China October 2017: Focus on the All-new models

Dongfeng Fengxing S560 

After detailing October sales for China, as is the tradition on BSCB we now focus on the new locally-produced launches for the month, so you can stay up-to-the-minute on the latest additions in the world’s largest market. After ten new arrivals in September, the October class has another seven new arrivals, four of them Chinese, three SUVs and two EVs.

Dongfeng Fengxing S560 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

1. Dongfeng Fengxing S560 (#142 – 4.637 sales)

Dongfeng sales are down 5% so far in 2017, avoiding a much more dramatic fate thanks to the smashing success of the Fengguang 580, almost hitting 20.000 sales in October. The remedy: more SUVs, and Dongfeng has got the message, launching this surprisingly good-looking Fengxing S560. At 4.515m long and powered by a 138 hp 1.8L engine mated with five-speed, six-speed manuals or a CVT, the S560 is a seven-seat SUV and features a 7 inch touch screen that offers 360 degree camera, rear view camera, Baidu CarLife, Bluetooth, and a Wifi hotspot (!). All this available at the cutthroat price of 69.900 to 96.900 yuan (US$10.500-14.600 or €8.900-12.400). Aimed mainly at buyers in second and third-tier cities, the S560 is priced lower than the very successful Fengguang 580 (72.900-123.000 yuan) and competes with the likes of the Wuling Hongguang S3 (56.800-81.800 yuan), Changan CX70 (59.900-109.900), Baojun 560 (69.800-117.800), Hanteng X5 (79.900-122.900) and Changan CS55 (83.900-132.900). Above 7.000 monthly sales will the S560 be judged a success, but Dongfeng is secretly hoping it will replicate the levels of the 580…

Bar for success: 7.000 sales

2. Buick GL6 (#175 – 3.507 sales)

Only a few months after renewing the hugely successful GL8, Buick launches its little brother the GL6 which appears in the Chinese sales charts ahead of its debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November. A China-exclusive model based on the Opel Zafira Tourer, the GL6 arrives at difficult times for overall MPV sales in China, however the 15.6% year-on-year drop so far this year only affects low-cost Chinese fares and not the new GL8 which beat its all-time volume record in September at 13.899 and is up 166% in October. Good looks and Buick’s decades-long tradition of strong sales in China augurs well for the GL6, a 5 or 6-seat 4.69m-long MPV powered by a 156 hp 1.3 turbo four-cylinder petrol engine.

 

Buick GL6 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn 

Priced very competitively from 144.900 to 166.900 yuan (US$21.800-25.200 or €18.500-21.400), the GL6 is unabashedly zeroing in on the VW Touran (145.800-230.800) whose volume record is set at 9.356 last June. This is a good target for the GL6, whose pricing will prevent it from cannibalising the GL8 (229.900-449.900), but the Envision SUV (209.900-349.900) could be more at risk. Buick would also want to try and upgrade existing Baojun 730 owners (60.800-108.800) or even BYD Song MAX prospective buyers (79.900-119.900).

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

3. Buick Excelle GX (#215 – 2.340 sales)

Buick is pumping out the novelties like there is no tomorrow this month. Second off the starting blocks is the Excelle GX, a station wagon variant of the Excelle. This is the third Buick station wagon to be sold in China after the SR-V (2001) and first generation Excelle wagon (2005). The GX is powered by either a 125 hp 1.0 turbo 3 cylinder or a 163 hp 1.3T 3 cylinder, mated to either a 6-speed manual, auto or DCT. The Excelle GX is priced from 119.900 to 146.900 yuan (US$ 18.100-22.100 or €15.300-18.800), and it competes with the Skoda Octavia SW (119.900-179.900), VW C-Trek (125.900-162.900) and VW Gran Lavida (112.900-162.900)

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

4. Roewe RX3 (#259 – 1.546 sales)

Roewe wants to build on the astonishing success of the RX5 with this miniature version, the RX3 based on the same platform as the MG ZS. Since its launch in July 2016, the RX5 has taken Roewe into brand new sales territory, achieving 20.000 sales as early as for its fourth month in market and still gaining ground 18 months after its unveiling: it broke its volume record both last September (25.066) and October (28.203). This is the perfect platform to launch an identical-looking smaller variant: the RX3 comes in at 4.408m long and is powered by a choice of 125 hp 1.6 and 163 hp 1.3 turbo.

Roewe RX3 interior. Picture courtesy pcauto.com.cn

The RX3 starts 10.000 yuan below the RX5 at 89.800-135.800 yuan (US$13.500-20.500 or €11.500-17.400) vs. 99.800-186.800 for the RX5. This way, the RX3 competes with the likes of the Changan CS55 (83.900-132.900), GAC Trumpchi GS3 (73.800-116.800), Haval H2 (86.800-118.800), Haval H6 (88.800-146.800) and its platform sibling, the cheaper MG ZS (73.800-115.800). Although presumptuous to expect the same volumes as the RX5, Roewe is in its own right to expect sales figures north of 10.000 per month for the RX3.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

5. Dongfeng Fengshan E70 (#404 – 131 sales)

Dongfeng has topped the 1.000 monthly sales twice in the past three months with the Junfeng ER30 and wants to better this with the Fengshan E70. Not much info dribbling through the net about this nameplate so far, except its price set at 212.800-222.800 yuan (US$32.100-33.600 or €27.200-28.500) before government subsidies are applied. With it, Dongfeng is aiming directly at the Geely Emgrand EC7 EV (165.800-215.800 yuan) but also the BYD e5 (195.900-215.900), Chery Arrizo 5e (212.800-232.800) and BAIC EU-Series (205.900-224.900).

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

6. Yu Lu EV2 (#412 – 76 sales)

Yu Lu is a new brand created in 2015 by the Dongfeng-Yulong joint-venture and dedicated to producing EVs. Its first offering is the EV2 priced from 119.800 to 122.800 yuan (US$18.100-18.500 or €15.300-15.700) minus 70.000 yuan of government subsidies. That’s all the info available about this nameplate so far, and Dongfeng-Yulong will be hoping to convince as many car-sharing schemes as possible to ensure the success of the EV2.

Bar for success: 1.500 monthly sales

7. BAIC Huansu S7 (#416 – 65 sales)

Just as its passenger car sales plunge down 27% year-on-year in 2017 and 30% in October, BAIC continues to launch vaguely similar-looking SUVs under all its sub-brands. After the S2 (August 2014, personal best at 6.220 sales), S3 (August 2014, PB 20.868), S6 (November 2015, PB 5.150) and S5 (January 2017, PB 3.013), the Huansu sub-brand receives its 5th SUV in the shape of this rather appealing S7 with a giant Lexus-like grille. The S7 is a seven-seat variant of the S5 five-seater launched last January. At 4.80m long, the S7 is powered by a 150hp 1.5 turbo petrol engine mated with a five-speed manual box.

BAIC Huansu S7 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

Interior quality shows the steady progression of BAIC in that domain, especially when you consider that the S7 is priced from 78.800 to 115.800 yuan (US$11.900-17.400 or €10.100-14.900). That’s a lot of SUV for this price, and the S7 enters the sandpit where cheap Chinese fares are already playing, such as the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (72.900-123.000), Changan CX70 (59.900-109.900), SWM X7 (85.900-113.900), Bisu T5 (72.900-89.900) and BYD S7 (99.900-139.900). It will appeal to buyers in second, third-tier cities and below and won’t make much of an appearance in the bigger mega-cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. It looks like the more SUVs Hansu launches, the less successful they are, so we shouldn’t expect too much for the S7.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

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

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

China October 2017: Geely and Baojun post all-time record volumes

The Boyue is the first Geely nameplate to sell over 30.000 units in a single month.

* See the Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 443 models by clicking on the title *

The Chinese new vehicle market edges up 2% year-on-year in October to 2.704.000 but passenger cars are up just 0.4% to 2.352.000, the market being pulled up by commercial vehicles up 14.8% to 351.000 (buses up 10.2% and trucks up 15.6%). This is the fifth consecutive month of growth in China but its weak progression means the market probably won’t reach the 5% annual growth target the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers set at the start of the year. As a reminder, China sales grew 14% in 2016, boosted by a tax cut on vehicles with engines of or under 1.6L. These cars account for 1.637.000 units in October or 69.6% of the passenger cars market vs. 72.1% a year ago and 13.336.000 year-to-date or 68.4% vs. 71.3% over the same period in 2016. The SUV segment continues to be the sole responsible for the overall passenger car growth with year-on-year gains back into the double-digits in October at +11.4% to 1.023.672, the segment’s first millionaire month of 2017. Never before had SUV sales been that close to cars, down 5.2% to 1.109.750. MPVs for their part tumble down 16.3% to 181.029.

The Haval H6 is the most popular vehicle in China in October despite sales down 14%. 

Year-to-date, the overall market is up 4.1% to a record 22.927.000 units. Passenger cars are up 2.1% to 19.502.000 units with SUVs up 15.5% to 8.028.068, cars down 1.8% to 9.451.054 and MPVs down a harsh 15.6% to 1.601.474. Commercial vehicles are up a whopping 17.2% to 3.425.000 with buses down 6.7% but trucks up 21.3%. Chinese brands mark a pause at home this month: at 1.039.000 sales, they account for 44.2% of passenger cars, down from 45.2% in October 2016. The Chinese SUV share is up 0.2 point to 62.3%, Chinese car share is down 1.9 point to 18.8% and the Chinese MPV share down 7.7 points to 83.8%. Year-to-date, Chinese brands represent 43% of total passenger cars at 8.393.000 sales, up from 42.5% a year ago, with Chinese SUVs reaching 59.7% vs. 57% a year ago thanks to sales up 21.3% to 4.768.000. Finally Chinese MPV sales are down 22.8% to 1.371.000 or 83.6% of the market vs. 89.7% over the same period in 2016.

First four-digit sales month for the BAIC EC-Series, the best-selling EV in China.

Sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids continue to gallop ahead at +106.7% year-on-year in October to 91.000, adding up to 490.000 so far this year, up 45.4% on the same period in 2016. CAAM expects this market to top 700.000 units by the end of 2017. EV sales are up 95.8% to 77.000 while PHEVs are up 194% to 14.000 while year-to-date, EVs are up 55.9% to 402.000 and PHEVs up 11.2% to 88.000. The best-seller in the category, the BAIC EC-Series, crosses an important milestone this month, selling more than 10.000 units in a single month for the very first time at 11.315. It is followed by the Zhi Dou D2 (+349%), BYD Qin (+15%), JAC iEV (+244%), BYD e5 (+23%), Zotye E200 (+42%) and Hawtai EV160.

The VW Santana decades-old nameplate breaks its monthly volume record this month.

Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which differ from the data tables we provide further down in the article (locally produced wholesales), and the next few paragraphs are dedicated to these announcements – model sales remain locally-produced wholesales. The Volkswagen Group reports sales up 9.4% in October to 398.100, lifting its year-to-date tally up 2.3% to 3.29m units. The VW brand wholesales ex-imports is up 6% to 309.071. Two of the group’s three best-sellers beat their monthly volume record this month: the VW Santana gains 18% to 38.503 (previous best: 34.462 in January 2016), the VW Tiguan soars 76% to 37.971 – its 2nd consecutive record month and the highest score ever reached by a foreign SUV in China – while the VW Jetta posts its 2nd best-ever month at 38.157 (+29%) below the 43.265 reached last January. The VW Teramont also breaks its record for the 2nd month running at 9.040 sales, but the Lavida (-38%), Bora (-7%), Magotan (-10%), Polo (-3%), Golf (-7%) and Passat (-40%) all skid down. Skoda is up 3.2% to 33.000 with the Kodiaq SUV already its 2nd best-seller below the Octavia.

The Baojun 510 is bound to become the fastest nameplate to 300.000 sales in China.

General Motors advances faster than its archenemy but remains below at +11% to 382.723 units. One of the heroes of the month is low-cost fare Baojun up 56% to 104.755 retail or up 25% to 108.387 wholesale, in any case a new volume record for the brand and only its 2nd time above 100.000 after December 2016 (101.246) and 2nd time inside the Top 5 brands in the country after February 2016. Both the 510 (45.047 and #2 overall) and 310 (25.983) smash their volume bests in October. To put things into perspective, the Baojun 510 has now hit a higher monthly record than the 560 (42.077), and it’s only the third time a Baojun nameplate has sold more than 45.000 monthly units: the 730 MPV hit 47.690 in December 2015 and 50.128 in December 2016. 9 months after launch, the 510 totals just under 255.000 units, slightly less than the 560 at the same stage (258.056) but more than the 730 (230.618). With the 730 at just 26.000 and the 560 at 25.000 for their 10th month, the 560 is bound to deliver the largest first 10 month-volume in the history of automobile in China (and the world), and could be the first ever nameplate to reach 300.000 sales in that period. Note these three nameplates are the most successful launches ever in China.

Second consecutive all-time volume record for the Cavalier, helping Chevrolet up 17%.

Outside of Baojun, other GM news include Cadillac up 36% to 17.018 with the XT5 beating its monthly record at 7.416 (+54%), Chevrolet sales are up 17% to 61.065 with the Cavalier recording a 2nd consecutive all-time volume record at 24.248 (+75%) and the Malibu up 48% to post its highest result since December 2014 at 14.521. Buick is up 2.1% to 107.297 retail but down 1% to 113.473 wholesale. However Wuling is down 15% to 92.588 retail including commercial vehicles, with the Hongguang down another 30% but close to reclaiming the YTD lead due to the VW Lavida’s paltry performance this month. Year-to-date, GM is up 2.2% to 3.13m units. Nissan Motor gains 11% to 1.17m year-to-date, overstepping Honda Motor up 17% to 1.16m, while Toyota Motor edges up 8.5% to 1.07m. The Honda Civic is up a whopping 75% year-on-year to post a new all-time record of 17.613 sales while two newcomers also beat their record: the Honda Avancier (9.679) and the Nissan Kicks registering its first ever five-digit sales month at 10.392. Notice also the Honda CR-V up 85% boosted by the new generation.

The Nissan Kicks is above 10.000 sales for its fourth month in market. 

Meanwhile Ford Motor continues to struggle at -5% to 105.809 units in October, despite Lincoln sales up 48% to 5.514. For Korean Hyundai and Kia, the end of the tunnel isn’t here yet. If Hyundai manages to contain its drop to 11% vs. -34% so far in 2017, Kia plunges another 40%, almost as much as its YTD rate of -49%, and this despite the success of the newly launched KX Cross, up 43% on its inaugural month in September. Similarly, PSA remains in deep trouble with Peugeot (-19%), Citroen (-25%) and DS (-38%) all recording harsh declines, and this despite the new 4008 (record at 5.453), 5008 and C5 Aircross (5.244). In the premium race, Audi has well and truly reclaimed market domination after some turbulences earlier in the year. The brand is up 15% in October to 53.828, distancing BMW Group up 14% to 50.412 and Mercedes up 11% to 46.016. Audi is helped by the A4L up 82% to 11.338 and the Q3 up 61% to 8.834. Year-to-date, Mercedes is still in the lead for now at +28% to 488.915, followed very closely by BMW up 15% to 487.069 while Audi stays in third place at -3% to 472.498. The race to the 2017 premium finish will be a very close one indeed.

The Emgrand GS is one of six Geely nameplates to break their all-time volume record in October.

Among Chinese carmakers, Geely confirms it is the success story of the year, with deliveries up another 30% year-on-year to an all-time record of 125.201 units, beating its previous best established just last month (108.980). Geely comes in at #2 brand overall in China, outsold by Volkswagen only. This is Geely’s highest ever ranking at home (previous best: #3 last February), putting the carmaker on target to hit 1.1m units by year end with cumulated sales up an incredible 70% to 945.557 after ten months. The Geely Boyue gains another 80% year-on-year to break its volume record for the 6th time in the past 8 months and become the very first Geely nameplate to sell over 30.000 units in a single month (30.138): the previous Geely record was held by the Emgrand EC7 with 28.842 in November 2016. But the Boyue isn’t alone: the Emgrand GS (16.063, up 60%), Emgrand GL (13.513, up 92%), Vision SUV (11.214, up 3%), Vision X3 (7.007) and Vision X1 (3.061) all also beat their all-time volume record this month…

The VV5 is up 75% on September, lifting the WEY above 16.000 sales this month.

Great Wall Motor sees is sales progress 3% year-on-year to 108.008 units and shows a changing profile once again. The Haval H6 is the best-selling nameplate in the country in October and for the 2nd time this year after July, this despite sales down 14% year-on-year to 49.015. The success of the M6 (7.051 – new record) fails to compensate the significant losses of the H2 (-17%), H7 (-56%) and H1 (-81%) with Haval total sales down 13% to 81.653. Great Wall pickup sales however are up 12% to 9.418 but the company’s good fortune this month has to do with the implacable success of its new semi-premium brand: WEY, by far the most successful brand launch in China over the past 12 months. The VV7 continues to progress at 8.153 deliveries and the VV5 gains 75% on its inaugural month to break into the Top 100, meaning WEY is above 16.000 sales in October, a rather impressive start. Overall and thanks solely to WEY, Great Wall Motor SUV sales manage to edge up 4.1% to 97.820. Year-to-date, Great Wall is up 2.4% to 813.514.

The Zotye T700 crosses the 10.000 monthly sales milestone in October.

Other successful Chinese brands include GAC Trumpchi up 22% with the GS8 recording its third ever month above 10.000 sales, Roewe up 16% with the RX5 posting a new all-time record at 28.203, Zotye up 9% with its new best-seller the T700 posting its first five-digit month at 10.006 units, Hawtai up a whopping 208% thanks to the Shengdafei delivering a 2nd consecutive all-time record at 11.336 units, Soueast up 43%, MG up 87%, Venucia up 38% (new record for the T90 at 6.119), Leopaard up 27%, Hanteng up 17%, Zhi Dou up 36% and Maxus up 104%. Dongfeng edges up 2% thanks to the Fengguang 580 posting a record 19.771 sales and FAW is down 1% despite the Besturn X40 signing a record 8.939 units. Reversely, a long list of Chinese carmakers record worrying double-digit losses: Changan (-15%), Weichai (-17%), Borgward (-21%), Foton (-25%), Lifan (-27%), Changhe (-29%), Beijing Auto (-30%), Chery (-30%), BYD (-30%), Landwind (-33%), Jinbei (-37%), JAC (-38%), Haima (-44%), JMC (-44%), Brilliance (-47%), Qoros (-56%) and Cowin (-60%).

Previous month: China September 2017: SUVs post smaller gain, VW Lavida now #1 YTD

One year ago: China October 2016: Geely and Haval impress in market up 20%

Full October 2017 Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 443 models below.

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China LCV September 2017: Pickups shoot up 33.8%, Minivans up 20.3%

The Wuling Hongguang V is up 91% this month, single-handedly lifting the minivan segment.

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

Thanks to our partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, we can share with you today September LCV data for China. LCV sales (<3.5T) are unusually up this month in China at +11.1% to 128.609 units, however the year-to-date total remains in negative at -4% to 1.147.629 sales. This month minivans shoot up 20.3% to 45.406 sales solely thanks to the Wuling Hongguang V up 91%, they remain down 18% so far this year at 413.565 sales. The Wuling Sunshine (-7%) and Rongguang (-24%) struggle but the Jinbei Minivan (+51%) and Chana Star (+44%) shine.

Mini Trucks (aka mini pickups) are down 8% to 46.110 but up 1.3% year-to-date to 446.962. They continue to be led by the Wuling Mini Truck, down 1% to resist the Hongguang V for #1 spot overall by just 23 sales. The Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck is in great shape at +20%, as are the Jinbei Mini Truck (+123%) and Changhe Mini Truck (+329%) but the Chana Star Mini Truck (-23%) and Foton Mini Truck (-41%) freefall.

Great Wall Wingle 5 sales are up 34%. 

Once again the most impressive segment is pickup trucks, up 33.8% in September to 37.093 and up 14.7% year-to-date to 287.102. The Great Wall Wingle 5 shoots up 34% to #3 overall, lifting its year-to-date total up 6%, ahead of the JMC Baodian (+23%), ZX Auto Grand Tiger (+35%), Great Wall Wingle 6 (+53%), JMC Yuhu (+41%) and JAC Pickup (+68%). The Nissan Navara is stable and the Maxus T60 is up 62.5% on last month to its first four-digit sales month yet.

Previous month: China LCV August 2017: Market down 16%, pickups and Jinbei in shape

One year ago: China LCV September 2016: Wuling Mini Truck now in YTD lead

Full September 2017 Top XX models ranking below.

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China September 2017 – Focus on the All-new models

Citroen C5 Aircross

After detailing September sales for China, we now put a laser focus on the new locally-produced launches for the month, so you can stay up-to-the-minute on the latest additions in the world’s largest market. September is a particularly active month in this regard, with no less than ten new arrivals, six of them SUVs and seven of them Chinese.

1. Citroen C5 Aircross: 4.836 sales

Although one of the first foreign manufacturers to have entered the Chinese market over three decades ago, Citroen hasn’t managed to impose itself nearly as strongly as then-competitor Volkswagen. Worse, its sales are freefalling this year at a very worrying -59%. After launching a bunch of useless fares such as the C6 sedan, the French carmaker finally has something Chinese buyers may want to buy en masse: the new C5 Aircross SUV. While it is busy launching the C3 Aircross in Europe, the C5 Aircross is for now exclusive to China and won’t hit the Old Continent until 2018. It is based on the same platform as the Peugeot 4008 which is in fact the new gen 3008 outside China. Priced between 152.700 and 236.700 yuan (US$23.000-35.700), the C5 Aircross competes with the likes of the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Cherokee, on top of its PSA sibling. It is powered by the same engines as the 4008: a 167hp 1.6T and a 204hp 1.8T. The C5 Aircross posts a solid landing just under 5.000 sales and the most popular newcomer for the month, however it will need to climb significantly higher than that to reverse Citroen’s fortunes in China: even this month the brand is down 30%.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

2. WEY VV5: 4.569 sales

Only three months after launching its very first nameplate, the VV7, Great Wall Motors’ new semi-premium SUV brand, WEY, doubles up with the confusingly identical-looking VV5. At 4.46m long, the VV5 is however almost 30cm shorter than the VV7. It is powered by a 197hp 2.0T engine mated with a seven-speed DCT and is all wheel drive. A striking exterior design is let down by a very dull interior, especially for a brand that aspires at a premium status. Priced from 150.000 to 163.000 yuan (US$22.600-24.600), the VV5 competes in the busiest end of the Chinese market with the likes of the Roewe RX5, Geely Boyue and Great Wall’s own Haval H6.

WEY VV5 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

Great Wall’s strategy for WEY seems to be working so far, with the VV7 still on the up at 7.444 sales this month and the VV5 triggering the brand’s first five-digit sales month. So far WEY’s sales have more than compensated for Haval’s declining figures, with Great Wall Motors sales in September up 4.5% year-on-year despite Haval being down 11%. The more relevant result will be where sales stabilise in the long-term as current figures are still inflated by the novelty hype.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

3. Kia KX Cross: 4.374 sales

It’s a year to forget for Kia: in the same vein as sister company Hyundai, the Korean brand has been hit full frontal by tensions between China and its home country in the wake of disagreements about the handling of the North Korean crisis. The brand is down an abysmal 50% so far in 2017 and 29% in September. To try and return to positive, Kia has launched two new nameplates this month, the most popular so far being the KX Cross, and even though it does look (and sound) like a crossover, it is categorised by CAAM as a passenger car. It is priced very reasonably at 74.900-85.900 yuan (US$11.300-13.000), a starting price slightly higher than the K2 (72.900-103.900). In fact, the KX Cross used to be named K2 Cross, it is based on the K2 and is powered by the same 100hp 1.4 engine but sports a totally different body. To be sure, local website autohome.com.cn has it pit against the Baojun 510 crossover so we are really dealing with a crossover here, CAAM being the only body to disagree. This is a new foray for Kia and the starting month is very robust already, but is it cannibalising the K2? The latter is down 60% to 5.384 sales for the month after dropping “just” 30% in August… Before drama hit the Korean brands, the K2 had reached a best-ever 23.037 sales in December, but the current context makes it more challenging to decide on a realistic bar for success. We’ll put it at just under double its opening score.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

4. Dongfeng Fengshen AX4: 3.072 sales

Dongfeng is sliding down 12% in September and 6% year-to-date and therefore needs new models to stop the sales haemorrhage. Currently the Fengguang 580 and Joyear SUVs are its best-sellers, so it would be a fair bet to launch more of these. In time comes the Fengshen AX4, unveiled last April at the Shanghai Auto Show and the fourth crossover under the Fengshen sub-brand after the AX7 (down 59% to 3.075 sales this month), the AX3 (-87% to 533) and AX5 (1.003). Although its starting point remains relatively modest, it misses the AX? top spot by just three units. The AX4 goes where no Dongfeng had dared to go before design-wise, with huge front fog lamps, a sweeping window line ending in a two-tone rear and a rather convoluted lower door design featuring a metallic “diamond” sporting the AX4 name on it.

Dongfeng Fengshen interior and rear. Pictures courtesy autohome.com.cn

The AX4 is 4.19m long and powered by a 124hp 1.6 or 140hp 1.4T engine, it was developed with PSA Peugeot-Citroen, of which Dongfeng holds a 14% share. It is priced from 66.800 to 101.800 yuan (US$10.100-15.400) and enters a crowded segment also including the MG ZS and GS, Geely Vision X3 and Baojun 510. A year ago, we would have been cautious about the sales potential of such a daring design, but the Baojun 510 has shown that a young Chinese clientele is definitely ready to take the leap. Dongfeng is without a doubt counting on the AX4 to reverse its fortunes at home but to do so, it will have to climb significantly higher.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

5. Kia Pegas: 2.792 sales

Although the SUV craze has swept up a large part of the Chinese market, cheap sedans remain popular in second and third tier cities and more remote areas. It’s for these customers, mostly first-car buyers, that Kia is launching this Pegas, a China-specific model unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show last April. The Pegas is now the cheapest offering in all of Kia’s lineup in China: it starts at 49.900 yuan (US$7.500) and ends at 73.900 yuan (US$11.100), slitting nicely below the K2. It is 4.30m long and powered by a 95hp 1.4 engine mated with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The Kia Pegas will compete with the Hyundai Verna (49.900-73.900 also), the Chevrolet Sail (59.900-79.900) and a plethora of Chinese fares such as the Chery E3 (52.900-64.900), Cowin C3 (45.800-60.800), Baojun 330 (55.800-59.800) and JAC Heyue A30 (52.900-76.900). In normal times, we would hold the personal bests of the Sail (30.163) and Verna (31.469) as benchmarks, but Kia has lost a lot of its shine this year (see above) and cheap sedans, although still popular, do not deliver the same sales figures as, say, five years ago. We are adjusting the bar for success accordingly.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

6. Zotye T300: 2.456 sales

Zotye continues to launch new SUVs at unbridled pace: this T300 is the fourth one in the past 12 months… It is the third of the “traditionally” named Zotye after the very popular T600 and the brand’s current best-seller, the T700. The T300 directly lands in 4th place for the brand, below the aforementioned two nameplates and the Damai X7. The brand is finding that its copycat models, such as the SR7 (-61%), SR9 or Damai X5 (-75%) are already panting heavily, and a long-term solution could be to launch, well, original nameplates… The T300 is one, and design-wise it is up there with the T700 as Zotye’s best.

Zotye T300 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

Step inside, and it’s a very impressive plush interior, especially given the T300’s tiny price: from 56.800 to 93.800 yuan (US$8.600-14.100). This puts it in the same sandpit as the Brilliance V3 (65.700-102.700), Geely Vision X3 (50.900-65.900), Soueast DX3 (67.900-105.900) but also the best-selling Baojun 510 (54.800-75.800). Only four months after the launch of the T700 (8.771 sales in September, its best month yet), Zotye has another potential volume-driver in the T300 which hopefully will make the brand think twice about launching yet another copycat in the future.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

7. BAIC Huansu H5: 1.451 sales

Beijing Auto has just launched the fourth MPV for the Huansu brand after the H2, H3 and H6. There is not much information dribbling out of China for this nameplate yet – no price info – but BAIC shows vast improvement in interior quality. Local media autohome.com.cn pits it against the facelifted Baojun 730 (60.800-102.800 yuan or US$9.200-15.500). This is a struggling segment, with overall sales down a worrying 25% in September, and the ageing H3 stumbling down 49%. It could be an opportunity for the more modern H5 to impose itself, but BAIC has shown us very unpredictable sales patterns before.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

BAIC Huansu H5 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

8. BYD Song MAX: 474 sales

This is BYD’s second MPV after the M6 which was a clone of the Toyota Previa. It is arguably the best-looking BYD nameplate so far – and one of the best-looking Chinese cars to be launched, and this could be because it is the first designed by the company’s new head of design Wolfgang Egger, an ex-Audi man. It inaugurates a new design language for the brand, called “Dragon Face” with aggressive lights and a gaping grille. It sure does look very impressive indeed, and very affordable to top it off: priced from 79.900 to 119.900 yuan (US$12.000-18.100).

BYD Song MAX interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

The Song MAX is a seven-seat MPV, powered by a 156hp 1.5T engine and feature a 12.8 inch touch screen on its dashboard. A 2.0 and 1.5T hybrid will be added later. It’s not exactly great timing for BYD to launch an MPV but its striking looks should allow it to easily surpass the M6 which peaked at a meagre 863 sales. It competes with the likes of the Chana Oushang A800 (59.900-119.900) and Baojun 730 (60.800-102.800) but also some large and cheap SUVs such as the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (72.900-123.000).

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

9. Lifan X80: 365 sales

After first photos appeared a far as March 2015, the Lifan X80 was finally unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November 2016 and launched in market last May but has been on and off the ranking since, and had not been covered here so we’ve decided to make it appear in this month’s new model summary. This is the brand’s largest SUV by far at 4.82m, and it comfortably seats seven. Sporting a rather aggressive grille at the front, this is Lifan’s best designed model so far and it hasn’t really dated despite its “old age”, even though the rear is a copy of the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Lifan X80 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

The X80 is powered by a strong 191hp 2.0T engine, and in true Lifan fashion is priced incredibly low: from 109.900 to 149.900 yuan (US$16.600-22.600). It competes in size (but not in price) with the Changan CS95 (159.800-229.800), BYD S7, Zotye T700 and Dongfeng Fengguang 580. Sales prospects remain limited for such a large SUV, and it hasn’t yet crossed the 500 monthly sales milestone. Double that and we can call the X80 a success.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

10. Luxgen U5 SUV: 61 sales

Our last entrant for the month is the Taiwan-born Luxgen U5 SUV, the brand’s smallest SUV to-date, logically slotting below the U6. It is manufactured in China by the Dongfeng-Yulong joint venture. At 4.39m long, it is powered by a 124hp 1.6 engine mated with a CVT. The U5 comes with a very competitive price from 69.800 to 99.800 yuan (US$10.500-15.000), a necessary evil in a very competitive segment filled with dirt-cheap Chinese nameplates. Indeed, the U5 will compete with the likes of the MG ZS and GS, Soueast DX3, Baojun 510, GAC Trumpchi GS3 and the aforementioned Dongfeng Fengshen AX4.

Luxgen U5 rear and interior. Pictures courtesy autohome.com.cn

Hopefully the U5 will be a breath of fresh air for struggling Luxgen: sales are down an abysmal 62% so far in 2017 and an even more depressing 74% in September. The U5 is counting on a giant touch screen and sharp exterior design to woo young Chinese customers. The 6 SUV peaked at 7.647 sales back in January 2015 but has deep dived below 1.000 monthly units since last February, so Luxgen should only expect small steps up.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

China September 2017: SUVs post smaller gain, VW Lavida now #1 YTD

VW Lavida China 2016. Picture courtesy auto.fengniao.comThe VW Lavida snaps the lead of the YTD models ranking off the Wuling Hongguang.

* See the Top 75 China-made brands and Top 444 models by clicking on the title *

New light vehicle sales in China are up 3.3% year-on-year in September to 2.342.600 units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, an exceptional market performance keeping in mind September 2016 volumes were up 29% on the year prior on forwarded sales ahead of expiring incentives. Once again, sales are fuelled by an SUV rush, albeit much more contained than the previous months, with year-on-year gains for the segment falling into the single-digits at +9% to 972.396. Passenger cars are up 3.7% to 1.116.346 units but MPVs plunge 25% to 161.184 and microvans are down 8.1% to 44.600. Year-to-date, Chinese light vehicle sales are up 2.4% to a record 17.155.000 units. Adding trucks and buses at 319.300 in September (+19.1%) and 3.023.300 year-to-date (+17.1%) brings the total Chinese vehicle market to 2.613.800 for September (+5%), and a whopping 20.224.500 year-to-date (+4%), the fastest China sales have hit the 20 million mark. Chinese-branded light vehicle sales are down 0.9% to 966.000 units, accounting for 42.1% of the total market. Chinese manufacturers’ grip on regular car sales is loosening up further with only two nameplates in the Top 29 best-sellers vs. 11 in the 16 best-selling SUVs.

A record 9.143 BAIC EC-Series EVs found a new home this month.

The only segment really booming in China this month is electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, up 79% to 78.000 units, with EV sales up 83% to 64.000 and plug-in hybrids up 62% to 14.000. Year-to-date, the segment is up 40% to 442.000, headed towards an annual figure of upwards of 600.000 units. Only China-made EVs and plug-in hybrids qualify for government subsidies that are scheduled to end by 2020. Illustrating the trend, the new BAIC EC-Series is up to #75 in the models ranking with a record 9.143 sales, up 36% on its previous volume record established just last month. In second place of the segment is the Zhi Dou D2 at 5.084 sales (up 6-fold on a year ago), ahead of the BYD Qin at 3.669 (-21%), JAC iEV at 3.021 (+81%), Chery eQ at 2.652 (+430%) and Changan Benben EV at 2.586. Launched last month, the Baojun E100 is up 132% to 1.562 sales and comes in at #12 in the segment. Changan announced this week it would stop selling combustion-engine cars in 2025, while BAIC Group Chairman Xu Heyi said China’s electric vehicle output could reach 1 million units as early as next year and 3 million by 2020. The Chinese government’s goal is to produce 2 million EVs a year by 2020 and 7 million by 2025, accounting for 20% of total light-vehicle production by then.

The VW SUV lineup sees its sales shoot up 88% year-on-year in China this month.

Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which vary from the data tables we provide further down in the article, and the next few paragraphs are dedicated to these announcements – model sales are local wholesales. The Volkswagen Group outpaces the market with a 6.3% year-on-year gain to 406.500 units. The Volkswagen brand is up 7.5% to 310.500 units. VW places five nameplates in the Top 9 most popular cars, with the Lavida shooting up 27% to 59.697 units, its third highest monthly volume below 61.568 in January 2014 and 60.233 in January 2017. This earns the Lavida the YTD top spot, overtaking the Wuling Hongguang which had been the best-selling vehicle in China for the past four years. The Sagitar (+15%) breaks its volume record at 39.358, the Santana is up an equally impressive 18%, the Tiguan is up 49% to also hit a new record at 33.462 sales and the Teramont posts a new personal best as well at 8.771. Audi is up 7.2% to 58.445 with the Q5 hitting a new record at 13.539 (+17%), Skoda is down 4.5% to 30.600 but the Kodiaq breaks its record at 6.160. Porsche sales are up 10% over the first nine months to 54.090. Year-to-date, the VW Group is up 1.4% to 2.89m keeping the lead over GM, while the VW brand is up 3.2% to 2.2m units.

The Chevrolet Cavalier is above 20.000 monthly sales for the first time.

General Motors sees its sales up 6.6% to 366.305 units in September. Buick is up 5.7% to 114.500 as the GL8 MPV hits a new record at 13.899 sales (+115%), while Baojun continues to be one of a handful of tremendous success stories in China, seeing its retail sales surge 51% to 94.718 (wholesales are up 36% to 95.128). Two star nameplates break volume records: the 510 passes the 40.000 monthly unit-barrier for the first time at 41.031, stepping up to third place overall and #2 SUV, while the 310 overcomes the 20.000 monthly unit hurdle at 21.705, remaining the 2nd most popular Chinese car in the country thanks to the addition of a wagon variant. Wuling plunges 24% to 82.082 with the Hongguang down an abysmal 29%, Chevrolet is up 11% to 57.757 with the Cavalier above 20.000 sales for the first time at 20.925 and Cadillac is up 38% to 17.248, with the XT5 breaking its volume record at 6.042 (+15%). Year-to-date, GM sales is China are up 1% to 2.75m units.

The Honda Avancier posts an all-time high volume, helping Honda up 16%. 

Japanese carmakers continue to go from strength to strength: Honda Motor is up 16% to 143.000, Nissan Motor up 15% to 142.300 and Toyota Motor up 14% to 118.900. Year-to-date, Honda is up 18% to 1.03m, Nissan up 9.8% to 1.02m and Toyota up 7.9% to 960.400. Japanese record breakers include the Toyota Levin (17.133 sales), Honda Avancier (9.669), Nissan Kicks (8.805) and Toyota Prado (6.078) while the Toyota Corolla posts its 2nd best-ever volume at 32.014 below the 32.381 of last June. Ford Motor sales are down slightly at 112.902 despite Lincoln up 79% to 5.700 units. Year-to-date, Ford is down 5% to 832.761.

Chinese Mitsubishi sales are up 167% thanks to the Outlander. 

In the luxury race, Audi has reclaimed the lead (see above) with BMW Group in 2nd place at 52.681 (+7.1%) and Mercedes in third at 51.127 (+11%). Year-to-date, Mercedes continues to lead at 442.899 (+30%) but Audi is now 2nd at 440.233 (-4.9%) and BMW third at 436.657 (+15%). Among foreign manufacturers, notice also (wholesales figures) Jeep up 40% with the Compass lodging its first five-figure sales month, Mitsubishi up 167% with record Outlander sales at 9.002, Volvo up 47% and Renault up 114%. Reversely, Hyundai (-18%) and Kia (-29%) continue to struggle despite a record month by the Elantra Lingdong and the arrival of the Kia KX Cross and Pegas (see our upcoming All-new models special). Similarly, French Peugeot (-9%) and Citroen (-30%) are still in negative.

New monthly volume record for the Geely Boyue at 26.317 sales.

Now onto Chinese manufacturers. Geely looks set to achieve its annual target of 1.1 million sales this year with another very strong performance in September: up 42% to 108.980. Year-to-date deliveries are now up a whopping 78% to 820.356 units. 3 of Geely’s 4 best-selling nameplates break all-time volume records this month: the Boyue at 26.317 (+87%), the Emgrand GS at 14.007 (+64%) and the Emgrand GL at 12.091 (+321%). Along with the Vision SUV, also launched in 2016, these four nameplate represent 57% of Geely’s total sales in September. In addition, both the Vision X3 (3.032) and Vision X1 (3.004) also post records, albeit at much lower levels. With the Emgrand EC7 (#18) and Emgrand GL (#30), Geely has two of only three Chinese cars in the Top 30, the other one being the Baojun 310 (#19).

The WEY brand lifts Great Wall Motors sales up 4.5% in September. 

Great Wall Motors shows a changing profile this month, with sales up 4.5% to 102.037, its third consecutive month of year-on-year gains. Pickup sales are up 39% to 11.317 but Haval sales are down a worrying 11.3% to 77.755 with the H6 down 15%, the H2 down 18%, the H7 down 27% and the H1 down 74% but the M6 up 112% on its inaugural month. However the group’s new brand, WEY, is showing great strength: up 67% on August to 12.013 with the VV7 beating its volume record and the VV5 landing, as we’ll detail further in our special All-new models coverage. Year-to-date, Great Wall Motors is up 2.2% to 705.506 deliveries.

The Shengdafei posts a new volume record and helps lift Hawtai sales by 87%.

Changan struggles at -16% this month to #7 brand overall with one bright spot being the CS55 breaking a volume record again at 14.938. GAC Trumpchi (+25%) sees a solid 2nd month of sales by the GS3, Roewe (+40%) has the RX5 break its volume record at 25.066 (+82%), Zotye (+8%) is pulled up by the T700 (new record) and the arrival of the T300, Soueast (+51%) by the DX3’s new volume high, MG (+47%) by the ZS, Hawtai (+87%) by the Shengdafei, Leopaard (+19%) by the CS9 hitting a new record, Lifan (+24%) by the Xuanlang at its best while further down, Karry (+47%), Zhi Dou (+64%), Kandi (+2511%), Maxus (+94%), Foton (+159%), Huasong (+496%) and FQT Motor (+185%) all impress. In contrast, Dongfeng (-12%), Venucia (-17%), Yema (-17%), FAW (-19%), Beijing Auto (-28%), Changhe (-28%), BYD (-29%), Chery (-30%), Borgward (-43%), Haima (-50%), JAC (-50%), Qoros (-57%), Cowin (-60%) and Landwind (-68%) all dangerously lose grip.

Previous month: China August 2017: Chinese SUVs near 60% segment share, market up 4.1%

One year ago: China September 2016: Market up 29% anticipating expiring incentives

Full September 2017 Top 75 China-made brands and Top 444 models below.

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China August 2017 – Focus on the All-new models

Haval M6

As is the BSCB tradition, we put a laser focus on the new locally-produced launches in China, the world’s fastest-evolving market, so you can on the bleeding edge on the latest additions. After a shy July that saw only three introduction, the August 2017 class is rich with seven new China-made nameplates, six of them Chinese – demonstrating once again the dynamism of the local manufacturers – and six of them SUVs, confirming this is well and truly the only segment on fire in China currently.

1. Haval M6: 3.201 sales

China’s SUV king Haval inaugurates a new naming nomenclature with this M6, however this is in fact a sporty-looking version of the previous generation H6 which is still on sale in China. It is priced similarly to it at 89.800-109.800 yuan (US$13.500-16.500) vs. 88.800-118.600 for the previous gen H6 but logically priced below the current gen H6 (101.800-140.800). Being derived from China’s best-selling  SUV, the M6 competes right into the most crowded segment in the country with the likes of the GAC Trumpchi GS4, Geely Boyue and Changan CS75 all the while undercutting them all in price. Although it seems like overkill at this stage (the H6 also has a Coupe variant plus each model has both red and blue label versions), Haval seems to have thought there is yet another niche of the market they can fill with the M6. The new nameplate’s start seems to give them reason, already positioning the M6 as Haval’s third best-selling model in August below only the H6 and H2 but above the H7, H9, H5, H8 and H1 in this order. Haval is in great need of new blood in its range as it has seen sales drop 13% this month, so the M6 comes at the right time. As long as it doesn’t end up cannibalising H6 sales (down 5% in August), this could end up being a good operation for Haval, as counter-intuitive as it first looks.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

2. GAC Trumpchi GS3: 842 sales

Unveiled at the Chengdu Auto Show in August, the GAC Trumpchi GS3 already makes its first appearance in the Chinese sales charts on the same month. GAC Trumpchi seems to do no wrong with its SUV range. The tremendously successful GS4 has already sold almost 700.000 units since its launch in May 2015 and its honeymoon period still hasn’t ended will sales up another 15% so far in 2017, ranking 6th overall and #2 SUV below the Haval H6. The much larger GS8 has also hit the bullseye with just under 75.000 sales in just ten months. Only the GS7, a 5-seat variant of the GS8, is struggling so far.

GAC Trumpchi GS3 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

In this context, the all-new GS3 seems destined to a stellar career. It is reasonably priced at 73.800-116.800 yuan (US$14.200-22.400) and competes (in size) with the likes of the – much cheaper – Baojun 510, but also the MG GS and ZS, Soueast DX3 and Changan CS55. The polished, leather-clad interior impresses, with a large 10 inch touch screen, and the engines available are a 137hp 1.3 turbo and the 114hp 1.5. Similarly to the GS8, GAC Trumpchi should be aiming at 10.000 monthly sales to declare the GS3 a success, but it could go much higher.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

3. Cowin X5: 692 sales

Cowin, formerly a Chery sub-brand, was launched as a stand-alone brand in August 2014 and premiered at the Chengdu Auto Show in September of that year, however only started appearing in Chinese sales charts in July 2016. Currently the C3 sedan and C3R hatch, V3 MPV and X3 SUV compose the lineup. But the new brand is already starting to puff, with sales down 65% year-on-year in August. This new entrant is no good news for the Cowin brand: the X5 is none other than the previous generation Chery Tiggo 5. This seems to indicate Chery is already starting to give up on the Cowin trial by only feeding it outdated models. The X5 concept car was alluring and let us imagine a brand new SUV. Not so. In fact, only the badge has been changed from Chery to Cowin as this is 100% from the inside out a 2013 Chery Tiggo 5. The 152hp 1.5 turbo engine has also been kept.

Logically, the X5 is priced below the Tiggo 5 but only by 10-15%: from 79.900 to 104.900 yuan (US$12.000-15.800) vs. 88.800-123.800 for the Tiggo 5. The X5 now competes with lower-end SUVs such as the Dongfeng Joyear SUV X5 and the Geely Vision SUV but ironically, local outlet Autohome also pits it against the Chery Tiggo 5 and 7, seemingly acknowledging the potential cannibalisation that the Cowin X5 may trigger. The fact that Tiggo 5 sales freefall 85% this month to just 770 isn’t good news either, even if it is seemingly awaiting the new generation to kick in. In terms of Cowin sales precedents, the C3 peaked at 1.205 units in July 2016, the V3 at 2.045 in October 2016 and the X3 at 4.431 in October 2016 also, and all these designs were new so it would be unreasonable to expect the same level of success for the X5. On the other hand if the X5 is as or more successful than the aforementioned nameplates, it could mean Cowin becoming an unglorified low-cost hand-me-down of Chery with no design differentiation.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

4. Baojun E100: 674 sales

Baojun is an extremely successful brand manufactured by the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint-venture, owned at 44% by General Motors. Thanks to the exceptional success of the 510 SUV and 310 hatch, added to the 560 SUV and 730 MPV, the brand is up 84% in August and 34% so far in 2017 with just under 550.000 sales. The E100 is Baojun’s first electric vehicle, and if it behaves the same as the manufacturer’s latest launches, it should smash records for this segment in China. But the EV sphere has been quite opaque in the country since its inception, with wide reports of exaggerated sales in order to illegally benefit from the government subsidies. EV is still the far-west of China, but sales are definitely on the up. Plus the Chinese government is currently mulling a date for the ban of sales of petrol vehicles. So EVs are here to stay.

Baojun E100 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Baojun has pushed the envelope for the E100 whose interior is particularly cool for a Chinese vehicle. Tiny, at 2.49m, it has a 39hp electric motor, can go to up to 100 km/h and has a 155km range. Originally priced between 93.900 and 109.900 yuan (US$14.100-16.600), these rates drop to a very affordable 35.300-48.200 yuan (US$5.300-7.300) once green-car subsidies have been factored in. The E100 competes with other mini EVs such as the Zotye E30 (max: 2.044 monthly sales), Zhi Dou D2 (peak at 5.018 sales this month), Zotye E200 (3.500) and Chery eQ1 (1.660). Applying a Baojun filter to these best performances – i.e. smashing them – may not be quite adequate yet but the market does expect a frank success from the E100.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

5. Geely Vision X3: 363 sales

Three months after the Vision X1 which was in fact a facelifted Panda, Geely launches yet another crossover with the Vision X3, based this time on the Geely England SC5-RV and keeping its 1.5 engine. The X3 adds also to the Vision sedan, facelifted this year, and the Vision SUV, a smashing success. It would appear that after deleting its Englon and Gleagle brand a few years ago, Geely now cannot help but building sub-brand families: the Emgrand EC7, GS and GL and this fourth Vision nameplate… The Vision X1 is 3.78m long and is priced between 39.900 and 57.900 yuan (US$ 6.000-8.700), the X3 is 4.01m long and also priced very competitively at 50.900-65.900 yuan (US$ 7.700-9.900), all the while sporting an interior design that we have found in much dearer Geelys.

Geely Vision X3 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn 

Apart from the Baojun 510 (170.000 sales in seven months), few have managed to crack the small crossover segment in China. The Vision X3 will also compete with the likes of the Chery Tiggo 3X, Changan CS15, Haval H1 and JAC S2. For reference, after four months in market the Geely Vision X1 has only managed to crack the 3.000 monthly sales barrier, meanwhile Geely’s larger SUVs such as the Boyue (21.872), Emgrand GS (12.953) and Vision SUV (10.942) fare a lot better. In this context, doubling the current X1’s personal best would be a step in the right direction for the X3 and position it halfway towards its larger siblings’ volumes.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

6. Isuzu MU-X: 359 sales

Japanese car and truck maker Isuzu is engaged in two joint-ventures in China: one with Qingling Motors that produces trucks, and one with Jiangling Motors Co. Group (JMCG) which until now has produced pickup trucks. Based in Nanchang in the Jiangxi province, this joint-venture is called Jiangxi Isuzu Motors. Its first China-made vehicle was the Isuzu D-Max launched in December 2014 (starting at 114.000 yuan (US$17.200), and it later launched a cheaper variant called the Ruimai starting at 84.800 yuan (US$12.800) but sporting a different logo. You can find their sales evolution in our dedicated monthly China LCV articles. Logically, now comes the D-Max-based MU-X SUV, originally launched in November 2013 in Thailand and finally reaching Chinese shores as a local production. Priced between 178.800 and 268.800 yuan (US$ 26.900-40.500), it is offering a rugged and very capable alternative to the Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, all priced similarly but smaller. The Haval H9, Changan CS95, GAC Trumpchi GS8 and Maxus D90 (see below) would compete with the MU-X as far as Chinese manufacturers are concerned. The Jiangxi Isuzu Ruimai is up 106% to 10.623 sales after 8 months this year while the D-Max is up 46% to 5.651. In this context we think a stretch target of 1.000 units/month should be applied for the MU-X.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

7. Maxus D90: 83 sales

The last novelty for August – but definitely not the least impressive – is the imposing Maxus D90 SUV. After two vans, the V80 (September 2011) and G10 (May 2014), and one pickup, the T60 (November 2016), Maxus launches its first SUV, the D90. Maxus is owned by SAIC who bought the brand from the British LDV Group in 2010. The D90 is one of the largest Chinese SUVs in market at 5.01m long. It’s an AWD powered by a 221hp 2.0 turbo mated with a 6-speed auto gearbox. Priced very attractively at 156.700-263.800 yuan (US$23.600-39.700), it undercuts all its rivals: the Haval H9 starting at 199.800 yuan, the GAC Trumpchi GS8 starting at 163.800 and even the Changan CS95 starting at 159.800. Maxus will also try to convince foreign SUV buyers that would have otherwise looked at a Toyota Highlander (239.800 yuan start), VW Terramont (308.900 start) or Toyota Prado (369.800 start), all these models being extremely successful already.

Maxus D90 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn 

Traditionally, Chinese manufacturers have struggled to impose themselves in the full-size SUV segment. Only the GAC Trumpchi GS8 has managed to crack the mould with two five-digit sales months and a personal best of 10.032 units last March. Maxus’ low brand awareness in the passenger car segment won’t help, but the vehicle is striking in design and has all the required luxuries inside to satisfy its target clientele. The G10 van hit a personal best of 2.815 sales last March, while the T60 Pickup hasn’t managed to crack the 1.000 monthly sales yet with 882 units last April being its best so far. In this context, reaching 2.000 units would be a gage of success for the D90.

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly sales

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

One year ago: China August 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Current China data: China August 2017: Chinese SUVs near 60% segment share, market up 4.1%

China LCV August 2017: Market down 16%, pickups and Jinbei in shape

JMC Baodian

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

Thanks to our partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, we can share with you today August LCV data for China. In August LCV sales (<3.5T) are down a harsh 16% year-on-year to 98.967 units, pulling the year-to-date tally down 6% to 1.019.866 registrations. In the segment detail, minivans drop 22% to 31.399 leading to a 21% year-to-date decline to 368.176 while Mini Trucks alarmingly post a second consecutive freefall month at -24% to 37.878 with the year-to-date total remaining in positive – just – at +3% to 400.844. Once again, pickup trucks are the only segment under the sun with a 9% gain to 29.690 leading to a 13% year-to-date improvement to 250.846.

Jinbei Mini Truck sales are up 98% year-on-year in August. 

The Wuling Mini Truck (-22%) and Hongguang V (-24%) remain in the lead in spite of harsh declines, with the Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck jumping up 25% to third place. The Wuling Sunshine is back up 11 spots on July to #4, distancing the Great Wall Wingle 5, still the best-selling pickup in the country despite a 12% drop. It is followed this month by the JMC Baodian helped up 3% by its refresh. Notice also the Jinbei Minivan up 42%, the Jinbei Mini Truck up 98%, the ZX Auto Grand Tiger up 21% and the Great Wall Wingle 6 up 50%. The new Nissan Navara drops three spots on last month to #21 overall but remains the 7th best-selling pick up in the country.

Previous month: China LCV July 2017: Market down 18% but pickups up 8%

One year ago: China LCV August 2016: Pickups (+33%) outsell minivans for the first time

Full August 2017 Top 45 models ranking table below.

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China August 2017: Chinese SUVs near 60% segment share, market up 4.1%

The Baojun 510 symbolises the dynamism of Chinese brands in the SUV segment.

* See the Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 422 All-models by clicking on the title *

Sales of passenger cars in China confirm they are now firmly back in positive with a third consecutive year-on-year gain in August at +4.1% to 1.875.000 units, lifting the year-to-date tally up 2.2% to 14.807.000 sales. Once again, SUVs are the isolated engine of the Chinese market’s growth with deliveries surging up 17.1% year-on-year to 783.058, cars down 2.2% to 948.709, MPVs down 16.2% to 139.255 and minivans down 27.2%. In August, sales of passenger cars with engine capacity of 1.6L and below – the core of the market affected by the tax changes of the past couple of years – is down just 0.5% year-on-year to 1.268.000 units, accounting for 67.6% of the total passenger car market vs. 70.8% a year ago. Year-to-date, these vehicles are down a limited 2.1% to 10.084.000 units or 68.1% share. To get a global picture of the Chinese market we need to add commercial vehicles, up 12.8% to 311.000 sales in August leading to a year-to-date total up 16.9% to 2.704.000 units. Buses are down 10.9% but trucks up 21.6%. All-in-all, the Chinese total vehicle market is up 5.3% in August to 2.186.000 units and up 4.3% year-to-date to a record 17.511.000 sales.

The Changan CS55 is up 5-fold on its July score. 

Now onto the much talked-about market share of Chinese manufacturers at home. The total share is up just 0.5 percentage point year-on-year in August to 41% of passenger cars, but the picture is very different depending on the segments. Cars also see a 0.5 percentage point increase to 18% share thanks to 168.000 units, up 4.6% year-on-year. Chinese-branded SUVs are up 25.2% year-on-year to 462.000 units, accounting for 59.6% share up from 56% a year ago. Finally Chinese-branded MPVs are down 30.1% to 110.000 units of 79.3% share, down from 86.8% a year ago. Year-to-date, the market share of Chinese branded passenger cars is up 1.1 percentage point to 43.2% thanks to sales up 4.8% to 6.389.000. In the detail, Chinese cars increase by 0.7 percentage point to 19.3% share with sales up 1.6% to 1.380.000, Chinese SUVs increase by a whopping 3.6 percentage points to 59.4% thanks to sales up 24.6% to 3.556.000 and Chinese MPVs decrease by 5.6 percentage points to 83.9% with sales down 21.4% to 1.078.000. So once again, the heroes of the months are Chinese-branded SUVs, and given the onslaught of new models being unveiled every week in this segment, they are bound to reach even higher shares in the near future.

The VW Lavida/Gran Lavida is now only 4.000 sales off the YTD pole position.

Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which vary from the data tables we provide below, and this paragraph is dedicated to these announcements. The Volkswagen Group reports a 9.2% increase to 353.500 sales in August, with the Volkswagen brand up 10% to 265.400 and Skoda stable at 26.000. Year-to-date, VW Group sales are now up 0.7% to 2.49 million, above rival General Motors’ unchanged 2.38 million. In August, GM is up 12% to 328.425, helped by Cadillac up 51% to 15.014, Baojun up 62% to 82.658, Chevrolet up 21% to 46.705 and Buick up 9.6% to 103.277 just as Wuling drops 19% to 80.771. Among Japanese carmakers, Honda Motor leads the way at +21% to 128.671 units, followed by Nissan Motor up 18% to 122.319 and Toyota Motor up 13% to 108.500. Year-to-date, Honda is up 18% to 886.641, Nissan up 9% to 877.638 and Toyota up 7.1% to 841.400. Ford Motor on the other hand is down 1% to 97.863 this month. Audi has now firmly reclaimed its premium crown – in the lead for the 2nd consecutive month – with sales up 10% to 54.205, distancing Mercedes up 25% to 50.505 and BMW up 12% to 47.385. It will be tough for Audi to reclaim the lead year-to-date however, with totals now standing at 360.225 (-6.6%) vs. 391.772 (+33%) for Mercedes and 383.976 (+16%) for BMW AG.

The Baojun 310 is the best-selling Chinese car at home – if electric variants are counted separately. 

As always the China-made wholesale brands data shows a slightly different picture, although Volkswagen replicates its market-beating 10% year-on-year improvement. The Honda brand displays a stunning 43% gain at #2, above Buick (+0.1%) and Toyota (+18%). Geely continues to gallop ahead with a splendid 76% surge, bettered by Baojun though (+84%). GAC Trumpchi (+34%), Venucia (+44%), Roewe (+47%), Soueast (+50%), MG (+54%) and Leopaard (+66%) also post spectacular gains – all of them thanks to new SUVs – but strikingly, more Chinese brands are down (22) than up (19) this month. Blockbusters such as Haval (-13%), Changan (-19%), Wuling (-26%), Beijing Auto (-27%), BYD (-27%), Chery (-33%), Haima (-37%) and Brilliance (-57%) are losing foot, while among smaller brands Changhe (-37%), Borgward (-40%), Jinbei (-54%), Weichai (-54%), Landwind (-61%) and Cowin (-65%) are fast headed towards disappearance. Great Wall (-85%) is slowly dying now that GWM has contained the brand to pickup trucks. Eight new China-made brands have made their appearance over the past 12 months, led by WEY (#42), Bisu (#47), Hanteng (#48) and SWM (#49) with Jaguar (#61) and Acura (#65) following at a distance. This month we welcome Isuzu as a China-made passenger car brand, which will be covered in our traditional monthly focus on the All-new models.

The WEY VV7 single-handedly stabilises Great Wall Motors sales just as Haval drops 13%. 

Over in the models ranking, the VW Lavida/Gran Lavida rallies back up from #7 in July to pole position this month thanks to sales up 12% to 43.024, with the Buick Excelle (+24%) in 2nd place showing cars are not dead yet. The Haval H6 (-5%) is down from #1 in July to #3 this month and will have its work cut out to match last year’s performance during the last Quarter. The Nissan Sylphy (+23%) and Toyota Corolla (+24%) make it four cars in the Top 8. As the months go by, the Wuling Hongguang keeps aligning counter-performances: now down 24% to a paltry 5th place and only 4.000 sales above the Lavida year-to-date. The Hongguang has been the best-selling vehicle in China for the past four years, but 2017 could turn out to be the Lavida’s year if the Hongguang continues on its downward trend.

The all-new T700 is the only Zotye nameplate in the Top 100 this month.

For its part the Baojun 510 is stable on its record-breaking July score just under 33.000 units, brilliantly remaining the #2 SUV in the country, this as the cannibalised 560 (-31%) has bottomed up: up 30 spots on July to #52. The VW Tiguan soars 49% to over 29.000 sales and is the only foreign SUV among the seven best-sellers: it is followed by the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+5%), Geely Boyue (+110%), Roewe RX5 (+143%) and Changan CS75 (+26%). Baojun also makes itself noticed with the 310 hatch, more than doubling its sales on July to a record 18.724, for the first time the best-selling Chinese car and among the ten best-selling cars overall when only counting combustion versions (Geely Emgrand EC7 electric variants push it up to #9 and #1 Chinese)… Three additional nameplates break their volume record in the Top 50: the Geely Emgrand GS (12.953) and GL (10.923) but the most spectacular is the Changan CS55 up 5-fold on July to 11.450 for its fourth month in market. Among recent launches, the Chana Oushang A800 (#77), WEY VV7 (#85), Zotye T700 (#91), Leopaard CS9 (#114), Lifan Xuanlang (#150), Bisu T5 (#163) and Geely Vision X1 (#168) also achieve record volumes.

Previous month: China July 2017: Haval H6 leads, market lifted up 4.9% by SUVs

One year ago: China August 2016: Second consecutive month up 26% – SUVs up 44%

Full August 2017 Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 422 All-models below.

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China July 2017 – Focus on the All-new models

Nissan Kicks. Picture auto.sina.com.cn 

Today we put a laser focus on the new locally-produced launches in China, the world’s fastest-evolving market, so you can stay up-to-date on the latest additions. The July 2017 promotion is a shy one with only three newcomers – all of them SUVs – and the first foreign launch in two months.

1. Nissan Kicks: 4.531 sales

Already launched and successful in Latin America and the Middle-East, the Nissan Kicks has now landed in China as a locally-produced nameplate. This is a very important car for Nissan in China, as it gives the Japanese brand a serious competitor to the incredibly successful XR-V/Vezel duo from Honda, and also an advantage over Toyota which is (disappointingly) yet to release a local version of the CH-R. It also competes with the likes of the Mitsubishi ASX and Suzuki Vitara, and in the Chinese aisle, the (much cheaper) Baojun 510 and MG GS and ZS. Had it launched a couple of years earlier, the Kicks would have almost definitely turned out to be Nissan’s biggest blockbuster in China. It’s now a little late in the game but should still deliver serious volumes for the brand. Priced between 99.800 and 134.800 yuan (US$15.100-20.400), it is significantly cheaper than the Honda twins (127.800-189.800 yuan) which augurs well for its chances of success. Nissan’s range in China is currently dominated by the Sylphy sedan ranking #6 overall so far in 2017, with the Qashqai (#30) and X-Trail (#31) a notch below. The Qashqai has never sold more than 16.000 monthly units in China (PB is 15.680 in November 2016) whereas the X-Trail has topped the 20.000 units three times, peaking at 20.504 in November 2015. In this context, we would want the Kicks to flirt with the 15.000 monthly units to fit with the gang, but it could certainly go much higher. For reference, the XR-V’s record is 19.714 (April 2017) and the Vezel 18.329 (November 2015).

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

2. GAC Trumpchi GE3: 32 sales

Debuting at the Detroit Auto Show last January as a semi-concept and unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, the GAC Trumpchi GE3 is the brand’s second electric SUV after the GS4 EV and is a compact SUV a la Kia Niro. It is powered by an electric motor with 177 hp, the range is 300Km and the top speed 156 km/h. The GE3 inaugurates a new platform developed solely for electric cars that will also underpin an MPV and a sedan. It enters the already large contingent of Chinese EV vehicles, most of them only playing a dummy role in the sales charts. Priced reasonably at 222.800-245.800 yuan (US$33.700-37.200), the GE3 should however not reach the highest ranks of the Chinese sales charts.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

3. BAW BJ90: 2 sales

The BJ90 already has a convoluted history. Spied in its final form since September 2015 and rumoured to be unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2016, the BJ90 only makes its appearance in the Chinese sales charts today, and with a lonely two units at that. No official launch has been set yet, there are no test-drives in the Chinese press which given the allure this large SUV sports is a sizeable missed opportunity. But the BJ90 isn’t really a BAW vehicle. It would appear that BAW uses imported Mercedes GL-Class and only changes badges, some body panels, some parts of the dashboard and the rear seats. All the rest, including the drivetrain is the same and almost nothing is actually manufactured in China! This sorcery is made possible by a technology-transfer agreement with Mercedes-Benz, one of BAIC’s joint-venture partners in China. Given the recent success of the BJ20 and BJ40 finally surfing on the Chinese SUV craze, delaying the BJ90 is total nonsense. Worse: competing with the Honqi LS5, it would appear this vehicle will be reserved to military or government officials. Its price should start around 800.000 yuan (US$121.100).

Bar for success: 200 monthly sales

Previous post: China June 2017: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago:  China July 2016: Focus on the All-new models

China LCV July 2017: Market down 18% but pickups up 9%

The China-made Nissan Navara is now the #7 pickup in China.

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

Thanks to our partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, we can share with you today July LCV data for China. This month the overall LCV market is down a harsh 18% year-on-year to 87.700 units, leading to a year-to-date tally down 5% to 902.922 sales. Pickup trucks continue to rally back with a 9% gain in July to 28.228 units and a 13% surge year-to-date to 221.123 units. The oddity this month is the freefalling of Mini Trucks (aka Mini Pickups) down 22% to 43.060 but still up 8% year-to-date to 366.230. Meanwhile minivans continue to fall into oblivion at -33% to 25.713 units and -23% to 315.569 registrations year-to-date.

The Wuling Mini Truck and Hongguang V remain the most popular LCVs in China this month despite drops of -25% and 27% respectively. The Great Wall Wingle 5 (+7%) shoots up to third place overall ahead of the Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck (+42%) while the Jinbei Mini Truck (+121%) reappears in the ranking after over a year of non-reporting by Brilliance. The victims of the month are the Chana Star Mini Truck (-47%) dropping from #3 in June to #89, the Chana Star Minibus (-63%) dropping from #4 to #16 and the Wuling Sunshine (-72%) dropping from #5 to #15. Great performers include the Dongfeng C-Series Minivan (+72%), Huanghai N2-Series Pickup (+40%) and Jiangxi Isuzu Ruimai (+156%). Launched last month, the China-made Nissan Navara gains three spots in the Pickup ranking to hit #7 and climbs to #18 overall.

Previous month: China LCV June 2017: Pickups up 14%, Nissan Navara lands

One year ago: China LCV July 2016: Pickups up 26%, Mini Trucks up 12% in market down 11%

Full July 2017 Top 45 models ranking table below.

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