China April 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Haval H7 China April 2016. Picture courtesy sxac.comThe Haval H7 finally launches in China, one year after its unveiling in Shanghai. 

* See the April 2016 Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands here *

After a record 12 new locally-produced nameplates hit Chinese dealerships in March, the pace of new launches slows down in April, yet there are a further seven new models landing this month. The SUV tap certainly has not dried up, with four of these new launches belonging to this segment and spanning the entire spectrum of price: from low-cost (Lifan) to luxury (Cadillac). Volkswagen is trying out a new format for China and Dongfeng launches its flagship sedan into its home market…

VW Golf Sportsvan China April 2016

1. VW Golf Sportsvan (#133 – 3.659 sales)

Volkswagen just launched local production of the two year-old Golf Sportsvan in China through its joint-venture with FAW at its plant in Foshan, Guangdong. The German brand, by far the #1 in the country and the foreign manufacturer with the longest presence in China, has the midas touch here: of all its China-made nameplates, only two have never crossed the symbolic 10.000 monthly sales barrier: the luxurious CC (all-time high of 5.783) and the Touran MPV (5.206). Even a risky bet such as the VW Lamando managed 16.452 units in March this year… In this context, a five-digit monthly figure seems a logical target for the Sportsvan even though this is unchartered territory for the brand: Chinese consumers are not used to this type of format. So much so that similarly to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer launched last month, the Sportsvan is categorised as a sedan instead of an MPV in China. The Golf Sportsvan is priced between 131.900 and 197.900 yuan (US$20.000-30.100).

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Lifan MyWay China April 2016. Picture courtesy chyangwa.net

2. Lifan Myway (#168 – 2.342 sales)

Lifan has been posting catastrophic results at home with sales down by an abysmal 74% so far in 2016 to just 15,375 units. To its credit, the manufacturer has rebooted at the Beijing Auto Show last month with *exactly* the format it needs to launch in current market conditions: a 7-seater cutthroat-priced SUV: the MyWay, also starting a new nameplate nomenclature. This the “make or break” model for the struggling manufacturer, and with a solid start at 2.342 sales, the MyWay already accounts for a whopping 44% of the brand’s sales in April. At 4.44m long and powered by a 1.5L petrol engine, it is priced between an almost impossibly low 57.300 and 73.800 yuan (US$8.700-11.200), making it no less than the cheapest 7-seater SUV in China, just below the BAIC Huansu S3 (61.800-72.800 yuan) which peaked at a stunning 20.868 sales last December.

Lifan MyWay China April 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

The MyWay also competes in price with smaller crossovers such as the BAIC Senova X25 (10.593 sales in April), Brilliance V3 (peak at 9.325), JAC Refine S2 (8.073) and Changan CS15 (5.680) but also, thanks to its boxy shape and 7 seats – and this is where Lifan’s strategy is really smart – with a slew of extraordinarily successful local 7-seater MPVs that have been trying to look more like crossovers in recent times. I’m pointing at none other than the Wuling Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan), BAIC Huansu H3 (55.800-62.800) and Karry K50 (46.800-69.800). In other words, Lifan has delivered the perfect offer to get itself out of the sales ditch it currently is in. Now consumers need to respond favourably. The brand’s other two SUV offerings’ monthly volume records are 4.011 for the X50 and 9.273 for the X60. In less desperate times, levelling with the X50 would have been good enough, but Lifan needs much more out of the MyWay.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

Cadillac XT5 China April 2016

3. Cadillac XT5 (#187 – 1.863 sales)

The Cadillac XT5 appears for the first time simultaneously in the U.S. (#231 with 304 sales) and in China in April, with its Chinese score already vastly outpacing its performance at home. A sign of things to come for the Cadillac brand, as the XT5 fully taps into the most dynamic segment in China. Produced at SAIC-GM’s Jinqiao plant in Pudong, Shanghai, at 4.81m long and powered by a 2.0T engine, the XT5 replaces the SRX and is priced at 359.900-539.900 yuan (US$54.800-82.200). It competes with the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and the imported Lexus RX and Porsche Macan. Let’s pause here for a second and stress that the XT5 starts at US$39.990 in the U.S.A – a staggering US$15.000 than in China – and ends at $63.495. Another example of foreign manufacturers marking up their Chinese offering even though they are manufactured locally at reduced cost. The best monthly score for a Cadillac in China so far is 4.054 from the XTS, matching this is a pre-requisite for success for the XT5 which is evolving in a much more potent segment.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Haval H7 China April 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

4. Haval H7 (#219 – 1.290 sales)

The H7 was unveiled a year ago at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show and finally makes its appearance in market with a shy score for now. The Haval brand is now at a crossroads and the H7 is an extremely significant test. Until now, Haval has built its success on high quality, low-priced SUVs: the H6’s historical overall pole position in April had a lot to do with a third price cut bringing its starting tariff down to 88.000 yuan (US$13.400). The H1’s price range (68.900-82.900 yuan) and the H2 (88.800-128.800) are also on the affordable end. Both have been exceptional sales successes but are now losing steam: the H1 is down 9% in April and the H2 down 25%.

It is therefore now time for Haval to look elsewhere for engines of growth, and the H7 represents the up-market direction the brand would like to take moving forward. At 4.70m long and powered by a 2.0T engine mated with a DCT gearbox, it is priced between 149.800 and 169.800 yuan (US$22.800-25.900), logically slotting above the H6 (88.800-162.800) and H6 Coupe (122.800-171.800). It also competes in price with smaller foreign SUVs such as the Honda XR-V or Hyundai ix25, a ‘real world’ test of sorts for Haval. Problem is, the brand has failed so far with its high-end lineup: the H8 (158.800-256.800) peaked at a paltry 1.373 sales while the H9 (209.800-272.800) has an all-time best of 3.066 but is now struggling to reach four-digit monthly volumes. For Haval, a lot rests on the success of the H7: the pressure is real and it will need to reach five-digit figures to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Nissan Maxima China April 2016. Picture courtesy auto.eastday.com

5. Nissan Maxima (#225 – 1.158 sales)

Nissan wants to bank on the success of the Lannia with this Maxima, the same model as the one sold in the U.S and spreading the brand’s new design language across its Chinese lineup. In China, the Maxima slots above the Teana (177.800-244.800 yuan) and is priced from 234.800 to 267.800 yuan (US$35.800-40.800). Unlike Cadillac with the XT5 above, the prices are in line with what the Maxima sells for in the U.S.A. ($33.345-40.795). The Maxima goes full frontal with the very successful Buick LaCrosse (all-time high of 11.672 monthly units), about to be refreshed, and if Nissan managed to find room in its lineup for a Lannia that matches the Sylphy in size and price, it can definitely do so for the Maxima.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Aeolus A9 China April 2016. Picture courtesy emao.com

6. Dongfeng Aeolus A9 (#337 – 148 sales)

Two years after unveiling it as “Concept 1″ at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, Dongfeng makes the plunge with the Aeolus A9, the brand’s new flagship sedan. The A9 mission isn’t volume but brand image, and so far it has succeeded in lifting up the Dongfeng marque at home (see our list of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show) and is generating dithyrambic reviews from the local press. Priced between 179.700 and 279.700 yuan (US$27.400-42.600), the A9 competes with other Chinese flagships such as the more powerful Roewe 950 (189.800-309.900) or the GAC Trumpchi GA8 (169.800-299.800). It is however helpless against the Zotye Z700 (99.800-158.800) or the very impressive Geely GC9 (119.800-229.800). If the latter hit a stunning 6.001 sales last December, the Zotye Z700 (748 sales in April) is a more realistic target as Chinese nameplates in this segment traditionally struggle to post four-digit monthly sales figures. It should be an objective for the A9 but in the end this model is not designed to break sales records, rather showcase the marque’s potential. So far so good.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

BAW BJ80 China April 2016. Picture courtesy 58che.com.cn

7. BAW BJ80 (#374 – 10 sales)

BAW just introduced this clone of Mercedes G-Class and wants to emulate the success of the B40 which peaked at 1.628 sales in June 2014. With the BJ80, BAIC is nicely expanding its “rough-as-guts” BAW lineup and can expect a solid success with the Chinese army and police forces. The general public may be more cautious however, and a stint above 1.000 monthly units at some stage during the next year would label the BJ80 as a success.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

China April 2016 article: Haval H6 first SUV to lead the overall ranking

Previous month: China March 2016: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

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

Haval H6 Coupe China April 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnFirst ever pole position for the Haval H6 thanks to sales up 43%. H6 Coupe pictured.

* See the Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands by clicking on the title *

The Chinese light vehicle market is up a very satisfying 6.5% year-on-year in April to 1.78 million units, lifting the year-to-date total up 6.7% to 7.45 million registrations. When including commercial vehicles, these figures climb to 2.122 million (+6.3%) for April and 8.65 million (+6.1%) year-to-date. While the China growth softening has been a headline subject in the past year, these results are to be compared with a 3% increase to 5.6 million units in the U.S., a market supposedly in record shape. It’s all a question of perspective… No surprises as to where the engine of Chinese growth lies this month: once again the SUV segment is the sole responsible for the market dynamism with sales up a staggering 32% to 616.524 units. MPV have significantly slowed their growth to just 5% at 177.238 deliveries while sedans are down 3% to 909.173 and microvans continue to freefall at -22% to 85.000 sales. A very symbolic illustration of the drastic consumer  towards SUVs is this month’s overall lead of the Haval H6 thanks to sales up a whopping 43% to 43.946. It is the first time in the history of automobile in China that an SUV is the overall best-selling vehicle in the country.

VW Lavida China April 2016. Picture courtesy cheshen.cnThe Lavida (+53%) helps the VW Group reclaim the overall lead off General Motors.

After being outsold by General Motors for the first time in a decade in 2015, the Volkswagen Group has now reclaimed the title of China’s largest manufacturer despite weaker year-on-year gains at 295.300 deliveries in April (+0.1%) vs. just 277.979 (+7.5%) for GM. In April, the Volkswagen brand is down 2% to 216.700, Audi is up 9% to 49.576 and Skoda up 4% to 23.800. Note CAAM-sourced data has VW up 10% to 227.710 units – potentially due to a different methodology (retail sales vs. wholesale). In the GM aisle, SUVs helped boost the carmaker’s sales with combined sales of crossovers and SUVs under the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Baojun brands up 107%. Buick is up another 56% to 98.992, Baojun up 56% to 37.915, Cadillac up 13% to 7.007 but Wuling is down 14% to 98.580 and Chevrolet down 29% to 35.431. Its solid April score enables the Volkswagen Group to get past GM year-to-date with 1.25 million deliveries (+4.8%) vs. 1.24 million for the U.S. carmaker (+1.7%).

Wuling Hongguang S1 China April 2016. Picture courtsy autohome.com.cnWuling is counting on a revised Hongguang S1 to revive lagging sales. 

The resurgence of Volkswagen is built on outstanding sedan sales, going against the overall market trend: the VW Lavida is up 53% to 41.408 units, the Jetta up 16% to 29.494, the Sagitar up 26% to 29.279 and the Magotan up 53% to 12.454. Reversely at GM, the Buick Envision is on fire again (+68%) but if the Baojun 560 was teasing the Haval H6 for the SUV title last month with a record 42.077 units, in April it is down to 24.963 while the Baojun 730 MPV drops a harsh 42% year-on-year to 15.072. Meanwhile the perennial market leader, the Wuling Hongguang, is now under attack with sales down 25% to 40.002 in third place for April and down 15% to 207.158 year-to-date vs. 200.973 (+18%) for the VW Lavida. Wuling and Baojun were offering very aggressive price cuts across their entire micro and minivan lineup in April while I was in the country, and Wuling just unveiled a facelifted version of the one year-old Hongguang S1, taking design cues from the SUV segment (pictured above).

Honda XR-V China April 2016. Picture courtesy autosohu.com.cnThe Honda XR-V sells a record 16.072 units in April. 

Among other brands, Honda is by far the most impressive with sales up 23% to 96.393 (CAAM figures) leading to a 35% year-to-date increase at 326.583. Toyota is up 9% to 101.100, with its year-to-date total up 22% to 392.100, Hyundai is up 7% to 96.222 but Nissan is up just 0.7% to 96.200 (including Infiniti and Venucia), in line with a meagre 0.8% year-to-date increase at 394.800 units. Among Chinese brands, Changan is up 19% to 88.526, while Great Wall is up just 2% to 79.607 as the company is now struggling to sell anything other than the top-selling Haval H6 SUV and the H7 just hit the market (more on this shortly). Great Wall-branded cars are down 76% while Haval is up 19%. BAIC is up 53% to 50.358, riding on the success of Huansu and Senova-branded crossovers and MPV, and Geely is up 11% to 44.668 thanks to the success of its low-priced sedans and the gearing-up of the Boyue SUV.

Land Rover Discovery China April 2016The Land Rover Discovery Sport is manufactured in China. 

In the luxury aisle, below Audi up 9% to 49.576, Mercedes overtakes archenemy BMW thanks to sales up 32% to 35.625 while BMW posts an uncharacteristic 7.4% drop to 35.100 units due to the X1 generation changeover. Year-to-date, Audi is up 5.9% to 189.611, BMW up 6% to 162.221 and Mercedes up 35% to 142.266. Jaguar Land Rover is finally reporting China-made sales albeit not the model split between the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The group’s sales are up 10% year-on-year in April to 9.135, 54% of which are produced locally vs. a 41% ratio in February. So far this year, JLR sales are up 17% to 37.099. Later this year, the very first Jaguar to be made in China, the XFL, will be launched.

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China April 2016The GAC Trumpchi GS4 has sold 230.000 units in one year. 

In other model news, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 breaks back into the Top 10 to hit an all-time best 8th place overall thanks to 25.073 sales, adding up to just under 230.000 in 12 months: an incredible success putting the GAC Trumpchi brand on the map. The Honda XR-V is up 84% to hit a record 16.072 units, becoming the single best-selling Honda nameplate in China for the first time. Adding sales of its twin Vezel (+57%) brings the April total for Honda’s small crossovers to 30.265, equivalent to an extremely impressive 4th place overall this month. The Honda CR-V (+47%) even benefits from this smashing success. Notice also the Zotye T600 is up 27% and another list of models breaking their volume record this month: the Chana Oushang (11.784), Beijing Auto Senova X25 (10.593), Jeep Cherokee (9.201), Changan CS15 (5.680), Zotye SR7 (5.068) and Chana CX70 (4.285).

Chery Arrizo 5 China April 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cnChery Arrizo 5 sales are up 49% on last month to 8.109. 

Among the numerous China-made nameplates launched last month, the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong improves 32% and 33 spots on an already stunning start to 14.665 units (#25), the Chery Arrizo 5 logically surges 49% to 8.109 (#71), the Kia KX5 is up 30% to 7.813, the Geely Boyue soars 293% to 4.002 deliveries, still a far cry from my 20.000 monthly sales bar for success for this nameplate but already the brand’s best-selling SUV. The BYD Yuan is turning out to be yet another SUV success for the brand, up 254% to 3.109, the Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 is up 996% to 2.061 units and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is up 54% to 1.709. Reversely the Renault Kadjar is down 40% to 1.641, the Qoros 5 SUV is down 4% to 1.178, the Changhe Q25 up just 5% to 829.

Previous month: China March 2016: Haval H6 and Baojun 560 beat records, market up 9%

One year ago: China April 2015: Growth cool down and SUV surge accentuate

Full April 2016 Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands below.

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China LCV April 2016: Mini Trucks surge 39%, Pickups back in positive

Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck China April 2016. Picture courtesy 360che.comThe Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck breaks into the Top 10 in April

* See the Top 55 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

As part of a partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, today we share with you detailed data for the light commercials market in China with complete Minivan, Pickup and Mini Truck data by model as well as selected light truck/bus data provided by LMC Automotive. Light commercials as a whole are down just 6% in April at 325.126 units compared to -10% year-to-date to 1.175.842 according to LMC. In the detail, minivans are once again in freefall at -19% to 62.146 and -30% to 233.377 so far this year and mini trucks are absorbing these lapsed buyers as it has been the case for over a year now with sales up 39% to 49.152, an even higher increase rate than year-to-date at +23% to 169.024. Finally, pickup trucks confirm their resurgence by posting their first year-on-year gains in over two years at +0.7% to 30.989 vs. -6% and 113.141 year-to-date, the result of a much anticipated change in legislation allowing pickup trucks in the large cities of four provinces for the first time in 12 years (see our February China LCV report for more detail).

Chana F30 Pickup China April 2016Chana Shenqi F30 Pickup

The Foton Light Truck remains in the lead with 25.028 sales while the cheapest Wuling minivans are brought back to life by reduced prices: the Sunshine is up 11% to #2 and the Rongguang is up 10% to #5. On the other hand the more recent Hongguang V is down 17% to #4. With the Mini Truck up 25% to #3, Wuling places its four nameplates inside the Top 5. The Chana Star Mini Truck is up a flamboyant 52% to #8 and the Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck breaks into the Top 10 at #9, confirming mini trucks are the new default LCV in China, contrasting with the Chana Star Minibus imploding 78% to #18. Notice also the Great Wall Wingle 6 up 51% to #21 and the Chana Shenqi F-Series Pickup appearing at #30.

Previous month: China LCV March 2016: Mini Trucks shoot up 31% led by Wuling

One year ago: China LCV April 2015: Wuling Hongguang V takes control

Full April 2016 Top 55 models Ranking Table below.

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

Wuling Mini Truck China March 2016The Wuling Minitruck (+39%) illustrates a strong sales transfer from microvans to micro pickups.

* See the Top 55 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

As part of a partnership with Chinese consultancy Cedars, we can share with you detailed data for the March light commercial vehicle market in China with complete Minivan, Pickup and Mini Truck data by model as well as selected light truck/bus data provided by LMC Automotive. Minivans somehow slow down their freefall in March at ‘just’ -25% to 70.876 units, pulling the year-to-date total down 34% to 173.907. In contrast, illustrating the micro-van to micro-pickup trend currently at play in China, the Mini Truck segment (=micro pickups) performs brilliantly this month at +31% to 48.103 units and +18% year-to-date at 120.033. One-tonne pickups slow their fall down further at just -2% in February (33.775) vs. -9% so far in 2016 (81.467), potentially the result of a much anticipated change in legislation allowing pickup trucks in the large cities of four provinces for the first time in 12 years (see our February China LCV report for more detail).

Wuling Sunshine S China March 2016Wuling Sunshine lineup China March 2016Wuling Sunshine S (up) and Sunshine lineup (down)

The Foton Light Truck (grouping all pickups sold under the Forland brand) takes the year-to-date lead thanks to 31.647 sales in March and despite a 10% year-on-year drop, but it’s below that the movements are more interesting the Wuling Mini Truck is up a flamboyant 39% year-on-year to 31.700 units, contrasting with the Hongguang V already sinking 43% and the Rongguang down 21% (the latter two being microvans). The only microvan to somewhat resist the hecatomb is the Sunshine (-9%), due to the launch in H2 2015 of a facelifted variant baptised “S” as is now the norm at Wuling. Further down, the JMC Light Truck (+11%), Chana Star Mini Truck (+26%) and Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck (+56%) also post strong results, as does the Great Wall Wingle 6 (+74%).

Previous post: China LCV January-February 2016: Pickups about to bounce back?

One year ago: China LCV March 2015: Wuling Hongguang V cracks 30.000 sales

Full March 2016 Top 55 models Ranking Table below.

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China March 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Hyundai Elantra Lingdong China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnHyundai Elantra Lingdong

After a break in February due to the Lunar New Year, the Chinese market is back on its unstoppable race to launch ever more models produced locally. In March, a record 12 new China-made nameplates have hit dealerships across the country, almost all of them with big potential. This month we welcome French carmaker Renault in the growing list of worldwide manufacturers now producing in China.

Hyundai Elantra Four generations China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnHyundai now has four generations of Elantra in simultaneous production in China.

1. Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (#58 – 11.103 sales)

A first month above 10.000 units is a rarity in China: the last nameplate to have managed this feat is the Baojun 730 at 12.006 in August 2014, to then be met with the ground-breaking success we have witnessed in the past 18 months. But the new generation Hyundai Elantra – in essence the worldwide model we all know – is the last one in a line of extremely successful models in China. So successful in fact, that Hyundai has kept in production to this day every single generation of Elantra it has launched here in the past 12 years. The 2000 model, launched in December 2003 here, climbed up to 2nd place overall in 2005 just below the FAW Xiali and is kept on life support solely for Beijing taxi companies. The 2006 model, baptised Elantra Yuedong, launched in March 2008 with 11.023 sales, hit 26.034 units in March 2010 and went on to peak at #3 overall in 2009 and 2010.

Finally, the Elantra Langdong launched in August 2013 with 11.613 units, peaking at 35.654 in December 2015 and #10 over FY2015. Only 30 months after the previous generation launch, a fourth Elantra is now available in China – baptised Elantra Lingdong – and at 11.103 units its volume start is in line with the previous two generations. The first two generations only generate a few hundred sales a month so they won’t be any competition of the new model. To be deemed a success, it will have to at least reach 25.000 monthly units. A stint above 40.000 monthly sales would make it the most successful Hyundai in the 15 year-presence of the Korean manufacturer in China.

Bar for success: 25.000 monthly sales

Kia KX5 China March 2016. Picture courtesy car.bitauto.com

2. Kia KX5 (#106 – 6.001 sales)

Despite shy sales so far in 2016, Kia has been very successful at aggressively expanding its SUV lineup to suit the changing tastes of the Chinese consumer. The carmaker launched the China-exclusive KX3 one year ago in March 2015, accumulating over 65.000 sales since. Similarly to sister brand Hyundai with the Elantra, Kia is keeping the previous two generations of Sportage in its lineup and has therefore chosen to name the new model KX5 to give room to the previous two. The 2010 Sportage (baptised Sportage R) peaked at 11.326 sales last December and the 2004 model hit a personal best of 6.810 units in June 2010, so in this context the KX5 start is excellent. Interestingly, Kia does not price-cut the 2004 Sportage (159.800-238.800 yuan) vs. the Sportage R (164.800-249.800) aiming the former at 3rd and 4th tier cities and the countryside. Hitting 10.000 monthly sales regularly would establish the KX5 as a step-up from the previous two generations, but depending on how well the two Sportage hold on, it may not need to hit that high a figure to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

Chery Arrizo 5

3. Chery Arrizo 5 (#119 – 5.456 sales)

Unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the Arrizo 5 is the fourth nameplate to bear the more upmarket sub-brand label from Chery. The previous three have been painful flops but that hasn’t deterred Chery to insist with the Arrizo sub-brand. To the carmaker’s credit, the 5 marks a notable improvement in design and interior quality and clearly has the best chances of success so far. The Chinese customer agrees: with 5.456 sales for its first month the 5 signs the best monthly volume of any Arrizo model: the 7 peaked at 4.251 units in January 2014, the 3 at 3.944 in January 2015 and the M7 at 1.434 in April 2015. The Arrizo 5 is also the third best-selling Chery in China this month below the Fulwin 2 (6.549) and Tiggo 3 (5.932). If this launch level is maintained in the long term, Chery could start having a good case in its hand to transform its Arrizo sub-brand into a full blown brand in the way Great Wall did with Haval and also in the way they are thinking of doing with the Tiggo sub-brand to compensate for the sinking brand image Chery is handicapped with at home. Based on the previous Arrizo launches, the 5 is already a success, and will cement this status if it can maintain this level in the long run.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

Renault Kadjar China March 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn

4. Renault Kadjar (#166 – 2.753 sales)

With Subaru, Renault was the last OEM to not have a factory in China. Thanks to a long-time coming partnership with Dongfeng – the same company that also has joint-ventures with the two other French manufacturers Peugeot and Citroen – Renault finally enters the China-made scene this month, and with a splash at that. Choosing to discard its immensely successful entry range (Duster-Logan-Sandero-Kwid), Renault has opted for a French sophistication positioning in China. Following the success of the imported Koleos SUV (15.000 sales in 2015), the French carmaker is building a strong SUV lineup: after the imported Captur launched last July, the Kadjar is the first China-made Renault, produced in a shining new plant in Wuhan with an initial annual capacity of 150.000 units that can be doubled if there is enough local demand.

The new generation Koleos will follow in H2 after making its first appearance at the Beijing Auto Show next week. The Kadjar immediately raises the bar for Renault: it sells 2.753 units for its introductory month, to be compared with 1.500 at best for the Koleos. 7.500 monthly sales will establish Renault as a solid player in the SUV game, with stretch targets being the Nissan Qashqai (averaging 9.000 sales over the past 4 months) and the Hyundai Tucson (15.000 deliveries in March). These targets may seem a tad ambitious given the other China-made compact French SUV, the Peugeot 3008, has a monthly best of 7.352 units and PSA Peugeot-Citroen has been a local producer of close to 30 years. However Carlos Ghosn announced in 2014 that Renault could aim at 800,000 annual sales in China. The success or lack thereof of the Kadjar is therefore capital for Renault to hit its ambitious long-term sales plans, as it will be for the foreseeable future the main volume-maker for the brand.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

Qoros 5 SUV China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.lcxw.cnQoros 5 SUV China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.ks.js.cn

5. Qoros 5 SUV (#218 – 1.232 sales)

Aimed at tricking a wealthy Chinese clientele into believing this is a European brand, Qoros was born out of a joint-venture between Chery and an Israeli investment company. So far, a lot of money has been spent with not much success: Qoros posted a 2.2 billion yuan loss in 2014 (US$ 340 million), a figure that worsened to 2.5 billion yuan in 2015 ($385m). An introduction to Europe was aborted in 2014 faced with one-digit monthly sales figures in Slovakia, the brand’s test market. To Qoros’ credit, the carmaker understands its survival relies fully on the SUV segment. After a faked attempt at approaching the category with the Qoros 3 “SUV” a mere plastic-ed up variant of the Qoros 3 hatchback, the brand means business with the outlandishly-designed 5 SUV. So far so good: its introductory month sales figure is high. The 3’s best stands at 914 and the 3 SUV at 1.335, so at 1.232 the 5 SUV delivers the 2nd best-ever month for a Qoros nameplate. After delivering 14.000 sales in 2015 Qoros is aiming at “30.000 to 50.000″ in 2016. The road to profitability is a long and tortuous one though, so the 5 SUV will need to not only confirm this launch figure but improve on it drastically to maintain the brand’s chances of survival intact.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Picture courtesy auto.qq.com

6. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (#225 – 1.107 sales)

After the 3 Series L, 5 Series L and X1 crossover, the 2 Series Active Tourer is only the fourth BMW nameplate to be produced locally. As an import, the 2 Series nameplate sold 13.469 units in China in 2015, making it one of the 20 most popular imports in the country and BMW’s third best-selling import below the X5 (39.000) and X3 (30.000). Assuming that a large majority of these sales come from the Active Tourer variant, it is interesting to note that the Mercedes B-Class, also imported, sold roughly the same amount last year. As import data has only been made available recently, there are no robust data trends indicating an average sales lift when a model that was previously imported kick starts local production, but it’s safe to table on a 3-fold increase in sales, which would put the locally-produced Active Tourer around 3.500 monthly deliveries. Any more and this is a success. The 2 Series Active Tourer enters the China-made market with no real competitors as this is a new format for Chinese buyers, making forecasting sales a difficult task. Note the Chinese Automobile Association of Manufacturers incorrectly categorises it as a sedan: it should be an MPV.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Geely Boyue China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.qq.com

7. Geely Boyue (#227 – 1.018 sales)

Finally. Since its takeover of Volvo, Chinese carmaker Geely has managed to streamline its brand stable to just its own and improve drastically its sedan lineup to go against the grain of the Chinese market and increase its sales. The EC7, Vision and King Kong all deliver sizeable volumes each month in a depressed segment and the GC9 has astonished with its interior quality and sleek design. All of this was achieved without a serious offer in the booming SUV segment, the GX7 featuring outdated design and mechanics. Geely’s much anticipated SUV offer based on the GC9 platform, the Boyue, has now hit dealerships and expectations are sky high. Playing in the larger end of the SUV segment and competing with Haval and Toyota to name but the best, the Boyue has by far the highest potential of any new March launches.

Geely Boyue China March 2016. Picture courtesy of auto.qq.com

In the past 18 months, an astounding number of Chinese carmakers have completely reversed their fortunes on the sole basis of their new SUV lineup. MG, Brilliance, GAC Trumpchi are some examples. The pent-up demand for a modern Geely SUV should be very high and its price range places it right in the middle of the hottest-selling SUV segment in China. At 4.52m long it ranges from 98.800 to 157.800 yuan (US$ 15.200 – 24.300), in direct competition with the 4.62m Haval H6 (88.800 – 141.800 yuan), 4.51m GAC Trumpchi GS4 (99.800 – 146.800 yuan) and 4.65m Changan CS 75 (108.800 – 143.800 yuan). These nameplates are some of the most successful of the past few months, with respective record monthly volumes of 46.075, 30.512 and 27.842 units. We should therefore expect at least 20.000 monthly units from the Boyue, with 30.000 in a good month a reasonable stretch target.

Bar for success: 20.000 monthly sales

88. BYD Song YuanBYD Yuan at the Shanghai Auto Show 2015 

8. BYD Yuan (#243 – 878 sales)

After the Tang (June 2015) and the Song (August 2015), BYD continues to expand its dynasty series with its smallest SUV yet: the Yuan, unveiled at last year’s Shanghai Auto Show. The SUV share in total BYD sales keep increasing, reaching 45% in March. If all goes well the Yuan should improve this further. It is however a test for BYD who has never sold such a small SUV. It is priced competitively at 59.900 – 121.900 yuan (US$ 9.200 – 18.800) for the petrol version, with the hybrid variant a lot more expensive at 209.800 – 249.000 yuan ($32.400 – 38.400). So far the Tang’s best month has been 5.503 sales and the Song 6.513 units, regularly ranking at #2 and #3 BYD SUV below the S7. The Yuan should at least aim at the same level to be deemed a success, but a peak around 10.000 monthly deliveries would be a welcome breath of fresh air for the brand, losing 11% year-on-year in March.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Changhe Q25 China March 2016. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cnChanghe Q25 China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

9. Changhe Q25 (#251 – 791 sales)

Another model unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the Changhe Q25 is in fact the twin sister of the Beijing Auto Senova X25. Changhe is indeed a subsidiary of BAIC. Not famous for pleasant designs and a microvan specialist, Changhe is engaged in a joint-venture with Suzuki and has been relatively discreet in recent years. Its Freedom M50 MPV, launched in January 2015, is slowly creeping up the ladder and sold a record 4.761 units last December. Changhe productions also include the Suzuki Beidouxing and Liana. Somewhat surprisingly, this Q25 is actually nicer on the eye than the Senova X25 but the brand’s limited reach, appeal and experience in passenger cars will probably prevent it from reaching 10.000 units as the X25 did this month. A step in the right direction for this small manufacturer though.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

Weichai Enranger 727 China March 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn
10. Weichai Enranger 727 (#272 – 583 sales)

It’s all guns blazing for newcomer Weichai Enranger: after the G3 crossover last July and the 737 MPV last September, the 727 is the brand’s third launch in nine months. The first spy pictures of its models appeared in 2014, so Weichai took some time to bring them to market but now that it has, nothing seems to be able to stop the new carmaker. If the G3 plateaued at 1.506 sales for its second month in market, the 737 has managed to make its mark in the MPV segment, hitting 5.179 deliveries last December but down to 1.937 in March. This is a good sign for the 727 which will logically be priced even more attractively, although not much information has seeped out about this new entry yet.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.ks.js.cnBeijing Auto Weiwang S50 China March 2016. Picture courtesy of auto.ks.js.cn

11. Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 (#325 – 188 sales)

Not learning any lessons from Geely’s aborted experience, Beijing Auto is currently juggling with a handful of different brands and replicating models across them at lightning speed. Even more strikingly than the BAIC Senova X25 and Changhe Q25 (see above), this new Weiwang S50 is an almost identical re-badge of the Senova X65, Huansu S6 and Borgward BX7. We should now consider the Weiwang and Huansu sub-brands as full-blown brands as their respective lineups (four nameplates each) is starting to hold ground and they both feature specific logos. Senova for its part features the BAIC logo. And Borgward is a different carmaker altogether using a German brand but financed by BAIC. Confusing much?

The S50 is positioned below the X25 and S6 in price, starting at 95.000 yuan (US$ 14.700) vs. 106.800. Weiwang’s strength so far has been in the microvan and MPV segment with 23.344 units hit last December by the M30 MPV. Its other SUV entry, the 007, is a total flop. Among BAIC brands, Huansu and Senova have been widely more successful, so it will be very hard for the S50 to single-handedly expand the Weiwang brand into the hotly-contested SUV segment. But anything is possible in China.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

DS 4S China March 2016. Picture courtesy lcxw.cn

12. DS 4S (#349 – 72 sales)

While the entire Chinese market has its sights firmly set on SUVs, French upscale brand DS continues to launch highly unadapted nameplates such as this 4S hatchback. According to the French press, the DS brand is a flamboyant success in China where it was born as a standalone brand rather than a premium lineup inside the Citroen range. The China hype was so loud that DS is now also a standalone brand in Europe. Yet looking at Chinese sales figures, it’s hard to see any sign of “flamboyant” success: 1.355 sales in March and less than 5.000 over the first quarter. Pure importer Lexus sells five times that.

The brand’s best-seller is, logically, its sole SUV: the DS 6, exclusive to China. After peaking at a reasonable 3.325 sales for its third month in market back in December 2014, it has repeatedly fallen well below 2.000 units ever since and is now down to a paltry 887 deliveries for March. The 5 and 5LS hardly register at all, with 123 and 273 units respectively this month. It’s time for another SUV or three. Well no, you can have a hatchback. To justify the brand’s existence in China, the 4S will have to reach at least 3.500 monthly sales, and stay there in the long term. An almost impossible task, as its inaugural month, at 72 units, is in line with the current performance of the other nameplates in the lineup.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

Previous month: China February 2016: Focus on the All-new models

China March 2016: Haval H6 & Baojun 560 beat records, market up 9%

Haval H6 Coupe China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnA record 46.075 Haval H6 found a new home in China last month.

* See the Top 70 All China-made brands and Top 380 All-models by clicking on the title *

After a month of February weakened by the Lunar New Year celebrations, the Chinese new car market is back to double-digit year-on-year gains in March with sales up 10% to 2.06 million units according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, lifting the first quarter total up a very dynamic 7% to 5.67 million units. Once again, crossovers and SUVs are the main force driving the market with deliveries soaring 45% to 693.100 units, while MPVs surge 18% to 234.200 thanks to a series of new models hitting cruising speeds. On the other hand, sedans are down again at -3% to 1.04 million units and microvans are soon to be a thing of the past at -28% to 89.600 sales. 1.46 million cars with engines at or below 1.6L were sold in March or 71% of the passenger car total, a similar percentage of that of the previous two months, showing that the market is still boosted by the halving of the purchase tax for these vehicles by the government last October.

Baojun 560 China March 2016b. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnThe SAIC-GM joint-venture has hit the bullseye with the Baojun 560.

The overall market is up 9% to 2.44 million and up 6% so far in 2016 to 6.53 million units, on a course to hit a record 26 million sales by the end of the year. Group-wise (figures include imports and LCV and differ from the brands table below), Volkswagen Group improves by 4% to 328.000 sales in March and up 6% to 955.500 cars year-to-date, lagging behind archenemy General Motors up 0.2% to 963.652 units despite sales down 0.6% in March to 296.939. Chevrolet deliveries are down 19% to 33.320 while Buick is up 3% to 72.886 and Cadillac up 14% to 7.588. GM’s two low-cost brands in joint-venture with SAIC fare on two opposite ways of the spectrum: microvan specialist Wuling is down 11% to 138,079 units and its best-seller the Hongguang down 17% to 55.924 units, now threatened for #1 overall YTD position by the VW Lavida (167.156 vs. 159.555). Baojun on the other hand is up 110% to 72.069 sales thanks to the incredible success of its 560 SUV (see below).

Ford Mondeo China March 2016. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comFord Motor sales top Nissan, Toyota and Honda. 

Ford Motor Co is up 5% to 114.788 sales thanks to the success of its recently-expanded SUV lineup (+29% to 26.732 sales), Nissan Motor is up 0.5% to 110.200 units, Toyota Motor is up a whopping 41% to 100.500 sales and Honda Motor up 15% to 97.004. Year-to-date, Toyota is up 28% to 291.000 sales, Honda up 11% and Nissan up just 0.8% to 298.000. In the luxury aisle, Audi’s leadership is threatened: the German brand sold 139.540 units so far in 2016, or a 5% increase year-on-year. In comparison, BMW is up 11% to 127.105 and Mercedes is up 36% to 106.641 (+27% to 38.133 in March). Up one notch in prestige, Porsche sales are up 24% to 16.409 units thanks to the continued success of the Cayenne and Macan. Note Mercedes sales include Smart and BMW deliveries include Mini and Rolls-Royce.

Geely King Kong China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnGeely King Kong – Geely sales are up 3% in March.

Among Chinese manufacturers, both Geely and Great Wall Motors underperform vs. the market at +3% each. What’s worse is that these meagre increases were secured on the back of steep price cuts. On March 12, Great Wall cut the price of its best-selling nameplate, the Haval H6, by more than 10%: the third price cut for the model, which now starts at 88.000 yuan (US$13.600). Great Wall is pushing hard to keep the H6’s title of best-selling SUV in the country: even though it post a new monthly volume record at 46.075 units (+47%), the H6 is under threat from the Baojun 560, also lodging a new all-time high at 42.077 in March. For comparison, the Baojun 730 MPV’s highest monthly volume is 47.690, reached last December. Note Haval is only up (+15%) thanks to the H6, with the rest of its lineup in decline: most notably the H1 is down 4% and the H2 down 33%.

Changfeng Leopaard CS10 China March 2016. Picture courtesy jingyannet.comThe Leopaard CS10 is lifting the Changfeng brand up to unheard-of heights.

In the China-made brands ranking (excluding commercial vehicles), Changan manages to hold onto the 2nd spot overall with 104.913 sales (+7%), holding off – in this order – Hyundai, Toyota, Buick, Honda, Ford and Nissan, all above 85.000 units and all bar Hyundai delivering double-digit year-on-year gains. Baojun (+110%) is the #2 Chinese passenger car brand above Haval (+15%), Wuling (-18%) and Dongfeng (-0.1%). GAC Trumpchi (+179%), Brilliance (+70%), MG (+61%), Zotye (+36%), Landwind (+335%) and Changfeng (+704%) deliver spectacular gains solely thanks to their SUV lineup. Also of note is the precarious situation of Lifan, down 77% year-on-year in March and 78% year-to-date, with only the Lotto MPV (+23%) keeping its head above the water, whereas even the brand’s SUVs implode: the X60 is down 73% and the X50 down 88%. Finally, French carmaker Renault makes its very first appearance inside the China-made brands ranking – we analyse this in our All-new models focus update.

VW Lamando China March 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cnThe VW Lamando hits a record 16.452 sales in March. 

Over in the models ranking, the VW Lavida manages to stay at #1 for a second consecutive month thanks to its recent refresh with sales up an impressive 36% to 56.557. A handful of other VW models also perform exceptionally well this month, confirming that the emissions scandal effect has passed in China: the Sagitar is up 46% to #6, the Tiguan and Golf are both up 19%, the Lamando is up 186% to a best-ever 16.452 units and the Magotan is up 80%. On theatre hand, the Santana is down 4% and the Bora down 16% ahead of its own refresh hitting Chinese dealerships in April. After a very shy start of 2016, the Nissan Sylphy is back up where it belongs at #5 with 33.266 sales (+30%), the Toyota Corolla is up 62% to 30.075 units and the Buick Excelle GT up 35% to 28.194 but the Ford Escort is down 3% to #13, yet still ahead of the Focus (#18).

Beijing Auto Senova X25 China March 2016. Picture courtesy aaachina.comFirst month over 10.000 sales for the BAIC Senova X25. 

The SUV category is once again dominated by Chinese fares: below the Haval H6 and Baojun 560 we find the GAC Trumpchi GS4 lodging another very impressive month (28.051) and accounting for a monopolistic 93% of the brand’s sales in China, the Changan CS75 (22.037) and JAC Refine S3 (20.097). Almost exactly at the same level, the VW Tiguan (18.405) and Buick Envision (18.399)  are the most popular foreign SUVs. Below, notice the Hyundai Tucson brilliantly breaking its personal best at 15.201 sales, the Zotye X5 now the brand’s best-seller at 11.031, the Beijing Auto Senova X25 posting its first 5-digit monthly volume at 10.126 and the Landwind lineup doing the same (10.001) thanks to the success of its Range Rover Evoque clone, the X7. Produced locally since last November, the Jeep Cherokee is getting close to hitting the same milestone with a record 9.004 sales this month. Finally, let’s single out the Changfeng Leopaard CS10 taking the brand to new heights: up to a best-ever 8.065 sales.

Dongfeng Fengshen AX3 China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnDongfeng Fengshen AX3 

The MPV segment (+18%) is only gaining ground because of clones of its best-seller the Wuling Hongguang hitting cruise speed. The Hongguang itself is down 17%, the Baojun 730 is down 6% and steps out of the Top 10 for the first time since last November and the Chana Honor is down 13% to #19. In contrast, the Dongfeng Fengguang 330/370 is up 9%, the Beijing Auto Weiwang M30 is up 2% to 14.355, the Changan Oushang posts its first 5-digit sales figure only four months after launch (11.164), the Karry K50 does the same at #66 (10.904) and both the Beijing Auto Huansu H3 (7.511 deliveries in its 6th month) and the Dongfeng Fengxing S500 (7.060 in its 4th month) deliver robust performances.

Changan CS15 China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cnChangan CS15

Among other recent launches, the Dongfeng Fengshen AX3 is up 269% on its February score to 4.055 sales at #134, the Changan CS15 takes off at 3.339 sales (#146) after two months of double-digit pre-sales, the Zotye SR7, an almost picture perfect clone of the Audi Q3, progresses to 3.087 units from 1.536 during its initial month in market in February but the Chevrolet Lova RV is stuck outside the Top 200 with just 1.144 sales. After a respite last month due to the Lunar New Year holiday, the Chinese market has absorbed no less than 12 new China-made nameplates in March. We analyse them in detail in a separate update.

Previous month: China February 2016: VW Lavida #1 but 8 in Top 12 are Chinese

One year ago: China March 2015: Ford Escort in Top 10, outsells Focus

Full March 2016 Top 380 All China-made models below.

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China Full Year 2015: Exclusive imported models ranking now available

BMW X5 China 2015The BMW X5 is the best-selling imported vehicle in China in 2015, displacing the Toyota Prado.

* See the Top 310 All-imported models Ranking Table by clicking on the title *

This is it. If a couple of days ago we reported on the U.S. last frontier, Alaska, Chinese imports are the automotive sales last frontier, a very secretive part of the worldwide market representing over one million annual units. Now BSCB has reached this frontier for you as we managed to obtain rare monthly import figures. Chinese customs and importers associations only started releasing complete import figures in June 2015 for 180 models, expanding it to all imports from July. No media outside of China has ever reported on these complete figures, and BSCB is the first to do so, in line with our pledge to improve coverage of the Chinese market. You can also see model rankings by province here. The annual imports data is an estimate based on June-December official sales and seasonally adjusted sales for the first 5 months of the year. From now on BSCB will report on Chinese imports monthly, with a 1.5 month delay necessary to allow accounting from customs data. January 2016 data will therefore be available around mid-April.

Audi Q7 China 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.comAudi Q7 – 14 of the 30 best-selling imports in China are luxury SUVs.

An estimated 1.007.088 imports found a buyer in China in 2015, including 247.338 during Q4 and 83.173 in December alone. The first striking observation when looking at the best-selling imports in China in 2015 is the implacable domination of SUVs: no less than 17 of the 20 best-sellers belong to this segment with the Lexus ES, Mercedes S-Class and Mini 3 Door the only non-SUVs in the Top 20… The top of the imports ranking is very volatile with a handful of nameplates claiming the year-to-date pole position all through the year. The Toyota Prado, also assembled locally, started the yea with a bang at over 10.000 sales during the first two months, but ends the year at #2. Leader throughout most of 2015, the Jeep Compass loses its title as its sales crumbled down in the wake of the local production kick-start of the Jeep Cherokee which immediately and logically became the brand’s best-seller in China. The Compass ranked at a low #23 in December and ends 2015 in third place.

Lexus ES China 2015. Picture courtesy mydrivers.comThe Lexus ES was the #1 import over the fourth quarter of 2015. 

It’s a luxury SUV, the BMW X5, that holds the title of best-selling imported vehicle in China in 2015 with an estimated 39.309 units sold across the country. The BMW X3 follows closely in 5th place while the Mercedes M-Class, Porsche Macan, Lexus NX and Porsche Cayenne also break into the Top 10, making it six luxury SUV among China’s ten favourite imports… Note the Lexus NX was released in December 2015 and became an instant blockbuster for the Japanese marque at #8 overall and #3 in Q4. Further down, the Cadillac SRX, Range Rover Sport, Audi Q7 and VW Touareg bring the luxury SUV tally to 11 inside the Top 20. The best-selling imported passenger car, the Lexus ES, is 4th with 33.164 sales but has geared up towards the end of the year: it ranked #1 both over the 4th Quarter and in December and could pretend to the overall title in 2016.

Lincoln MKC China 2015The Lincoln MKC is among China’s top 50 imports. 

The Renault Koleos is the brand’s best-seller in China at #18 overall, and it will be interesting to follow the Koleos’s sales curve as the locally-produced Kadjar kick start sales in the country and the smaller Captur, unveiled in July, continues to climb up the ladder (it was #53 in December). Recently-launched Lincoln places the MKC at #45 with 7.724 sales, the Ford Mustang hits a beautiful 56th spot with 5.622 sales and the Tesla Model S is at #72 with 3.557 units. A few nameplates launched in 2015 but their number is nowhere near the slew of locally-produced models hitting Chinese dealerships each month. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is by far the most popular at #35 with over 10.000 units sold this year, but let’s also single out the Jaguar at #133, the Mercedes GLE at #134 (#75 in December), the Kia Carnival at #159 and the Mercedes GLE Coupe at #165.

Previous post: China September 2015: Discover imported models data (BSCB Exclusive)

Previous year: China Full Year 2014: Toyota Prado best-selling import

Full Year 2015 Top 310 All-imported models Ranking Table below.

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China LCV January-February 2016: Pickups about to bounce back?

Huanghai N1 Series China February 2016Huanghai N1 Series – one tonne pickups could bounce back in 2016. 

* See the Top 50 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

As part of a partnership with Chinese consultant Cedars, we can share with you detailed data for the light commercial vehicle market in China with complete Minivan, Pickup and Mini Truck data by model as well as selected light truck/bus data provided by LMC Automotive. Minivans continue their freeflall in this start of 2016 with just 46.938 sales in February (-39%) and 103.513 year-to-date (-38%). The Mini Truck segment (=micro pickups) is once again the only one in positive at +7% in February (30.263) and +9% year-to-date (71.038) while Pickups slow down their fall at -9% in February (18.753) vs. -12% so far in 2016 (47.576) and this could be due to a much anticipated change in legislation by the Chinese government, a very significant development we go into much detail about further down.

Version 2The Wuling Mini Truck is the best-selling LCV in China so far in 2016. 

In the general ranking, the JAC Light Truck – including all of the brand’s medium pickups – surges 68% to lead the February charts with 18.687 but the Wuling Mini Truck, up 27% this month to 16.102 units, remains #1 year-to-date at 35.091 registrations (+13%). The Foton Light Truck (-5%) rounds up the podium, distancing a slew of freefalling minivans: the Chana Star (-40%), Wuling Sunshine (-44%), Hongguang V (-42%) and Rongguang (+2%).

China PC+LCV – February 2016:

Pos Model Pos Model
1 VW Lavida 9 JAC Light Truck
2 Wuling Hongguang 10 Dongfeng Fengguang
3 Haval H6 11 JAC Refine S3
4 Baojun 560 12 Chana Honor
5 Baojun 730 13 ChangAn CS75
6 VW Sagitar 14 Toyota Corolla
7 VW Santana 15 VW Jetta
8 Buick Excelle GT 16 Wuling Mini Truck

The LCV category adds two local nameplates in the overall Top 20 models ranking for February, lifting the Chinese models tally to 10 inside the Top 16 best-sellers, an all-time record as far as BSCB files show. See the full report on Passenger Cars sales for February 2016 here.

Dongfeng Rich China February 2016. Picture courtest xgo.com.cnDongfeng Rich. Picture courtesy xgo.com.cn

In our May 2015 report Where is China headed? we described one-tonne pickups as the largest untapped segment within the Chinese market. The reason: the 2003 Road Traffic Safety Law banning pickups from entering most Chinese cities on grounds of pollution and congestion which has muffled their sales since. At the time, we said the abolition of such restrictive laws is “a matter of when rather than if”. This moment has already arrived, with Beijing deciding last month to lift the ban in four provinces as part of a pilot project: Henan, Hebei (north), Liaoning (northeast) and Yunnan (southwest) which have a combined population of 250 million people. This is very big news for the Chinese pickup market and local manufacturers.

Great Wall Wingle 6 China February 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.comHebei is the home of Great Wall, the #1 pickup manufacturer in China.

The Hebei province is the home of the two main Chinese pickup manufacturers: Great Wall and ZX Auto, Henan is home to Zhengzhou Nissan, with Liaoning and Yunnan other strong pickup assembling hubs. According to Automotive News China, the Chinese government will likely ask other provinces to allow pickups in their cities too in the near future. Then, the gold rush could finally start and foreign manufacturers could at last enter the local market. Only Nissan is taking part for now despite very high pent-up demand, as demonstrated by the presence of the Ford F-150 Raptor and Toyota Tundra in every Chinese city I visited.

ZX Auto Grand Tiger F1 China February 2016. Picture courtesy auto.163.comZX Auto is also based in the Hebei province.

For now, the Great Wall Wingle 5 still dominates the one-tonne pickup segment with 5.320 sales (-10%), followed by the ZX Auto Grand Tiger at 2.265 (+4%), JMC Baodian at 1.771 (-41%), Great Wall Wingle 6 (+29%), Dongfeng Rich, up 183% thanks to a new generation launched in late 2014, and Huanghai N2 Series. From over 392.463 sales in 2014, the pickup market fell 16% in 2015 to 328.933 sales. We forecast the one-tonne+ pickup segment could amount to as much as 10% of overall Chinese sales by 2030 – or 4 million annual vehicles – if Road Traffic Safety Law is completely abolished across the country.

Previous post: China LCV Full Year 2015: Sales transfer to mini pickups boosts Wuling Mini Truck

One year ago: China LCVs January 2015: Wuling Hongguang V appears

Full January and February 2016 Top 50 Ranking Tables below.         

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China February 2016: Focus on the all-new models

Zotye SR7 China February 2016Zotye SR7: looks familiar?

After exploring February sales figures in detail, the BSCB tradition is to study the all-new China-made nameplates making their first appearance in the sales charts this month. Occupied with the Lunar New Year falling at the start of the month this year, car manufacturers slow down their release schedule and as a result we only have three new entrants in the ranking this month vs. 4 in January and 9 in December.

1. Zotye SR7 (#178 with 1.536 sales)

Chinese carmaker Zotye is on a roll the moment, with no less than five new launches in the past six months. The Daimai X5 SUV, launched in September, has already hit 10.000 monthly sales. The microcar E30 in December and the Z700 followed last month, with two additional new nameplates for February. The first is the SR7 crossover. With it, Zotye sinks even further in the murky waters of copycat. The T600 copied the Audi Q5 and the Damai X5 the VW Tiguan, but the S57 goes even further and is an almost identical version of the Audi Q3.

Zotye SR7. Audi Q3 China February 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sina.comThat’s why: with its “inspiration” the Audi Q3.

Credit is due to Zotye however for managing a third crossover in record time. But this is where the confusion continues: just as the Damai X5 was only 4mm shorter than the T600 at 4527mm long, the SR7 is once again sized very similarly at 4510mm long, and is also priced similarly to its two counterparts: between 73.800 and 106.800 yuan (US$11.400 – 16.500) vs. 73.800-108.900 for the Damai X5 and 79.800-115.800 for the T600. Zotye therefore finds itself with three similarly sized and priced crossover. In such a gigantic market as China, this is not so much of a predicament to be in, so long as the three offers are well differentiated, which is the case. The T600 is the robust option, the Damai X5 the classy one and the SR7 the sporty one. So far so good. Sales figures will now tell the real story.

Zotye SR7 interiorZotye SR7 interior

Like Zotye’s other two crossover offerings, the SR7 is powered by a 1.5L turbo engine (the T600 also gets a 2.0L), this time mated with a choice of 5MT or DCT gearboxes. Zotye has pulled all stops with the interior, featuring an imposing 12 inch touch screen that would be at home in a Tesla Model S.

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

Zotye E200 China February 2016

2. Zotye E200 (#285 with 214 units)

After the E30 last December, this is the second Zotye pure-electric microcar unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015 to hit the Chinese sales charts. Like its predecessor, the micro car’s electric motor only pushes 24hp of a top speed of “at least 80km/h”: in order to benefit from green-car subsidies, a car must qualify as a ‘real’ electric car, not an LSEV mini car, and to do so must drive at at least 80km/h. Built in Yongkang, Zhejiang, the E200 comes in two versions, as a two or four-seater. Once again Zotye disorients with its naming choice, the E200 sitting next to the E30.

Bar for success: #200 or 1.500 monthly sales

ChangAn CX70 China February 2016

3. ChangAn CX70 (#317 with 72 deliveries)

Chinese customers can’t get enough SUVs: Chinese carmakers keep churning new SUVs month after month. Simple enough. Naming rules seem to be harder to follow though: the new ChangAn CX70 slots between the hugely successful CS35 and CS75, yet sports an X. It is manufactured by the minivan arm of ChangAn (Chana) as shown by the logo on its grille, yet sports giant ChangAn letters on the back. It gets more confusing: at 4680mm long, it is actually longer than the CS75 (4650mm), as well as the top-selling Baojun 560 (4620mm). A seven-seater, the CX70 is, in true Chana fashion, on the spartan end of the spectrum, sporting an antediluvian five-speed manual transmission, yet allowing itself a reasonably-size touch screen, an item that has fast become mandatory in all new Chinese nameplates.

Bar for success: #80 or 6.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China January 2016: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China February 2015: Focus on the all-new models

China February 2016: VW Lavida #1 but 8 in Top 12 are Chinese in market down 1.5%

VW Lavida China February 2016. Picture courtesy auto.fengniao.comThe VW Lavida is the only foreign nameplate in the Top 5.

* See the Top 367 All-China-made model and Top 68 brands by clicking on the title *

This year the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday – grinding the entire country to a halt- fell in early February which helped boost car sales in January, but damaged February data: light vehicle sales are down 1.5% year-on-year to just 1.38 million units. In February once again the market is kept alive by the SUV segment seeing sales up 43% to 477.670 units while MPVs are up 10% to 173.927 units but sedans crumble down 18% to 670.015. For the second month running, sedan sales are now just 40% above SUV sales vs. 61% in December. Thanks to January sales up 8%, the year-to-date picture is a little rosier with light vehicle deliveries up 5.1% to 3.61 million units, lifted by SUVs up 55% to 1.27m, MPV up 14% to 436k but dragged by sedan sales freefalling down 13% to 1.78m.

Dongfeng Fengguang 370 China February 2016. Picture courtesy auto-163.comThe Dongfeng Fengguang celebrates its very first monthly Top 10 ranking at home…

Brand-wise, Volkswagen continues its descent to hell at -13% to 193.083 sales, followed this time by ChangAn (+4%), Buick (+10%) and Ford (+6%). Baojun (+123%) shoots up to 5th place overall, kicking Toyota (+11%) down to 6th. Hyundai (-28%), Wuling (-21%) and Chevrolet (-37%) slip down heavily, whereas Honda (+43%), Haval (+30%), Dongfeng (+22%), Beijing Auto (+42%), JAC (+36%), Brilliance (+90%), Zotye (+53%), Mercedes (+40%) and GAC Trumpchi (+116%) all post very strong results. Nissan freefalls to 18th place overall vs. #7 over the Full Year 2015 but traditionally is weaker in February. Peugeot (-19%), BMW (-31%), Citroen (-29%), Mazda (-15%) and FAW (-40%) worry us a little.

JAC Refine S3 China February 2016. Picture courtesy autov.com.cn…as does the JAC Refine S3.

February sales charts show a definitive push towards domestic fares: if the VW Lavida takes advantage of a particularly weak showing of the Wuling Hongguang (-20%) to reclaim the top spot for the first time since last May with 47.233 deliveries (+4%), it is the only foreign nameplate in the Top 5: the Haval H6 (+64%) ranks third just above the Baojun 560 at a record 4th place with a stunning 30.970 sales and the Baojun 730 (+21%) at 29.711. The seven most popular SUVs in the country are all Chinese (!): the Dongfeng Fengguang (slicing its record ranking in two at #9), JAC Refine S3 (at a record #10), ChangAn CS75 (+67%), Brilliance V3 (record #16), GAC Trumpchi GS4 and ChangAn CS35 all outsell the VW Tiguan, down 35% to a paltry 28th spot overall…

In fact, with the help of the Chana Honor at #11 (16.952 sales), 8 of the 12 best-selling nameplates in the country are Chinese, a ratio we have never witnessed before in the entire history of automobile in China. Adding LCV vehicles tip the balance even further towards Chinese models, as we’ll detail shortly.

Previous month: China January 2016: Baojun 560 threatens Haval H6 for SUV title

One year ago: China February 2015: Ford Escort and VW Lamando impress

Full February 2016 Top 367 All-China-made models and Top 68 brands below.

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