé road

We now leave Kangding to undertake a strenuous 14h and 586km / 364 miles bus journey to the small town of Dégé, the closest to the Tibetan province I am allowed to reach as a foreigner without a special permit. This is the 9th instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongrenXiahe in the Gansu province, the mountain road back from Xiahe to XiningChengdu in the Sichuan province and Kangding. This report doesn’t include the Mt Chola Pass (4888m) which is the last main obstacle before reaching the town of Dégé and will form a standalone report to come shortly.

China Map with Kangding and DegeThe section of our itinerary today is in yellow.

Wuling Hongguang S1 China 2016Wuling Hongguang S1

The main learning from this part of our Chinese adventure is that the country’s countryside is where the Wuling Hongguang has, is and will be building its national domination of the sales charts. The vehicle is almost exclusively used as shared taxi to link various little villages along the way – and there were many! Buses like the one I took do exist but they are rather rare (at most two a day) and may not stop exactly where you want, or most likely they are full by the time they reach your village as they only travel between large cities, in my case from Kangding to Dégé. It was a continuous flow of old and new Hongguang all through the day as you can witness in the pictures below. In fact, between Kangding and Garze (386 km), the Wuling Hongguang represents one-third of all cars on the road.

Wuling Hongguang China 2016 Pic4Wuling Hongguang China 2016 Wuling Hongguang China 2016 Pic6 Wuling Hongguang China 2016 Pic5 Wuling Hongguang China 2016 Pic2Wuling Hongguang China 2016 Pic3Some of the numerous Wuling Hongguang spotted along the roadKangding Derge roadWe are met with snowy mountains at the start of the journey.Great Wall Wingle 5 China 2016Great Wall Wingle 5 

Being a more remote area of China, pickup trucks are allowed and frequent on the road. They are logically dominated by the Great Wall Wingle 5, the national segment leader, but I saw no Wingle 6. The next best-selling pickups in the area are the Dongfeng Rich, ZX Auto Grand Tiger and Nissan D22 in this order.

Baojun Yuechi Chery QQ Jiangnan Alto China 2016Baojun Yechi, Chery QQ and Jiangnan Alto 

Among popular private cars in the region, the more striking are a string of mini and very affordable cars: the Jiangnan Alto, Chery QQ and Baojun Yechi can be spotted everywhere. In the SUV aisle, notable popular models include the Leopaard CS10, Brilliance V3, JMC Yushu S350, Hyundai ix35, old gen Tucson, Toyota Land Cruiser and Prado. There is a strong heritage of Great Wall Hover H5 and as a result we can spot many H6, including the more recent H6 Sport and H6 Coupe. Surprisingly, Volkswagens are rare.

BAIC Huansu S6 China 2016BAIC Huansu S6 Kangding Derge road Pic2Tibetan-style houseFord F-150 Raptor China 2016Toyota Tundra China 2016The traditional Ford F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tundra.

Of course I spotted the now traditional Ford F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tundra on the way…

Jiangnan Alto China 2016 Hafei Minivan China 2016Dongfeng Heavy Truck China 2016Dongfeng heavy trucks rule the road  Baojun 730 China 2016Crossing one of many villages
Chana Minivan China 2016Lining up on the road while a crashed truck gets lifted out.

China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Kangding, Sichuan province

1. VW Jetta Taxi Kangding China 2016VW Jetta Taxi

After Chengdu, we are now flying 325km / 200 miles south-west to Kangding, still in the Sichuan province. This is the 8th stop in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongrenXiahe in the Gansu province, the mountain road back from Xiahe to Xining and Chengdu in the Sichuan province. Kangding, although a small town (by Chinese standards) of 110.000 inhabitants, is known all across China because of a song called, well, “Kangding Love Song” whose latest cover by band Phoenix Legend is displayed below for your musical entertainment.

China map with KangdingKangding location in China

Kangding is the capital of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is set in a very steep valley. There is nowhere really flat in town and you must enjoy (at least a little) arduous uphill walks to get anywhere. There is a burnt pine fragrance all across town coming from the various Buddhist temples located on the surrounding hills. Kangding inhabitants are also the world champions at group dancing, everyday at 7pm on People’s Square. More on this further down in the report.

Kangding AirportKangding Airport

Landing at Kangding Airport is an experience in itself: situated at 4,280 m (14,042 ft) above sea level, Kangding Airport is the third highest commercial airport in the world behind Daocheng Yading Airport nearby in Sichuan province and Qamdo Bamda Airport, also in China in the Tibetan province. It is located on a plateau with sprawling views of the surrounding mountains, and if the flight from Chengdu was a mere 50 minutes, it takes a further 90 minutes to reach the town of Kangding through steep mountain roads taking us on a vertiginous drop of over 1,700m (5,577 ft), as Kangding’s altitude is 2,560 m (8,400 ft).

Kangding China 2016KangdingHaval H9 Kangding China 2016Haval H9Zotye T600 Kangding China 2016Zotye T600Wuling Hongguang S1 Kangding China 2016Wuling Hongguang S1

The Kangding car landscape offers us another fascinating facet of the Chinese market. Like in Xiahe in the Gansu province, the Wuling Hongguang MPV is by far the most frequent vehicle in town, used as a shared taxi, including the most recent S1 variant pictured above. The Liebao King Edition, a rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero that ranked #1 best-seller in the Tibet province in 2014, is also very popular here as well as the original Mitsubishi Pajero, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Prado. This popularity hasn’t led (yet?) to a strong start from the Leopaard CS10 though, even though it is manufactured and distributed through the same channels.

CNG Pikcup Toyota Prado Kangding China 2016CNJ Mini Truck and Toyota Prado
Dongfeng Joyear SUV Kangding China 2016 Pic2Dongfeng Joyear SUV
Ford Edge Kangding China 2016 Pic2Ford Edge and Peugeot 508 Haval H6 Kangding China 2016Haval H6

Workhorses (read mini trucks or micro pickups) are more branded Chana than Wuling, and popular passenger cars include the Changan Benben Mini, Jiangnan Alto, Chery QQ, Baojun Yuechi, Geely Emgrand EC7, Dongfeng Joyear SUV and Changan CX20. The BYD brand is popular, taxis are either Mitsubishi Lancer (75%) or new VW Jetta (25%) and I spotted three Landwind X7 in two days (the Range Rover Evoque clone).

Hyundai Tucson Kangding China 2016Hyundai Tucson
Kangding Jingang TempleKangding Jingang Temple
Liebao Black EditionLiebao Black Edition

Every evening at 7pm on the People’s Square, hundreds of Kangding inhabitants of all ethnicities come together for two hours of non-stop group dancing. One leader shows the dance moves to be followed and the whole group dances along, trying their best with various degrees of skill to learn and master the moves. The most important is not to be a perfect dancer but to participate and have fun along the way, all in the name of physical alertness and group enjoyment. Can you spot the leader on the above video?

Toyota Vios Kangding China 2016Toyota ViosToyota Land Cruiser Kangding China 2016Toyota Land Cruiser
Changan Benben Kangding China 2016Changan Benben MiniMitsubishi Lancer Taxix Kangding China 2016Mitsubishi Lancer Taxi 

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Chengdu, Sichuan province

Chengdu street scene 4 Chengdu China 2016Chengdu street scene

This is the 7th instalment in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining in the Qinghai province, the Chinese car dealerships of XiningTongren, Xiahe in the Gansu province and the mountain road back from Xiahe to Xining. We are now flying south-east to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province and home to a whopping 14 million inhabitants – that’s much more than Paris or London. The main attraction in Chengdu is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base where you can observe Sichuan’s most famous residents chomping on bamboo at lunch time.

China map with ChengduChengdu location in ChinaChengdu PandaLunch break from Kung Fu Panda 4 shoot

Chengdu is the fifth-most populous agglomeration in China, but the quiet streets of its old quarter are where it is at its most comfortable. Filled with traditional tea houses complete with bamboo chairs and wooden tables offering jasmine, long jing and biluochun tea, the old Chengdu had a vibe that I hadn’t experienced before in China. Its laid-back locals and succulent cuisine also helped.

VW Jetta Taxi Chengdu China 2016VW Jetta Taxis lining up at Chengdu International AirportChengdu street scene 2  Chengdu China 2016Chengdu street sceneChengdu street scene China 2016Citroen C-Elysée taxi and VW Lamando in Chengdu

Exclusive FY2014 Ranking by province published on BSCB shows that the VW Jetta is by far the best-selling nameplate in Sichuan, and looking at the car landscape in Chengdu, this domination has a lot (but not all) to do with taxi companies. Chendgu taxis are composed of only two nameplates: the old and new generations VW Jetta, with a healthy amount of new generation Citroen C-Elysée thrown in the mix. All Chengdu taxis run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Chengdu street scene 3 Chengdu China 2016Brilliance H330 in between Peugeot 308and Chana MinivanBrilliance H230 Chengdu China 2016Brilliance H230

A couple of striking characteristics of the Chengdu car landscape are the strength of Brilliance brand with the V3 small crossover already well established and a constant stream of sedans otherwise not-so-successful nationally such as the H230 and H330. The Roewe brand is also stronger than expected with the 360 sedan already popular, and PSA Peugeot-Citroen is as popular in Chengdu today as it was 10-15 years ago (meaning: very). Loads of Peugeot 206 sedans and “civilian” Citroen C-Elysée can be spotted in town. Overall though, there can be full traffic light-loads of cars with not a single Chinese brand within them in Chengdu, in a car park that impresses with its young age given the size of this city and the amount of cars sold each year. In order to succeed here, Chinese carmaker will have to “premiumise” and do it fast – in the vein of what Haval, Geely and Changan are currently doing – in order to succeed with Chengdu customers.

Landwind X7 Chengdu China 2016Landwind X7  Chana Taurus Chengdu China 2016Chana Taurus Toyota Prado Chengdu China 2016Toyota Prado

In fact, below the VW Jetta the Haval H6 was the best-selling nameplate in Sichuan in our exclusive 2014 ranking by province, and although it doesn’t clearly appear in the car landscape I saw, it does make absolute sense that a so-called premium brand (by Chinese standards) is the most popular here. The other best-sellers include the Ford Focus – now replaced in Chengdu hearts by the Escort, the VW Sagitar and Lavida, confirmed by my sightings that also included the new Bora, Toyota Corolla, Honda XR-V, Changan Eado, Geely GC9 (both confirming the Chinese premium trend), Renault Koleos and Buick Verano among the most frequent.

 

 

 

Haval H6 Coupe Chengdu China 2016Haval H6 CoupeChengdu by night

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The mountain road from Xiahe to Xining

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic5Snow covered the surrounding mountains overnight.

After two days in Xiahe in the Gansu province, it’s time to take on the bus trip back to Xining for further Chinese adventures. One full day of snow completely transformed the landscape to the point that the 7-hour return trip is worth a Photo Report of its own.

China map with XiaheWe are retracing back our steps.Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic1Just after leaving Xiahe

On the day of departure and in order to catch the morning bus to Xining I had to wake up way earlier (5:30am) than my hotel’s opening hours, meaning a few minutes of panic when I discovered I was locked inside. The night guard had to be woken up, although I do believe he did not really wake up to unlock the gate – he must be able to do that in his sleep and be all the better for it. The reward however – sunrise on snowy mountains – was priceless.

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic2

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic3Baojun 730 Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic4Wuling Hongguang S1Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic6The line of trucks stuck on the climb to the highest mountain pass on the road

The vehicles encountered on the road were very rare and quite specific: almost exclusively shared taxis but very few of the bruised and battered Wuling Sunshine I spotted in Tongren. Rather, the newer MPVs such as the Wuling Hongguang S1 and Baojun 730 are the default choice, with their heightened, SUV-like clearance. Heavy trucks were for the most part stuck on the climb to the highest mountain pass on the road, culminating at 3,644m (11,955 ft). Our bus had to stop to put on snow chains or we wouldn’t have gone any further.

Stay tuned for the next stop in our Chinese adventures in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Xiahe Xining Road China 2016 Pic8Red rocks before the junction to Tongren. 

China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars (and 3-wheelers) of Xiahe, Gansu

1. Great Wall Wingle 6 Xiahe China 2016Great Wall Wingle 6 in Xiahe

This is the 5th stop in our 2016 Chinese adventures after BeijingXining, the Chinese car dealerships of Xining and Tongren. There is only 107 km / 66 miles east to Xiahe across the border in the Gansu province, but it takes over 3 hours because we drive through winding mountain roads across spectacular red rock scenery. Xiahe is located at the northeastern extremity of the Tibetan plateau in a magnificent valley at 2920m / 9580 ft above see level, lying along the Daxia and Zhao rivers. It just started snowing when I arrived.

China map with XiaheXiahe location in ChinaXiahe Monastery Pic3Labrang Monastery in Xiahe4. Haval H6 Sport Xiahe China 2016Haval H6 SportWuling Hongguang S1  Xiahe China 20162 x Wuling Hongguang S1

Home of 70.000 inhabitants, Xiahe is distinctly larger than Tongren, our previous pit stop. As such, following a striking logic valid in the vast majority of China, the population is wealthier and the car parc is both newer and more sophisticated. A battery of brand-new Wuling Hongguang S1 have replaced the battered 7 year-old Wuling Sunshine of Tongren as the shared taxi of choice. More generally, the Wuling Hongguang is by far the most frequent vehicle in Xiahe, almost exclusively as a shared taxi. It is at the town level of Xiahe that the Hongguang has built its national domination of the Chinese sales charts over the past few years. Smaller towns still run on older minivans and will upgrade to the Hongguang soon, while larger towns have upgraded to the Baojun 730 already. Indeed, the Chinese car purchase patterns are demographic as they are chronologic. The bigger the city, the closer it follows the latest sales trends at play nation-wide. The only exception are the largest metropolis of the nation that had their sales charts messed up with licence-plate restrictions as we observed in Beijing this year.

Xiahe MonasteryLabrang Monastery in XiaheHonda Greiz Xiahe China 2016Honda Greiz

The “private” taxi fleet is composed of FAW Xiali N5 like in Tongren but also FAW Weizhi V5 and Changan Alsvin V3 (see pictures further down in the report). Private cars such as the Chevrolet Sail, Hyundai Verna and Toyota Highlander are the most popular here.

A typical three-wheeler in Labrang Monastery, Xiahe
Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016 Pic2Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016 Pic3Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016Three Wheeler Xiahe China 2016 Pic5A selection of three-wheelers operating in Xiahe 

One of the most fascinating characteristics of the Xiahe vehicle parc is the omnipresence of very loud three-wheelers criss-crossing the city among joyous monks. Drivers of these picturesque three-wheelers revel in pride manoeuvring these workhorses through town, waving and smiling as I snap a picture. My best selection as well as a video are above.

Changan Alsvin V3 Xiahe China 2016Changan Alsvin V3
Soueast V6 Xiahe China 2016Soueast V6
Geely Jingang Xiahe China 2016
Geely Jingang
Wuling Mini Truck Xiahe China 2016Wuling Mini Truck double cab
Xiahe Monastery Pic2Labrang Monastery in XiaheFAW Xiali N3 Xiahe China 2016FAW Xiali N3Haval H2 Xiahe China 2016Haval H2 
Wuling Hongguang V Xiahe China 2016Wuling Hongguang V 

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The cars of Tongren, Qinghai province

VW Jetta Tongren China 2016Sulky boy and VW Jetta in Tongren, Qinghai province

This is the 4th stop in our 2016 Chinese adventures after Beijing, Xining and the Chinese car dealerships of Xining. We travel 165km south to the small town of Tongren (pronounced “Toungjen”), still in the Qinghai province. The road from Xining is breath-taking, following a tributary of the Yellow River through precipitous gorges. A spectacular highway with grand bridges was nearing the end of its construction at the time I visited, but we were confined to windy mountainous roads which were lots of fun too.

China map with TongrenTongren location in ChinaTongren MonasteryTongren Longwu Si MonasteryGreat Wall Wingle 5 Tongren China 2016 Pic2Great Wall Wingle 5 on the road from Xining to Tongren

Tongren is a County level division, the third level of the administrative hierarchy below Provinces and Prefectures. Exploring the countryside of the Qinghai Province, we can now find out which cars are the most popular outside of the main population centre.

Wuling Sunshine Tongren China 2016Wuling Sunshine TaxiChana Taurus Tongren China 2016Chana Taurus TaxiFAW Xiali N5 Taxi Tongren China 2016FAW Xiali N5VW Jetta Taxi Tongren China 2016VW Jetta Taxi and Wuling Mini Truck

As I step out of the bus, the first striking element is the swarming Wuling minivans used as shared taxis, a reminder that the Wuling Sunshine and Rongguang were once the best-selling vehicle in the country, having since been replaced by the Hongguang, a lot more discreet in Tongren. Other taxis are split between the FAW Xiali N5 and the new VW Jetta.

Chana Mini Truck  Tongren China 2016 Pic2Chana Mini Truck in Tongren Longwu Si MonasteryLandwind X7 Tongren China 2016Landwind X7Tongren Street sceneTongren Street scene – notice the mix of Tibetan and Chinese alphabets.
MG GS Tongren China 2016MG GS

Chana and Wuling Mini Trucks as well as Great Wall Wingle 5 pickups are the workhorses of choice for Tongren workers, artisans and vendors. Moreover, Changan and FAW dealerships positioned at the town’s entrance make sure the Tongren car park has a distinct Chinese flavour, with an added pinch of Dongfeng sedans, MG GS SUVs and four Landwind X7 (the Range Rover Evoque clone) spotted in 1hour in Tongren, more than in 2 days in Xining.

Tongren Monastery Pic2 Tongren Longwu Si MonasteryHonda CR-V Tongren China 2016Honda CR-V

But the most interesting observation as far as the Tongren car park is concerned is the numerical domination of large-ish Japanese and Korean SUVs. The Honda CR-V should be close to the best-selling vehicle in town outright, with other very strong performers being the previous generations Nissan Qashqai, the Kia Sportage R (from two generations ago) and VW Tiguan. The all-new Hyundai Tucson has had a fantastic start in town.

Changfeng Black King Tongren China 2016Changfeng Leopaard Black EditionGreat Wall Wingle 5 Tongren China 2016 Pic3Great Wall Wingle 5
JAC Pickup Tongren China 2016 JAC PickupJeep Compass Tongren China 2016Jeep Compass

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China 2016 Photo Reports: The Chinese car dealerships of Xining

Huanghai N2 Xining China 2016Huanghai N2

After exploring the cars of Xining, we now go on a tour of the small Chinese car dealerships of the capital of the Qinghai province, the ones specifically located along the few blocks near the intersection of Bowen and Baiyi Lu. The photos give you an idea of which models are pushing by dealers in this particular area of China, with pickup trucks given centre stage. Below is a selection of the 25 most representative Xining dealership photos, ranked in alphabetical order. A further 35 photos can be found below the jump for a complete report.

China map XiningA reminder of where Xining is located in China.BAW Jeep Pickup Xining China 2016BAW Jeep Pickup
Chana Minivan 29900 yuan Xining China 2016Chana Star Minivan
Cowin C3 Xining China 2016Cowin C3
Cowin dealership Xining China 2016Cowin dealership
Donfgfeng Fengshen A60 Xining China 2016Dongfeng Fengshen A60 priced at 69.700 yuan ($10.400)
Enranger dealership Xining China 2016Enranger dealership
FAW dealership Xining China 2016 picsFAW dealership
Foday F22 Pickup Xining China 2016 pic2Foday F22 Pickup
Foday F22 Pickup Xining China 2016Foday F22 Pickup Geely King Kong Xining China 2016Geely King Kong Geely Gleagle GX7 Xining China 2016Geely GX7 and Gleagle GX7 (note the two different logos)
Gleagle closed dealership Xining China 2016Abandoned Gleagle dealership
Hawtai dealership Dongfeng Cowin Xining China 2016Hawtai dealership fronted with Dongfeng Fengshen A60 and Cowin C3
Higer dealership Xining China 2016 pic2Higer dealership
Huansu dealership Xining China 2016 pic2Huansu dealership – they are separate from BAIC
Jinbei dealership Xining China 2016 pic2Jinbei – Brilliance dealership
Jinbei mini truck Xining China 2016Jinbei Mini Trucks
JMC GL dealership Xining China 2016JMC GL dealership
Leopaard CS10 Xining China 2016Leopaard CS10
Leopaard Q6 Xining China 2016Leopaard Black King and Q6
Wuling Sunshine Mini TruckA very rare Wuling Sunshine Mini Truck priced at 26.900 yuan (US$4.000)
ZX Auto Grand Tiger Xining China 2016 ZX Auto Grand Tiger priced at 66.900 yuan (US$10.000)

The Photo Report continues below with 35 additional photos.

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