China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models

Lifan Xuanlang

* See the May 2017 Top 414 All China-made models and Top 74 brands here *

As is the case every month, we pay special attention to the new locally produced launches in China so you stay aware of the latest development in the fastest-evolving car market in the world. May marks the second consecutive month of year-on-year decline for the light vehicle market in China, and fittingly it is a very slow month for newcomers with only three new nameplates this month, all Chinese.

1. Lifan Xuanlang: 2.541 sales

With the recently launched Myway 7 seat SUV, Lifan had started to reassure us that they were back in the race. Unfortunately, here comes the Xuanlang. No, this is not a Ford S-Max, but an almost identical clone, up to the crease lines in the door and the alloys. The S-Max isn’t currently sold in China so unlike the Range Rover Evoque and its Landwind clone we can’t make a price comparison. The Xuanlang signals the fact that cloning is still very much present in the Chinese auto industry and not limited to Landwind and Zotye which we thought were the latest culprits of this dubious practice.

Lifan Xuanlang interior. Picture autohome.com.cn  

Seating seven and powered by a choice of three petrol engines:  1.8 (133hp), 2.0 (141hp) and 1.5T (141hp), the Xuanlang is priced very competitively from 69.800 to 106.800 yuan (US$10.250-15.700). This places it squarely against the #2 best-seller in the segment, the Baojun 730, as well as the Dongfeng Fengxing S500, Chana Ousheng and Changan Linmax. Already by far the most successful entrant this month with over 2.500 sales, this is unchartered territory for Lifan that hasn’t had a similar offering before. Doubling this initial monthly score would cement the Xuanlang as a force to be reckoned with in the MPV market.

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly sales

2. Zotye T700: 107 sales

Just as Lifan tests the murky waters of cloning, Zotye seems to have emancipated from it with this T700. Agreed, there is an air of Range Rover in the silhouette but the latest Zotye offerings had been almost identical clones so there is progress. Cue the Damai X7 (VW Cross Coupe GTE concept), T600 (Audi Q5), Damai X5 (VW Tiguan), SR7 (Audi Q3) and SR9 (Porsche Macan). The T700 is the new flagship of the brand and impresses with sharp design both exterior-wise and inside the cockpit featuring a 14 inch-touch screen.

Zotye T700 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The T700 is powered by a choice of three turbo engines a 1.8 (177hp) and two 2.0 (190 and 220hp) mated with a five-speed manual or six-speed DCT for the 1.8 and six-speed DCT for the two 2.0. It is priced from 106.800 to 155.800 yuan (US$15.700-22.900) and will aim at taking some business away from Haval. Zotye has been struggling lately with overall sales down 25% in May and its best-seller the T600 only gathering 3.654 deliveries, so our bar for success for the T700 is lowered down to 4.000 which would place it as the brand’s best-seller this month.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

3. Geely Yuanjing X1: 104 sales

Going from strength to strength with sales up 87% year-to-date thanks mainly to a series of new SUVs, Geely launches its smallest SUV to-date, the Yuanjing X1, unveiled at the last Shanghai Auto Show in April. Unfortunately, under a new nameplate and a seemingly new car hides a hastily facelifted version of the Geely Panda. The interior is its best asset with a huge 11.6 inch touch screen.

Geely Yuanjing X1 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn 

The X1 keeps the Panda’s 1.0 68hp engine and replaces the 1.5 by a 1.3 88hp engine, and its price range is at a tiny 39.900-57.900 yuan (US$5.850-8.500). It seems everything Geely launches is a success these days, but this X1 will have a tougher job in a segment that has traditionally struggled with big volumes. It will compete with the Baojun 510 (that proved this struggle wrong), the Haval H1 and the JAC Refine S2mini.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models

China May 2017: Second consecutive month of decline at -2.6%

The VW Tiguan hits its highest ranking in two years at #6. Picture qq.com

* See the Top 74 locally produced brands and Top 414 models by clicking on the title *

The Chinese light vehicle market is starting to really feel the effect of a 5% to 7.5% tax hike on vehicles with engine displacements up to 1.6L last January. For the second consecutive month, overall sales of locally-produced light vehicles are down, this time dropping 2.6% to 1.75 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The continued strength of SUVs and crossovers, up 12% to 719.455 units, isn’t enough to compensate for the other segments’ losses anymore. Sedans drop 9% to 840.661, MPVs are down 14% to 142.665 and microvans down 25% to 48.100. Most tellingly, sales of small engine vehicles (1.6L or less) affected by the tax hike are down 9.2% year-on-year to 1.15 million units, representing 66% of the overall light vehicle market. Thanks to a relatively strong first quarter, the Chinese market is still in positive year-to-date though, at +1.5% to 9.42 million units.

The Baojun 510 is inside the Chinese Top 10 for the 2nd month in a row. 

According to retail sales data released by manufacturers themselves and including imports (this differs from the wholesale locally produced data provided in our data tables), General Motors posts stable sales at 294.425 units this month and shows very varied fortunes for its stable of brands: Cadillac is up 65% to 14.154 – the brand’s 15th consecutive double-digit year-on-year gain – and Baojun up 47% (wholesales up 72%), but the remainder of the brands are down: Buick (-6.8% to 94.023), Chevrolet (-1.4% to 37.571) and Wuling (-19% to 84.602 including microvans). Reversely, the Volkswagen brand manages to gain 4% to 241.600 units thanks notably to surging sales of the Tiguan (+71%) and Magotan (+77%). Adding Skoda, Audi and Porsche should make the Volkswagen Group the #1 Group in China although official figures aren’t available at this stage.

The Civic helps push Honda Motor Co. up 16%. Picture auto.sina.com.cn

Honda Motor Co. remains the best-selling Japanese carmaker this month thanks to a 16% year-on-year surge to 115.584 units, edging past Toyota Motor Co. up 12% to 112.800 and Nissan Motor Co. up 5.7% to 112.085. Brand locally-produced wholesales show a different picture with Honda brand sales up 18%, Toyota down 5% and Nissan up 27%. Honda benefits from the new Civic up 191% while the XR-V is up 4% and both the Vezel (-13%) and CR-V (-25%) struggle. Nissan has the Sylphy up 3% and the Qashqai up 22%. Japanese carmakers are likely to have benefitted from a sudden anti-Korean sentiment stemming from U.S. anti-missile defences deployed in South Korea. Hyundai (-65%) and Kia (-67%) both crumble this month. Ford Motor Co. for its part is down 3% to 87.733, adding up to a 11% loss year-to-date to 436.961.

Geely Vision SUV. Geely sales are up 87% so far this year. 

The luxury ranking continues to be reshuffled with the BMW Group taking first spot this month thanks to retail deliveries up 27% to 50.996, thanks to strong sales of the 3 Series (+57%) and X1 (+29%). Daimler AG is just below at 50.015, up 32% thanks to the new E-Class (+385%). Audi slows down its fall now that the dispute with its dealers over a new sales channel – postponed – is over but trails both its German rivals at -4% to 48.012.

Geely remains the star of Chinese brands with sales up 66% to 76.616 and up 87% year-to-date to 437.359. The brand outsells Changan (-26%) for the second consecutive month. Great Wall Motors on the other hand posts a second consecutive drop at -3.8% to 68.942 including 58.390 Haval sold (-6%). GAC Trumpchi surfs on the tremendous success of its GS4 and GS8 SUVs with sales up 47% to 44.148 but Dongfeng (-10%), Beijing Auto (-29%), Chery (-4%) and BYD (-21%) all retreat. Roewe is revived (+140%) thanks to the RX5 and the i6 sedan beating its sales volume record at 7.148, Soueast is up 43% thanks to the DX3 crossover and MG is up 87% thanks to the ZS crossover.

The Compass is now Jeep’s best-seller in China.

There are a few additional notable performances in the brands ranking: Jeep (+122%) stabilising around 20.000 monthly sales now has the Compass as best-seller (8.300), Mazda is up 24% mainly thanks to additional sales from the CX-4 and Mitsubishi is up 110% on the new Outlander. Just as French long-time local producers Peugeot (-38%) and Citroen (-63%) falter, newcomer on the China production scene Renault is gaining momentum above 6.000 sales for the third consecutive month. This places Renault only 1.500 units below Citroen in May.

Renault Koleos. Renault (+221%) is now teasing Citroen (-63%). Picture auto.lctongcheng.com

The VW Lavida/Gran Lavida is the best-selling nameplate in China for the third consecutive month despite deliveries down 12%. It distances the Wuling Hongguang down 19% and the Haval H6 down 6% in a podium strikingly 100% in negative. The Nissan Sylphy (+13%), GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+22%) and VW Tiguan (+71%) follow, trying to compensate for these losses. The Baojun 510 beats its volume record once again at 24.108 units and remains inside the Top 10, confirming it has all but “killed” the 560 (-46%), and the Geely Boyue posts another stunning month at 21.142 units just outside the Top 10 at #11. Among recent launches posting strong results, the FAW Besturn X40 racks up 8.781 sales for its third month in market, the Chevrolet Equinox is up to 6.278 units and the VW Teramont up to 6.033.

Previous month: China April 2017: Market marks a pause at -3.7%

One year ago: China May 2016: Price cuts lift market up 11%, Wuling Hongguang back to #1

Full May 2017 Top 74 locally produced brands and Top 414 models below.

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China LCV March 2017: Mini Trucks and Pickups shoot up

3. Wuling Rongguang Pickup MoheWuling Mini Truck sales are up 89% year-on-year in March.

* See the Top 45 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

After a couple of months hiatus, the China LCV ranking is back thanks to our partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars. This month the trends we have observed in the past year are confirmed yet in various degrees of strength. Minivans continue to drop but slow down their fall at -6% to 67.852 sales vs. -19% to 135.027 year-to-date whereas Mini Trucks (aka mini pickups) accelerate their growth at +36% to 70.793 vs. +26% to 157.857 year-to-date. Now that legislation restricting their access to the centre of big cities is being loosened up in some parts of the country, pickup trucks continue to gallop ahead with another double-digit gain at +14% to 38.960 deliveries vs. +19% to 96.783 so far this year.

Maxus T60. Picture courtesy auto.qq.com

The Wuling Mini Truck shoots up 89% to over 40.000 sales, dominating the ranking head and shoulders above the best-selling Minivan and one of the rare ones to improve significantly: the Wuling Hongguang V up 51% to slightly more than 25.000 units. The Wuling Rongguang (-11%) and Sunshine (-36%) continue their freefall just as the Chana Minibus (-43%) has its sales transferred to the Mini Truck (+9%). In the revived pickup aisle. the Great Wall Wingle 5, JMC Baodian and ZX Auto Grand Tiger remain in the lead despite all losing ground on a year ago, whereas the JMC Yuhu (+228%), Great Wall Wingle 6 (+22%) and Foton Tunland (+103%) all gain significant volume. Among recent launches, the Wuling Sunshine V doesn’t impress at less than 2.000 units while we welcome the Maxus T60 in the ranking this month, the brand’s very first pickup truck.

Previous post: China LCV Full Year 2016: Wuling Mini Truck leads, pickups up 11%

One year ago: China LCV March 2016: Mini Trucks shoot up 31% led by Wuling

Full March 2017 Top 45 models ranking below.

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China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models

We throw a laser focus on the all-new locally produced models hitting the Chinese market so you are up-to-date with all the latest news. No less than 11 new nameplates made their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts in April.

1. Chevrolet Equinox: 5.693 sales

Leading them all is the Chevrolet Equinox with an already very satisfying score. Manufactured by the Shanghai-GM joint-venture, the new generation Equinox is the first one to be produced in China and it’s another welcome breath of fresh air for the struggling Chevrolet brand after the arrival of the Cavalier sedan in September last year. Powered by a choice of 1.5T or 2.0T engines both matched with a nine-speed auto, the Equinox is priced from 174.900 to 249.900 yuan ($25.500-36.400), meaning Chevrolet had the choice of discontinuing the similarly priced Captiva or keep it at a discounted rate. Looking at the two lonely sales the Captiva managed to rack up in April, it would appear Chevrolet has decided to discontinue it instead.

The Equinox enters a very crowded foreign compact five-seater SUV segment that also includes the VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Ford Escape. It bodes well for its chances of strong sales and has emboldened us to lift its bar for success to 15.000. General Motors has also positioned it frankly below the hot-selling Buick Envision (209.900 to 349.900 yuan) which should eliminate the risk of cannibalisation among GM brands. The Equinox is destined to become the best-selling SUV Chevrolet has ever had in China so far, as it already comes close to the Trax’s personal best of 6.937 units.

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

2. Hyundai Celesta: 3.965 sales

Appearing in this month’s sales charts but already displaying a cumulative total of 11.983 sales, the Hyundai Celesta has chosen the wrong timing to enter the Chinese sales charts, in the midst of anti-Korean sentiment that has pulled both Hyundai and Kia sales down over 60% this month. Hopefully for the Korean carmaker this situation will recede shortly and its sales can return to their pre-crisis level. Under a new nameplate hides in fact the Hyundai Elantra Yuedong – the fourth generation Elantra – reskinned and with an updated interior. This is the same method Ford has adopted in China with the Escort, based on the previous generation Focus, and Chevrolet with the Cavalier which is a reskinned previous generation Cruze. Both the Escort and Cavalier compete with the Celesta.

Powered with the same 1.6L engine as the Yuedong matched with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, the Celesta is priced from 78.800 to 120.800 yuan (US$11.500-17.600) and adds to an already busy Hyundai sedan lineup. The Korean carmaker has indeed taken the habit of keeping older generations of the Elantra in production, and the Celesta slides above the new Verna (72.800-105.800 yuan) and the Elantra Yuedong (74.800-95.800 yuan) but below the two latest generations Elantra, the 5th – Langdong (105.800-127.800 yuan) and the 6th – Lingdong (99.800-151.800 yuan).

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

3. Venucia M50V: 2.704 sales

Unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show last April, the M50V is the first MPV by Venucia, Dongfeng-Nissan’s low cost brand. Previously Venucia models have been based on older Nissan platforms but the M50V is based on the Dongfeng Fengguang 360. It is powered by a choice of either 1.5 or 1.6L engines and comes in six or seven-seat configurations. As it is the case for all Venucia nameplates, the M50V is priced sharply at 65.800-84.900 yuan (US$9.600-12.400) which is slightly more expensive than the Dongfeng Fengguang 360 on which it is based (57.900-74.900). Venucia is a late-comer in the struggling MPV segment but its sharp design and modern interior for the segment will make it a worthy option and should trigger solid sales.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

4. Borgward BX5: 1.593 sales 

The BX5 is the second offering from the revived Borgward brand after the BX7 launched last year. Borgward is a German brand that was resuscitated with the financial backing of Foton Motor, a subsidiary of Beijing Auto. Despite being priced dearly, the BX7 has shown strong figures, peaking at 5.556 units last December, and the BX5 should too as it is more sharply designed and more affordable, priced between 149.800 and 216.800 yuan (US$21.800-31.600). The BX5 is powered by a 1.8T engine matched with either a six-speed auto or manual and both FWD and real-time 4WD configurations are available. A 1.4T and 1.4T hybrid are set to join the lineup in the near future.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

5. Cowin C3R: 1.093 sales

This month the Cowin C3 has been replaced by the C3R in the Chinese sales charts, a model that was launched in 2015 and a quirk of the rankings.

6. Chery eQ1: 1.035 sales

After the eQ, an electric version of the QQ, Chery launches the electric eQ1, a mini hatchback that fits right in with the latest mini electric offerings. Priced competitively from 49.800 to 99.800 yuan (US$7.250-14.500) including green car subsidies, the eQ1 features an attractive exterior design and very trendy interior filled with orange and a 10 inch touch screen. Its range is 180 km. A very interesting offering from Chery indeed, the brand having stepped up its design efforts with its latest launches.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

7. Skoda Kodiaq: 913 sales

The Kodiaq we know in Europe is now also produced in China. Sharing the same platform as the new VW Tiguan L, the Kodiaq is made here by the SAIC-Volkswagen joint-venture. It is available in a choice of three turbo engines: 1.4L, 1.8L and 2.0L and priced from 189.800 to 269.800 yuan (US$27.600-39.300), keeping in mind Skoda is positioned slightly more premium in China than it is in Europe. It competes with the likes of the Peugeot 4008 and Chevrolet Equinox we described earlier in the article.

The Kodiaq is the first in a four-pronged SUV attack by Skoda in China. Yet to come are the code named Model Q which will replace the existing Yeti, the code named model K which will be based on the current Yeti platform to spurn a budget crossover and a Kodiaq Coupe, the future flagship of the brand, to compete with the likes of the Honda Avancier and UR-V.

Changan CS55

Also launching in April are the electric JMC E160 (285 sales), the Peugeot 5008 (242) which is the same as the European one, the Buick Velite 5, a rebadged Chevrolet Volt (67) and the Changan CS55 (30), the one with the largest sales potential.

China April 2017: Market marks a pause at -3.7%

The 510 is now Baojun’s best-seller and the country’s third best-selling SUV. 

* See the Top 74 brands and Top 413 models by clicking on the title *

The increase of the purchase tax on small cars initiated at the start of the year has finally caught up with the Chinese light vehicle market, down 3.7% year-on-year in April to 1.72 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The purchase tax on vehicles of 1.6L or less was raised from 5% to 7.5% on January 1 and will be back to 10% in 2018. Sales of such vehicles are down 10% to 1.14 million this month. The year-to-date tally remains in positive territory however at +2.5% to 7.67 million light vehicles. As it has become the routine over the past couple of years, SUV sales go against the grain at +12% to 691.497 units whereas MPVs are down a harsh 19% to 139.685 and passenger cars are down 8% to 836.683. This month the market is the theatre of some unusually harsh year-on-year drops for some brands and models as we will detail below, indicating a strong readjustment of the market.

The Tiguan L helps the Volkswagen Group to #1 in China this month.

Group-wise, according to figures released by manufacturers themselves (retail figures including imports), the Volkswagen Group remains the largest carmaker in the country with sales up 1.5% to 299.700 units. The Volkswagen brand is up 4.3% but Audi is down 6.9% and Skoda down 12%. Note wholesales of locally-made vehicles show a different picture with VW down 5%. Year-to-date sales for the Group are in negative at -4.8% to 1.19 million units. Its archenemy General Motors is down 1.9% to 272.770 units, with Buick down 15%, Chevrolet down 10%, Wuling down 16% but Cadillac up 98% and Baojun up 58%. Here too wholesales of locally-made vehicles show different evolutions, with Buick in positive notably.

BMW is the best-selling luxury carmaker in China for the first time.

One of the main events of the month is the leadership of the BMW Group among luxury carmakers for the first time in Chinese history. Retail sales including imports of BMW and Mini vehicles are up 39% to 48.869 units, edging past Mercedes up 35% to 47.627 and Audi down 6.9% to 46.166. This occurrence wouldn’t have been possible without the troubles Audi is currently encountering in China. The brand is now pulling out of an agreement with its Chinese dealers that it would not open a second distribution network with its partner SAIC until it sells 900.000 annual units in China. This means Audi resumes its standoff with Chinese dealers that have refused ordering new cars as a protest against the SAIC network plans, and sales of the brand will be affected for a few more months at least. Note looking at wholesales of locally-made vehicles, Audi is still ahead this month with BMW 2nd and Mercedes 3rd as detailed in the ranking table below the jump.

Honda sales are up 29% year-on-year this month. 

Japanese carmakers show a stark contrast with surrounding market conditions this month. Honda Motor is the April hero, posting a 29% year-on-year surge to 109.518 units, just as the XR-V crossover is up 23%, the Accord up 24% and the Civic up 184%. Toyota Motor is up 7.2% to 108.300 and Nissan Motor up 9.5% to 105.324, helped by Infiniti deliveries up 105% to 3.415. All three carmakers may have taken advantage of a sales transfer from Hyundai Motor still suffering from a diplomatic row between China and South Korea over the North Korean missile crisis. Hyundai is down 64% this month and Kia down 69%. Year-to-date, Nissan Motor remains in a tight lead with 419.671 sales (+6.3%) ahead of Honda Motor at 414.814 (+20%) and Toyota Motor at 404.400 (+3.1%). Keep in mind these totals include Infiniti, Acura and Lexus. On a separate note, after a painful first quarter, Ford Motor Co. rebounds in April at +11% to 93.967 sales.

The Boyue helps Geely sales up 88% in April. 

Among Chinese carmakers, Geely is the standout performer of the month with deliveries surging 88% thanks to the exceptional performance of its four most recent launches: the Geely Boyue beating its monthly volume record again at 21.263 and now the country 5th best-selling SUV – 11th overall, the Vision SUV (9.634), Emgrand GS (9.119) and Emgrand GL (9.073). After years of record-beating months, SUV carmaker Haval is down 7% this month just as its best-seller the H6 marks a pause at -17% and despite the H2 bouncing up 57% thanks to the new H2S model. But the most surprising evolution comes from Changan losing half its sales year-on-year and dropping from #2 to #10 in the brands ranking. GAC Trumpchi (+49%), Roewe (+155%), MG (+109%) and Leopaard (+51%) go forward, but two manufacturers that have built their recent success on shameless copycats now hit a wall: Zotye is down 58% this month and Landwind down 80%.

The ZS is already MG’s best-seller in China for its second month in market. 

Over in the models ranking, the top three best-sellers fit within 400 sales and all post double-digit declines: the VW Lavida/Gran Lavida is down 12% ahead of the Haval H6 (-17%) and Wuling Hongguang (-10%). The Hongguang remains the year-to-date leader ahead of the Lavida and H6. This trio is followed this month by the Buick Excelle up an excellent 39% to 32.962 sales and distancing the Nissan Sylphy (+1%) and GAC Trumpchi GS4. But once again the performance of the month goes to the new Baojun 510, beating its volume record to 21.987 and earning a 9th place overall and 3rd place in the SUV ranking. The 510 is now Baojun’s best-seller above the 730, 560 and 310 but it confirms this comes at a cannibalising price as the brand’s other SUV, the 560, is down another 60% this month. Let’s single out three additional high performing SUVs: the VW Tiguan up 14% to #10, the GAC Trumpchi GS8 remaining above 10.000 units for the second straight month and the MG ZS surging to 9.768 units for its second month in market, by far the brand’s best-seller already.

Previous month: China March 2017: Baojun wins 510 bet in market up 1.7%

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

Full April 2017 Top 74 brands and Top 413 models below. (imports excluded)

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China February-March 2016: Focus on the all-new models

Baojun 510

We are catching up on two months at once with a laser focus on the all-new locally produced models hitting the Chinese market. A total of 18 new nameplates made their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts over the past couple of months.

1. Baojun 510: February 8.086 sales, March 18.016 sales

Unveiled last November at the Guangzhou Auto Show, the 510 is Baojun’s second incursion in the crossover segment after the immensely successful 560, but this time the design is daring, especially for a low-cost Chinese offer. It worked. As we have already detailed in the China March 2017 update, the 510 is already a blockbuster with 18.016 sales for its second month in market. However this has come with a price: the cannibalisation of the 560, freefalling 64% at the same time the 510 is extending its wings. As for all Baojun nameplates, the 510 price range stands at a cutthroat 59.800-75.800 yuan (US$ 8.700-11.000) which means it doesn’t overlap with the 560, priced from 76.800 to 89.800 yuan ($11.200-13.050). The 510 comes with a petrol 1.5L litre engine with a 6 speed manual or automatic gearbox. The success of the 510 so far is a sign that Chinese buyers are ready to purchase more daring designs by their homegrown carmakers. Keeping things in perspective though: at 18.016 sales in March, the 510 remains way below the 560’s personal best of 42.077 units reached back in March 2016.

Bar for success: 20.000 monthly sales

2. Roewe i6: March 7.015 sales

After the tremendous success of the RX5 crossover (personal best at 24.778 units), Roewe continues to climb back up the Chinese brands sales ladder thanks to this new i6 sedan replacing both the 550 and 750. The 4.67m-long i6 is equipped with a 1.5L turbo engine, and is priced from 89.800 to 143.800 yuan (US$ 13.000-20.900). An electric variant called ei6 will also be launched. The i stands for internet, innovation and intelligence. It has traditionally been harder for local manufacturers to be successful in the sedan segment, with the most successful being the cheaper Geely Emgrand EC7 (69.800-100.800 yuan), Changan Eado (73.900-94.900 yuan) and Chery Arrizo 5 (60.000 to 80.000 yuan). The task is therefore arduous for the i6 which is a clear stab at the best-selling VW Lavida both in terms of design and price: the Lavida is priced at 112.900-166.900 yuan and comes with a 1.4L turbo or 1.6L.

Bar for success: 10.000 sales

3. FAW Besturn X40: March 4.905 sales

Finally the FAW sub-brand Besturn is getting its compact SUV, the X40, which hits the bullseye of what Chinese customers are waiting for: from its first month of sales the X40 is the best-selling, selling ten times more than the next best-seller! The Besturn X40 is based on the Senya R7 launched in 2016 but proposes a slightly more aggressive design that gives off a little air of Mazda. Powered by a 1.6L engine mated with a five speed manual or six speed auto, the X40 is priced from 69.800 to 103.800 yuan (US$10.100-15.100) which is almost exactly the same as the Senya R7, whose personal best is 7.967 sales last September. FAW Besturn would be happy with the same for its X40.

Bar for success: 7.500 sales

4. Toyota Yaris L Sedan: March 4.317 sales

After launching the hatchback variant back in November 2013, Toyota finally kick starts the career of the sedan variant of the Yaris L, manufactured by the Guangzhou-Toyota joint-venture. The sedan gets the same engines as the hatchback: a 1.3 and 1.5L, and is priced between 75.000 and 110.00 yuan (US$10.900-16.000).

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

5. MG ZS: March 4.264 sales

The new ZS crossover is built on the same platform as the MG GS and Roewe RX5. At 4.31m long, the ZS is entering the compact SUV segment which is arguably one of the most crowded at the moment.  The ZS has replaced the GS as the hippest MG around and as a result is the brand’s best-seller as early as for its first month of sales. The ZS comes with a choice between a 1.5L paired with a 5MT or 4AT and a 1.0T mated with a 6AT. It is priced between 73.800 and 115.800 yuan (US$10.700-16.800).

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

6. Toyota Vios FS: March 3.467 sales

Introduced at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the Toyota Vios FS is the hatchback variant of the Chinese Vios, completing the entry-level offering of the FAW-Toyota joint-venture – it is the equivalent of the Yaris L by Guangzhou-Toyota. There is a choice of two engines: a 1.3 or 1.5, mated to a five-speed manual or CVT. The Vios FS is priced between 60.000 and 105.000 yuan (US$8.700-15.200).

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

 

7. Honda UR-V: March 2.444 sales

This new UR-V is the same car as the Avancier launched late last year, but made by the other Honda joint-venture, Dongfeng-Honda – while the Avancier is made by Guangzhou-Honda. This situation already happened with the Guangzhou-Honda Vezel and the Dongfeng-Honda XR-V. Priced between 246.800 and 329.800 yuan (US$35.800-47.900), the UR-V comes with a choice between 1.5T and 2.0 engines.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

8. BMW 1 Series: February 887 sales, March 2.145 sales

China gets a country-specific 1 Series sedan as this format is favoured over hatchbacks here. At this stage there are no plans for exports to other countries. It is priced from 204.800 to 332.000 yuan ($29.700-48.200).

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

9. JMC Yusheng S330: March 1.804 sales

This month JMC has decided to split the sales of its Yusheng SUV into S350 and S330, marking the appearance of the latter in the ranking even though it launched back in September 2016. Looking rather bland, the S330 is powered by a 1.5T engine matched with a six-speed manual or automatic. It is priced between 100.000 and 130.000 yuan (US$14.500-18.900).

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly sales

10. Zotye Damai X7: February 2.564 sales, March 1.722 sales

Announced for October, the Zotye Damai X7 finally hits the Chinese sales charts. After the Audi Q5 (Zotye T600), VW Tiguan (Damai X5), Audi Q3 (SR7) and Porsche Macan (SR8), this time Zotye clones the Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept, making it the first time a concept car is cloned into a production car by a Chinese carmaker. At 4,74m long, the X7 is powered by a choice of two turbo engines: a 1.5L and a 1.8L and priced from 78.800 to 153.800 yuan (US$11.400-22.300).

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

11. Acura CDX: March 1.055 sales

The CDX is the first Acura to be produced in China, and at this stage it is a China-only model. This 4.50m long compact crossover is made by GAC-Acura, a branch of GAC-Honda, in Zengcheng, Guangzhou. It shares the styling of the 2017 MDX and was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2016. Powered with a 1.5T engine mated with an 8-speed DCT, the CDX proposes both FWD and 4WD variants. Honda has chosen a steep pricing for the CDX: from 229.800  to 309.800 yuan or US$ 33.400 to 45.000, which will make it harder to reach high volumes.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengxing CM7

Yema T80Changan Linmax. Picture autohome.com.cn

Notice also the Dongfeng Fengxing CM7 landing in February with 462 sales and improving to 1.006 in March, the Yema T80 with 347 March sales, the Jinbei F50 landing in March with 610 sales, the Changan Linmax landing in February with a tiny 28 sales and improving slightly to 60 in March, the Bisu T5 appearing in March with 17 units and the Hawtai xEV260, the EV variant of the Shengdafei, selling its first 7 units in March.

China March 2017: Baojun wins 510 bet in market up 1.7%

The Baojun 510 is an instant success but cannibalises the 560. Picture courtesy qq.com

* See the Top 74 brands and Top 403 models by clicking on the title *

New light vehicles sales in China are up by a slim 1.7% year-on-year in March to 2.1 million wholesale units. Once again it’s SUVs and crossovers that are keeping the Chinese market in positive territory with sales up 20.5% to 832.199 whereas sedans are down 4.5% to 990.433, MPVs down 15% to 196.598 and microvans down 17% to 74.600. Over the first quarter of 2017, the Chinese light vehicle market is up 4.6% to a record 5.95 million units. This slower rate comes with the rise of tax on small vehicles (up to 1.6L) from 5% to 7.5% at the start of the year.

According to figures released by manufacturers themselves (retail figures including imports), General Motors is the best-selling manufacturer in China with sales up 16% year-on-year to 345.448 whereas the Volkswagen Group is down 1.1% to 324.500 units, handicapped by Audi underperforming again (-19% to 41.371) due to dealers refusing to order new cars as Audi was planning to open a second sales channel with its partner SAIC. Audi should revive over the next couple of months though as Audi said it would postpone its new plans until it would sell 900.000 annual units in China (it sold under 600.000 in 2016). Volkswagen brand sales are up 3.6% but Skoda down 15%. Year-to-date, the Volkswagen Group is down 6.7% to 891.500, VW down 3.8%, Audi down 22% and Skoda down 11%. Note Volkswagen wholesale sales are down 4% year-on-year this month as detailed in the tables below the jump.

The VW Tiguan hits its best overall ranking since September 2015.

The best-selling Japanese manufacturers all frankly beat the market: Nissan Motor Co. sales are up 9% to 120.106, followed closely by Toyota Motor Co. up 12% to 112.400 and Honda Motor Co. up 15% to 111.127. Note wholesales of locally-made Honda are up a whopping 30% to 119.976 this month, placing the brand above Toyota, Buick and Nissan. Meanwhile Ford Motor Co. sinks 21% to 90.457 excluding Lincoln. In the premium race – here too retail sales including imports – Mercedes soars 32% to 49.871 while BMW AG is up 8.3% to 50.783 and, as a reminder, Audi down 19% to 41.371. If we look at wholesales of locally-made vehicles, the picture is quite different with Audi in the lead at 41.500 (-16%), ahead of Mercedes at 37.243 (+57%) and BMW at 32.282 (+27%).

A diplomatic row over missile systems in North Korea led to some clear hesitation on the purchase of Korean car brands with Hyundai wholesales tumbling down 52% and Kia down 70%. Among local brands, Changan remains dominant in 2nd place overall below just Volkswagen thanks to deliveries up 17%, Geely continues to sport amazing gains at +70% ahead of Baojun (+9%), Haval (+7%) and Dongfeng (+7%) all beating the market but slowing down their growth. GAC Trumpchi (+42%) and Roewe (+177% thanks to the RX5 crossover and all-new i6 sedan) both post stellar year-on-year gains.

Jeep sells over 20.000 locally-produced models for the first time this month.

Now onto brands that have kick-started their local production recently. Jeep more than doubles its deliveries year-on-year at +129% to break the 20.000 locally-produced sales milestone for the very first time at 20.661, with the Compass and Renegade both posting monthly records and the Cherokee falling less than a thousand units short of doing the same. We welcome Acura in the brands ranking this month with the first units of the CDX being sold in the country. This leaves Lexus and Subaru as the only major manufacturers not engaged in Chinese local production. Renault (6.066), Hanteng (4.877), Cowin (4.773), Borgward (4.556) and SWM (4.514) are the other ‘new’ brands inside the Top 55 while Bisu is down 4 spots on February to #60.

Model-wise, the VW Lavida steps up to pole position when including sales of its hatchback variant the Gran Lavida despite sales down 4%, outselling the Wuling Hongguang (-6%). The Haval H6 marks a pause at -13% in third position ahead of the Buick Excelle (+26%), Nissan Sylphy (+2%), Toyota Corolla (+3%) and GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+7%) making it two Chinese nameplates atop the SUV ranking. Boosted up 52% by the new model, the VW Tiguan climbs onto the 9th spot overall, falling 2.000 units short of beating its monthly volume record (31.092 last January) but reaching its highest ranking in China since September 2015. This month the Tiguan is VW’s second best-seller below only the Lavida, a very rare event.

Over 10.000 GAC Trumpshi GS8 found a buyer in China this month. A first.

Further down, the Haval H2 is up 112% to #13 thanks to the addition of the H2S variants, the Geely Boyue is down four ranks on February to #18 but beats its monthly volume record at 20.461, as does the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 at 18.775, the Chevrolet Cavalier at 16.079, the brand’s only nameplate to sport a five-digit sales figure this month, and the GAC Trumpchi GS8 breaking the 10.000 monthly unit mark for the first time.

But the main story of the month to our view is another blockbuster launch by Baojun. Clearly pushing the brand in terms of design, the 510 crossover was a bet. With 18.016 sales for its second month in market, it looks like the design bet is won. However there is a big drawback to this performance: the 510 appears to be cannibalising the 560 within the Baojun range: the latter is down an abysmal 64% this month to just 15.016, keeping in mind March 2016 was its all-time record at 42.077. The next few months will give us a clear indication as to how the two nameplates can coexist in the market.

Previous month: China February 2017: Market back on track at +22% to 1.9 million units

One year ago: China March 2016: Haval H6 and Baojun 560 beat records, market up 9%

Full March 2017 Top 74 brands and Top 403 models below.

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China February 2017: Market back on track at +22% to 1.9 million units

The arrival of the H2S lifts Haval H2 nameplate sales up 127% to #2 SUV below the Haval H6.

* See the Top 72 brands and Top 385 models by clicking on the title *

We’re catching up on lost time for the largest car market in the world now with February updates.

1. Overall sales figures

Traditionally carmakers combine January and February figures as a more reliable way to read the market as the end January-early February period is always biased by the Lunar New Year holidays, varying between the two months depending on the year. By this logic, the Chinese market is up a strong 8.8% year-on-year over the first two months of the year. Light vehicles are up 6.3%. After a 1.1% dip in January, this means a 22% surge in February to 1.9 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. And this despite the tax on small-engine vehicles having been raised from 5% to 7.5% in January, with a plan to bring it back up to 10% in January 2018. According to Automotive News, sales of electric cars jumped 30% year-on-yearin February, following a 74% plunge in January when subsidies were reduced 20%.

The Wuling Hongguang is back atop the Chinese sales charts. But the MPV segment is struggling.

MPVs getting out of fashion?

Looking into sales by segment, once again SUVs are the engine of growth in the Chinese market: they surge 39% year-on-year to 673.448 units all the while sedans gain 15% to 769.575. After Chinese consumers transitioned from microvans onto MPVs over the past couple of years, would MPV now have gone out of fashion? They are down a dismal 13% year-on-year in February to 145.991 units, their lowest monthly score since August 2015 (133.814). The next few months will decide whether this is a longer-term trend or just a wholesale blip. An encouraging sign is the continuing good health of the Wuling Hongguang, the segment and overall market leader, stable in February at 41.261 sales or 28.2% share of the segment and returning to the YTD top spot with 101.393 units (-9%) after the VW Lavida won January. The rest of the crop is struggling though: the Baojun 730 is down 22% to #9, the Chana Honor is down 24% to #29 but the Chana Oushang is up 46% to #42.

General Motors is back above Volkswagen AG thanks to strong Buick and Baojun sales. 

2. Selected retail results

This section details retail results reported by manufacturers themselves – they include imports and therefore vary slightly from the figures we report in the tables at the end of the articles, the latter being wholesales of vehicles produced locally. Once again the two main automotive groups are in a tight fist-fight this month: General Motors takes the lead year-to-date despite a 15% plunge to 567.994 deliveries in two months. In February, GM is up 0.4% to 246.730 units vs. -24% in January. Volkswagen AG for its part is down 9.6% year-to-date to 567.000 units, slipping back below GM. Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi all post year-on-year drops so far in 2017: VW is down 7.6% to 441.300, Audi is down 24% to 67.336 and Skoda is down 9% to 45.000. Porsche data is not available. Further down the ranking, Nissan Motor is up 3.1% to 194.241, Honda Motor is up 18% to 194.169 units year-to-date but Toyota Motor is down 3.6% to 183.600.

Mercedes is the new premium king of China, dislodging Audi for the third month running.

In the luxury aisle, Daimler-Mercedes cements its newfound premium king status with sales surging 40% to 95.076 vehicles in two months vs. 67.336 to Audi (-24%) while BMW official retail data isn’t available. February Mercedes sales are up 42% to 36.277. Audi’s troubles stem from angry dealers that have stopped ordering new vehicles in January in response to the brand’s plans to set up a second joint-venture and distribution network with Volkswagen’s other partner, SAIC (more detail in our January update here). Finally, local carmaker Geely announced retail sales up 105% year-to-date to 191.629 units with a 167% improvement in February following a 71% surge in January.

Geely is up 166% year-on-year to break into the Chinese passenger car brands podium for the first time.

3. Brands wholesale results

Looking into wholesale February data for passenger car brands produced locally (Top 70), we find Volkswagen in the lead despite a 2% dip to just under 190.000 sales, that’s exactly double the #2, Changan up 10% to 95.675 deliveries. Geely is up 166% year-on-year to 88.931 sales, up one spot on January and seven on its FY16 ranking to break into its home podium for the very first time at #3.  Toyota (+44%) and Honda (+51%) round up the Top 5, followed by Baojun up 13% on February 2016 and four spots on last month to 70.201 sales. Haval (+34%), Nissan (+84%), Mercedes (+91%) and GAC Trumpchi (+102%) post the other largest year-on-year increases in the Top 20, with BMW up 108% at #21.

The new Outlander lifts Chinese Mitsubishi sales up 470% in February.

A quick snapshot at the luxury race under the local production angle shows Mercedes (33.862) well above Audi (28.694) and BMW (27.210). Among other great performers for the month, let’s single out FAW (+43%), Lifan (+48%), Venucia (+71%), Soueast (+104%), Leopaard (+113%), Jeep (+126%), Cadillac (+166%), Roewe (+174%), Mitsubishi (+470%) and JMC (+1055%). Renault (#43) is the most popular recent local producer launch (<12 months) with 5.781 sales in February and 14.189 in two months. The French carmaker is followed by Cowin (#47), Land Rover (#48), SWM (#50), Hanteng (#51), Borgward (#55), Bisu (#56), Zhi Dou (#57) and Jaguar (#64).

VW Bora sales are up 117% year-on-year thanks to the new model. 

4. Models wholesale results

February volumes being much lower than January, we have “just” 46 nameplates with five-digit sales figures this month vs. 72 in January. As we described above, the Wuling Hongguang is back in charge of the Chinese sales charts with stable sales in February (41.261). It is followed by the Haval H6 up one spot on January to #2 and 33.684 units and the VW Lavida, down 33% to 31.620, completes the podium but ranks #2 year-to-date above the Haval H6 thanks to an outstanding January score. In fact, removing Gran Lavida sales from the Lavida score brings the Buick Excelle (+51%) up to best-selling sedan in the country ahead of the Lavida (30.009), Toyota Corolla (+57%), VW Sagitar (+9%) and VW Bora (+117%).

The Dongfeng Fengguang 580 breaks its volume record this month at 18.634 units. 

The main event inside the February Top 10 is the return of the Haval H2 to a 6th place it had already held back in December, this thanks to the success of the sporty variants H2S picture atop this article. With the GAC Trumpchi GS4 up 61% to #8 and the Baojun 560 down 26% – due to the arrival of the 510, detailed in our upcoming “Focus on All-new models” post – we have four Chiunese SUVs in the February Top 10. In fact, with the Changan CS75 at #12, the Geely Emgrand EC7 at #13 and Geely Boyue at a record 14th place with 20.137 sales, there are 9 Chinese nameplates in the Top 14 vs. 8 in the Top 12 a year ago in February 2016. Notice also the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 up 13 spots to a record #17 and an all-time high 18.634 sales and the  Baojun 310 up 6 spots to a best-ever #21.

The Baojun 310 is knocking at the Chinese Top 20’s door this month.

5. Recent launches

Looking into nameplates launched within the past 12 months, below the Geely Boyue (#14), Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (#17) and Baojun 310 (#21) mentioned above, the Chevrolet Cavalier follows at #25 (+18 spots on January), ahead of the Roewe RX5 (-14), Chery Arrizo 5 (-4), Geely Vision SUV (+24) posting a 6th consecutive month above 10,000 sales and breaking into the Top 50 for the first time at #45, the Baojun 510 (more on this in our upcoming Focus on the All-0new models post), Geely Emgrand GS (#58) and Geely Emgrand GL (#61). Notice also the FAW Jilin Xenia R7 at a record #64, the GAC Trumpchi GS8 up a further 8 spots on January to a best-ever #70, the Soueast DX3 back up 38 ranks to a record #76 for its this r pmonth in market and the VW C-Trek breaking into the Top 100 for the very first time thanks to 5.563 sales, up 43 spots on January. All in all, there are 18 new nameplates inside the Chinese Top 100 in February and 84 in the overall ranking, or an astounding 21.8% of all nameplates selling at least one unit this month.

The Brilliance H3 is the best-performing January launch in February.

6. Results of January launches

Finally we take a look at how January launches have fared. Ranking-wise, the Brilliance H3 is the best-performing with a 123 rank gain to land at #165 with 2.541 sales, up 409% on its inaugural month. The Kia KX7 also shows significant progress at +50 spots and 206% to land at #255. The Changhe Freedom M70 on the other hand is showing the wrong sings: already down 26% on last month to #239 and 1.046 deliveries. The remaining three nameplate had made their appearance ahead of their March official public launch and therefore remain at very discreet levels: the Changan CS95 at #323 (+20), the BAIC Huansu S5 at #326 (+10) and the VW Teramont at #366 (-7).

7. February launches will be covered in a specific update

Previous month: China January 2017: Audi tumbles down 35% in market down 1.1%

One year ago: China February 2016: VW Lavida #1 but 8 in Top 12 are Chinese

Full February 2017 Top 72 brands and Top XXX models below.

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China January 2017: Focus on the All-new models

The Brilliance H3 lands directly at #288 at home in China.

As per the monthly BSCB tradition, we put a laser focus on the new China-made nameplates that make their appearance in market so you are on the bleeding edge of knowledge as far as the largest car market in the world is concerned. 2017 is a wobbly start in China with passenger cars down 1.1%. Yet the flow of new locally-produced nameplates popping up each months is far from drying up. After a 13-strong December 2016 class, January 2017 offers us six new entrants, four of them Chinese and four of them SUVs.

1. Changhe Freedom M70 (#216 with 1.415 sales)

Yet another clone from Beijing Auto, the Changhe Freedom M70 is a step-up from the M50 but remains cut-throat priced between 52.900 and 61.900 yuan (US$ 7.700-9.000). This is one more attempt by Beijing Auto at destabilising the MPV supremacy of SAIC’s Wuling Hongguang S1 (53.800-64.800 yuan) at which it is aiming squarely, but also the Baojun 730 (58.800-100.800 yuan). The M70 will also compete with the likes of the Chana Oushang (43.900-69.900 yuan), the Karry K60 (59.000-79.000 yuan) launched last November and the Cowin V3 (60.800-77.800 yuan). Problem is, a significant part of its competition is internal to BAIC with the cheaper Freedom M50 and the Weiwang M50F. Launched in January 2015, the Changhe Freedom M50 peaked at 4.761 sales in July 2015, and in this context the M70 should aim at 3.500 monthly sales on average to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

2. Brilliance H3 (#288 with 499 sales)

In the past two years, Brilliance has been smartly focusing all its energy on the V3 small crossover, an instant blockbuster that enabled Brilliance to be reborn from close to ashes and accounted for no less than 63.8% of the brand’s sales in China last year at 103.342 units. Brilliance is now begining the long process of replacing is slower-selling sedans, and the H3 comes in to erase all memory of the H330 (27.419 sales in 2016). Its styling is a lot sharper than the previous Brilliance sedans and with an air of Citroen C-Elysée coupled with a Fiat Viaggio. Priced between 63.900 and 88.900 yuan (US$ 9.300-12.900), the H3 enters the most competitive segment in the Chinese market: compact Chinese sedans, but should really be aiming at long-term segment best-sellers the VW Jetta (starting at 82.800 yuan) and Santana (84.900 yuan). The H330 peaked at 7.128 sales in March 2016 but spent most of its career between 4.000 and 6.000 monthly sales. To show it is now a serious competitor in the sedan segment, Brilliance should aim at 7.500 monthly sales for the H3.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

3. Kia KX7 (#305 with 298 sales)

In effect a current generation Kia Sorento adapted for Chinese tastes with more long on the front end, the KX7 appears in the Chinese ranking two months before its official launch date of March 16, 2017. Produced in partnership with Dongfeng-Yueda, the KX7 is Kia’s new flagship SUV and should climb up the sales charts pretty quickly. Kia used to import the Sorento from South Korea but import taxes lifted its price range to a hefty 205.600-335.60o yuan (US$29.900-48.700). Producing it locally brings the price down to a more palatable 179.800-276.800 yuan ($26.100-40.200). This way, the KX7 competes with some very strong sellers in China, such as the Buick Envision, Honda CR-V, Toyota Highlander and Ford Edge. It could well unlock some untapped potential for the brand in China, or be snubbed altogether.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

4. BAIC Huansu S5 (#336 with 76 sales)

BAIC continues to expand its Huansu lineup in less time than it takes to write these lines: the S5 SUV makes its appearance this month with a definite air of bargain basement Lexus. With a price expected to start around 70.000 yuan (US$10.200), the 4.46m-long S5 uses the same platform as the 4.41m BAIC Senova X55, itself priced from 76.800 to 119.800 yuan (US$11.200-17.400). Beijing Auto is thus building two parallel lineups at lightning speed, with the Huansu series manufactured by a joint venture between Beiqi and Yinxiang Motorcycle Group based in Chongqing and now comprising the H2, H3 and H6 MPVs as well as the S2, S3, S5 and S6 SUVs. The S5 is powered by a 1.3L turbocharged engine that also powers the recently launched Bisu T3. You still with us? The Senova X55 peaked at 6.492 units back in January 2016 which was its 2nd month in market but has all but disappeared since. The Huansu S6 for its part peaked at 5.150 also in January 2016, spending most of its career above 3.000 monthly sales. The Huansu S3 has been in a category of its own, with a personal best of 20.868 in December 2015. Beijing Auto should aim somewhere in between the S3 and S6 scores and its aggressive design will mark bonus points with the youngsters, so the marque should be optimistic.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

5. Changan CS95 (#343 with 51 sales)

Unveiled as a concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show with the production version launched in April 2016 at the Beijing Auto Show, the very impressive Changan CS95 finally hits Chinese roads, albeit with tiny sales figures for now. Changan openly admits the CS95 is inspired by the Toyota Highlander, and it is powered by a Blue Core turbo 2.0L engine developed jointly by Changan China and its UK R&D Center in Birmingham. The CS95 is expected to be priced between 150.000 and 200.000 yuan (US$ 21.800-29.000) and will fight with the luxury Chinese offerings such as the GAC Trumpchi GS8 or Haval H7. Changan has a spotless track record of success as far as its crossovers/SUVs are concerned: the CS15’s personal best is 10.430 sales (Dec-16), the CS35 is at 22.155 (Jan-15), the CS75 at 27.148 (Jan-16) and the CX70 at 14.506 (Jan-17). The CS95, more expensive, should logically fall a little behind, but Changan could unlock a more premium positioning on the Chinese market if the CS95 consistently breaks the 10.000 monthly unit-barrier.

Bar for success: 9.000 monthly sales

6. VW Teramont (#359 with 45 sales)

Along with the Tiguan L (the Chinese name for the new generation Tiguan), Volkswagen suddenly wakes up to the SUV wave that has been engulfing the Chinese market for the past three years. It’s about time. Problem is: we believe at BSCB that the Teramont is a little too big and too expensive to single-handedly lift Volkswagen up. But we may be wrong. The Teramont is the production of the CrossBlue concert that has already been copied by Zotye. Launched at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November ahead of a commercial launch this March, the Teramont slots in between the Tiguan L and the imported Touareg. It will be called Atlas in North America, its other main market. Expected to be priced between 300k and 450k yuan (US$43.600-65.300), the Teramont will test Volkswagen’s mass market boundaries as it will compete with the likes of the Toyota Highlander (239.700-330.800), Ford Edge (249.700-429.800), Ford Everest (265.800-360.800) but also the Land Rover Discovery (368.000-518.000). The pent-up demand for an “affordable” VW SUV is high though, so the Teramont should be a success. A blockbuster though? Not so sure.

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

China January 2017: Audi tumbles down 35% in market down 1.1%

The Jeep Compass sees a 613% increase on its inaugural month last December to #200.

* See the Top 70 All-brands and Top 365 All-models produced locally by clicking on the title *

With a month delay we are able to cover the Chinese car market for January on BSCB. February will follow very shortly. Note only passenger cars and light commercial vehicles produced in China are accounted in this data set, no imports and no medium-heavy commercials. Light vehicle sales in China are down 1.1% year-on-year to 2.219.564 vehicles according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The China Passenger Car Association on the other hand reports a 9.8% decline to 2.12 million units. In any case, this is the first year-on-year drop in China in a year, and the direct effect of the tax hike on vehicles with 1.6L engines and below from 5% over the course of 2016 to 7.5% from January onwards. It is still a very modest decline taking into account forward sales in December to still benefit from the lower tax. Also coming into the picture is the Lunar New Year celebrated in January vs. February last year and resulting is fewer selling days. All-in-all, adjusted annually, January Chinese car sales should actually be up.

The All-new Tiguan L should boost VW sales in China this year. 

In January, the SUV segment is the only one in positive albeit at a slower rate: +9.7% year-on-year from 805.673 in January 2016 to 883.804 now. This is well below the million units hit both last November and December but the SUV market share of passenger cars continues to climb: from 35.9% a year ago to 39.8% this month. Reversely, “traditional” passenger cars are down 3% to 1.079.146 and see their market share drop from 49.6% in January 2016 to 48.6% now. MPVs seem to have hit a wall: down an abysmal 19.2% year-on-year to just 205.634 units just as the Wuling Hongguang takes 2nd spot in the models ranking just below the VW Lavida (see further down). Finally microvans continue their race to oblivion with a further 28% decline to 51.000 vehicles sold.

Something we predicted in our 2015 analysis of the Chinese market: the rise and rise of used-car sales. According to the China Automobile Dealers Association, these are predicted to surge 20% to 12.5 million units in 2017, after gaining 10% to 10.4 million in 2016, as provinces ease restrictions on sales of used vehicles from other regions. The ratio is still in favour of new car sales by a large margin though. Another interesting evolution is the 74% plunge of electric and plug-in hybrid sales to just 5.682 units as the government penalises companies that cheated to inflate their EV subsidies. In the detail, battery-electric sales are down 68% to 4.978 units and plug-in hybrids are down 90% to 704…

As this is a delayed analysis of the Chinese market we will concentrate on highlights today so the February update can come as soon as possible with more detail.

Audi sales in China skid down 35% in January.

1. Audi frankly outsold by both Mercedes and BMW

In 1995, the Volkswagen Group started producing Audi models in China through a joint-venture with FAW Group, and thus virtually created the luxury segment in China. It has led the luxury charts ever since its introduction in market – a fantastic 22 years in a row. Yet in January Audi misses out on the luxury top spot for the second month running and could be facing a very difficult year indeed. Down a devastating 35% year-on-year to 35.181 units, not only did the marque not rank #1, it was also frankly outsold by both Mercedes-Benz up 39% to 58.799 and BMW up 18% to 51.345. Meanwhile Cadillac is up 116% to 18.011 and Volvo up 16% to 8.362. According to Automotive News China, Audi’s paltry performance is the result of two main events. First: in 2016 the brand dumped excessive vehicle inventories on its dealerships, and most of them lost money. Second: Audi signed a tentative agreement with SAIC in November to establish a second dealership network. Audi dealers – who operate under the original FAW joint-venture, have been aggressively fighting these two events, and the situation is now at a standstill, with dealers demanding 28 billion yuan (US$4 billion) to cover losses that they blame on the company adding too many distributors, and Audi refusing to shelve its plans of a second joint-venture and distribution network. At the start of the year, Audi dealers threatened to stop ordering cars and it turns out a significant part of them were not bluffing, hence the gigantic drop we are witnessing.

Renault is the most popular newcomer among local producers.

2. Global carmakers suffer, selected Chinese manufacturers post healthy gains

Audi stirs the entire Volkswagen Group down 14% this month to 344.000 sales with Skoda down 4.3% to 30.000 and Volkswagen official retail data n/a. Yet General Motors fares worse at -24% to 321.264 units, Ford is down 32% to 88.432 and both Toyota and Nissan also plunge. Hyundai is the exception: up 6.4% to 80.017 deliveries. Among the numerous Chinese carmakers selling at home, a few post spectacular results in an adverse environment: Geely and SAIC and both up 71%. GAC is up 29%, Changan up 7.7% and Great Wall Motors up 0.7%. Looking into the detail of wholesales figures (data table below the jump), Volkswagen (+7%) distances Changan (+7%), Buick (-5%), Geely (+70%) and Honda (+18%). Ford (-28%) and Dongfeng (-16%) struggle but in this ranking Audi (-8%) is still ahead of Mercedes (+44%) and BMW (+14%). The most popular new brand – launched in the past 12 months – among local producers is Renault (#39) ahead of SWM (#45), Cowin (#47), Hanteng (#49), Borgward (#53), Land Rover (#55), Bisu (#59) and Jaguar (#63)

Geely sales are up 71% year-on-year in January. 

4. Best-selling models

In January the VW Lavida edges past the Wuling Hongguang to claim the title of best-selling vehicle in China with 60.233 sales (+8%) vs. 60.132 (-14%) for China’s favourite MPV. The Haval H6 is knocked down one spot to #3 but still gains 9% year-on-year to 45.993 units. The VW Jetta is back up 38 spots on December to #4, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 is up 21 to a record 5th place (also hit last July), the Buick Excelle GT is down 1% but up 4 spots on last month to #6 and the Nissan Sylphy is up 99% on a particularly weak January 2016 score to #7.

Thanks to the arrival off the new generation and a 7-seat variant dubbed Tiguan L, the VW Tiguan cracks the Chinese Top 10 for the first time since September 2015 and hits its highest monthly volume since January 2015 at 31.092 units. In the SUV charts, the Tiguan ranks 3rd below the Haval H6 and GAC Trumpchi GS4 but distances the Buick Envision (+18%), Baojun 560 (-32%), Haval H2 (+44%), Geely Boyue and Roewe RX5, all aforementioned nameplates selling upwards of 20.000 units this month.

GAC Trumpchi GS8 sales hit a record 9.418 units in January.

Further down the ranking, a handful of high profile nameplates manage to break their volume record despite a slower market compared to December. Among them, notice the Baojun 310 at 18.006 (#27), the Geely Emgrand GS at 10.333 (#68), Geely Emgrand GL at 10.208 (#70), GAC Trumpchi GS8 at 9.418 (#78) and the Renault Koleos at 4.814 (#135). Finally, let’s note that there are 12 Chinese nameplates among the 15 most popular new comers (<12 months). Led by the Geely Boyue (#20), Roewe RX5 (#21), Baojun 310 (#27), Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (#30), Chery Arrizo 5 (#35) and Changan CX70 (#38). The Chevrolet Cavalier (#43), Hyundai New Verna (#58) and Mazda CX-4 (#98) are the only new foreigners to crack the January Top 100.

Bisu T3 China December 2016Bisu T3 sales are up 349% on last month to #215 

5. Results of December launches

Among the 13 locally-produced new nameplates that hit the Chinese market in December, the Jeep Compass fares the best with a 613% increase on a modest 300 sales for its inaugural month up to #200 with 2.138 sales. Also displaying explosive growth is the Bisu T3 up 349% on its December score to #215 and 1.436 deliveries. The Venucia T90 follows with a very impressive 71% gain to 4.252 sales at #147 and the Dongfeng Fengshen AX5 edges up 7% to #188. Leader of all newcomers last month, the Soueast DX3 seems to have already eaten up its potential with deliveries down 26% to a still very respectable #114.

Venucia T90 sales are up 71% on December. 

6. All-new launches for January are covered in a separate post as always

Note: Main article brands data is retail sales unless indicated otherwise, data tables below are wholesales. Overall market = Light vehicles + Commercial trucks and buses. Light vehicles = passenger cars + microvans. Passenger cars = sedans+SUV+MPV.

Previous post: China Full Year 2016: Tax cut boosts market up 14% to 28 million sales

Previous post (LCV): China LCV Full Year 2016: Wuling Mini Truck leads, pickups up 11%

Previous month: China December 2016: Haval up 73%, Geely up 101% in final tax rush

One year ago: China January 2016: Baojun 560 threatens Haval H6 for SUV title

Full January 2017 Top 365 All-models produced locally below.

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