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 Rich. Picture courtesy

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 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’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…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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China January 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Dongfeng Fengshan AX3 China January 2016. Picture courtesy chexun.netDongfeng Fengshan AX3

After exploring January 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. Imports are covered in separate updates. Being the month leading up to the Lunar New Year, January is more prone to big promotions than new launches, and accordingly we only have four new entrants in the ranking this month vs. 9 in December.

1. Dongfeng Fengshan AX3 (#171 with 2.508 sales)

Unveiled at last year’s Shanghai Auto Show, the Fengshan AX3 is built on the DF1 platform, a variant of PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s No.1 platform (PF1). With it Dongfeng is trying something new: slotted below the manufacturer’s other Fengshan SUV (the DX7) but at a leisurely 4.52m long, the DX3 mixes hatchback, station wagon and crossover aspects for a rather pleasant result. With the AX7 crossing the 10.000 monthly sales mark for the first time in January and the brand’s sedans all struggling except the revamped A60 (5.006), the AX3 could fast become one of Dongfeng’s top selling passenger cars at home. Its price range of 69.700 – 81.700 yuan (US$10.700 – 12.500) even generously undercuts the shorter and successful Dongfeng Joyear X5 (79.900 – 105.900 yuan). On the negative side, the AX3 looks like a station wagon version of the H30 Cross (a total flop), which could discourage potential buyers, but Dongfeng could be onto a new SUV niche with the AX3.

Bar for success: #80 or 7.000 sales

FQT Motor EX80 China January 2016. Picture courtesy

2. FQT Motor EX80 (#291 with 378 units)

FQT Motor belongs to Fujian Group, also part-owner of Soueast cars, Fujian-Benz trucks and King Long buses. FQT stands for Fujian QiTeng, a sub-brand launched in 2014 whose lineup is composed of the M70 microvan (described in our LCV updates) and this EX80 minivan launched last September but somehow only making its way into the Chinese sales charts this month. With the EX80, Fujian Motor is unabashedly trying to bank on the (still) booming MPV segment and copies its dimensions and target entirely onto the market’s best-seller, the Wuling Hongguang. Priced between 50.000 and 90.000 yuan (US$7.700-13.800), the EX80 takes the FQT range where the 36.900-45.900 yuan-M70 left it and targets both the Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan) and its cousin the Baojun 730 (69.400-81.800 yuan). Too ambitious?

Bar for success: #150 or 2.500 sales

Cadillac CT6 China January 2016. Picture courtesy

3. Cadillac CT6 (#296 with 318 deliveries)

Perfectly illustrating that the centre of gravity of the automobile world has moved from the U.S. to China, Cadillac is launching a China-made CT6 even before it becomes available in America. Priced between 439.900 and 818.800 yuan (US$ 66.900 – 124.500), it competes with the upper-end variants of the Audi A6L, BMW 5 Series L and Mercedes E-Class L. However its dimensions (5.18/1.88/1.50m) position it above these aforementioned nameplates and just below the Audi A8L, BMW 7 Series L and Mercedes S-Class L. At 79.779 sales in 2015 (+17%), Cadillac is making progress in the Chinese luxury segment but remains far below the Big 3 Audi (571.000), BMW (434.000) and Mercedes (363.000). Undercutting its main competitors in price is therefore surely a good idea for this prestigious entry that will do probably more for Cadillac’s aspirational values in China than significantly boost the brand’s volumes there.

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 sales

Zotye Z700 China January 2016. Picture courtesy

4. Zotye Z700 (#316 with 157 sales)

Topping Zotye’s lineup with a 5.02m-long flagship sedan seemed like a good idea when the Z700 was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April last year. Since then though, the SUV bulldozer has crushed almost everything on its way. In January, the brand’s two entries in the segment, the T600 (13.626 sales) and X5 (12.266), account for an incredible 83% of Zotye’s total (31.201), with no sedan selling over 1.800 units. A bland design vaguely inspired from a previous generation VW Magotan will do nothing to attract the SUV-obsessed crowds. Only the entry variant Luxury is priced below 100.000 yuan (US$15.300), with the top-end Executive reaching 158.800 yuan ($24.400). Zotye may have been better off never launching this nameplate. That’s awkward…

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 sales

Previous post: China December 2015: Focus on the All-new models

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

China Full Year 2015: Discover the Top 137 brands (BSCB Exclusive)

Foton Auman China 2015. Picture courtesy eotruck.comFoton sold almost half a million trucks in China in 2015.

* See the Top 137 All-brands by clicking on the title *

Imports, medium and heavy commercial vehicles (Bus, Heavy Trucks, Semi Trailers) have now been added to form the very first All-brands Ranking for China ever published online. This data is exclusive to BSCB, you won’t find it anywhere else. The sales data is detailed by China-Made (Passenger Cars (PC), Commercial Vehicles (CV) and Imports. Given official imports data for December isn’t available yet, when not communicated by manufacturers it has been calculated based on year-to-date figures. This table finally shows the gigantic size of the Chinese vehicle market with a total of 137 brands listed, more than in any other country in the world. Among them, 84 brands or 61% of the total are Chinese, some of them so obscure chances are you have never heard of them before. The Top 3 overall brands are Volkswagen (2.76m), Wuling (1.54m) and ChangAn (1.29m) and there are nine millionaire brands in 2015 in China.

Best-selling Commercial Vehicle Brands in China FY2015:

Pos Brand CV
1 Wuling 858,197
2 Foton 483,337
3 DongFeng 465,263
4 Chana (ChangAn) 365,768
5 Jinbei 313,615
6 JMC 249,253
7 JAC 231,751
8 FAW 227,607
9 Lifan 202,977
10 CNHTC 158,174

While Passenger Cars and LCV data was studied in the FY2015 reports, Medium and Heavy Commercials and Imports are very rare to come across and this is a great opportunity to study them in full detail.  Chinese manufacturers have an quasi monopoly over the Commercial Vehicle market (only Iveco and Ford sell in significant numbers), and as a result there are 10 of them in the overall Top 20 brands. Below Wuling still at stratospheric heights thanks to its micro vans and pickups, Foton sells almost half-a-million trucks vs. just 6.374 passenger cars, shooting into the overall Top 20 brands as a result. Dongfeng follows close behind with 465.000 units or 46% of its total sales, and Jinbei sells ten times as many minibuses as it does passenger cars (314.000 vs. 32.000).

Shaanxi Racing Truck. Picture courtesy 360che.comShaanxi Trucks are very successful in the Chinese Racing Truck Championship.

Hubei Tri-Ling China 2015

Other notable best-selling truck brands include FAW at 227.600 units, China National Heavy Truck Corp. (aka CNHTC) with 158.000 sales, Shaanxi (pictured above) with 85.000 deliveries, Qingling at 82.000, Yutong Bus at 67.000, Shandong KAMA at 58.500 and Dayun at 39.800. Dozens of smaller brands can also be found in sales charts, such as Hualing (CAMC), Hubei Tri-Ring, SAIC-Iveco’s truck brand Hongyan, Beiben, Ankai, Lushan, Sunwin Bus, Hengtong, Guizhou Space Yuantong, Linghe and Hunan Zhinglian Zhongke…

Lexus NX China 2015. Picture courtesy is the most popular all-importer in China in 2015…

Over in the imports aisle, a specific update by model will be published once data is available. For now let’s point out that BMW (147.000), Toyota (109.000) and Mercedes (107.000) are the only brands whose imports into China reach six-digit sales figures. Now that Jeep has started manufacturing the Cherokee locally (8.000 sales in two months), Lexus is the most popular “pure” importer in the country with an estimated 85.500 sales, stable on 2014. Don’t expect Toyota to change their mind and start assembling Lexus cars locally any time soon though. Land Rover drops 26% to 80.000 sales but does not communicate how many Evoque are manufactured locally. The next all-importers are Porsche at 58.009 (+24%), Subaru at 47.041 (-14%), Mini at an estimated 30.000 sales and Renault at 20.700.

Porsche Macan China 2015. Picture courtesy…followed by Porsche.

Previous FY15 post: China Full Year 2015: Market up 4.7% to 24.61 million despite sluggish summer

Full Year 2015 Top 137 All-brands Ranking Table below.

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

Baojun 560 China January 2016. Picture courtesy IfengThe Baojun 560 passes the symbolic 40.000 monthly sales milestone for the first time.

* See the Top 67 All-brands and Top 370 All-models (China-made) by clicking on the title *

The impact of last October’s tax cut is weakening with Chinese new car sales up 8% in January to 2.5m units after surging 24% in November and 17% in December. Aggressive promotions during the pre-holiday sales season ahead of the Lunar New Year helped the market up. Passenger cars are up 11% to 2.17m sales whereas commercial vehicles are down 3.5%. Segment evolutions we witnessed in 2015 continue onto the new year and even accentuate: Chinese carbuyers’ hunger for SUVs seems unquenchable: the segment is up another 63% year-on-year in January to 795.654 units, the 2nd-ever largest SUV monthly volume in China just below the 803.491 hit last December. At 264.531 sales, MPVs are up 18% on a January 2015 score that was an all-time record at the time. Sedans and hatchbacks continue to be less and less favoured at -10% this month to 1.113.039 sales. In January, SUVs are at 71% of the sedans sales level: this ratio was 62% just last month.

Ford Edge China January 2016. Picture courtesy cheshenghuo.comFord Motor Co. is up 36% thanks to its SUV lineup. 

Back to the Chinese pole position in 2015, General Motors stays there in January with sales up 7% to 421.023 sales as Buick (+36%) and Baojun (+147%) compensate for Chevrolet (-36%) but Volkswagen Group is up at double the rate: +14% to 400.100. With no visible emissions scandal effect, the Volkswagen brand gains 15% (CAAM however reports China-made sales down 5%) while Skoda is up 9%. Ford Motor Co. stuns with a spectacular 36% jump to 130.832 units on the back of booming SUV sales at +75% to 37.411 while Toyota (+32%) and Honda (+21%) are almost as impressive. Hyundai (-27%), Peugeot (-21%) and Kia (-12%) give us some worry.

Mercedes S-Class Coupe China January 2016. Picture courtesy surges 52% in January in China. Can it pass Audi this year?

Among luxury brands, Audi is up 6% to 54.402 sales and BMW up 8% to 43.441 units but once again Mercedes trumps them both, galloping much faster with sales up 52% to 42.671 vehicles. At this rate Mercedes will pass BMW in the coming months and will be well above Audi in a year’s time. Yes you read that right, Mercedes could end decades of Audi domination in the Chinese luxury segment in 2017, and with the GLC and GLE hitting Chinese dealerships this year, it is actually not at all beyond the realm of possibles.

Wuling Hongguang SI China January 2016. Picture courtesy 70.000 Wuling Hongguang found a new Chinese home this month. 

Given its gigantic size, the Chinese market would be forgiven if it displayed an extremely stable models ranking month after month. But it doesn’t, making it one of the most interesting markets to follow. Below the Wuling Hongguang (70.002) and VW Lavida (55.765) virtually immobile year-on-year, three superstar Chinese nameplates delight once again. First observation: 4 of the 5 best-selling vehicles in China are Chinese this month, something that hasn’t happened since microvans ruled the roost here – seems like a decade ago but it was still the case in 2013 – and a first as far as passenger cars are concerned.

FAW Besturn B30 China January 2016. Picture courtesy auto.163.comGood start for the FAW Besturn B30.

Passenger cars above 40.000 monthly Chinese sales:

Model Launch 1st 40.000+ Months
Baojun 560 Jul-15 Jan-16 7
Baojun 730 Aug-14 Dec-15 17
Wuling Hongguang Sep-10 Jan-13 29
VW Lavida Jul-10 Jan-13 31
Haval H6 Apr-11 Nov-15 55
Nissan Sylphy Jan-06 Dec-15 120

The Haval H6 posts its third consecutive (and ever) month above 40.000 units at 42.188, but behind this splendid performance hides a fragile situation: ending January with almost identical scores are the Baojun 730 (40.015) and Baojun 560 (40.002) – meaning Baojun places more models in the Top 5 than Volkswagen, or any other brand for that matter. The 730 lodges only its 2nd month at this level after a record December (47.690) but the 560 score is absolutely phenomenal, making it the fastest nameplate to reach this level of sales in the history of automobile sales in China (see table above).

Chery Tiggo China 2011. Picture courtesy of autocosmos.comThe Chery Tiggo is the last Chinese SUV to have threatened Great Wall/Haval’s domination at home (in 2011).

The 560 could soon become China’s best-selling SUV, putting an end to the Haval H6’s implacable domination. The H6 has been the #1 SUV overall without interruption for two years, and the #1 Chinese SUV for almost four years, since April 2012 when it was outsold by the Great Wall Hover H5. The last time the #1 Chinese SUV at home wasn’t a Great Wall or Haval was in August 2011, when the Chery Tiggo sold 10.379 units vs. 9.009 for the Great Wall Hover H3/H5… Haval is the uncontested best-selling SUV brand in the country, but not having the #1 SUV nameplate wouldn’t look good on the company’s resume…

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China January 2016First month above 30.000 monthly sales for the GAC Trumpchi GS4.

The SUV craze continues below, with the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (30.512), ChangAn CS75 (27.148), Buick Envision (25.916), Honda XR-V (14.762), Zotye X5 (12.266), Soueast DX7 (9.250), Jeep Cherokee (8.307), JAC Refine S2 (8.073), Beijing Auto Senova X25 (8.066), Changfeng Leopaard CS10 (7.530), Beijing Auto Senova X55 (6.492) and Beijing Auto Huansu S6 (5.150) all beating their volume record this month…

Roewe 360 China January 2016. Picture courtesy 360 is now Roewe’s best-seller in China. 

In the other segments, the Dongfeng Fengxing S500 (MPV) confirms it is an instant blockbuster with a 2nd month above 10.000 sales (11.307) in as many months on sale. Despite the format’s recent fall out of fashion in China, some recently launched sedans manage to score big and break records, such as the Roewe 360 (8.437), now the brand’s best-seller, the FAW Besturn B30 (6.219) – a welcome breath of fresh air for the embattled state-owned manufacturer, the prestigious Geely GC9 crossing a new milestone at 6.001 sales and the Ford Taurus (5.557) posting a very solid debut.

Full Year 2015 posts:

China Full Year 2015: Discover the Top 137 All-brands (BSCB Exclusive)

China Full Year 2015: Market up 4.7% to record 24.61 million despite sluggish summer

China LCV Full Year 2015: Sales transfer to mini pickups boosts Wuling Mini Truck to #1

Previous month: China December 2015: Tax cut lifts market up 17% to all-time record

One year ago: China January 2015: Market up 7% to 2.3 million units, Haval H6 on podium

Full January 2016 Top 67 All-brands and Top 370 All-models (China-made) below.

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China Full Year 2015: Market up 4.7% to record 24.61 million vehicles despite sluggish summer

Baojun 730 China 2015. Picture courtesy 320.000 Baojun 730 found a new Chinese home in 2015, 440.000 since launch.

* Now updated with full analysis & Top 20 brands incl. imports and CV *

* See the Top 73 best-selling local brands and Top 470 All-local models by clicking on the title *

* See the Full Top 137 All-brands Ranking is here *

* See 35 years worth of Historical Chinese Data here *

2015 was the year the Chinese car market dipped its toes in the opaque waters of reverse gear. Prompted by a slowing economy and a mid-year stock market rout, new light vehicle sales in China enduring their first monthly declines since December 2008 in June (-3%)July (-7%) and August (-3%). To kick start the market again, the Chinese government halved the purchase tax on vehicles with engine displacements of 1.6L and less. The result was instantaneous and spectacular: the tax cut took effect on October 1, and light vehicle sales were up 13% in Octoberup 24% in November and up 17% in December to finish the year up 7.3% at a record 21.1 million vehicles. It could have been much worse, as the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) estimates that the stock market rout resulted in lost sales of half a million vehicles, and car purchase limits put in place in seven major cities erased another 2 million potential deliveries.

ChangAn CS75 China 2015Chinese SUVs – here the ChangAn CS75 – are almost solely responsible for the Chinese market growth.

If I had to choose one word to describe 2015 in China, it would be SUV. If we had two, they would be Chinese SUV. This segment reached never-seen before heights this year, surging 52% to 6.262.736 units. Chinese brands saw their SUV sales double year-on-year to now hold over half their home market. Multipurpose vehicles (MPV) were up 10% to 2.144.991 but sedans/passenger cars declined 5.3% to 11.775.973 deliveries and microvan sales imploded at -18% to 1.10 million units. Commercial trucks and buses remained in frank negative territory at -9% to 3.45 million. Chinese total vehicle sales including passenger vehicles, trucks and buses hit a record 24.61 million in 2015, up 4.7% from a year earlier. This means an additional 1.1 million units were sold in China in 2015 compared to 2014, the equivalent of a market like Australia. As for the number of vehicle in circulation in the country, it grew by a whopping 12% to 172 million vehicle in 2015 according to China’s Ministry of Public Security. The number of cities with fleets exceeding 1 million vehicles rose to 40, up from 35 a year earlier.

CAAM forecasts another 6% increase in light vehicle sales for 2016 thanks to the tax incentive which will expire on December 31, 2016. We at BSCB table on a 7% light vehicle increase and an overall market including commercial trucks and buses up 4.5% to 25.7 million units

Buick Verano China 2015. Picture courtesy xinhuanet.comBuick Verano – General Motors reclaims the #1 spot in China off Volkswagen Group in 2015.

In the manufacturers ranking, the main event of 2015 is General Motors reclaiming the top spot off Volkswagen Group thanks to sales up 5.2% to 3.612.636 vs. -3.4% and 3.55 million for VW. It is the first time since 2005 that Chinese sales of the VW Group register a year-on-year decline. GM was #1 in China from 2004 to 2012 but relinquished its crown to VW in 2013 and 2014. It owes its title to the success of the low-cost Baojun brand it sells through its joint-venture with SAIC up 173% to 463.533 units along with Buick up 8% to just under 1 million units, compensating for a 10% decline at Chevrolet. On the Volkswagen side, it is not the emissions scandal that handicapped the group this year as the number of vehicles affected is tiny, but an incapacity to predict then adapt to the SUV floodgates opening wider and wider in the country. I detail this situation in my series “Why Volkswagen is losing foot in China“, translated into Chinese here.

Ford Escort China 2015. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comFord masterfully managed the relaunch of the Escort nameplate for China.

Brand-wise, Volkswagen remains by far the most popular despite sales down 5% to 2.76 million. ChangAn reports sales up 11% to 1.54m, however this is inconsistent with PC and CV data placing them at 1.29m. In any case, a very dynamic performance by the Chinese carmaker lifted by its SUV lineup: the CS75 is up 252% on 2014 and the CS35 up 68%. Wuling, suffering from wobbly microvan sales, is down 3% to 1.54m vehicles in third position. Below, five foreigners see their rankings completely reshuffled: Nissan is up 6% to 1.13m (however this may include some Dongfeng sales), Toyota up 9% to 1.12m and Ford up 6% to 1.11m, all overtaking Hyundai down 4% to 1.07m. Honda surges up 32% thanks to the success of its crossover lineup and is millionaire for the very first time at 1.006m sales vs. just 762.300 a year ago. Dongfeng is the 9th millionaire brand in China in 2015 (a record), split roughly half and half between PC and CV – mainly heavy trucks.

Haval H9 Picture courtesy sales are up 52% this year, making it one of the Top 10 PC brands in the country. 

In 2013 Great Wall decided to spin off its Haval SUV lineup into a standalone brand, even opting to not display any Great Wall models at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show and every Chinese Auto Show ever since. If this decision seemed heretic at the time, today it rather appears prophetic and very inspired indeed. Haval sales jump 52% year-on-year in 2015 to 662.475, breaking into the Top 10 PC brands in the country (vs. #16 in 2014). On the other hand, Great Wall is down below 200.000 sales (half of them pickup trucks) vs. over 300.000 in 2014. Beijing Auto (589k), JAC (578k), Geely (510k), Foton (490k), BYD (458k), FAW (450k) and Chery (409k) and make it a cool 12 Chinese brands in the 23 best-sellers this year – including commercials.

Mercedes C Class L China 2015. Picture courtesy slowdown? Mercedes sales in China are up 33% in 2015.

Audi tops the luxury race as it has been the case for as long as we can remember, however like parent brand Volkswagen its sales are down this year at -1% to 570.889 units. If BMW also marks a pause at just +2% to 463.736 sales including Mini, Mercedes is jumping leaps and bounds at a fantastic +33% to 373.459 deliveries including Smart, thanks partly to the tremendous success of the China-exclusive long wheelbase C-Class L (+123%) and the localisation of the GLA production (42.662 sales). 2016 should be equally euphoric for Mercedes as both the GLC and GLE enter the market.

Wuling Honnguang S1 China 2015. Picture courtesy lulutongqc.comThe Wuling Hongguang limits its decline to 13% despite competition from the Baojun 730.

Over in the models ranking, the Wuling Hongguang wins the title of best-selling nameplate in China for the third consecutive year, and if its 13% decline to 655.531 sales vs. 750.019 a year ago could be a source of worry, it’s actually a pretty impressive hold in a market now full of its clones but most strikingly in the wake of the smashing success of its cousin the Baojun 730. SAIC-Wuling-GM have managed to segment the market perfectly, pulling up both the Hongguang (an all-new SI variant launched this year) and the 730 (slight facelift one year after launch) to follow Chinese consumers’ increasing expectations. The 730 ends 2015 at #5 with an incredible 321.069 sales, including almost 50.000 in December alone.

Haval H6 China 2015. Picture courtesy year for the Haval H6.

The Haval H6 tops a booming SUV market, improving 18% to 373.229 sales. That’s the highest sales for an SUV in any single country in the world in 2015, historically beating the Honda CR-V, #1 selling SUV in the U.S. this year with 345.647 sales. Far below, we find the VW Tiguan (+8%) ahead of the JAC Refine S3 (+292%), Changan CS75 (+252%), Changan CS35 (+68%), Haval H2 (+241%), Nissan X-Trail (+45%) and Beijing Auto Huansu S3 (+239%). The Buick Envision is a bullseye success with 162.941 sales for its first full year. But the most impressive start of the year is delivered by none other than another Baojun: the 560. Launched in July, it managed to sell almost 150.000 units in just six month to finish the year at #42. Watch out for the 560 at the very top of the ranking in 2016…

VW Lavida China 2015. Picture courtesy VW Lavida remains the best-selling sedan in China. 

Sedans haven’t been the heroes of 2015, however a few nameplates still manage to deliver outstanding results and the best-selling charts show Volkswagen losing a bit of the grip it has on this segment in China. The VW Lavida drops just 3% to 473.000 units including the Gran Lavida, the Nissan Sylphy is up 11% to land in 4th place with 334.000 sales and the Buick Excelle GT is up 18% thanks to a new generation to #6 and 290.000 units. The VW Sagitar (-7%), Santana (-3%) and Jetta (-7%) are distanced, while the Hyundai Elantra Langdong (+6%) and Toyota Corolla (+48%) go against the grain. The Ford Escort is a success: it lands #16 with 214.400 deliveries for its first full year of sales. The Chinese leaders in this segment are once again the Geely EC7 (+25%) and ChangAn Eado (+18%).

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

Previous post: China December 2015: Tax cut lifts market up 17% to all-time record

Previous year: China Full Year 2014: Growth cools to 7% to record 23.5 million units

Two years ago (PC): China Full Year 2013: Wuling Hongguang and VW Lavida on top

Two years ago (LCV): China Full Year 2013: Discover the Top 10 best-selling LCVs

Full Year 2015 Top 30 brands (whole market), Top 73 All-local PC brands and Top 470 All-local models vs. Full 2014 figures below.

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China LCV Full Year 2015: Sales transfer towards mini pickups boosts Wuling Mini Truck to first crown (BSCB Exclusive)

Wuling Mini Truck China 2015The Wuling Mini Truck is the best-selling LCV in China for the first time in 2015.

* See the Top 75 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

As part of a partnership with local Consulting firm 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 available as well as selected light truck/bus data sourced with LMC Automotive. Overall, the LCV market has suffered greatly in 2015, down 8% year-on-year to 3.644.958 units vs. 3.976.257 in 2014. Looking into the various segments brings to light a drastic sales transfer from minivans (=microvans) towards mini trucks – the Chinese label for micro pickups, a trend we at BSCB started flagging back in April 2015 and particularly visible within the almighty Wuling brand and of course only noticeable way into the most rural parts of China. Back then I noted “the tremendous and recent success of the Wuling Mini Truck is something I had noticed in Western China in 2014 and again in the North-Eastern town of Mohe in 2015, where it is among the best-sellers in both locations.
1. Chana TaurusA thing of the past? Chinese micovans – in Chongqing, April 2014.

Minivans are down a devastating 36% this year to just 810.172 units from 1.262.942 in 2014. Not so long ago, the Wuling Sunshine alone would absorb this level of sales. It would seem the age of the ultra-cheap, ultra-unsafe microvans is well and truly becoming a thing of the past in China just as inhabitants of the countryside are steadily becoming a lot wealthier. As described above, Mini Trucks are the only beam of sunshine in an otherwise truly depressed Chinese LCV market: up 1% to 442.625 units. Pickup trucks are in freefall at -16% to 328.933 sales. The remaining amount – up 10% to 2.063.228 units, is composed of light trucks and buses, a vague definition in China about which we are still trying to get 100% visibilty.

Wuling Hongguang VThe Wuling Hongguang V sells almost 200.000 units in less than 12 months.

In the models ranking, as a fitting symbol of the market turning to micro pickups, the Wuling Mini Truck edges past the Foton Light Truck, #1 for most of the year, towards the last few days of 2015 to sign its very first LCV pole position with sales up a vigorous 10% to 242.399 vs. 241.307 (-7%) for the Foton, whose “Light Truck” label actually includes a full range of medium commercial pickups under the Forland sub-brand. Once the LCV champion, the Wuling Sunshine is down 26% to #3 but it’s the Rongguang, still #1 in 2014, that implodes at -44% to a paltry 5th position.

Model Cat Price range (yuan) Price range (US$)
Wuling Journey MPV 66.000 – 77.000 10.600 – 12.400
Wuling Hongguang MPV 44.800 – 69.800 7.200 – 11.250
Wuling Hongguang V Micro 42.800 – 51.800 6.900 – 8.300
Wuling Rongguang Micro 41.800 – 46.800 6.700 – 7.500
Wuling Sunshine Micro 29.800 – 46.000 4.800 – 7.400

Part of the reason why these two nameplates have suffered so badly this year is the introduction of the all-new Hongguang V, Wuling’s attempt at upgrading those Sunshine/Rongguang owners that just can’t get themselves to splurge on the Hongguang MPV or, even dearer, the Baojun 730. And it’s worked: almost 200.000 units of the Hongguang V found a buyer in less than 12 months, with the model getting a tax-cut sponsored 2nd wind at the end of the year (19.662 sales in December) after a very impressive peak of 30.003 as early as March.

Great Wall Wingle 2015. Picture courtesy of Great Wall Wingle 5 is still the best-selling one ton pick-up in China. 

Following the same sales transfer as market leader Wuling, #2 ChangAn sees its Star Minibus (=microvan) plunge by 34% from 231,745 deliveries to just 151.795 and go from #4 to #7 in the sales charts, whereas its micro pickup variant, the Star Mini Truck, is up 4% to 85.736 sales. The Great Wall Wingle 5 has now been China’s best-selling 1 ton pickup truck for a decade but the arrival of a new Wingle 6 (15.328 sales) hasn’t helped: the 5 is down 29% to fall well below the symbolic 100.000 mark at 84.135, losing its cherished Top 10 spot in passing (from #8 to #13). The Isuzu N-Series (#16) and Ford Transit (#18) are the only foreign models selling over 10.000 units in a segment fiercely defended by local manufacturers.

Previous post: China LCV November 2015: Wuling Mini Truck edges closer to annual win

Previous year: China Full Year 2014: Growth cools to 7% to record 23.5 million units

Two years ago: China Full Year 2013: Wuling Hongguang and VW Lavida on top

Full Year 2015 Top 75 models Ranking vs. Full Year 2014 figures below.

Data sources: Cedars, LMC Automotive

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China December 2015: Tax cut lifts market up 17% to all-time record Baojun 730, Haval H6 and Nissan Sylphy break 40.000 sales mark

Wuling Hongguang China December 2015. Picture courtesy Baojun 730 China December 2015. Picture courtesy twin MPV Wuling Hongguang & Baojun 730 are the 2 best-selling nameplates in China in December, with 124.434 deliveries combined.

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

* Now updated with the Top 70 best-selling LCVs. Source: Cedars, LMC Automotive *

It’s the gift that keeps giving: the 50% tax cut on vehicles with engine displacements of 1.6L and smaller that took effect on Oct.1. has spurred a whopping 18% year-on-year sales surge in December to 2.44 million cars – including microvans but excluding other light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles. That’s simply the biggest month in the history of automobile in China, no less. Still think China is going through a slump? Think again. If anything the last quarter of 2015 has shown that the Chinese government has the tools to revive the market back from the brink where it stood during Summer. And once again the hero of the month is the SUV segment: up a gigantic 60% year-on-year to post its 4th consecutive monthly volume record: lifting it from 503.333 (Dec 2014) to 575.769 (Sept. 2015), 627.417 (Oct 2015), 715.083 (Nov 2015) and 803.491 (Dec 2015). The two other main segments of he market also beat their all-time monthly volume records: passenger cars (sedans) are up 2% to 1.294.603 units (previous best: 1.268.305 in Dec 2014) and MPVs return to insolent growth rates at +45% to 281.134 deliveries (previous best: 230.757 in Jan 2015).

Haval H6 Coupe China December 2015. Picture courtesy sinaauto.comThe Haval H6 sells a record 42.553 units in December. 

Seven of the Top 10 best-sellers break their all-time monthly volume record, a record 10 nameplates sell over 30.000 units this month (compared to 9 in the USA during the same month), a record 31 sell over 20.000 (19 in the US) and a record 81 sell over 10.000 (46 in the US). When adding LCVs this climbs to an incredible 90 – double the US figure. The total Chinese market reaches a record 24.61 million units for the year, which we will detail in a separate update. The Wuling Hongguang, helped by its facelift, delivers its 2nd best-ever monthly score and best in two years at 76.744 units – its record being 81.153 in January 2014. For the first time in at least 5 years, the two best-selling cars in China are Chinese: the Baojun 730 jumps 11 spots on last month to land at a best-ever #2 with an outstanding 47.690  sales, up 52% on its previous best of 31.472 hit exactly one year ago in December 2014. The VW Lavida rounds up the podium at 44.478 units (+58%).

Nissan Sylphy China December 2015. Picture courtesy bitauto.comThe Nissan Sylphy is at an all-time high 41.802 deliveries this month.

The record list doesn’t stop here, and by far. The Haval H6 is up 36% to 42.553 and the Nissan Sylphy is up 27% to 41.802. For these two extremely successful nameplates, it is their first time above the 40.000 mark. Helped by the new new generation, the Hyundai Elantra Langdong (+32%) lifts to 35.654, the Baojun 560 continues its irresistible ascent to a new high of 33.039, the Hyundai Verna hits 31.469 (+44%) and the Toyota Corolla hits 30.360 (+5%).

Pos Model Dec-15 /14 Nov
1 Haval H6 42,553 36% 1
2 Baojun 560 33,039 new 2
3 JAC Refine S3 25,837 51% 8
4 Dongfeng Fengguang 25,089 73% 6
5 Buick Envision 23,085 131% 5
6 GAC Trumpchi GS4 22,785 new 3
7 Brilliance V3 21,117 new 13
8 Beijing Auto Huansu S3 20,868 44% 11
9 ChangAn CS75 20,300 221% 7
10 Nissan X-Trail 20,174 49% 9

Believed to be hardly possible now, Chinese manufacturers still manage to tighten even further their grip on the SUV market in December: 8 of the Top 10 best-sellers are Chinese. The Haval H6 leads above the Baojun 560 like in November, but the JAC Refine S3 and Dongfeng Fengguang outpace the Buick Envision (still breaking a record at 23.085 sales) and the GAC Trumpchi GS4 to #3 and #4.

Brilliance V3 China December 2015. Picture courtesy autoqq.comThe V3 is the first Brilliance to ever sell over 20.000 monthly units.

The Brilliance V3 delivers the most impressive result of all, leaping to an incredible 21.117 sales – 76% of the brand’s total this month, the first time a Brilliance nameplate crosses the 20.000 monthly mark. The Beijing Auto Huansu S3 and Haval H2 also cross this mark for the first time in December. Staying in the SUV segment, let’s point out the Honda Vezel (18.329), Zotye T600 (15.547), Ford Edge (13.438), Hyundai Tucson (13.401), Haval H1 (11.730) and Zotye X5 (10.606) all breaking records as well.

Beijing Auto Weiwang M30 China December 2015. Picture courtesy emao.comBeijing Auto Weiwang M30. Picture

The MPV aisle is not limited to the Wuling Hongguang anymore, with 42 nameplates now on sale in China. The Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 becomes the M30 this month and breaks a leg (and a record) at 23.344 units (+210%), the Dongfeng Fengxing S500 makes a very impressive landing at 10.858 sales for its first appearance and the Beijing Auto Huansu H3 breaks the 10.000 monthly mark as early as for its third month in market.

Ford Taurus China December 2015. Picture courtesy autoqq.comThe Chinese Ford Taurus is off to a good start.

Lastly, sedans also have their share in this fantastic month. The Buick Verano continues its climb at 16.052 sales, the Nissan Lannia confirms it is an instant blockbuster, up a further 29% on last month to break into the overall Top 50 with 13.574 sales, the Honda Greiz progresses to 7.913 sales an knocks on the Top 100’s door for its 2nd month in market, the Roewe 360 is doing all the pulling at Roewe, up 30% on November to 7.554, the Geely GC9 continues to tank up on deliveries now at 5.504 and the Ford Taurus goes from 1.003 units during its initial November outing to 5.373 and #141 in December.

Beijing Auto Senova X25 China December 2015. Picture courtesy Auto Senova X25. Picture

Among recent launches, let’s single out the Jeep Cherokee up 169% on its first month to 5.834 sales, the Beijing Auto Senova X25 taking off to 5.571 units vs. 178 in November, the Beijing Auto Huansu S6 up 128% to 4.088 units and the Ford Everest up 55% to 3.006 deliveries. There are no less than 9 new locally-produced nameplates entering the Chinese market this month, which will be the subject of a separate update as is the tradition on BSCB.

Wuling Mini Truck Guangzhou 3Wuling Mini Truck in Guangzhou, China – November 2015.

In the LCV ranking, thanks to sales up a whopping 60% year-on-year, the Wuling Mini Truck edges past the Foton Light Truck to end 2015 in pole position for the first time, while the Wuling Hongguang V is back up to third place with just under 20.000 deliveries, outselling both the Sunshine (-20%) and Rongguang (-11%). Excellent hold of the Lifan Light Truck at #6 and the Jinbei Mini Bus at #9.

Previous month: China November 2015: Pollution and tax cuts push market up 24%

One year ago: China December 2014: Chevrolet Cruze shoots up to 2nd place

Full December 2015 Top 380 All-local models, Top 70 PC brands and Top 67 LCV models below.

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China December 2015: Focus on the All-new models

Dongfeng Fengxing S500 China December 2015. Picture courtesy

After studying December sales figures in detail, as is the tradition on BSCB we now detail the all-new nameplates making their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts this month. Note this update is only for the locally-produced models. Imports are covered in separate updates. In December we welcome no less than nine models, seven of which are Chinese, a testimony to the ground that local carmakers have been catching up on lately.

1. Dongfeng Fengxing S500 (#68 with 10.858 sales)

Not satisfied with an already very imposing presence in the MPV segment, Dongfeng just released the seven-seater S500 after unveiling it at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. Priced from 60.900 to 99.900 yuan (US$ 9.250 – 15.200), the S500 is powered by a 1.5L or 1.6L petrol engine both coming from Mitsubishi and is produced by the Liuzhou branch of Dongfeng Motor (DFM). At 4.62m long, the S500 slots above the Fengguang (4.36m), the only Dongfeng selling more units in China this month. Yes you have read that right, the S500 lands directly as the 2nd best-selling Dongfeng in the country with 10.858 sales in December, one of the most impressive entrances of any all-new nameplates in the past couple of years. Like the Fengguang, the S500 takes its design inspiration from the VW Touran. It has put a dent into the ageing Dongfeng Future’s sales, down 28% year-on-year this month to 7.624. The Future – or Fengxing Lingzhi is also produced by Dongfeng Liuzhou, is larger (4.71m-5.11m) and more expensive (97.900-133.800 yuan) but a lot older. With such a start, it seems reasonable to expect a sales peak around 20.000 monthly units for the S500.

Bar for success: #25 or 20.000 monthly sales

Suzuki Vitara China December 2015

2. Suzuki Vitara (#152 with 4.550 units)

Already a runaway success in Eastern Europe, it was only a matter of time until Suzuki launched the all-new Vitara in SUV-crazed China. After debuting in September at the Chengdu Auto Show, the Vitara makes its grand entrance in the Chinese sales charts with an already solid 4.550 sales. Built by the Changan-Suzuki joint venture in Chongqing, the Vitara is priced between 99.800 and 159.800 yuan (US$ 15.200-24.300). Only a bargain basement 1.6L engine variant enables the Vitara to stay below the symbolic 100k yuan, unlike its brother the Suzuki S-Cross (109.800-154.800). Suzuki offers five versions of the other engine, a 1.4L turbo. It is the first time the Suzuki Vitara nameplate is produced locally in China.

The Vitara is one of the cheapest foreign SUVs in China, competing with Ford Ecosport (94.800-127.800 yuan), the Peugeot 2008 (99.700-137.600 yuan), Citroen C3-XR (108.800-171.800) and Chevrolet Trax (119.900-155.900 yuan). The S-Cross peaked at 5.122 sales in March 2014, so the Vitara’s initial score indicates it will climb much higher and could help lift Suzuki sales in the country to never-seen before heights, that is if its cannibalisation of S-Cross sales is limited which is not a given.

Bar for success: #75 or 7.500 monthly sales

Chevrolet Lova RV China December 2015

3. Chevrolet Lova RV (#154 with 4.544 deliveries)

With the Lova RV, Chevrolet revives a nameplate that disappeared in 2011 when the Lova sedan (the first generation Aveo-Sonic) was replaced by the Aveo (2nd generation) here in China. Halfway between a hatchback and a wagon, the Lova RV is produced by the SAIC GM joint-venture and is 4.20m long with one engine option: an 80kW petrol 1.5L. The Lova RV is priced between 74.900 and 99.900 yuan (US$ 11.400-15.200), a significant premium on the Sail sedan on which it is based (59.900-73.900) let alone the Sail hatchback (56.800-66.800). Yet and despite this overpricing, very low-end interior and dated mechanics, this was a great idea by Chevrolet. Replicating Volkswagen’s successful venture into the “hatch-wagon” segment (Gran Lavida, Gran Santana), the Lova RV sells more in its initial month (4.544) than the Sail hatchback in the whole of 2015 (3.170)!

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

Zhi Dou D2 China December 2015

4. Zhi Dou D2 EV (#171 with 3.777 sales)
5. Zhi Dou D1 EV (#198 with 2.387 units)

Just as the year closes, a slew of electric models launched earlier in the year “miraculously” appear in the Chinese sales charts in December – see also the Kandy EV by Geely at #149. Not so rare these days, we welcome a new manufacturer in the ranking: Zhi Dou Electric Vehicle Corporation, a subsidiary of the Xindayang Group. Zhi Dou also manufactures micro electric cars for Zotye. The D2 (3.777 sales) and D1 (2.387) manage quite impressive scores, but it is impossible to know whether these figures actually are for the past 6 months since the two models have been on the market, or just December. 2016 data will give a better indication of the success or lack thereof of these two diminutive electric offerings.

The D2 is priced at a very attractive 49.800 yuan (US$7,600), making it one of the cheapest electric cars in China – and the world. That’s thanks to huge central and local government subsidies of 109.000 yuan ($16.600). For this price, the D2 comes with a lot of tech indeed: a touch screen infotainment system controlling phone, GPS, TV, internet, music and radio, in-built wifi for connectivity in and around the car and, incredibly for this price, an ‘Advanced Driver Assistance System‘ (ADAS) including lane-departure and anti-collision warning systems as well as a ‘dozing off’ warning system connected to a camera constantly pointed at the driver! No this is not a Tesla, but a Zhi Dou…

Bar for success: #150 or 3.000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Senova X55 China December 2015. Picture courtesy

6. Beijing Auto Senova X55 (#228 with 1.502 deliveries)

Only two months after the Senova X25 and less than a year after the Senova X65, Beijing Auto lifts its Senova SUV range to three models with the Senova X55 landing directly at #228 with over 1.500 sales. The X45 is coming in 2016… The X55 debuted as a semi-concept at the Shanghai Auto Show and was officially unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November. It shares its platform with the Senova D50 sedan, is 4.40m long and powered by a turbocharged 1.5L engine matched with a 6MT or CVT. The Senova X55 is tightly priced between 76.800 and 119.800 yuan (US$ 11.700-18.200). So far this is how the Senova SUV lineup has fared: the X65 peaked at 3.971 sales in October and the X25 shot up to 5.571 units this very month of December, so expectations for the X55 should be in line with this. There is still plenty of room for Chinese SUVs indeed.

Bar for success: #120 or 5.000 monthly sales

ChangAn Oushang China December 2015. Picture

7. Chana Oushang (#264 with 972 sales)

The Oushang is a 7-seater MPV built by the commercial division of Changan Auto: Chana. The Oushang was unveiled with much fanfare at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015 (and I was very impressed), now finally hitting Chinese dealerships. The seating layout is 2+3+2, a variation on the traditional 2+2+3 layout. The Oushang is a generous 4.46m long and powered by a choice of two engines a 1.5L and a turbo 1.0L. A modern exterior design hides a more ‘commercial’ interior yet the mandatory touch screen is present on the dashboard. Where the Oushang strikes hard is in the price aisle: from just 51.900 to 64.900 yuan (US$ 7.900-9.900), a lot less than the 70.000-90.000 yuan price range originally estimated and only slightly more than the smaller, older and definitely less sophisticated Honor (44.900-60.900).

With such a tiny pricing Changan positions the Oushang full frontal against no less than the #1 nameplate in the whole of China, the outrageously successful Wuling Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan), while operating completely below the Baojun 730 (69.400-81.800 yuan). While there is no way the Oushang will reach the same sales levels as the aforementioned models, it will definitely reinforce Changan’s position on the MPV map, especially given its other offering, the popular Honor, doesn’t seem to be affected yet (+41% in December).

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

Zotye E30 China December 2015

8. Zotye E30 (#290 with 572 units)

Another mini EV appearing in the sales charts this month, the Zotye E30 is a 2.80m long all-electric two-seater unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show. It strangely looks like an angry Smart Fortwo, with Zotye not worried in the least with copying the German microcar body structure, nor is it worried with copying the Tesla Model S extra-large touch screen on the central console. According to Zotye, the E30 can drive up to 80km/h (swoosh!), a questionable claim with only 24hp.

Zotye E30 interior. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.comZotye E30 interior

Why 80km/h? Simply because in order to benefit from green-car subsidies, a car must qualify as a ‘real’ electric car, not an LSEV mini car. Only cars able to drive at 80km/h and above are considered ‘real’ electric cars. The E30 joins an already large Zotye EV family, but with the E20 disappearing from the ranking this month, it is unclear whether this month’s sales figure of 572 is for just December or more, making it difficult to forecast long time sales accurately.

Bar for success: #220 or 1.000 monthly sales

ChangAn CS15 China December 2015

9. ChangAn CS15 (#362 with 40 deliveries)

Last but not least this month, the ChangAn CS15 lands in the charts ahead of its official launch in early 2016. Unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November, the CS15 is 4.10m long and powered by a petrol 1.5L engine of natural aspiration mated to a five-speed manual or a five-speed DCT. Priced between 55.000 and 75.000 yuan (US$ 8.400-11.400), the CS15 is slotted below the hugely successful CS35 (78.900-92.900 yuan) that sold 169.332 units in 2015 (+68%). The other ChangAn SUV, the CS75, did even better at 186.623 units, so expectations are very high for the CS15 that will compete with  the JAC Refine S2 (6.485 sales in December), Beijing Auto Senova X25 (5.571), FAW Junpai D60 (2.912), Lifan X50 (1.699) Beijing Auto Huansu S2 (1.346) and Weichai Enranger G3 (932). While the aforementioned names are not exactly setting the market on fire, count on ChangAn to break new sales ground with the CS15, as it did with the CS35 then the CS75.

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales