Archive for the ‘China’ Category

China LCV May 2015: Foton Light Truck outsells all Wuling models

June 26th, 2015 No comments

Foton Forland China May 2015Foton Forland is the best-selling commercial in China in May.

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

According to data published by LMC Automotive, 319.089 new light commercials found a buyer in China in May, adding up to 1.632.250 year-to-date. The Foton Light Truck outsells all Wuling models to take the lead of the ranking both this month with 23.064 deliveries (-1%) and year-to-date at 116.288 units. It distances no less than four Wuling: the Sunshine (-39%), Mini Truck (+14%), Hongguang V (new) and Rongguang (-41%).

Wuling Hongguang V China May 2015Wuling Hongguang V

Model Cat May sales vs. Apr 2015 vs. May 2014
Wuling Hongguang MPV 34,508 -35% -31%
Wuling Sunshine Micro 20,655 -2% -39%
Wuling Mini Truck Mini PU 18,067 2% 14%
Wuling Hongguang V Micro 18,018 -29% new
Wuling Rongguang Micro 17,966 3% -41%
Wuling Journey MPV 3,509 -13% new

Where are all the Wuling buyers going?

The evolution of each Wuling commercial confirms the trend we described last month: Chinese buyers are abandoning traditional low-end microvans to migrate towards mini pickups and larger microvans such as the Hongguang V. However, the May picture is particularly gloomy and indicates that the honeymoon period is over for both the Journey (-13% on April) and Hongguang V (-29%). On top of it, the Wuling Hongguang, traditionally evolving at stratospheric heights, takes the hardest year-on-year hit of its 4 year-career at -31% this month. With no other brand or model benefitting from this trend, this may mean Chinese buyers could have run out of commercials to purchase for now…

Previous month: China LCV April 2015: Wuling Hongguang V takes control

One year ago: China May 2014 – Now updated with Top 10 LCV

Full May 2015 Top 10 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: China

China May 2015: Focus on the all-new models

June 22nd, 2015 2 comments

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China May 2015The GAC Trumpchi GS4 starts with a bang at #80 in China.

It’s now time to go into the detail of the all-new models landing into the largest new vehicle market in the world: China. As always this only concerns the models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still very patchy for China. After welcoming 6 new entrants both in March and April, we have 5 new nameplates in May, however 3 of them are already either inside or within throwing distance of the Top 100. No surprise here: they are all SUVs.

1. GAC Trumpchi GS4 (#80 with 6.451 sales)

GAC and particularly its Trumpchi sub-brand (brand?) is one of the most dynamic Chinese manufacturers of the moment, achieving rather satisfying designs of late. The GS4, unveiled at Detroit in January, is a prime example and has even been singled out by GAC as the company’s first nameplate to be introduced in the U.S. market, with a launched date aimed at 2017. For now it has hit its domestic market with a bang, landing directly at #80 with 6.451 sales in May. That’s already 60% of all Trumpchi sales in China this month! In comparison, the only other Trumpchi SUV, the GS5, landed at #200 for its fist month of sales in April 2012 and reached all-time bests of 9.406 sales in December 2014 and #56 in Dec 2013 – scores within reach for the GS4. It is now down 69% with the arrival of the smaller, cheaper and more modern GS4, sharply priced between 99.800 and 146.800 yuan (US$16.100-23.600). The GS4 could be the nameplate to take the Trumpchi brand to the next level, with the only other model to reach similar sales levels so far being the GA3S at a personal best of #73 and 8.585 sales last December. If the GS4 had started lower, I would have placed its bar for success around the level it has achieved this month, so let’s give it a stretch target.

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

Brilliance V3 China May 2015. Picture courtesy

2. Brilliance V3 (#114 with 4.297 units)

The Brilliance V3 is the second all-new model for May that is completely reshaping its brand’s sales landscape in China. Making its entrance directly at #114 with 4.297 sales, it is not only Brilliance’s best-seller as early as for its first month in market, but it also manages to already represent 43% of the manufacturer’s total sales at home, lifting the SUV share in Brilliance sales to a whopping 73% (7.312 out of 10.055). This trend is set to accelerate with the V3 reaching cruising sales levels. As I described in my coverage of Auto Shanghai, Lifan, another domestic manufacturer struggling in the sedan segment, is taking a leaf out of Brilliance’s book by launching 3 SUVs in the space of a few months. Interestingly, the launch of the V3 has not affected sales of the larger and older V5 in any way: it is up 92% year-on-year in May to 3.015 deliveries. The V3 is very competitively priced from 65.700 to 102.700 yuan (US$10.600-16.500) and is aiming as such blockbusters as the Haval H1, JAC Refine S3 and ChangAn CS35. First signs are these other affordable small domestic SUVs  are pulling the Brilliance V3 up in their wake rather than obliterating it. The SUV segment still has very long legs in China.

Bar for success: #75 or 8.000 monthly sales

Ford Edge China May 2015. Picture courtesy

3. Ford Edge (#119 with 3.848 deliveries)

One of only two foreign new entrants this month in China, the Ford Edge is the first rocket launched by Ford this year in its plan to ramp up its SUV presence in China in order to benefit as much as possible from the current SUV craze affecting Chinese car buyers. Priced between 249.800 and 429.800 yuan (US$40.200 – 69.200), the seven seat Edge will be followed by an all-new Everest produced in Nanchang, Jiangxi from this July onwards and on sale in October. And the Edge’s first month of sales is great news for Ford: despite being priced markedly higher than both the 94.800-127.800 yuan Ecosport and the 193.800-275.800 yuan Kuga, it manages to land just below the former (#117, -45%) and at around 40% of the sales of the latter (#54, -15%), however both the Ecosport and the Kiga lose ground year-on-year this month, hinting at a possible partial cannibalisation.

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

BAIC Senova CC China May 2015. Picture courtesy

4. Beijing Auto Senova CC (#253 with 657 sales)

The aggressive-looking Beijing Auto Senova CC is the performance variant of the Senova D60, with the underpinnings of the Saab 9-3 Aero. Aggressively priced between 99.800 and 149.800 yuan (US$16.100-24.100), the Senova CC is powered by either a turbo 1.8L or turbo 2.0L engine. Although launched last September, the Senova D60 bizarrely still hasn’t appeared in the Chinese ranking. In any case, sales pretensions are rather modest for this model. The best-seller in the Senova range is currently the D50 which peaked at an astounding #54 in March but is down to #177 in May, #98 year-to-date. The D20 sedan ranks at #159 in 2014, the X65 SUV is #202 and the D70 sedan is #328.

Bar for success: #175 or 2.000 monthly sales

VW Gran Santana China May 2015. Picture courtesy

5. VW Gran Santana (#307 with 155 units)

Following the tremendous success of the Gran Lavida, Shanghai-Volkswagen is taking the plunge into the hatchback world with the Gran Santana, priced between 96.900 and 138.900 yuan (US$15.600-22.400), a 14% premium on the sedan. So far this year, the Gran Lavida accounts for 22% of Lavida sales, with a peak at 25% this month – effectively enabling the Lavida into the overall pole position. Potentially in anticipation of the Gran Santana launch, Santana sales are down a harsh 33% in May to 19.146 units with year-to-date sales stable at 133.625. Applying roughly the same market share the Gran Lavida has reached vs. the Lavida gives us an average of just under 5.000 monthly sales for the Gran Santana. Anything bigger will prompt Volkswagen to rethink the prority they give to sedans in China and will trigger the launch of a Gran Jetta and Gran Bora, equivalents of the Gran Santana and Gran Lavida but this time through the 2nd Volkswagen joint venture in China: with FAW.

Bar for success: #100 or 5.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China May 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Overall May 2015 post: China April 2015: Wuling Hongguang, VW Group tumble in slow market

Categories: China

China May 2015: Wuling Hongguang, VW Group tumble in slow market

June 20th, 2015 2 comments

VW Lavida China May 2015. Picture courtesy VW Lavida outsells the Wuling Hongguang to #1 for the first time in two years.

* See the Top 368 All-local models by clicking on the title *

Light vehicles sales are up just 1.2% year-on-year in May in China, with passenger cars up 3.8% to 1.57 million units despite a price war that has accelerated across both local manufacturers and foreign carmakers. The latest factor to hit the Chinese car market is the exceptional strength of the local stock market: the Shanghai Composite has more than doubled in the past year. According to Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the Passenger Car Association interviewed by Bloomberg, “the stock market is like a pump that sucked up all the money. People are not buying cars, no matter how big the incentives. People want their money in the stock market.” Add this to an cooling growth of the economy in general and the license plate restriction imposed by an increasing number of cities to curb pollution, and we are close to getting to a standstill in China – a situation that no one has experienced earlier, at least in the past two decades.

Haval H6 Coupe China May 2015. Picture courtesy Coupe variant could soon boost the Haval H6 to the overall Chinese pole position.

Foreign manufacturers are paying the price of not listening closely enough to the changing tastes of Chinese consumers, namely an appetite for affordable SUVs and MPVs that is as sudden as it is insatiable. As we will detail shortly and as it has been the case for almost a year now, the two most successful new entrants in the sales charts this month are both Chinese branded SUVs. Volkswagen Group May deliveries are down 6% year-on-year while at General Motors the drop is 4%, the latter despite cutting prices on 40 models across its Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac brands. Reversely, Great Wall posted a 26% gain in May thanks to extremely strong sales of its Haval brand, the #1 SUV brand in China, while Geely is up 25% on May 2014 thanks to a slew of drastically improved models including the new flagship GC9 that sold 2.000 units in May.

Toyota Corolla VW Lavida China December 2014. Picture courtesy of iweeklyauto.comToyota Corolla

The VW Lavida manages a coup in the models ranking: despite sales down just 4%, it outsells the Wuling Hongguang for the first time since June 2013 to become the best-selling vehicle in China (LCV data pending) at 36.105 units vs. 34.508 (down a harsh 31%) for the Hongguang. The Haval H6 is unfazed: up another 23% year-on-year to lodge its third consecutive month above 30.000 sales at 30.032. With its facelift and the addition of the Coupe variant unveiled at Auto Shanghai, the H6 can now seriously pretend at the overall Chinese pole position soon. It would be a first for an SUV. Excellent performance of the Nissan Sylphy in 4th place with sales up 18% to 27,685, followed by the Baojun 730 at 26.006 deliveries and now #4 year-to-date, the VW Jetta down 14% to 23.234 units and the Toyota Corolla reborn thanks to the new generation at 22.965 sales, the nameplate’s 2nd best month ever below the 29.019 units sold last December.

ChangAn CS75 China May 2015The ChangAn CS75 breaks into the overall Top 20 for the first time in May.

Chinese models continue to enjoy their revival, with 14 reps in the Top 50 this month. Below the Wuling Hongguang, Haval H6 and Baojun 730 all inside the May Top 5, the ChangAn Eado is the best-selling domestic sedan this month thanks to sales up 24% to 16.106 (#16), outselling the Geely EC7 up 47% to 13.929 (#22) while the BYD F3 is third at 10.293 (#50). All other Chinese nameplates present in the May Top 50 are either SUVs or MPVs: the ChangAn CS75 continues its formidable career, breaking inside the Top 20 for the first time with 15.113 units, the ChangAn CS35 follows closely at #24 (+50%), ahead of the JAC Refine S3 (#29), Beijing Auto Huansu S3 (#33), Chana Honor (#37), Haval H2 (#39), BYD S7 (#44) and Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 (#48).

BYD Qin China May 2015. Picture courtesy auto.china.comThe BYD Qin is getting closer to entering the Chinese Top 100.

Notice also the Ford Escort solid at #19 and 15.257 sales however impacting Focus sales greatly (#15 and -47%), the Buick Envision shooting up to a best-ever #23 and a record 13.691 sales, the Nissan X-Trail up 15% to #26, the twins Honda Vezel (#55) and XR-V (#65) holding up extremely well, the Venucia T70 back up 17 spots on April to #82 and the all-electric BYD Qin flying from record to record, up 31 ranks on last month to #126 and 3.518 sales. Among recent launches, notice the MG GS up 15 spots to #104 and 4.848 sales, the Karry K50 up to #113 and a record 4.316 units, the Haima M6 up 66 ranks to #172, the Geely GC9 up 51 to #175, the Mercedes GLA up 98 to #180, the Changfeng Leopaard CS10 up 55 to #215 and the Haval H8 up 59 to #228.

Previous post: STRATEGY: Where is China headed?

Previous month: China April 2015: Growth cool down and SUV surge accentuate

One year ago: China May 2014: VW Santana breaks record in market up 8%

Full May 2015 Top 368 All-local models below.

Read more…

Categories: China

STRATEGY: Where is China headed?

May 28th, 2015 2 comments

Prepare for bloodPrepare for blood…

Discover the Top 8 trends currently affecting the Chinese market below.

China’s new vehicle market growth is smoothing out. The perception out there is that the entire market is slowing down, whereas only its growth is – a big difference. Some analysts say this is the beginning of the end, I say the Chinese new vehicle market remains the most dynamic and the fastest evolving in the world and will continue to be for many years to come. Even if its growth did stop forever, we would still be left with a 25 million annual units Chinese market in our hands vs. 17 million for the U.S. and 15 million for Europe currently – including commercials.

But the growth hasn’t stopped and Chinese sales trends are evolving faster than ever, with segments like microvans rapidly losing ground while others like MPVs and SUVs outperforming the market 6-fold… A record 75 new nameplates have kick-started local production in the past year and new factories are opening on a monthly basis. General Motors for example is investing $14 billion and adding 5 million units of output through 2018 to open five additional assembly plants here. A more timid growth with ever more competitors in the market: prepare for blood and aggressive price wars. Where is China headed in the next 15 years? We will explore the Top 8 trends currently at play in the Chinese new vehicle market in order to decipher its mid-term evolution.

Kashgari farmer Jonway UFO A380Kashgar, Western China: the region has the greatest sales potential.

1. All eyes on the lower Tier cities prize

China grew 14% in 2013 to 22 million units, becoming the first ever new vehicle market above 20m annual units, another 7% in 2014 to 23.5 million and should improve by 5% in 2015 to just under 25 million deliveries. Analysts diverge in their view of the mid-term future for China. I remain highly optimistic, and it would appear Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn agrees: “From time to time we have slowdowns, but fundamentally I’m still very optimistic on the fact that the long-term trend in China is up and carmakers should be prepared for that,” he said recently, pointing to the country’s low car ownership level compared with other major markets. If the big eastern cities along the coast like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are starting to peak out due to saturated ownership and stringent new registration restrictions put in place to curb pollution, there is still an enormous reservoir of growth lying in lower Tier cities.

Total vehicle sales – Big 3:

2000 2015 2030 (e)
China 1.8m 24.7m 40.2m
U.S. 17.8m 16.9m 18.5m
Europe 18.5m 15.8m 16.8m

(e): BSCB estimate

Before we go into any further regional detail, it’s worth establishing where long term potential Chinese sales stand. Last year, American car buyers bought 52 new vehicles per 1.000 residents in a saturated market. It seems difficult for any mature market to significantly outpace that rate in the short to mid-term. China stands at 17 new vehicles per thousand, and were it to reach the same buying rate as the U.S., it would push its total new vehicle market to a mind-blowing 70 million annual units. A level it will probably never hit, but progressively lifting the buying rate to 30 new vehicles per thousand in the next 15 years is a totally reasonable if a little conservative prospect. That would place China just over 40 million annual new vehicle sales by 2030, way above the U.S. and European markets combined – themselves for the most part stagnating over the period.

Geely Vision China 2015. Picture courtesy 91aiche.comThe Geely Vision is a hit in lower Tier cities.

As I detailed in my article STRATEGY: China light-vehicle market to reach 30 million units by 2020, a large part of China’s future growth will come from both the less developed regions of the country located in the hinterland and lower Tier cities that are now starting to benefit from denser dealership networks. By 2020, Western China’s share of total sales is expected to rise to 26%, up from 18% in 2011. In the meantime, the coastal region’s market share will drop from 60% to 43%, according to predictions from IHS Automotive. In the same vein, the bulk of the Chinese car market has resided up until now in Tier 1 and 2 cities – the biggest ones. As a result, there are now 128 vehicles per 1,000 residents in Tier 1 cities. This ratio falls to 54 in Tier 3 cities and 28 in Tier 4 cities, and these cities are now starting to have a significant impact on national auto sales as we will detail in the SUV section of this article. Note these Tier 3 and 4 cities are not all located in the hinterland, they are sometimes very close to Tier 1 and 2 cities, so the growth regions are not completely geographical but mostly demographic.

In less populated areas, the preference is still strongly towards Chinese manufacturers. If last year the prospects for domestic carmakers seemed cloudy, they have managed a complete turnaround thanks to a flurry of new affordable SUVs, and whereas it seemed like hinterland Chinese buyers would inexorably follow their eastern counterparts’ taste shift towards foreign brands, this is now less certain. The race is wide open and competition will gradually increase over the next two decades to woo rural populations getting a new access to car ownership. There are an estimated 100+ Chinese vehicle brands in activity today, when including truck and new energy manufacturers serving only limited parts of the country. This number will plunge rapidly to reach about 25 to 30 by 2030, and we will witness numerous price wars that will progressively shed the industry of the less-efficient manufacturers. Who will trigger and benefit from future Chinese growth?

24. Brilliance V3Brilliance V3 at Auto Shanghai 2015

2. Domestic brands on the brink of breakthrough

After a tough five years that saw their share market at home recede to roughly one-third of overall sales, Chinese manufacturers have rebounded in the past year, claiming 43.1% of the Chinese market over the first 3 months of 2015, up 4.2 percentage points from a year earlier. As evidenced by my coverage of domestic carmakers at Auto Shanghai 2015, these are constantly reinventing themselves with various degrees of dynamism, making the Chinese market the fastest-evolving in the world. However their progress is taking a different route than the one the government was hoping for two decades ago.

Starting in the eighties with Volkswagen, the barrier to entry for foreign carmakers in the Chinese market is a requirement to form joint-ventures with local partners in order to gain the right to manufacture locally, in essence the right to sell in high numbers in China. By doing this, the Chinese government was hoping for a technology transfer towards local brands. It didn’t happen. In fact, the domestic brands faring the best at the moment are ones that are for the most part not embroiled in partnerships with foreign carmakers and, tellingly, privately owned.

Geely GC9 China April 2015Geely GC9

Thanks to a new focus on strong brands and streamlined lineups, a few domestic actors are now enjoying surging sales at home. Great Wall spun off the Haval SUV brand to tremendous success in July 2013 and has seen its SUV lineup sales soar 71% year-on-year in April to 63.921 units. The Haval H6 is now among the three overall best-selling vehicles in the country. In January 2014 Geely got rid of the Emgrand, Gleagle and Englon brands to market its vehicles exclusively under its namesake brand, and along with an extremely impressive quality overhaul that is finally showing the mark of its 2010 purchase of Swedish manufacturer volvo, has managed to push domestic sales 45% in April to 38.648. The EC7 sedan remains the best-seller of its kind among domestic nameplates with 75.189 deliveries so far in 2015.

Chery is another example, deleting the Rely and Riich brands in September 2012 to concentrate on its namesake brand for passenger cars and Karry for commercial vehicles. However they have since spawned two sub-brands: Tiggo and Arrizo. Baby steps… Even though it is evolving at dangerously breakneck speed, ChangAn is another success story, placing three models among the 10 best-selling domestic vehicles in the country so far this year: the Eado sedan (70.231), CS35 SUV (62.110) and CS75 SUV (56.116). Led by Great Wall’s Haval, Geely and BYD, all relatively unscathed by joint-ventures with foreign actors and – most significantly – all privately owned, Chinese manufacturers have never been as close to world standards as now. And their improvements are set to continue at the same rate, shaping into a true threat for carmakers the world around by 2020.

4. VW Santana Karakul LakeVW Santana on the Karakoram Highway, Western China.

3. Foreign manufacturers caught in a race to luxury

In a context where domestic carmakers are finally finding their way to optimal sales rates, clearer brand identities and ever-improving quality coupled with aggressive pricing, foreign manufacturers may see their time under the sun reduce drastically over the next decade. Their capacity to compete with domestic actors relies on faster reactivity to fast moving trends, as demonstrated in their sales behaviour in 2015. The SUV explosion has caught both Volkswagen and Toyota by surprise and as a result they are losing significant market share this year. Hyundai and Kia are safe with their ix25 and KX3 tapping right into the small SUV craze and becoming instant blockbusters. Nissan is following at a distance.

If I was publishing this article 6 months ago, I would have said that Volkswagen is in the best place to benefit from the future growth expected in China’s less developed areas. However their failure to launch a small SUV lineup is worrying, at a time where Tier 3 and 4 cities are lapping up bargain-priced JAC, ChangAn and Zotye SUVs. Granted, Volkswagen is still and by far the most popular and most aspirational brand in China. During the first half of 2014 when sedan sales were still growing at 15%, the market share lost by Chinese manufacturers in the compact segment was almost exactly matched by market share gains at Volkswagen while Japanese, U.S. and Korean makers were flat. So Volkswagen is the best armed to compete with domestic brands in the sedan segment, but also the most vulnerable when and if Chinese carmakers reclaim lost ground in that segment.

Hyundai Mistra China 2014. Picture courtesy of Mistra

Two years ago, Volkswagen launched its New Santana with a starting price of 84.900 yuan ($13.700), only slightly more than the Geely EC7’s 69.800 yuan. Automotive News China quotes Zhang Lei, a 35-year-old office worker in Beijing who bought a New Santana last year: “People say German cars are of good quality, so why not buy a German car if it’s not expensive?” However since then Geely launched the new Vision at 52.900 yuan ($8.500), cutting the Santana by almost 40% and displaying some interior elements of a higher quality than a Santana. As a result, Volkswagen has launched a price war in recent months to keep its lower-end lineup competitive in the face of vastly improved domestic entries, at the risk of significantly eroding its profits in the region. Volkswagen is now caught between lowering their prices to better compete with domestic carmakers and maintaining its premium reputation.

Brand loyalty is low in China and more than 90 million car owners will replace their first vehicle in the next few years. Cutthroat competition is a new element in the market and in my view Hyundai and Kia could see a much larger increase in Chinese sales than Toyota and Volkswagen over the next decade. Not just because of a better reactivity to changing trends. Toyota and Volkswagen with undoubtedly launch affordable small SUVs to keep a foot in the market – albeit a couple of years late. Two more political and attitudinal elements may come into play. Firstly, Nippon manufacturers aren’t immune to future bursts of anti-Japanese sentiment, the like of which severely handicapped them a couple of years ago. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2 and the rest of the year will be another sensitive period for them. Secondly, having launched in China less than a decade ago, Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia are free of any poor quality perceptions dating from the nineties that are still plaguing them in some other countries and can grow unabated in the next decade.

Mercedes GLA China April 2015. Picture courtesy wolfexp.netMercedes started local GLA production and is best placed for explosive growth in China.

The Chinese luxury segment is already become the largest in the world and its weight will further increase over the next two decades, lifting Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz to a continuous string of worldwide sales records. The Top 3 German luxury carmakers, already ultra-dominant in the Chinese luxury segment, are poised to continue improving Chinese sales drastically, with Mercedes displaying the highest potential for explosive growth. In 2014, Audi sold 579.000 cars in China (+18%), with BMW at 456.000 (+17%) and Mercedes at 282.000 (+29%). Growth was cut in 2015 but should resume in the coming years and it is a realistic prospect to see Mercedes leapfrog both Audi and BMW to become China’s #1 luxury brand by 2025, simply because the Stuttgart manufacturer has completely refocused its attention onto the Chinese market now front and centre in its worldwide operations as its impressive display at Auto Shanghai hinted at. My forecast for 2015: Audi at 606.000 sales (+5%), BMW at 478.000 (+5%) and Mercedes at 335.000 (+18%).

Audi started manufacturing cars in China as far as 1991 while both BMW and Mercedes have been doing so for a decade, earning the 3 German carmakers credibility in the luxury segment that it will be near-impossible to erode in the next decade or so. At this stage only Infiniti, Volvo and Cadillac are manufacturing locally to avoid China’s 25% import tariff, but their sales remain modest: Volvo sold under 80.000 vehicles in 2014 (47% locally produced) while Cadillac delivered under 70.000 (57%) and Infiniti just 30.000 (8%). Acura announced it will start building locally soon, leaving the odd one out, Lexus, with no plans for local manufacturing despite a decade-long presence in the country and 75.000 sales in 2014. Lincoln for its part is enjoying a fast and furious all-imported start with 3 of its Top 10 dealers globally by sales now located in China only 12 months after landing in the country.

Haval-H1-China-November-2014.-Picture-courtesy-of-auto.qq_.com_The Haval H1 is one of dozens of new Chinese SUVs launched in the past 12 months.

4. Cashed-up urban buyers now ditching sedans for SUVs…

Disposable income is on a steep rise for the majority of the Chinese population and their car purchase patterns are changing accordingly, with urban and rural buyers each displaying widely different tastes than they were just two years ago. Last October, sedan sales dropped 1% from a year earlier for the first time in years, marking the start of a shaky period for this once-thriving segment in China. In urban areas, more than one-third of buyers now opt for an SUV when the time comes to replace their first vehicle vs. 25% for China overall. After soaring by 36% in 2014 to 4.1 million units, SUV sales are accelerating further this year with a 49% year-on-year surge over the first 4 months of 2015 to 1.79 million units, hinting at an annual rate of over 6 million sales…

China – Top 10 SUVs and sedans 2015 year-to-date:

Pos SUV model 2015 /14 Sedan model 2015 /14
1 Haval H6 118,516 26% VW Lavida 170,168 -12%
2 VW Tiguan 88,609 1% VW Santana 114,479 7%
3 JAC Refine S3 66,295 new VW Jetta 107,680 7%
4 ChangAn CS35 62,110 71% Ford Focus 99,675 -26%
5 ChangAn CS75 56,116 new Hyundai Elantra 96,713 30%
6 Haval H2 56,074 new VW Sagitar 96,173 -6%
7 BAIC Huansu S3 49,738 new Nissan Sylphy 89,995 -8%
8 Ford Kuga 42,593 -3% Hyundai Verna 84,821 14%
9 Nissan X-Trail 41,942 182% VW Passat 84,275 -15%
10 Zotye T600 39,307 302% Chevrolet Cruze 80,170 -6%

Seven of the Top 10 best-selling SUVs in China so far in 2015 are Chinese, four are all-new and only one (the Ford Kuga) sees its sales decline year-on-year. Reversely, all of the Top 10 best-selling sedans in the country are foreign but 6 out of 10 are in decline, including the #1 seller – the VW Lavida (-12%) – with the Ford Focus losing the most ground at -26%. In what may be the most interesting reversal of fortunes in the past few years, thanks to a flurry of affordable models all launched in the past 24 months, domestic manufacturers are now dominating the SUV segment with a record 56% share, evolving at double the sales level as that of a year ago.

ChangAn CS75 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of ChangAn CS75 has found 109.000 buyers since launching exactly a year ago.

According to LMC Automotive, SUV buyers are mostly residents of Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities, traditionally more fond of Chinese car brands mainly because of more affordable prices, but also less dense dealer networks for most foreign manufacturers. When hit full frontal by lower-end Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Kia sedans, domestic carmakers found the perfect counterattack in designing attractive-looking SUVs based on their compact sedans and typically priced from 70.000 to 100.000 yuan (US$11.000-16.000). Even though they don’t offer the same driving experience as all-wheel-drive SUVs, these are good enough for Chinese customers in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities. Mission accomplished.

Wuling Hongguang China September 2014. Picture courtesy of cheshi.com2The Wuling Hongguang has transformed the Chinese car market forever.

5. … while rural buyers switch from microvans to MPVs

If urban dwellers are abandoning their entry-level sedans to lap up an increasing choice of Chinese-branded SUVs, their newly prosperous rural counterparts are also moving upwards, ditching microvans for low-cost MPVs. In 2014, the MPV segment was the fastest-growing in the country with sales surging 47% to 1.91 million units just as microvan were losing 17% to 1.33 million sales. In 2015, MPVs are up by a further 28% so far and should end the year just under 2.5 million units. The good news for Chinese manufacturers is that 85% of all MPVs sales go to domestic brands, being a segment mostly popular in rural areas.

Price comparison – Wuling MPVs and microvans:

Model Cat April sales Price range (yuan) Price range (US$)
Wuling Journey MPV 4,011 66.000 – 77.000 10.600 – 12.400
Wuling Hongguang MPV 53,086 44.800 – 69.800 7.200 – 11.250
Wuling Hongguang V Micro 25,506 42.800 – 51.800 6.900 – 8.300
Wuling Rongguang Micro 17,475 41.800 – 46.800 6.700 – 7.500
Wuling Sunshine Micro 21,005 29.800 – 46.000 4.800 – 7.400

Wuling Sunshine microvan – Hongguang MPV sales comparison:

Model 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015(e)
Wuling Sunshine 699,037 754,961 731,749 523,841 455,718 308,668 269,000
Wuling Hongguang 0 5,000 177,000 316,217 530,050 750,019 660,000

The sole instigator of this hugely momentous trend is the Wuling Hongguang, originally introduced in September 2010 and at first classified as a light commercial vehicle – it was then considered as just a larger microvan. The Hongguang didn’t appear inside the Top 5 LCV best-sellers until February 2012 (24.694 sales) but topped the Chinese charts for the first time in January 2013 and the following month was selling almost 30.000 more units than any other nameplate in the country. It went on to be the best-selling vehicle in the country in both 2013 and 2014, with its monthly sales record standing at an out-of-this-world 81.153 units in January 2014.

Baojun 730 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of Baojun 730 have hit Chinese roads in just 9 months.

As I detailed in my article China April 2015: Wuling Hongguang V takes control, the leap from microvan to MPV is very significant, representing a 50% price hike even though the rates remain minuscule in Western terms: the Hongguang starts at 42.800 yuan (US$7.200) vs. 29.800 ($4.800) for the Wuling Sunshine, the all-categories best-seller in China until 2012. Microvans are traditionally used by families, small companies and taxi operators in rural areas and small towns to carry goods as well as passengers. While both the Sunshine and the Hongguang can carry five to eight people, with per capita disposable income in rural China leaping 12% to 8.900 yuan, rural buyers are snapping up the Hongguang like hot dumplings simply because they can afford to.

What the Chinese market is experiencing right now with the Wuling Hongguang is similar to European car buyers suddenly switching from purchasing 600.000 annual VW Golf to as many annual VW Passat in a matter of three years, or American consumers completely ditching the Toyota Camry to replace it with 450.000 annual Toyota 4 Runner.

It took a lot longer for other domestic manufacturers to cotton on to the Hongguang success and what it meant for the microvan category (death) than it did for them to understand the SUV craze. In fact, SAIC-GM-Wuling is reinventing the category once again with the launch of the slightly more upmarket and extraordinarily successful Baojun 730, clocking an incredible 230.000 sales in its first 9 months in market. The Hongguang clones Chana Honor, Dongfeng Fengguang and BAIC Weiwang M20, although dynamic, are still far below. The future of the MPV segment is ever more upmarket: Wuling launched the much larger Journey a few months ago, and Brilliance unveiled the Huasong MPV-exclusive brand at Auto Shanghai 2015 to compete with Buick’s GL8. Expect Wuling to regularly revive the category to maintain its supremacy.

Dongfeng Rich 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.com2015 Dongfeng Rich

6. Pickup trucks the largest untapped segment

Now that the SUV and MPV segments are truly taking off in China, mimicking many light vehicle markets around the world, the last frontier is the pick-up segment, currently plagued by outdated legislations but home of the greatest sales potential of all. Pending a legislative adjustment, I foresee Chinese pickup sales reaching 10% of overall sales by 2030 – or 4 million annual vehicles vs. just 1.9% and 200.000 nowadays. Pickups are where Chinese manufacturers perform their best, as demonstrated by their relative success in export markets. So what is not working at the moment?

In 2003, Beijing implemented the Road Traffic Safety Law which let city governments decide whether to allow pickups to drive on their streets, and most chose to classify them as commercial vehicles and banning from entering. Yes you read that right, pickup trucks are not allowed to drive into most Chinese cities. But it doesn’t stop there: Automotive News China reports that to ease congestion during holidays, Chinese traffic regulators let sedan drivers use highways toll free whereas pickup drivers must pay. This may have made sense a decade ago when pickup trucks were the only vehicles of such size on the road along with medium and heavy trucks. But with the surge of SUVs, this is no longer true. Besides, under existing regulations, microvans – also used in rural and suburban areas to carry people and goods – are considered passenger vehicles, and therefore allowed into cities…

GAC Gonow GP150GAC Gonow GP 150 at Auto Shanghai 2015

However unfair this legislation is, it has had a devastating effect on the Chinese pickup market. Roughly 435.000 new pickups were sold in China in 2014, or just 1.9% of the total vehicle market and with sales down 4% year-on-year they are also losing market share. Despite these restrictions, market leader Great Wall still manages to sell an average of 10,000 pickups each month in China, and it is still a very dynamic segment, with at least 16 Chinese manufacturers currently offering a pickup lineup. I spotted the all-new 2015 Dongfeng Rich in Mohe in far north China, while GAC Gonow unveiled a rather good-looking GP150 pickup at Auto Shanghai and Great Wall launched a new variant of the Wingle late last year.

Paradoxically, as opposed to sedans, SUVs and MPVs, pickups are the one single segment where Chinese manufacturers can already compete with foreign automakers in mature export markets such as Italy, the UK, South Africa and Australia where the Great Wall Wingle ranked among the Top 50 best-selling nameplates in 2012 and Foton is currently making some interesting inroads with the Tunland. Understandably given the current restrictions, global automakers haven’t bothered venturing into the Chinese pickup market just yet. Only Isuzu and Nissan currently sell quickly facelifted versions of antediluvian models, but the potential for pickup sales in China is enormous, commercially and privately.


Ford F-150 Raptor Kashgar ChinaFord F-150 Raptor in Kashgar, Western China

With Chinese car buyers progressively americanising their tastes, it is no real surprise to see at least one Ford F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tundra in each northern Chinese city I visited this year, big or small. Despite astronomical prices and driving restrictions, Chinese consumers are still privately importing these monsters. The demand for pickup trucks is latent and almost screaming when you visit the country. It is apparent in the commercial segment where a recent transfer from microvans to mini pickups can be seen  – keep in mind the latter are considered passenger vehicles and therefore are able to grow sales freely. Result: the Wuling Mini Truck has topped the LCV sales charts a couple of times in the past 6 months.

But part of the SUVsation of the world car market also means a large part of pickup trucks are now purchased and used in the same way as SUVs, not just for commercial hauling. As Automotive News points out, if municipal restrictions on pickups are abolished, farmers could drive their pickups to go shopping in cities. Likewise, residents in coastal areas could use their pickups to tow boats or stow surfboards. It’s a matter of when rather than if, and once pickups can be driven freely across the country, expect a gold rush in the same vein as the one we are currently witnessing for SUVs and MPVs as pickup sales are bound to grow exponentially from that moment on.

Used car market in China. Picture courtesy of 51auto.comThe notion of used car is a new concept in China.

7. Prepare for a used car explosion

Last March, China’s largest search engine Baidu – dominating a market where Google is banned – joined a U.S. private equity firm and hedge fund to invest $170 million in China’s largest used car auction website Uxin. It is the latest round of funding raised by Uxin to expand a new trading platform designed to allow auto retailers to sell used cars directly to individuals. Last year, China’s used car market generated transaction volumes of $58 billion, a 26% growth from a year earlier while volumes are up 16% at 6.05 million units vs. +7% for the new vehicle market. Up until very recently, the very concept of a used car was a rather alien notion in China given how recent the uptake of cars in the country is. Moreover, in China there is a strong cultural preference for new items, rather than those tarnished by previous ownership, and without regulations, skepticism over the quality of used vehicles was justified, reports Autotalk NZ. But this is all changing as the market matures.

China – New and used vehicle sales evolution:

2000 2015 2030 (e)
New vehicles 1.8m 24.7m 40.2m
Used vehicles 0.2m 7.0m 41.5m

(e): BSCB estimate

At the moment one used vehicle is sold for every four new ones in China, a diametrically opposite situation as the one observed in mature markets such as the U.S. and Europe where three to four new cars are used for every new one. But at the current rate, the number of used cars changing hands annually will even up with new ones by 2030. Sedans still account for the majority of used cars currently sold in the country (57%) above buses (16%), trucks (14%), light commercials (9%) and SUV (3%), reflecting the dominant structure of the market of the past decade. This too will change, when SUVs and MPVs currently sold as new will start hitting the used car market in 5-7 years time.

Nowadays used car sales are still a largely unregulated area, with 95% of used car transactions still made privately and escaping sales taxes. Large manufacturers are however slowly looking to enter the used market by reselling their own products second-hand complete with quality guarantees: Peugeot already has 700 certification centres around the country, and Nissan, Audi and Volvo are following. Stringent new anti-pollution laws limiting the number of new registrations in he main big cities have also helped fuel increasing used car sales: they already are licensed and therefore unrestricted – a clear oversight by governments as these used cars typically pollute more than new ones and should instead be replaced, the way Europe has done with numerous scrappage schemes.

DENZA wird in einem deutsch-chinesischen Gemeinschaftsunternehmen von Daimler und BYD in Shenzhen gefertigt. / DENZA is manufactured by a Sino-German joint venture of Daimler and BYD in Shenzhen.Denza EV

8. The electric vehicle question mark

I have said it and will say it again, the current success – or lack thereof – of new energy vehicles has nothing to do with consumer taste but everything to do with government policies. Cue Japan, California and Norway: having implemented the largest incentives for new energy vehicles and consequently displaying the highest hybrid and EV sales ratios in the world. China has a well-documented tradition of imposing stringent government mandates onto the car market (joint-ventures with local partners, pollution-curbing new registration limits…) and could lead the world in terms of electric vehicle adoption, if it decides to. With significant air pollution problems plaguing most large cities and limited oil resources, the Chinese government considers the uptake of electric cars a priority. But is it doing enough to encourage new energy vehicle sales? Carlos Ghosn said not really at the latest Shanghai Auto Show.

Chinese EV sales are quadrupling so far in 2015 compared to last year but at 26.581 units in 3 months they still only represent a mere 0.4% of the overall market. The BYD Qin hybrid sedan has been the best-selling new energy vehicle in China ever since its launch in December 2013, totalling 2.625 sales in April. This is to be compared with a 200-300 sales monthly average for the Tesla Model S in China and roughly 1.500 in the U.S. Still, the question mark remains as to whether EVs will truly have an impact on the overall Chinese market in the short to mid-term. It all depends on the Chinese government. Chinese punters will buy electric if they are mandated to: a recent visit to Kashgar in Western China showed all scooters in circulation in town to be electric.

Tesla Model S ChinaTesla has been struggling in China so far.

Among the various Chinese government mandates in place to encourage sales of new energy vehicles:

– All EVs are excluded by the new registration plate quota applied in China’s eight largest cities.

– Subsidies of up to 55,000 yuan (about $9,000) per EV vehicle, elimination of a 10% sales tax on some EVs.

– Subsidises the construction of battery charging stations in various cities proportioned to the EV and plug-in hybrid sales in these cities. The aim is to install 140.000 charging stations this year vs. just 20.000 in place last year. The government’s plan calls for covering 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) of highways with fast-charger stations every 50 kilometers (31 miles) by 2020.

– All manufacturers selling in China need to display a fleetwide average consumption of 5L/100km (47 mpg) by 2020.

– Foreign automakers are required to develop EVs with their Chinese joint venture partners. This has prompted Toyota, traditionally EV-weary, to launch one EV vehicle with each Chinese partner later this year. They however concede these are purely compliance vehicles and their focus will remain on hybrid technology.

Most manufacturers had at least one EV model to show at Auto Shanghai, but these looked more like compliance vehicles than genuine best-sellers. Elmar Degenhart, CEO of supplier giant Continental AG said told Automotive News China “We are convinced that China will turn into the biggest market for electrification technologies. With the support of the government and regulation, the speed in that direction is developing quite rapidly.” The ball is in your camp President Xi Jinping.

– – –

China LCV April 2015: Wuling Hongguang V takes control

May 19th, 2015 No comments

Wuling Hongguang V China April 2015. Picture courtesy Wuling Hongguang V is the best-selling LCV in China this month.

* See the Top 10 best-selling LCV by clicking on the title *

A change in classification has LMC Automotive publish 346.867 LCV sales in China in April and a total of 1.313.161 for the first 4 months of 2015. Regardless, this segment is not going well with many small businesses, self-employed tradesmen and rural taxi companies choosing to ditch their flimsy microvans and upgrade to MPVs such as the Wuling Hongguang, Baojun 730 or Beijing Auto Weiwang M20. As a consequence Wuling, über-dominant in the Chinese microvan segment, has had to scramble to get new models ready and adapt to the fast-evolving market. Two main things to remember.

1. Wuling Hongguang V launch

At the start of 2015 Wuling launched the Hongguang V (pictured above) as an alternative to a trade up to the MPV segment. The Hongguang is priced slightly higher than the Rongguang and a notch above the Sunshine but still below the Hongguang MPV as the table below indicates. Before you ask, yes these prices are real and ridiculously low. Now you understand why no foreign manufacturer has ventured into this segment so far, it’s near impossible to compete with these prices. Wuling’s strategy with the Hongguang V worked. After breaking the 30.000 sales barrier last month and ranking #2 LCV, in April the Hongguang V is the best-selling Light Commercial Vehicle in the country and most importantly now leads all Wuling models on sale in China bar the Hongguang itself. A string of Wuling dealerships on the way to the Harbin airport confirmed the manufacturer is aggressively pushing the Hongguang V to entice the commercial buyers that can’t afford a Hongguang into replacing their ageing microvan with it instead.

Model April sales Price range (yuan) Price range (US$)
Wuling Journey 4,011 66.000 – 77.000 10.600 – 12.400
Wuling Hongguang 53,086 44.800 – 69.800 7.200 – 11.250
Wuling Hongguang V 25,506 42.800 – 51.800 6.900 – 8.300
Wuling Rongguang 17,475 41.800 – 46.800 6.700 – 7.500
Wuling Sunshine 21,005 29.800 – 46.000 4.800 – 7.400

And for those of you that got confused by the avalanche of Wuling models I have prepared the below picture to summarise it all. You’re welcome.

Wuling lineup China April 2015From left to right and top to bottom: Wuling Hongguang, Rongguang, Sunshine and Journey.

Wuling Rongguang Pickup Mohe 2Wuling Mini Truck (Rongguang Pickup) in Mohe, Heilongjiang province.

2. Wuling Rongguang Pickup transfer

The second significant event occurring within the Chinese LCV market in 2015 is the partial transfer of sales from the Sunshine (-29% in April) and Rongguang (-50%) towards the Rongguang Pick-up, called Wuling Mini Truck. With deliveries gaining a splendid 17% year-on-year this month to 17,772 units, it outsells its microvan namesake (17.475). The tremendous and recent success of the Rongguang Pick-up is something I had noticed in Western China last year and again in the North-Eastern town of Mohe this year, where it is among the best-sellers in both locations. The Rongguang Pick-up features 4 doors with the added functionality of a loading tray. What’s not to love indeed?

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Categories: China

China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

May 17th, 2015 No comments

Geely GC9 China April 2015. Picture courtesy auto.ifeng.comGeely GC9

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring the April Chinese ranking, we then go into the detail of the all-new models landing into the largest new vehicle market in the world. As always this only concerns the models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still very patchy for China. After welcoming 6 new entrants in March, once again we have 6 new nameplates in the charts in April, a handful of them we just discovered at Auto Shanghai 2015. And once again the listing of new entrants in the market illustrates the longer term trends currently at play in China: local manufacturers back to their former dynamism and of course… the SUV craze. 5 out of the 6 new April entrants are manufactured by Chinese carmakers, and 3 out of 6 are SUVs.

Geely GC9 China April 2015Geely GC9

1. Geely GC9 (#226 with 1.033 sales)

Geely is finally showing us the benefits of having purchased Swedish car manufacturer Volvo a few years back with this GC9 designed by Volvo’s head of design, and it shows. The GC9 is Geely’s new flagship, unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2015 and an extremely impressive quality leap forward for the Chinese brand. Astounding interior coupled with stylish exterior including a very unique grille make the GC9 a serious contender for the title of best Chinese car ever produced so far. At 4.96m long and powered by a choice of 1.8L turbo diesel, 2.4L or 3.5L petrol engines mated with a 6AT gearbox, the GC9 is on sale at the ridiculously low starting price of 119.800 yuan (US$19.300).

The range extends to a 3.5L “Flagship” tim priced at a still dirt cheap 229.800 yuan (US$37.100). We have found the new Hyundai and its name is Geely. Given this is completely unchartered territory for the brand, a sales prediction is proving rather difficult. The Volvo S60L on which the GC9 is loosely based points at a shy #175 so far in 2015, not much further up the ladder than the GC9’s very first month. Larger Chinese sedans have traditionally struggled, so much so that Brilliance all but stopped producing any for example, focusing instead on smaller sedans and SUVs. So in absolute terms, a Top 100 ranking would validate Geely in its upmarket pretentious.

Bar for success: #120 or 5.000 monthly sales

Haima M6 China April 2015Haima M6

2. Haima M6 (#238 with 905 units)

The Haima M6 wasn’t unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2015 but… 2013! Fast-foward two long years and it finally lands in the Chinese sales charts, albeit for now at a very discreet #238 for its first month in market. Powered by a 1.5L turbo petrol engine mated with a 6 speed-manual or CVT, the Haima M6 is priced from 76.800 to 102.800 yuan (US$ 12.400-16.600), slotting it in one of the most hotly contested segments in China. Weirdly, the M6 doesn’t really distinguish itself from the M5 aka All-new Family, the brand’s best-seller until last year when it ranked at #104. It is almost exactly the same size at 4.70m vs. 4.69 for the M5 and is priced almost identically with the M5 ranging from 76.800 to 98.800 yuan. Needless to say the M6 is going to struggle making its mark both within Haima’s range and on the market overall.

What can the M6 aim for? Unless we witness a complete sales replacement of the M5 (still a possible option) in which case a monthly Top 100 ranking is viable, my prediction is this outdated design isn’t going to make much waves. If we look up within Haima’s range, the flagship M8 only sold 50 units in April whereas if we look down the M3 ranked #118 in FY2014 but is down 42% year-on-year in April to #186. So far this year, the Haima S5 SUV is the brand’s best-seller at home, selling 4.014 units in April (#124) ranking just outside the Top 100 after 4 months. Haima should aggressively focus on launching a string affordable SUVs rather than pointlessly duplicating its sedan range.

Bar for success: #150 or 2.500 monthly sales

82. Leopaard CS10Leopaard CS10

3. Leopaard CS10 (#270 with 453 deliveries)

Leopaard was one of my biggest surprises at Auto Shanghai 2015, going from grossly made-up Mitsubishi Pajeros a year ago in Beijing to the very professional, fun and confident unveiling of the CS10 SUV at the Show. Confirming it is now a force to reckon with, Leopaard lands the CS10 inside the Chinese sales charts the same month it unveiled it – contrast this with the Haima M6 being two years late above… At a low #270 for now, the CS10 should climb further up shortly. But just how much further? At 4.66m long this is a compact SUV powered by a Mitsubishi 2.0L turbo engine competitively priced from 96.800 to 125.800 yuan (US$ 15.600-20.300).

Leopaard CS10 China April 2015Leopaard CS10 (back)

When climbing inside in Shanghai I had nothing bad to say about its interior quality, the dashboard is stylish and complete and the exterior design is among the best for a Chinese SUV, especially the back looking rather aggressive. What will limit CS10 sales is the small dealership network of the Leopaard brand. To benchmark its sales performance we have to look at other nameplates from Chengfeng (the overarching brand sitting on top of Leopaard). The Kingbox DUV ended 2014 at #194 but ranks #253 so far this year, the original Leopaard (a facelifted Mitsubishi Pajero) sold just 110 units in 2015 and both the CS6 and CS7 have quietly stepped out of the ranking altogether. Not a great pedigree, which means the CS10 almost instantly became Changfeng’s best-seller at home. This is a giant step forward for the GAC-owned brand, so it should aim equally high. A Top 150 ranking in the coming months will be dynamic start, while cracking the Top 100 will put Leopaard on the map.

Bar for success: #150 or 3.000 monthly sales

Mercedes GLA China April 2015. Picture courtesy wolfexp.netMercedes GLA SUV

4. Mercedes GLA (#278 with 365 sales)

Among the Top 3 Germans, Mercedes is the fastest-growing luxury brand in China, quickly bridging the gap it had let expand over the past decade on Audi and BMW. A capital piece to this sales race puzzle is the GLA SUV which kick started local production in Beijing on April 8, exactly two years after enjoying its world premiere at Auto Shanghai 2013. The GLA hits right into a very soft spot in the Chinese market: compact SUVs are currently being snapped up like cheap dumplings and East Coast consumers are craving the status that comes with owning a European car, let alone a Mercedes. The GLA ticks absolutely all boxes in the current Chinese environment, and its sales should take off to levels unheard of before for a Mercedes SUV, despite its steep 220k-450k yuan price range (US$ 35.500-72.500).

Up until now, the only locally-produced SUV in the Mercedes range was the GLK, oblivious to the GLA launch and up a fantastic 51% year-on-year in April to #91 and 5.513 sales while ranking just inside the Top 100 so far in this year at #95 and 22.000 deliveries. The two most relevant benchmarks to the GLA are its direct competitors the Audi Q3 – #98 with 21.642 sales – and BMW X1 – #137 at 13.542 units. Even though Audi sells more Q5 (35.675) than Q3 and BMW doesn’t produce either the X3 or the X5 locally so these are poor sellers, it is fair to assume the GLA will be more successful than the GLK in China, the same way it outsells it in Europe, one reason being the A-Class on which it’s based isn’t produced locally and therefore ends up being more expensive. The choice for cashed-up city youth then becomes very easy to make.

Bar for success: #100 or 6.000 monthly sales

Haval H8 China April 2015. Picture courtesy zhuayoukong.comHaval H8

5. Haval H8 (#287 with 252 units)

Originally launched in November 2013 but cancelled in January 2014 when bashed by the local automotive press for gross shortcomings, Great Wall’s SUV brand Haval has swallowed its pride, went back to the drawing board, made the required improvements and relaunched the H8 this month. This delayed launch may have hurt the model’s sales potential – some local media say it actually shows maturity and a willingness to take responsibility – but if in 2013 the H8 was a critical addition and the flagship to the Haval range, in the space of 18 months a lot has changed for Haval, enjoying absolutely euphoric sales gains, correlated to a lineup widening at lightning speed.

Relieving some of the pressure on the success of this model, the H8 does not top Haval’s range anymore, this honour now goes to the H9 launched last November, priced at 229.800-272.800 yuan ($37.200-44.100) vs. the H8 at 201.800-256.800 yuan (US$ 32.500-41.400). This isn’t cheap by Chinese standards but still a bargain compared to the Mercedes GLA for example (above). Havel now sells the H1 (#74 in April), H2 (#22), H5 (#159), H6 (#2 overall), H8 and H9 (#230) and has just unveiled both the H6 Coupe and H7 at Auto Shanghai 2015. Sales-wise, the H8 should find a spot above both the ageing H5 and the flagship H9 to claim success.

Bar for success: #110 or 4.500 monthly sales

Huasong 7 China April 2015. Picture courtesy 7

6. Huasong 7 (#334 with 60 deliveries)

As detailed in my review of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at Auto Shanghai 2015, Huasong is a new brand launched by Brilliance, offering upmarket MPVs based on Jinbei technology. A quick flick through Chinese media makes it pretty clear that Brilliance is aiming for the Buick GL8 with this first nameplate, the Huasong 7. At 5.00m long, the 7 is priced between 237.700 and 287.700 yuan (US$ 38.300-46.400), a steep ask for a Chinese nameplate and for an interior that isn’t actually that impressive. Second handicap: the Huasong 7 is sandwiched price-wise between the – outdated but still somewhat prestigious previous generation – Buick GL8 Classic (209.000-248.000) and the current GL8 (299.900-399.900). Brilliance is taking a risk with the Huasong 7, but its attractive exterior design may help. One one hand, the targeted GL8 is flying high at #69 overall in April and #79 in 2015 (26.700 sales), on the other hand the cheaper Jinbei Granse on which the Huasong 7 is based didn’t cracked the Top 200 in 2014 (#205) nor has it so far in 2015 (#226 with 4.316 units).

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 monthly sales

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Categories: China

China April 2015: Growth cool down and SUV surge accentuate

May 15th, 2015 4 comments

ChangAn CS75 China April 2015 v2. Picture courtesy icarweekly.comThe ChangAn CS75 is the third best-selling SUV in China in April.

* See the Top 358 All-local models by clicking on the title *

Long-term trends we have been witnessing for the past 12 months accentuate in April in China. The overall light vehicle market gains just 3.7% year-on-year this month to 1.7 million registrations, a further cooling down of growth compared to the 1st Quarter of 2015 when sales gained 9% on the same period a year ago. One reason advanced for the particularly shy growth is foreign manufacturers reducing the inventories of vehicles built locally: they stood at 45 days in March vs. 50 in February (April data yet to be released) after a revolt by Chinese dealers last year prompted foreign carmakers to stop pressuring them to oder more vehicles in order to meet aggressive sales targets. Over the first 5 months of 2015 the Chinese light vehicle market is up 7.7% on 2014 to 6.97 million deliveries. The contrast between sedan sales, now down a very harsh 10% to 932.000 units in April, and microvans (-17% to 108.200) compared to SUV sales (up 49% to 461.600) and MPV (up 22% to 167.000) has never been as glaring, with Chinese manufacturers benefitting from the tremendous market shift at play.

VW Jetta China April 2015. Picture courtesy of biauto.comVW Jetta. Volkswagen sales are down a shocking 7.5% in April in China.

Brand-wise, evolutions are in line with the past couple of months, with an accentuation of trends as well. The most interesting behaviour is that of Volkswagen down a shocking 7.5% year-on-year in April to 221.000 sales. The Santana (+5%) and Tiguan (+1%) save face but most other Volkswagen nameplates crumble down in April, led by the Magotan (-58%), Lavida (-36%), Passat (-31%), Golf (-29%), Sagitar (-17%) and Bora (-15%). Along with General Motors, Volkswagen recently launched a price war to try and prop up its sales in its largest market in the world. The luxury segment is also cooling down its growth: BMW is up just 0.6% year-on-year in April to 37,976 sales while Audi is up 0.2% to 45.296 units vs. +5.2% so far in 2015.

Haval H2 China April 2015Haval H2. Great Wall sales are up 45% year-on-year this month.

Reversely, Great Wall and Geely are leaping forward faster than ever. Boosted by surging SUV sales, Great Wall is up 45% on a year ago to 80.419 deliveries including 63.921 SUVs (+71%). The Haval H6 breaks its ranking record at #2 overall thanks to sales up 17% to 30.767 and below just the Wuling Hongguang (53.086). The Haval H2 also ranks at a best-ever #22 with 14.331 sales and has now sold over 10.000 monthly units without interruption since October whereas it only launched in July. The Haval H1 stands at #74 (7.401 units), the H5 at #159 (-57%), the H9 at #230 and the H8 makes its first appearance. Geely is also up 45% in April to 38.648 sales, with the Emgrand EC7 up 22% to #18 and #1 Chinese sedan, the Vision up 4-fold to 10.112 sales thanks to a much improved model and the flagship GC9 landing this month.

Peugeot 308S China April 2015. Picture courtesy 308S

The Wuling Hongguang and Haval H6 make it two Chinese nameplates on top of the monthly passenger cars ranking, something we haven’t seen this decade. That’s how momentous the current market shifts are. Below, the Ford Focus jumps back onto the podium despite sales down 18% to 28.003 after being outsold in March by the Escort, down to a still very satisfying #19 and 14.833 units this month. The Baojun 730 is cruising along at #7 and 26.003 sales, the Toyota Corolla more than doubles its sales year-on-year thanks to the new generation at #12 and 20.181 deliveries, the Toyota Levin posts its best month so far at 12.670 sales (#32) and with the arrival of the 308S hatchback variant (3.810 units in April), the Peugeot 308 nameplate is up 38% to #43 with 10.448 deliveries.

Nissan X-Trail China April 2015. Picture courtesy auto.qq.comThe Nissan X-Trail hits a best-ever #23 ranking in April.

The Chinese SUV assault recedes slightly in April, with foreign models bridging some of the gap with local nameplates they have let widen over the past 6 months. On one hand the ChangAn CS75 celebrates one year in market by leaping to its best-ever ranking at #21 and 14.382 sales followed closely by the Haval H2 also at an all-time high #22 while the MG GS is unlocked and up 375% on March to #119 and 4.119 sales. But on the other hand the JAC Refine S3 is down 9 spots to #33, the ChangAn CS35 down 4 to #34 and the Venucia T70 down 13 to #99 while the Beijing Auto Huansu S3 (#56), Zotye T600 (#57) and Chery Tiggo 3 (#66) step outside the Top 50. Reversely in the foreign SUV aisle, the Nissan X-Trail is up 54% to hit a record 23rd spot and its 2nd best-ever volume at 14.097 sales (best-ever is 14.121 reached last November) and the Ford Kuga is up 19% to a record 13.262 deliveries.

Hyundai ix25 China April 2015. Picture courtesy the first time, the ix25 is Hyundai’s best-selling SUV in China.

Recent foreign SUV launches are also gaining momentum: the Buick Envision is up to an all-time high #35 and 12.075 sales, the Honda Vezel (#62) and XR-V (#63) add up to a combined 17.727 sales which would earn the twins a 16th position if they were one nameplate, the Citroen C3-XR is up a further 8 spots to #82 (6.211 sales) vs. #97 and 5.269 for the Peugeot 2008, the Kia KX3 is up 10 ranks to #92 and 5.437 sales for its 2nd month in market and the Hyundai ix25 outsells its big brother the ix35 for the very first time at a very strong 8.489 sales (#65) but seems to have cannibalised sales as the ix35 is down 34% to 7.814 (#69).

Dongfeng Fengdu MX6 China April 2015. Picture courtesy bitauto.comDongfeng Fengdu MX6

Looking into last month’s launches, below the Kia KX3 ultra-dominant at #92, the Dongfeng Fengdu MX6 is up 50 spots and 77% to #153 and 2.897 sales, the Chery Arrizo M7 is up 58 ranks and 136% to 1.434 units and the Lifan 820 is up from 26 demo sales last month to 701 deliveries at #251 in April but the Dongfeng Fengshan L60 is down 8% to #218 and the Dongfeng Fengxing Jingye S50 surprisingly cuts its March sales in half to 1.057 at #223. This month’s all-new nameplates will be detailed in a dedicated article as is the tradition on BSCB, so stay tuned!

Previous post: China 1st Quarter 2015: Baojun 730 and Ford Escort superstars

Previous month: China March 2015: Ford Escort in Top 10, outsells Focus

One year ago: China April 2014: Haval H6 breaks records in market up 13%

Full April 2015 Top 358 All-local models Ranking Table below.

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China 1st Quarter 2015: Baojun 730 and Ford Escort superstars

April 29th, 2015 No comments

Baojun 730 China Q1 2014. Picture courtesy of chexun.net200.000 Baojun 730 have found a buyer in less than 9 months.

* See the Top 377 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after going through detailed Chinese sales figures for March we explore the First Quarter volumes in order to extract longer-term trends. The Chinese passenger car market is still up by a robust 9% to 5.31 million units over the period but just 4% to 6.15 million deliveries including commercial vehicles. Some would say it’s the beginning of the end, I say it’s a very normal cooling off of market growth, not of the market as a whole. These quarterly detailed updates will turn out to be critical this year as the Chinese market is evolving so fast that if you miss a couple of months, you end up missing a significant part of the puzzle that this market is.

Haval H6 CoupeThe All-new Coupe variant will push Haval H6 sales further up this year.

The SUV segment is currently going through a euphoric time in China. Sales are up 40% year-on-year, and in what may be the most interesting reversal of fortunes in the past few years in this marker, domestic manufacturers are reaping most of the benefits of this new trend: sales of Chinese-branded SUVs have more than doubled compared to the same period last year, bringing their market share in the segment to a splendid 56%. The Haval H6 of course is leading the charge, stepping onto the national podium for the first time at #3 with sales up 29% to 87,749 vs. #11 a year ago.

Honda XR-V China December 2014. Picture courtesy of Toyota, Honda is banking on the SUV craze with the XR-V/Vezel twins.

This SUV craze has had a tremendous impact on the entire Chinese market and is starting to trigger a power shift between domestic manufacturers and foreign ones. As a foreign manufacturer present in China, if you don’t have at least one affordable SUV in your lineup, chances are you underperformed so far in 2015. Hyundai (ix25), Kia (KX3), Honda (XR-V/Vezel), PSA (2008, C3-XR) and GM (Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax) are safe, but the best example of a company struggling because of the absence of any small SUV in its range is Volkswagen, still #1 brand in China but in difficulty with sales down 0.1%.

VW Golf China March 2015. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comAmong VW models, only the Golf frankly outperforms the market so far in 2015.

All mass market Volkswagens bar the Jetta (+10%) and Golf (+22%) underperform the market over the period: the Lavida is down 5% at #2, the Santana is slightly under the market (+8% at #4), the Sagitar is down 2% (#8), the Passat down 10% (#10), Tiguan up 1% (#11), the Bora down 7% (#21), the Polo down 1% (#24) and the Magotan down 14% (#28).

JAC Refine S3 China 2014. Picture courtesy JAC Refine S3 symbolises the Chinese SUV revival in 2014-2015.

In fact, 7 of the 10 best-selling SUVs in China over Q1 2015 are Chinese, that’s an all-time record for any quarter in the history of automobile in this country. Below the H6, the VW Tiguan is the only foreigner in the Top 8 SUVs at #11 overall, and is followed by the JAC Refine S3 (#22), ChangAn CS35 (#27). Haval H2 (new), ChangAn CS75 (new), Beijing Auto Huansu S3 (new) and Zotye T600 (+371%).

Top 10 best-selling SUVs in China – 1st Quarter 2015:

Pos Model Q1 2015 /14 Q1 2014
1 Haval H6 87,749 29% 67,890
2 VW Tiguan 67,228 1% 66,326
3 JAC Refine S3 53,712 new 0
4 ChangAn CS35 49,704 84% 27,053
5 Haval H2 41,743 new 0
6 ChangAn CS75 41,734 new 31
7 Beijing Auto Huansu S3 40,173 new 0
8 Zotye T600 29,759 371% 6,313
9 Ford Kuga 29,331 -11% 32,829
10 Hyundai ix35 28,944 -22% 37,192

Venucia T70 China February 2015. Picture courtesy Venucia T70 could become one of China’s Top 10 best-selling SUVs later this year.

The Chinese stranglehold on the SUV market is about to get even tighter as the rhythm of new launches has all but slowed down: the Venucia T70 could come flirting with the Top 10 SUVs in the next quarter or two, the JAC Refine S2 will build on the astonishing success of its big brother and the Baojun 560 is the biggest wild card the segment has seen so far, judging by the tremendous success of its MPV counterpart the Baojun 730. And that’s only 3 out of at least a dozen new affordable Chinese SUVs about to be launched in the coming few months…

Beijing Auto Weiwang M20. Picture courtesy of Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 is hoovering sales off the Wuling Hongguang.

Which brings us to the other segment on fire in 2015: MPVs. Led once again by the Wuling Hongguang despite sales having peaked out (-10% to a still gargantuan 189,432 units in just 3 months), this segment has grown by roughly 30% so far this year, with the addition of numerous affordable Chinese options: the Baojun 730 is the most successful passenger car launch ever in China, clocking up an unbelievable 183,600 deliveries since its launch last August, including 84,526 this quarter (#5 overall). The Chana Honor (#16), Dongfeng Fengguang 330/360 (#26) Dongfeng Joyear MPV (#41) and Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 (#44) also see their sales surge year-on-year. This is it: the majority of Chinee small business owners have now upsized to MPV and ditched microvans, down an abysmal 30% so far in 2015.

Top 10 best-selling MPVs in China – 1st Quarter 2015:

Pos Model Q1 2015 /14 Q1 2014 Pos
1 Wuling Hongguang 189,432 -10% 210,109 1
2 Baojun 730 84,526 new 0
3 Chana Honor 61,884 31% 47,396 20
4 Dongfeng Fengguang 330/360 50,089 142% 20,701 68
5 Dongfeng Joyear MPV 31,699 28% 24,717 54
6 Beijing Weiwang M20 30,286 87% 16,165 89
7 Dongfeng Future 28,979 -23% 37,479 28
8 Buick GL8 18,997 -21% 24,094 58
9 ChangAn Ouliwei 18,933 19% 15,856 93
10 JAC Refine 13,386 -16% 16,005 90

Geely Vision China 2015. Picture courtesy 91aiche.comThanks to a completely new model, Geely Vision sales are up 6-fold on last year.

But the SUV and MPV segments are not the only ones where Chinese manufacturers are turning the tables around. 4 of the 5 sedans that registered the largest year-on-year gains in the Top 100 are Chinese: the Geely Vision is up 485% to #43, the BYD F3 up 247% to #30, the Geely EC7 up 87% to #17 and the ChangAn Eado up 57% #19. Only the Toyota Corolla, thanks to the addition of a new generation places in the Top 5 at +72% to #31. Other foreign gainers include the Skoda Octavia (+55% to #38) and the Peugeot 308 (+51% to #45) here too thanks to new generations.

Ford Escort China December 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comThe Escort is exactly what Ford needed to turn up the heat in China.

If you still needed to get convinced that the Chinese car market is more dynamic than ever, one figure should suffice: there are 19 all-new models ranking inside the Q1 2015 Top 100. Below the Baojun 730 at #4, the other superstar is the Ford Escort, extremely impressive at #18 and 59,083 sales, even cracking the overall Top 10 in March to become the American manufacturer’s best-seller almost single-handedly lifting Ford up to #5 brand in the country. This is a game changer for Ford.

Out of the 19 new entrants, 9 are Chinese SUVs, 5 foreign sedans, 4 foreign SUVs, one Chinese sedan (the Beijing Auto Senova D50) and one Chinese MPV. In short, a perfect snapshot of the trends at play in the market this year. The Buick Envision (#56), Hyundai ix25 (#61), Honda Vezel (#63) and XR-V (#68) lead the foreign SUV charge with 3 entrants in the B segment, while the Toyota Levin (#64), VW Lamando (#69), Mazda3 Axela (#71) and to a lesser extend the Kia K4 (#79) have made their mark already.

Full Q1 2015 Top 377 All-local models vs. Full Q1 2014 figures below.

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China LCV March 2015: Wuling Hongguang V cracks 30,000 sales

April 23rd, 2015 No comments

Wuling Hongguang V China March 2015. Picture courtesy

* See the Top 10 best-selling LCVs by clicking on the title *

213,053 new Light Commercial Vehicles found a buyer in March in China, adding up to 514,922 over the 1st quarter of 2015. This segment is in freefall since small businesses have started to trade up to MPVs such as the Wuling Hongguang or Baojun 730. However Wuling is fighting the downwards trend by launching the Hongguang V, still a tradeup from the once best-selling Sunshine (-38% in March) and Rongguang (-47%) but more affordable than the Hongguang. It’s a full house for now: the Hongguang V crosses the 30,000 monthly sales milestone for its third month in market at 30,003, following the same sales progression as the Baojun 730 MPV a few months back. A very promising start indeed. Note the Foton Light Truck taking the lead of the LCV ranking this month above all Wulings.

Previous post: China LCVs January 2015: Wuling Hongguang V appears

One year ago: China March 2014: Now updated with LCV data!

Full March 2015 Top 10 LCVs Ranking Table below.

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China March 2015: Focus on the all-new models

April 16th, 2015 No comments

Kia KX3 China March 2015. Picture courtesy

* Many thanks to for helping compile this report *

As per the BSCB tradition, after first exploring the monthly Chinese ranking, we then go into the detail of the all-new models making their first appearance in the biggest car market in the world, keep in mind this is only models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still a very well-kept secret in China. After welcoming 4 new entrants in January and 6 in February, we have 6 new nameplates in the charts in March. As it has been the case each and every month this year, the list of new entrants perfectly illustrate the current trends at play in China: a regain of form of Chinese manufacturers – 5 of the 6 new entrants including 3 from Dongfeng – and the strength of the SUV (2 newbies) and MPV (1) segments.

1. Kia KX3 (#102 with 5,596 sales)

After the Hyundai ix25 launched last year, sister company Kia unveiled its equivalent aimed at a younger, hipper audience: the KX3, also exclusive to China. Priced from 112.800 to 186.800 yuan ($18.018 – 29.830), the KX3 plays right into the compact SUV sales explosion we have witnessed over the past couple of years and lands directly just outside the Top 100 with a very vigorous 5,596 units sold for its first month in market.  By comparison, the Hyundai ix25 started at #129 and 3,972 sales last September, rapidly rising to a (temporary?) peak of 9,173 deliveries at #60 last January, a ranking it also holds in March. Direct competitors the Ford Ecosport (#46, 8.100 sales), Peugeot 2008 (#71, 8.010 units) and Chevrolet Trax (#78, 6.080 deliveries) have reached similar heights in the past few months so hopes are high for this KX3, manufactured by the Dongfeng-Yueda-Kia joint venture.

Bar for success: #50 or 10,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengxing Jingye S50 China March 2015

2. Dongfeng Fengxing Jingyi S50 (#180 with 2,127 units)

Launched back in September 2014 but somehow only appearing in the sales charts this month, the Fengxing Jingyi S50 is positioned right in the middle of the most competitive and saturated segment in the Chinese market: affordable compact sedans. Priced between 69.900 and 102.900 yuan (US$11.300-16.600) and with a design reminiscent of the Hyundai Verna, the oddly named S50 (Fengxing is the brand name, Jingyi S50 is the car’s name) does not have much to differentiate itself and its interior is reported to be of mediocre quality. Dongfeng may have a hard time squeezing significant sales figures from this nameplate, manufactured by Dongfeng Liuzhou, a subsidiary of Dongfeng Motor and based on the Dongfeng Fengshen A60 sedan, which again is based on the old Nissan Sylphy that was made in China by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengdu MX6 China March 2016

3. Dongfeng Fengdu MX6 (#203 with 1,640 deliveries)

Now that the platform of the previous generation Nissan X-Trail is available for Dongfeng to use, the Chinese manufacturer is launching a rebadge variant of it named the Fengdu MX6, priced between 122.800 and at 169.800 yuan (US$19.800-27.400), a full US$15.000 below the old X-Trail’s prices, which was very successful during its entire career here. The MX6 is manufactured by Zhengzhou-Nissan, specialised in small commercial vehicles, pickup trucks and SUVs, and is a good entry-level option for newcomers into the SUV segment – Dongfeng is eyeing young families outside the big cities here.

Bar for success: #75 or 7,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengshan L60 China March 2015

4. Dongfeng Fengshan L60 (#224 with 1,190 sales)

Last Dongfeng to land in the Chinese sales charts this month, the Fengshan L60 marks a new step in the collaboration between Chinese Dongfeng Motor and French PSA/Peugeot-Citroen now that the Chinese manufacturer holds 15% of the French carmaker. It has been jointly developed by the Dongfeng-PSA joint venture and Dongfeng Motor, the same sort of construction that is used for developing cars for sub-brands. Fengshen however is 100% owned by Dongfeng Motor, and not by the joint venture. The Fengshen L60 is based on the extended variant of the PSA PF2 platform, that also underpinned the previous generation Peugeot 408 sedan, which was made in China by Dongfeng-PSA. Priced very competitively between 89.700 and 129.700 yuan (US$14.400-20.900) and featuring a particularly sleek design, the L60 has a good chance to succeed.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Chery Arrizo M7 China March 2015. Picture courtesy

5. Chery Arrizo M7 (#259 with 607 sales)

We thought Chery was out of the woods a couple of years ago when it deleted a couple of irrelevant brands (Rely among others) to focus on its namesake marque. Not so. Chery is now bent on creating even more irrelevant sub-brands. The manufacturer is trying to transform Tiggo into its SUV brand, emulating what Great Wall did very successfully with Haval. But it has also created the Arrizo sub-brand from scratch, supposedly detained to more sophisticated vehicles. After the 7 and 3 sedans, here comes the M7 MPV, which is in fact a facelifted Rely V5. No pricing information yet as the M7 is scheduled for its debut at the Shanghai Auto Show next week.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Lifan 820 China March 2015. Picture courtesy

6. Lifan 820 (#338 with 26 units)

Although not officially launched yet, the Lifan 820 appears in the Chinese sales charts this month with a mere 26 units, most probably demo models. This is the Lifan brand’s new flagship, which debuted on the 2014 Beijing Auto Show a year ago and was originally slotted for a Q4 2014 commercial launch. Lifan, in dire straits at home in the sedan segment, must be relatively nervous about unveiling this large sedan to the public as it has the potential to either pull the brand out of insignificant sales in that category or kill it for good. Pricing for the 820 is estimated to roam between 90.000 and 140.000 yuan.

Bar for success: #150 or 3,000 monthly sales

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