China July 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Borgward BX7 China July 2016Borgward BX7

* See the July 2016 Top 393 All China-made models and Top 70 brands here *

With new car sales up a whopping 26% year-on-year in July, the Chinese market welcomes a boasting 8 all-new China-made models this month – 5 of which being Chinese SUVs and thus right on-trend – compared to just two in June but 9 in May. As is the tradition each month, BSCB puts a laser focus on these new entries to keep you up-to-the-minute about the largest car market in the world. The July 2016 class of all-new nameplates is a particularly momentous one as we welcome one marque reborn from the 1960s and one new Chinese marque instantly featuring three all-new nameplates…

Borgward logo old and newOld and new Borgward logo

1. Borgward BX7 (#118 – 4.079 sales)

The most popular newcomer this month has a definite German accent to it, but the renaissance of the Borgward marque 55 years after it last made cars is anything but, rather funded and 100% owned by Foton Motor, property of the BAIC Group. As I described in our annual ranking of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show where Borgward placed at a stunning #3, Foton did a stellar job at reviving the once legendary marque. Its marketing efforts at the Show focused on its heritage, playing up the “Since 1919″ slogan despite the half-century production interruption and enumerating the brand’s achievements at the peak of its glory in the fifties: “A direct competitor to Mercedes”, “One of Germany’s Top 4 Carmakers” (along with Volkswagen, Opel and Mercedes), “The most complete product lineup of the time” and “Cumulative sales of 1 million units”.

Borgward BX7 China July 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

Last September, I cringed at how much of a faux pas it was to relaunch the brand at the Frankfurt Auto Show, especially with a misleading “accessible premium” positioning. I stand by it, it was a mistake. But if the only objective was to get press in China and make the brand look more premium here – like anything European it seems – then it may have been a good idea. The BX7 is now in market almost a year after its German unveiling, and Borgward has made sure to feature numerous test-drives in Germany (such as the one pictured above) to prolong the illusion – as not a single Borgward will be manufactured in Germany, something the brand’s website conveniently bypasses. The Chinese name for Borgward (Baowo 宝沃) is a clever mix of BMW (Baoma 宝马) and Volvo (Woer’Wo 沃尔沃)… “Any similarities with existing marques would be purely coincidental” – not.

Borgward 230Borgward 230

As we saw in Beijing, the smaller BX5 and BX6TS are already on their way and will enlarge the brand’s lineup in the coming months. For now, the BX7 is ideally sized for a Chinese car market hungrier than ever for compact Chinese SUVs, and a first appearance above 4.000 monthly sales is a very satisfying figure indeed for what is basically an unknown brand – beyond what BSCB would have originally set as a bar for success. Reported Chinese sales however tend to be wholesale deliveries to dealers, so we should wait a few months to really declare this launch successful – or not.

If BAIC’s brands are still displayed in a joyous mess at every Auto Show (Senova, Huansu, Weiwang, Changhe, Foton, Gratour…), Borgward stands apart and it can only be beneficial for its sales performance. A much needed boost, as the BX7 is basically a rebadged BAIC: it is in fact the same vehicle as the BAIC Huansu S6, Weiwang S50 and Senova X65. The price is much higher though, from 169.800 to 242.800 yuan ($25.600-36.600) compared to the S6 (79.800-116.800), S50 (95.000-110.000) and X65 (106.800-156.800). All three nameplates have found their market, so chances are the BX7 will too but it might be tougher to convince Chinese buyers to fork out that much money for a rebadged BAIC.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Cowin C3 China July 2016Cowin C3

2. Cowin X3 (#128 – 3.744 sales)

4. Cowin V3 (#212 – 1.296 sales)

5. Cowin C3 (#215 – 1.205 sales)

This month it’s not just one but three new nameplates from Chery spinoff brand Cowin that enter the ranking. Cowin, formerly a Chery sub-brand, transitioned into full-blown marque in August 2014 and premiered at the Chengdu Auto Show in September of that year. Yet its first appearance at a major Chinese Auto Show was in Beijing last April, and a cascade of new, sharply designed and perfectly relevant nameplates meant it ranked #5 in our list of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Show. The Cowin brand, aimed at younger buyers living in second and third tier cities and purchasing their first vehicle, now makes its very first appearance in the Chinese sales charts.

Cowin X3 China July 2016Cowin X3 interior China July 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.comCowin X3

As we detailed in China 2016 Photo Report: The Chinese car dealerships of Xining, the Cowin C3 sedan and C3R hatchback have been on sale in China for almost a year, yet the nameplate only appears now in the ranking at #215 with 1.205 sales. Delayed reporting sometimes occurs in China when a new brand appears in market. The X3 5-seat SUV, unveiled in Beijing in April, is for its part all-new. It is based on the tried-and-tested Chery Tiggo 3 with an entirely new and very modern design. Despite being priced from 63.600 to 93.900 yuan (US$ 9.600-14.200), the X3 features a 10.1 inch touchscreen in the centre console, something that is sure to attract a younger clientele. It is logically priced at a 7.000 yuan ($1.000) premium over the ageing Tiggo 3 (56.900-86.900 yuan) and enters one of the most crowded segments in China. Available with a 1.6L petrol with 127hp mated with a five-speed manual or automatic, it will compete squarely with such blockbusters as the Baojun 560 (66.800-92.800), BAIC Senova X35 (65.200-88.200), Brilliance V3 (59.700-102.700), Changan CS35 (72.400-94.400), Dongfeng Fengguang AX7 (64.700-82.700) and Ford Ecosport (69.800-100.800).

Cowin V3 China July 2016 Cowin V3 China July 2016bCowin V3 

Unveiled like the V3 at the last Beijing Auto Show in April, the V3 has been categorised as a 7-seat SUV even though it is actually a rebaghed variant of the Karry K50 MPV. Powered by the same engine as the X3, the V3 is competitively priced between 60.800 and 77.800 yuan (US$9.200-11.700). It’s a clear premium over the Karry K50S, the SUV-esque variant of the K50 (50.800-68.800) but its SUV categorisation places the V3 as one of the cheapest 7-seaters in market, competing with the Changan CX70 (64.400-80.400) and Lifan Myway (55.700-76.800). Over in the MPV aisle, the X3 competes with the tremendously successful – but lately struggling – Baojun 730 (59.800-82.800). Chery/Cowin have played all the right cards to be successful here too with the V3. In this context, regular stints at 5.000 monthly sales would mean success for either the V3 or the X3, but these two could go much higher with their cutthroat pricing and attractive design.

Bar for success: C3: 3.000 monthly sales, X3 and V3: 5.000 monthly sales.

Roewe RX5 China July 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cn

3. Roewe RX5 (#190 – 1.620 sales)

Also unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show, the RX5 is a much-anticipated and very sleek addition to the Roewe lineup, the Chinese version of the defunct Rover marque, now owned the SAIC Group. Dubbed by the brand as “the world’s first mass-produced super internet SUV”, the RX5 is the first model equipped with the Yun OS software jointly developed with Chinese tech Alibaba, the Chinese Amazon. Roewe wants to attract a younger audience with the RX5, targetting the 26-35 year-old age bracket which has traditionally been the territory of SAIC’s other main brand, MG. The RX5 is indeed based on the same platform as the MG GS but priced higher at 97.800-177.800 yuan (US$14.750-26.800) vs. 84.700-153.700 for the MG GS.

Roewe RX5 China July 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

This way, the RX5 competes with the entry-premium Chinese SUVs, such as the hugely successful GAC Trumpchi GS4 (99.800-153.800), Haval H6 Coupe (118.300-159.800), Geely Boyue (98.800-157.900), Leopaard CS10 (96.300-146.400), Qoros 5 SUV (119.900-178.900) and even the Haval H7 (145.300-165.300). On the other hand, although pricey for a Chinese SUV, the 4.54m long RX5 remains a very good deal when compared to China-made foreign offerings which demand a similar price for a distinctly smaller car such as the 4.29m Honda Vezel (118.800-175.800 yuan), 4.29m Mitsubishi ASX (93.800-150.000), 4.27m Hyundai ix25 (95.800-168.000), 4.28m Buick Encore (99.700-164.900), 4.27m Kia KX3 (85.800-159.800) or 4.17m Suzuki Vitara (99.500-158.800).

Roewe RX5 interior China July 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.comRoewe RX5 interior 

Sales-wise, the Roewe brand has recently been re-energised by the new 360 sedan that peaked at a cool 8.437 units last January, however still far from the brand’s nameplate record of 15.883 sales hit by the 350 in December 2013. But Roewe has never been able to rely on solid SUV sales, with the antique W5, a rebadged Ssangyong Kyron, never taking off since its 2011 launch. In this context, the 1.620 sales delivered by the RX5 for its inaugural month are actually a good performance already: the W5 has not signed a four-digit month since April 2014 (1.121) and only beat the RX5 July figure once: in January 2014 when 2.014 units found a new home. But the RX5 can – and should – go much higher, potentially to 5-digit monthly sales. The MG GS’s record is 6.741 back in December 2015, and a similar score hit regularly would already be a gage of success for the RX5.

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

Luxgen 3 Sedan China July 2016

6. Luxgen 3 Sedan (#362 – 47 sales)

Another nameplate unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April, the Luxgen 3 Sedan has already launched in Taiwan where it is currently knocking at the Top 20’s door. Luxgen is a brand launched a few years back by the Taiwanese Yulong Group. The 3 Sedan is manufactured in China by the Dongfeng-Yulong joint-venture and is priced from 59.800 to 96.800 yuan (US$9.000-14.600), meaning it is entering arguably the most successful, crowded and competitive segment in the Chinese market. It will compete with the likes of the VW Jetta (5.08-10.04), Santana (5.19-9.88) Geely Emgrand EC7 5.70-8.73, Chagan Eado (starting at 56.900), Ford Escort (6.88-9.18) and Chery Arrizo 5 (5.59-9.49). Unfortunately, its dated Dongfeng 1.6L four-cylinder petrol 124hp engine, mated with a five-speed manual or CVT may make it a harder sell than it already is. Luxgen’s success in China has so far relied on SUVs, with the 6 SUV hitting a record 7.647 sales in January 2015. The 5 Sedan, launched in April 2015, only posted a four-digit sales month once, in May 2015 (1.956) so the 3 Sedan can only hope for a small slice of the gargantuan Chinese compact sedan cake.

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly sales

VW Phideon China July 2016. Picture courtesy 58che.com

7. VW Phideon (#373 – 28 sales)

Unveiled to the world at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show last March even though this is a China-only nameplate, the Phideon is the new flagship VW sedan as the Phaeton production ended on the same month. It is manufactured at SAIC-Volkswagen’s No.3 plant in Anting, Shanghai, on the MLB platform that has also given birth to the high-selling Audi A6L. The Phideon is 5.07m long and proposed with a choice of two engines, a 2.0TSI and a 3.0T V6, both paired to a 7DSG. The Phideon is a very interesting addition to the Volkswagen range that had lately focused its efforts on its most affordable offerings such as the Jetta, Santana and Bora in order to fend off more and more competitive Chinese carmakers.

The premium sedan segment is alive and well in China though, and definitely worth another look by Volkswagen. The BMW 5 Series is the best-seller so far in 2016 (81.799 units), followed closely by the Audi A6L (79.879). It’s therefore a smart move from Volkswagen to try and upgrade its current Passat and Magotan customers (adding up to a whopping 182.171 units in the first seven months of 2016) towards a more affordable option than the Phaeton was (528.000 to 1.200.000 yuan or US$79.600-180.900). In comparison, the Phideon is priced at 359.000-670.000 yuan (US$54.100-101.000). That’s significantly higher than the A6L (249.000-503.200) and roughly at the same level as the imported A7 (418.600-656.600), ensuring minimal A6L/Phideon cannibalisation. Faithful to its traditionally crystal-clear segmentation, Volkswagen has priced the Phideon entirely out of the Passat/Magotan range (133.800-304.600) with only the top-end imported Passat Variant (379.600 yuan) sliding in. Similarly, the VW CC (252.800-342.800) doesn’t infringe on Phideon territory.

With a very clear positioning in the market and within the Volkswagen Group’s stable, how far up can the Phideon go sales wise? This predictive exercise is actually a delicate task, because never before had the Volkswagen brand produced such an expensive nameplate in China. Its previous attempt as selling full-blown luxury has backfired, even in China, with the Phaeton only finding 1.581 customers in FY 2015 for its last full year in market. The success of the A6L can’t be held as a benchmark as it comes on the back of a couple of decades of market integration. The Mercedes S-Class, more expensive (769.800-2.450.000 yuan) sold just under 27.000 units last year and the VW CC, currently the most expensive China-made VW, should reach the same level in 2016. The novelty effect should push the Phideon slightly higher on an annual basis.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

Geely Vision China July 2016

8. Geely Vision SUV (#384 – 4 sales)

The most discreet all-new July nameplate in China is also the most intriguing. The Vision SUV, or Vision X6, is in fact a facelifted Geely GX7 with a new and very nice face to fit with Geely’s current design standards. The Vision SUV makes it three new Geely SUV in the past few months alongside the Boyue and Emgrand GS. Although very late in catching up with the SUV madness, Geely has now hit the ground running. The Vision SUV is powered by a choice of 1.8 139hp engine with 5-speed manual and 1.3T 133hp engine with CVT. The price should stay around the same area as the GX7 (55.900-119.900 or US$8.400-18.100), meaning very competitive for a 4.60m-long SUV. The GX7 peaked at 7.675 sales back in January 2015, and we expect more from the Vision SUV.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

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

One year ago: China July 2015: Focus on the All-new models

China July 2016: Tax cut triggers 26% gain, fastest pace in 3.5 years

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China July 2016. Picture courtesy qcwp.comThe GAC Trumpchi GS4 breaks into the overall Top 5 for the first time in July. 

* See the Top 70 China-made brands and Top 393 models by clicking on the title *

The Chinese new car market manages a third consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains in July and its largest since January 2013 at +26% to 1.6 million passenger cars excluding commercial vehicles, partly due to a low base a year ago when the market suffered a 2nd consecutive month of decline, and partly the fruit of the halving of the purchase tax on small-engine vehicles to 5% last October. Vehicles eligible for the tax break surge 39% year-on-year this month to 1.144.000 units. Once again SUVs are the main engine of growth in China with deliveries up a whopping 46% on July 2015 to 587.532 just as MPVs are up 36% to 146.816 and sedans grow 20% to 833.440, the segment’s fastest pace in years. This very robust July result means a record 12.65 million new cars have found a buyer so far in 2016, 11% ahead of the same period a year ago. The overall market including cars, trucks and busses stands at 14.7 million units in 7 months, 9.8% above 2015.

Wuling Hongguang SI China July 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnThe Wuling Hongguang reclaims the Chinese top spot in July. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, “with the tax break due to expire at the end of the year, many dealers have put countdown timers on their websites or stores to encourage consumers to buy cars by the time 2016 comes to an end”. The China Automobile Dealers Association says inventories have fallen to a one-year low in July, signaling quickening demand. However economic indicators point to a further slowdown of the Chinese economy in the second half of 2016 and early 2017 car sales could suffer greatly from anticipated sales before the tax break expiration – unless the government decides to prolong the tax break.

VW Bora China July 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnThe Volkswagen Group outsells General Motors in China in July and year-to-date. 

Among major carmakers reporting deliveries to customers (and not dealers), the Volkswagen Group is up 16% to 285.900 sales, leading to a year-to-date total up 8% to 2.148.000. Sales of Volkswagen-branded models are up 17% to 210.500 (+8.5% to 1.601.900 in 2016), Audi is up 10% to 46.454 (+6.5% to 336.580 YTD) and Skoda is up 16% to 21.400. General Motors for its part is up 18% to 270.529 sales, riding on excellent results by Cadillac (+90% to 8.757), Buick (+30% to 89.404), Baojun up 66% to 44.320 despite the cooling off of the 730 (-21%) and the 560 (#18 vs. #7 YTD) while Wuling recovers at +6% to 97.728 and Chevrolet continues to struggle at -15% to 30.287. Year-to-date, GM deliveries are up 6.8% to 2.081.005.

Honda XR-V China July 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnHonda outsells Toyota and Nissan in China for the first time in July.

For the first time, Honda Motor outsells its two main Japanese competitors Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor thanks mainly to the tremendous success of its SUV lineup (CR-V, XR-V and Vezel) although the carmaker’s gain is widespread: one-third of its 18 models progress by more than 30% this month. All-in-all, Honda gains 39% to 102.319 sales, Toyota is up 6% to 97.700 and Nissan is up 9% to 91.700. Meanwhile Ford Motor Co. is up 15% to 88.190. In the first 7 months of 2016, Honda is up 21% to 646.054, Toyota up 14% to 689.900, Nissan up 4.5% to 701.700 and Ford up 6% to 652.836.

Haval H7 China July 2016The Haval H7 continues to climb the Chinese sales charts: up to #118 in July. 

Over in the premium aisle, Mercedes soars 26% to 37.277, gaining ground on BMW up 19% to 40.200 with Audi up 10% to 46.454 while year-to-date Mercedes is up 32% to 257.276, BMW up 8.5% to 287.753 and Audi up 6.5% to 336.580. Even more impressively, this Mercedes score is achieved in the absence of E-Class L sales, as the redesigned and locally produced model will go on sale in September. Among Chinese carmakers, Great Wall jumps 45% to 68.976, helped by price cuts on its best-seller the Haval H6 SUV, that now has a starting price of 88.800 yuan (US$13.395) down 24% from a year ago and the continuing progression of the Haval H7 leading to Haval sales are up 50% to 60.002, while Great Wall pickups are up 36% to 7.688 while Great Wall sedans are down 32% to 1.286. Year-to-date, Great Wall is up 12% to 519.228.

Jeep Renegade China July 2016Jeep sells a record 12.551 locally-produced SUVs in China in July. 

As a reminder the figures detailed above reflect sales to customers and for the most part include imports. They may therefore differ from the brands table displayed further down in this article. In the China-made brands ranking, Volkswagen (+32%) reigns supreme above 200.000 sales, followed by Honda (+46%), Buick (+42%), Toyota (-13%), Hyundai (+29%), Nissan (+23%), Ford (+29%), Changan (+28%) and Haval (+54%). Geely (+62%) steps inside the Top 10, dislodging Beijing Auto (+84%), with Dongfeng (+63%), Zotye (+116%), GAC Trumpchi (+120%) and Roewe (+133%) posting the largest year-on-year gains inside the Top 30. Thanks to the arrival of the Renegade, American carmaker Jeep signs its 2nd record month of locally-produced sales at 12.551. This month we welcome two new Chinese brands: Cowin (#38) and Borgward (#45) which we will study in a lot more detail shortly in our monthly focus on the All-new models. Finally, notice the imploding of DS (-61%), still hailed as a tremendous success back in France (?) and Fiat down 77% as its range has never been expanded beyond the original Ottimo and Viaggio.

Geely Boyue China July 2016. Picture courtesy auto.ifeng.comThe Geely Boyue signs its very first month above 10.000 units in July. 

Model-wise, the Wuling Hongguang reclaims the top spot for only the 2nd time in the past 6 months thanks to sales up 33% to 42.178, the result of both price cuts and the new, larger S1 variant. The Haval H6 is up 69% to #2, knocking the VW Lavida down to #3. Below the Buick Excelle GT up a brilliant 79%, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+127%) celebrates one year in market with a very first incursion inside the overall Chinese Top 5. Inside the Top 25, the VW Jetta, Santana (both at +75%), Ford Escort (+110%), Buick Envision (+54%), Toyota Levin (+63%) and Kia K3 (+152%) post spectacular gains.

BAIC Senova X35 China July 2016. Picture courtesy auto.qq.comThe BAIC Senova X35 is up to #64 this month.

As described above, Honda justifies its historical month with splendid scores by its SUV lineup: the CR-V is up 54% to rank 3rd in the segment, the XR-V up 39% to #6 and the Vezel up 38% to #8. The Chery Arrizo 5 confirms its 2nd spot among Chinese sedans at #33 with a record 11.135 sales, only outsold by the Geely Emgrand EC7 (15.876, up 40%) but above the Changan Eado down 19% to 8.295 and the Geely Vision up 39% to 8.213.

Lifan Myway China July 2015. Picture courtesy motorfans.com.cnThe Lifan Myway is already knocking at the Top 100’s door in China. 

An army of recently-launched Chinese SUVs break records this month: the Geely Boyue SUV jumps into the Top 50 for the first time at #41 (+34 spots on June) and posts its very first 5-digit month at 10.129 sales, the BAIC Senova X35 is up 36 ranks to #64 with 8.005 sales, the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 up 33 to #68 and 7.541, the Geely Emgrand GS up 50 to #74 and 6.728, the Lifan Myway up 11 to #107 and 4.978, the Haval H7 up 26 to #118 and 4.079. Reversely, a few blockbusters get hit: the Changan CS75 is down 40%, the Brilliance V3 down 67% and the Changhe Q25 down 111 spots on June to #242. Among foreigners, notice the Jeep Renegade up 84 spots on last month to #120 and 4.050 sales and the Cadillac XT5 up 40 to #138 and 3.580.

Previous post: China First Half 2016: Tax cut, SUV wave spur 8% gain to record 12.8m

Previous month: China June 2016: Market up 18%, next wave of Chinese SUVs arrives

One year ago: China July 2015: Baojun 560 lands with a splash in market down again

Full July 2016 Top 70 China-made brands and Top 393 models below.

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China 1st Half 2016: Tax cut, SUV wave spur 8% gain to record 12.8m

Baojun 560 China September 2015. Picture courtesy shwuling.comBaojun sold 320.000 units of the 560 in the past 12 months. 

* See the Top 75 All China-made brands, Top 465 models and Top 70 LCVs by clicking on the title *

Now updated with LCV data courtesy of Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars.

Faced with a declining car market, last October Chinese government cut in half the tax on cars with small engines (1.6L or less). The Chinese market never looked back since, culminating in a 18% surge in June. Over the first half of 2016, sales of light vehicles are up 9.2% to 11.042.300 units. Total vehicle sales including trucks and buses gain 8.1% to a record-breaking 12.8 million units, according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). By comparison, the U.S. light vehicle market, the 2nd largest in the world, is up 1.5% to 8.644.920 deliveries.

Buick Envision China June 2016The Envision is a huge success for Buick in China. 

A very robust 2nd half could mean the government will let the tax cut expire on December 31 as planned. If that’s the case, we will witness a last-minute rush to buy small cars towards the end of the year and a disproportionately low start of 2017 – in that scenario IHS predicts Chinese growth will slow to 1.4% in 2017. For this reason, the CAAM said it is in favour of a permanent tax cit that could be viewed as a promotion of fuel-efficient cars. I am banking on the government extending the tax cut to avoid sending another wave of disruption into the market. For now, halfway through 2016 SUV sales remain the clear engine of Chinese growth with deliveries up a whopping 42% year-on-year to 3.850.000 units, while MPV get a second wind at +19% to 1.200.100 sales and sedans continue to skid at -4% to 5.565.700.

H1 2016 Ch. MS /15 H1 2015 Ch. MS /14 H1 2014 Ch. MS
Total Market 11,042,300 / 9% 10,121,300 / 5% 9,638,400 /
Ch. brands 4,735,000 42.9% 13% 4,184,600 41.3% 15% 3,651,500 37.9%
Ch. SUV 2,171,000 56.4% 53% 1,417,700 53.3% 93% 735,300 40.4%
Ch. Sedans 1,109,400 19.9% -11% 1,243,400 21.5% -11% 1,390,800 22.6%
Ch. MPV 1,087,600 90.6% 21% 895,200 88.1% 19% 750,400 85.1%

Ch. = Chinese, Ch. MS = Chinese market share

Chinese manufacturers continue to regain the terrain they had lost in the home market in the past decade thanks to extremely strong SUV sales. Over the first 6 months of 2016, they hold a 42.9% market share of Chinese light vehicle sales, compared to 41.3% a year ago and 37.9% in 2014. Chinese SUVs gain a stunning 53% to 2.171.000 units and 56.4% share vs. 53.3% in 2015 and 40.4% in 2014. Chinese MPV also have a smile on their bonnet with deliveries up 21% leading to a 90.6% share vs. 88.1% in 2015 and 85.1% in 2014. Only Chinese sedans lag behind with volumes down 11% to 19.9% share vs. 21.5% in 2015 and 22.6% in 2014.

Buick Excelle GT VW Lavida China June 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnThe Buick Excelle GT and VW Lavida have helped GM and VAG tremendously in China this year. 

Overtaken by General Motors over the Full Year 2015, the Volkswagen Group reclaims the lead of the Chinese sales races halfway through 2016 thanks to deliveries up 6% to 1.91 million. The Volkswagen brand is up 5% to 1.44m, Audi up 6% to 290.126, Skoda up 11% to 152.000 and Porsche up 4% to 30.440. GM for its part is up 5% to 1.81m units. Buick is up 27% to become the #2 brand in the country below VW at 569.000 sales, Baojun surges 81%, Wuling is stable but Chevrolet is down 31%. Hyundai-Kia is in difficulty at -0.6% to fall just under 810.000 sales, Nissan Motor is up 4% to 609.900, Toyota Motor up 16% to 592.100, Ford Motor up 6% to 577.100 with Lincoln sales tripling to 12.450 (more than the 11.630 it sold over the Full Year 2015) and Honda up 18% to 542.500 thanks to the roaring success of the XR-V and Vezel twin crossovers. In the luxury aisle, below Audi, Mercedes soars 33% to 220.000 units, citing up on BMW up 7% to 247.600. Note the above figures include imports – which is not the case in the sales tables below the jump.

Haval H6 Coupe China June 2016The Haval H6 remains the best-selling SUV in China – Coupe variant pictured. 

Looking at homegrown brands – figures don’t include commercial vehicles, Changan is up 8% but drops one spot to #3 at 563.900 units, Haval gains a solid 22% to break into the Top 10 at #9 and 378.700 units, Beijing Auto is up 51% to #11, Dongfeng up 15% to #12, Geely up 10% to #15 and JAC up 17% #18. Below, the brands that gain spectacular ground all do so thanks to new SUV offerings: GAC Trumpchi is up 170%, Zotye up 49%, Brilliance up 46%, Roewe up 74%, Soueast up 81%, Leopaard up 433% and Landwind up 236%.

Wuling Hongguang S1 China June 2016Still the one: the Wuling Hongguang is the #1 vehicle in China but drops 6%

Model-wise, the Wuling Hongguang remains the best-selling vehicle in the country despite sales down 6% to 294.300, but is now under intense pressure from the VW Lavida, up a fantastic 23% to 287.400. The Haval H6 does even better, lifted by the success of the Coupe variant up 40% to 240.300. Just below, a string of high-performing sedans contradict the overall trend: the VW Jetta (+16%), Sagitar (+27%), Buick Excelle GT (+54%) and Toyota Corolla (+35%) all frankly outpace the market. Just over one year old, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 lands inside the Top 10 thanks to 150.800 deliveries. The Buick Envision (#14), Dongfeng Fengguang 330/370 (+30%), Honda CR-V (+38%), XR-V (+61%) and Vezel (+44%) and Toyota Levin (+32%) also shine inside the Top 50.

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China June 2016. Picture courtesy rednet.cnThe GAC Trumpchi GS4 is now among the 10 most popular vehicles in China. 

But the most impressive performance is without a doubt delivered by the Baojun 560, landing directly in 4th position overall with nearly 175.000 sales so far in 2016. Launched in July 2015, Baojun has sold an earth-shattering 320.000 copies of the 560 in just 12 months, beating the brand’s previous launch (the 730) to snap the title of most successful new nameplate launch in the history of automobile in China. The Baojun 560 is the fastest nameplate to reach its first 300.000 units: it did so in just 11 months (301.534) vs. 13 for the Baojun 730. It leads a strong contingent of 72 new China-made nameplates having made their first appearance in the Chinese charts over the past 12 months. So far in 2016, the Changan Oushang, Hyundai Elantra Lingdong, Jeep Cherokee, BAIC Huansu H3, Zotye Damai X5, BAIC Senova X25, Nissan Lannia, Soueast DX7 and Roewe 360 have been the most successful. It’s also worth mentioning the Buick Verano, new Hyundai Tucson and Brilliance V3, each just over one year old but already inside the Top 50.

Dongfeng Rich China June 2016Dongfeng Rich – Chinese pickups are back in the game. 

Stepping into the Light Commercial Vehicle market, a few momentous shifts are at play. In an overall market contracting 12% to 1.695.351 units, minivans are fast falling into oblivion at -36% to 304.019, with part of this lost volume recuperated by mini trucks (the pickup equivalent of these minivans), up 14% to 246.315. The big news however is the return to grace of pickups up 4% to 169.510 (and surging 36% in June), helped by a change in legislation allowing them in the large cities of four provinces for the first time in 12 years (click here for more detail). The Foton Light Truck is in the lead despite sales down 6% to 126.856 ahead of the Wuling Mini Truck (+6%) and Hongguang V (-17%). The Wuling Sunshine (-33%), Rongguang (-35%) and Chana Star Minibus (-40%) implode, and the Great Wall Wingle 5 leads the pickup charge above the JMC Baodian, ZX Auto Grand Tiger and Dongfeng Rich.

Used-vehicle sales don’t traditionally make it to BSCB headlines but in the case of China it is a very important element to help understand the largest market in the world. The used-car market in China is still nascent as an overwhelming majority of new car buyers purchase their very first car, and the trust required to purchase a second-hand car isn’t supported yet by a clear and official network of resellers. In this context, the used car market in China unsurprisingly grows slower than the new car market in 2016, at +4% to 4.7 million units over the first half of the year. Interestingly, microvans are the fastest-growing segment just as they disappear from the new car charts: they are up 77% to 276.909 units, while used MPVs are up 35% to 236.700, SUVs are up 31% to 298.000 and sedans up 5% to 2.871.500 according to the China Automobile Dealers Association. Used buses are down 15% to 514.500 and used trucks down 10% to 486.000. The CADA forecast a used vehicle market up 6% to 10 million units over the full year 2016.

Previous post (1): China June 2016: Market up 18%, next wave of Chinese SUVs arrives

Previous post (2): China LCV June 2016: Pickup sales surge 36%

One year ago: China 1st Half 2015: Domestic carmakers regain ground in shy market

Full H1 2016 Top 75 All China-made brands, Top 465 models and Top 70 LCVs vs. Full H1 2015 figures below.

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China LCV June 2016: Pickup sales surge 36%

Great Wall Wingle 5 China June 2016. Picture courtesy ignitionlive.co.zaThe Great Wall Wingle 5 is the best-selling pickup in China. 

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

Thanks to a partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, we can share with you today detailed sales data for Light Commercial Vehicles in China with complete Minivan, Pickup and Mini Truck data by model as well as selected light truck/bus data provided by LMC Automotive. Chinese LCV sales continue to struggle at -17% in June to 252.603 and -12% year-to-date to 1.695.351. However the detail by segment unveils a striking novelty: minivan are stuck in a race to the bottom at -48% to 33.825 sales, mini trucks for once also crumble at -21% to 35.104 – yet outselling minivans for the 2nd consecutive month – but the heroes of the month are pickups. Bolstered by a change in legislation allowing them in the large cities of four provinces for the first time in 12 years (click here for more detail on this), pickup sales in China returned to positive for the first time in over two years in April and posted their first double-digit gains in 3 years in May. In June, their revival accelerates further to a whopping 36% to 28.581 units.

JMC Baodian Plus China June 2016JMC Baodian

They are led as usual by the Great Wall Wingle 5, stable at 5.015 sales, followed by the JMC Baodian (+28%), Dongfeng Rich (+47%), ZX Auto Grand Tiger (+6%), JMC Yuhu (+239%) and Great Wall Wingle 6 (+57%). In fact, only four of the 20 pickups ranked in this month’s charts lose ground year-on-year. In May 2015, we had detailed the Chinese pickup market as the low-hanging fruit in our analysis Where is the Chinese market headed? and it seems the Chinese government reads BSCB… In other LCV news, the Foton Light Truck retains the lead with sales up 4% to 19.175, the Wuling Hongguang V is up to #2 but down 1% and the Wuling Mini Truck uncharacteristically falls 42% to #3.

Previous month: China LCV May 2016: Minitrucks outsell minivans, pickups up 11%

One year ago: China LCV June 2015: Wuling Mini Truck takes off at +66%

Full June 2016 Top 55 models Ranking Table below.

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China June 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Mazda CX-4 China June 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

* See the June 2016 Top 393 All China-made models and Top 70 brands here *

Although Chinese June sales fuelled up 18%, this month of the year is traditionally slower in terms of novelties coming onto the market. After 9 all-new China-made nameplates made their first appearance in the May ranking, this figure slows down to two in June – the same as June 2015. As is the tradition each month, BSCB puts a laser focus on these new entries to keep you up-to-the-minute about the largest car market in the world. It’s no surprise the two newcomers are SUVs, but the fact they are both foreign brands is a surprise.

Mazda CX-4 China June 2016. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cn

1. Mazda CX-4 (#92 – 6.347 sales)

Incomprehensibly, Mazda hasn’t launched the CX-3 in China yet. Instead, the Japanese carmaker unveiled in Beijing last April its very first China-only nameplate: the CX-4 SUV. Although Mazda hasn’t ruled out export to other countries – Australia where Mazda holds a 10% market share is drooling over it – the company hasn’t announced any plans either. A very aggressive design immediately positions the CX-4 among the best looking SUVs on sale at the moment, and Chinese customers agree: it already sold 6.347 units in May, already the brand’s 2nd best-seller below just the 3 Axela (10.603) and above the CX-5 (4.248). Priced between 140.800 and 215.800 yuan (US$ 21.100-32.300), the CX-4 is manufactured by the FAW-Mazda joint-venture in Changchun and powered by a choice of 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActive petrol engines mated with a six-speed automatic, meaning it can’t benefit for tax-cuts allowed to 1.6L or less.

Mazda CX-4 China June 2016. Picture courtesy autohome

Mazda is marketing the CX-4 as a sportier version of the CX-5 in China, and although the CX-4 is longer (4.63m vs. 4.56m), it is indeed shorter (1.54m vs. 1.71m) and definitely looks a lot sportier. Somewhat disappointingly, the CX-4 shares most of its interior with the 3. This format places it right into the most competitive foreign SUV segment, along with the blockbusters VW Tiguan (16.145 sales in June), Nissan X-Trail (15.920), Honda CR-V (14.883), Hyundai Tucson (13.203) and Ford Kuga (7.297) as well as newcomers Kia KX5 (8.493) and Jeep Cherokee (8.702). Hitting a 5-digit monthly sales figure should be the objective for the CX-4.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Jeep Renegade China June 2016

2. Jeep Renegade (#204 – 1.678 sales)

Jeep became a local manufacturer last November when it launched the China-made version of the Cherokee, of which over 58.000 units have since been sold, peaking at 9.201 last April. The Renegade inaugurates a new plant in Guangzhou, operated by the joint-venture between GAC and FCA with an annual capacity of 160.000 vehicles. This means the Renegade is now produced in three countries: Italy, Brazil and China, the most locations of any Jeep nameplate and the only one not produced in North America at all. It is priced between 141.800 and 178.880 yuan (US$21.200 – 26,700), very close to its U.S. price ($18.990-27.990) whereas the Chinese Cherokee incurred a 50% price premium on its U.S. equivalent (see China November 2015: Focus on the All-new models). The Renegade is 4.25m long and is powered by either a 1.4T matched to a 7DCT or a 2.0L mated with a 9AT, with both front-wheel drive and 4WD versions available – some very modern mechanics here.

Even though it is a lot more affordable than the Cherokee, the Renegade may have a hard time finding its clientele in China, as their inaugural sales months already show (1.678 vs. 2.171). At this price point and size, the Renegade indeed finds itself in a bit of a black hole, where only the Honda XR-V and Vezel twins have truly succeeded among foreign carmakers so far (4.28m, 127.800-189.800 yuan and 27.461 combined sales in June). The Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3-XR all quickly faltered after promising launches. But this is where it gets tricky: for this price point you can now afford high quality, much larger Chinese SUVs such as the Geely Emgrand GS (4.40m, 77.800-108.800 yuan) or Geely Boyue (4.52m, 98.800-157.800 yuan). A lower sales target than what the Cherokee is currently selling seems therefore adequate.

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

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

One year ago: (see end of article) China June 2015: First monthly year-on-year decline in over 6 years

China June 2016: Market up 18%, next wave of Chinese SUVs arrives

Changan CX70 China June 2016Launched in April, the Changan CX70 sells 10.058 units in June. 

* See the Top 70 All China-made brands and Top 393 All models by clicking on the title *

A year ago, the Chinese light vehicle market was going through its first monthly year-on-year decline in over 6 years. June 2016 data is a lot more reassuring with deliveries up a whopping 18% year-on-year to 1.784.100 units. Crossovers and SUvs once again are the engine of growth in China at +41% to 632.300 units, with MPVs up 35% to 170.400 and sedans up 9% to 925.100, whereas microvans continue to sink into oblivion at -38% to 56.300 sales according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. These strong results are showing that the tax cut on cars with engines of or lower than 1.6L implemented last October has been effective in rebooting market growth.

Geely Boyue China June 2016. Picture courtesy autov.com.cnA March launch, the Geely Boyue found 8.142 new homes in June.

The Volkswagen brand manages to outpace the overall Chinese market with sales up a stunning 20% to 219.431. It is followed by Buick up 14% to 97.266, Hyundai up a whopping 62% to 97.208, Honda up 14% to 95.788 and Nissan up 20% to 88.580 whereas Toyota pays the absence of small crossover in its lineup with a 8% drop to 88.432. Rare brands in decline also included Citroen (-4%), Chevrolet (-16%), Peugeot (-19%) and Ford (-20%). Note the above figures do not include imports. Changan (+22%), Beijing Auto (+127%) and Haval (+39%) are the only Chinese brands inside the overall Top 10, followed by Geely at #11 (+37%), Dongfeng at #13 (+53%) and Wuling at #15 (+17%). Notice Baojun up 44%, GAC Trumpchi up 121%, Haima up 67% and Roewe up 89%. In the luxury race, Audi is up 7% to remain the favourite at 51.008 sales, BMW Group (including Mini) is up 13% to 45.300 and Mercedes shoots up 21% to 39.462 sales. Group-wise, General Motors is up 11% to 273.563 sales but far below the Volkswagen Group.

BYD Yuan China June 2016Launched in March, the Yuan is BYD’s 2nd most popular vehicle in China this month. 

Thanks to sales up a stunning 62% year-on-year to 43.585, the VW Lavida reclaims the top spot in the models ranking for the third time in the past 5 months, knocking the Wuling Hongguang down to #2 and 41.956 units (+16%). The Haval H6 soars 60% to 37.547 deliveries and stays put in third place ahead of the Nissan Sylphy (+33%), VW Jetta (+72%) and Buick Excelle GT (+59%). The VW Sagitar (+70%) and Santana (+39%) are the other two Volkswagen sedans posting exuberant gains in the Top 10, just as the Tiguan drops 28% awaiting the new generation.

BAIC Senova X35 China June 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.comThe BAIC Senova X35 ranks inside the overall Top 100 for its 2nd month in market. 

The GAC Trumpchi GS4 (#10) remains the #2 best-selling SUV in the country above the Buick Envision (+48%) and Baojun 560. Yet one of the main trends in the SUV segment this month is foreign entries catching up: the Nissan X-Trail ranks 6th with 15.920 sales, the Honda CR-V is up 12% at #7, the Honda Vezel and XR-V continue to sparkle, adding up to 27.461 sales (+31%) and the new model propels the Hyundai Tucson 8-fold to 13.203 sales. Meanwhile the Chinese SUVs that had gobbled up such an impressive amount of sales in the past 18 months seem to be taking a small break: along with the Baojun 560 levelling down, the Changan CS35 (-9%), JAC Refine S3 (-14%), Changan CS75 (-45%) all lose significant ground.

Dongfeng Fengguang 580 China June 2016The Dongfeng Fengguang 580 is up 97% on its starting month to #101 in June.

But the succession is ready: 11 of the 13 nameplates launched in the past 3 months that are already present in the Top 145 are Chinese SUVs – the theme of all illustrations in this article and the one thing to remember about China this month. The only two foreigners are the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (#32) and Kia KX5 (#68). The Changan CX70, first appearing in February but truly launching in April, breaks into the Top 50 with 10.058 sales, the Geely Boyue is up to #75 with 8.142, the BYD Yuan at #95 with 6.161, BAIC Senova X35 at #100 with 5.977 (+99% on its inaugural May score), the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 at #101 with 5.952 (+97%), FAW Xenia R7 at #116 with 4.987 (+27%), Lifan Myway at #118 with 4.864 (+133%), Geely Emgrand GS at #124 with 4.600 (+64%), Changhe Q25 at #131 with 4.222 and BAIC Weiwang S50 at #132 with 4.132. Finally, the Haval H7 continues to climb up at 3.594, now the brand’s third best-seller below the H6 and H2 (10.089) but above the H1 (3.504) and H5 (1.501).

Lifan Myway China June 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.cnAn April launch, the Lifan Myway is already the brand’s best-seller in China at #118.

The Geely Emgrand EC7 (+44%) is once again the most popular Chinese sedan but the Chery Arrizo 5 continues to flex its muscles, lodging a 2nd consecutive 5-digit sales month at 10.722 and hurting the Changan Eado at #3 (-30%). A rare event, the BMW 5 Series is the #1 luxury vehicle in the country with 14.344 sales, outselling such mass market nameplates as the VW Golf (13.733) and Polo (13.126) and distancing the Mercedes C-Class L (10.417), Audi A4L (10.256), Audi Q5 (9.924) and Audi A6L (9.273). In the MPV aisle, the Dongfeng Fengguang 330/370 is up 90%, the BAIC Weiwang M30 is up 77% and the Changan Oushang posts yet another 5-digit month at 10.819 sales.

Previous month: China May 2016: Price cuts lift market up 11%, Wuling Hongguang back to #1

One year ago: China June 2015: First monthly year-on-year decline in over 6 years

Full June 2016 Top 70 All China-made brands and Top 393 All models below.

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China LCV May 2016: Minitrucks outsell minivans, pickups up 11%

Great Wall Wingle 6 China May 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnPickup trucks are seeing their first double-digit gains in 3 years in China. 

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

As part of a partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, we can share with you today Light Commercial Vehicle detailed sales data for China with complete Minivan, Pickup and Mini Truck data by model as well as selected light truck/bus data provided by LMC Automotive. The overall Chinese LCV market continues to suffer from the muted overall economic context of the country, with sales down 16% year-on-year in May to 266.906, a worrying and larger drop than the year-to-date tally down 12% to 1.442.748 deliveries according to LMC.

Wuling Mini Truck China May 2016Mini Trucks outsell Minivans for the first time in China. 

In the detail, a momentous event is happening before our eyes: while minivans are falling faster into oblivion each month -49% to 39.010 in May and -34% year-to-date to 270.186, they are for the first time outsold by the segment that has absorbed much of their fall: mini trucks (aka mini pickups), up another 20% to 42.184 units in May and up 23% to 211.208 so far in 2016. As for pickups, May data confirms the boosting effect of a change in legislation allowing them in the large cities of four provinces for the first time in 12 years (click here for more detail on this). After returning into positive last month for the first time in over two years, pickup sales in China are up a whopping 11% in May to 28.043 units, lifting the year-to-date tally closer to breakeven point at 141.184 (-2.5%).

Wuling Hongguang V China May 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.comThe Wuling Hongguang V is now the best-selling minivan in China. 

The Foton Light Truck keeps the lead despite sales down 7% to 21.369 but is followed closely by the Wuling Mini Truck at 20.716 (+15%), adding up to just under 100.000 sales so far in 2016 (+21%). Note Wuling single cab sales are up 51% in May to 10.457 whereas double cab sales are down 8% to 10.259. YTD, singles are at +31% and doubles at +15%. The Wuling Hongguang V now seems to have found its place in the market with deliveries up 11% to 20.050 this month, well above once-blockbusters Sunshine (-39%) and Rongguang (-44%). The Dongfeng K Series Mini Truck is also hoping the segment greatly at +81% whereas Changan isn’t seeing much transfer to Mini Trucks: the Star Minivan implodes at -87% and the Mini Truck is also down at -15%.

Foton Tunland China May 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnFoton Tunland sales are up 44% in May. 

The Great Wall Wingle 5 is back inside the overall Top 10 and leads the reinvigorated pickup charge in spite of sales down 2% to 6.056. This is still double the deliveries or any other pickup truck in the Chinese market. The Wingle 5 is followed by the JMC Baodian, Dongfeng Rich, ZX Auto Grand Tiger, the Great Wall Wingle 6 up 39% to 2.067 units and the Foton Tunland up 44% to 1.563. Further down, the Huanghai N2-Series (1.236) and Chana Shenqi F-Series (1.081) are new for 2016.

Previous month: China LCV April 2016: Mini trucks surge 39%, pickups back in positive

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

Full May 2016 Top 50 models Ranking Table below.

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China May 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Geely Emgrand GS China May 2016. Picture courtesy weiboribau.netGeely Emgrand GS

* See the May 2016 Top 396 All China-made models and Top 70 brands here *

With the light vehicle market up a very dynamic 11% in May, the constant flow of new models hitting Chinese dealership isn’t about to slow down. Another illustration this month: no less than nine all-new China-made nameplates make their first appearance in the ranking, five of them having just been unveiled at last April’s Beijing Auto Show. As is the tradition each month, BSCB puts a laser focus on these new entries to keep you informed about the largest car market in the world as if you lived there. Characteristically, the six most popular all-new models this month are SUVs, followed by two MPVs and one sedan, and 6 are Chinese vs. 2 foreigners. The message: the Chinese SUV sales surge isn’t about to cool down either.

FAW Jilin Xenia R7 China May 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

1. FAW Xenia R7 (#133 – 3.931 sales)

China’s very first automaker – First Automotive Works or FAW – is struggling at home with light vehicle sales down 32% so far in 2016. Only the Besturn B30 sedan has managed to pull decent sales figures, so a small crossover is just what the doctor ordered for the brand, and also an instant hit: the Xenia R7, which impressed me at the Beijing Auto with its interior quality, almost hits the 4.000 sales mark for is first appearance in the charts. This is already almost as much as where another FAW small crossover, the Junpai D60, peaked at: 4.154 units in January 2015. In fact, a stretch sales target should be the larger FAW Besturn X80 with a personal best of 8.199 sales in October 2014 but down to a paltry 1.367 this month. At 4.30m long and priced between 69.800 and 86.900 yuan (US$10.700 – 13.300), the Xenia R7 competes in price with the larger Baojun 560 and the smaller Changan CS35 and may have a hard time finding its place among the plethora of Chinese crossovers already on the market. FAW got us used to sell their cars at some of the lowest prices in the market so this Xenia R7 is a step-up which – albeit justified by an aggressive design, current technology and interior quality – may need a little convincing.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

Land Rover Discovery Sport China May 2016. Picture courtesy iautodaily.com

2. Land Rover Discovery Sport (#136 – 3.842 sales)

After finally reporting their overall Chinese sales last month, Jaguar Land Rover now gives us locally-produced models monthly sales data. Although launched in late October 2015, we only now get access to Land Rover Discovery Sport figures, and they are excellent. The Discovery Sport manages to attract almost 4.000 monthly buyers a mere 6 months after launch. This compares with 10.708 for the Audi Q5, the segment leader and reference in China and present here for much longer. This is also more than any other imported luxury SUV, corresponding to roughly 50.000 annual units, it compares with 39.300 BMW X5 in 2015, 39.000 Toyota Prado and 27.800 Porsche Macan. The decision by Jaguar Land Rover to start producing locally was a good one then. Despite producing locally at lower cost, Land Rover is selling the Discovery Sport in China at prices almost 50% higher than in the U.S., ranging from 368.000 to 518.000 yuan (US$56.300-79.200) vs. $38,450-46,950 in the U.S., meaning the cheapest Chinese variant is $10.000 dearer than the most expensive U.S. variant!

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengguang 580 China May 2016

3. Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (#156 – 3.022 sales)

Playing a big part in propelling Dongfeng to #2 in my list of the Most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show 2016, the Fengguang 580 ticks absolutely all boxes in the current Chinese market conditions. Its exterior and interior designs are leaps and bounds above what the brand has given us so far in the segment (think Fengguang 330-360), the dashboard console features a large touch screen and the connectivity is optimal: full smartphone integration, satellite navigation, a wifi hot spot and permanent 4G internet. Plus, it’s a seven seater. All this for an almost impossibly low price ranging between 72.900 and 99.999 yuan (US$ 11.100 – 15.300). At 4.68m long and powered by a 1.5L turbocharged 4-cyl petrol engine, the Fengguang 580 smartly leaves the similarly-sized Dongfeng Fengshen AX7 in a different price range altogether (115.700 – 149.700 yuan) and competes full-frontal with the very successful but a lot more basic Changan CX70 and BAIC Huansu S3. This could be a true blockbuster for Dongfeng.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

BAIC Senova X55 China May 2016. Picture courtesy 58che.com

4. BAIC Senova X35 (#158 – 3.003 sales)

Beijing Auto is expanding the Senova SUV lineup at lightning speed: after the X65 in February 2015 (personal best: 3.971 sales), the X25 last October (10.593) and the X55 last December (6.492), here comes the X35. At 4.30m long and powered by a 1.5L petrol engine, the Senova X35 is priced between 70.000 and 90.000 yuan (US$10.700 – 13.800) and thus competes with the FAW Xenia R7 described above. The Senova sub-brand is however a lot more familiar to Chinese consumers and its relative refinement is understood, enabling the model to justify these prices, a tad on the high end for a Chinese carmaker. Its commercial start, above 3.000 units, is already good but it should go much higher to really please BAIC.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

Geely Emgrand GS China May 2016

5. Geely Emgrand GS (#167 – 2.800 sales)

It took a little while, but Geely is now truly entering the SUV segment with very attractive offerings and the manufacturer isn’t doing things in half: only two months after launching the Boyue which has already accumulated 11.069 deliveries, Geely gets the Emgrand GS into market with a solid 2.800 sales for its first month. Built on Geely’s FE platform, which is developed with Volvo technical support and at 4.40m long, the GS is priced between 77.800 and 108.800 yuan (US$11.900 – 16.600), slotting nicely below the 4.52m Boyue (98.800-157.800 yuan).

Geely Emgrand GS China May 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.cn Geely Emgrand GS interior China May 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.cn

The GS interior quality was one of the elements that made me choose Geely as the Most impressive Chinese carmaker at the Beijing Auto Show 2016. Volvo’s influence is palpable in many aspects of the car which offers real value for money to the Chinese car buyer. A 10.000 monthly sales score seems a reasonable bar for success as far as the GS is concerned, but the attention to detail the brand has displayed with it should be able to lift it further up. The only element that could hamper its sales is its hatchback format, traditionally harder to sell to a Chinese audience. But the Emgrand GS has “European market” written all over it. Will Geely finally make the plunge?

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Range Rover Evoque China May 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.cn

6. Range Rover Evoque (#211 – 1.636 sales)

Just as the Land Rover Discovery Sport detailed above, the Range Rover Evoque makes its first appearance in the China-made sales ranking this month even though it launched back in February 2015. And just like for its stablemate, JLR is applying larger-than-life markups to the Evoque’s Chinese pricing – a whopping 61% compared to the starting U.S. price: from 448.000 to 582.800 yuan (US$68.500 – 89.100) vs. $42.470 – 61.770 in the U.S. The smaller sales figure is still respectable but has probably been impacted by the arrival a year ago of a clone by Landwind, the X7, priced at almost a quarter of the price from 129.800 – 147.800 yuan (US$19.900 – 22.600). Although Landwind doesn’t communicate sales by model, the X7 has lifted the brand from a mere 1.833 units in May 2015 to a peak of 10.001 deliveries last March, and accounts for the overwhelming majority of the 61.740 sales Landwind has accumulated over the past 12 months. It is undeniable that the Landwind X7 has hurt the commercial success of the Range Rover Evoque, and for this reason JLR has filed this month a legal action against Chinese automaker Jiangling Motors, the owner of the Landwind brand, for allegedly copying the Evoque.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Haima V70 China May 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.cn

7. Haima V70 (#230 – 1.152 sales)

Haima is coming late to the MPV race and with a design that seems dated already, although the mark of Luciano D’Ambrosio. Offering 6 or 7 seating positions, the V70 is 4.75m long, has two engine options (2.0L and 1.5T) and is priced between 79.800 and 129.800 yuan (US$ 12.200 – 19.200), neither cheap nor expensive and therefore in some kind of no man’s land for a Chinese manufacturer as buyers may prefer a foreign brand. Haima has been struggling to sell anything other than the S5 crossover lately, but thanks to it the brand is up 18% so far in 2016. Entering the MPV arena a few years too late and facing some very accomplished performers such as Changan make this a difficult task for Haima.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

Mercedes V Class China May 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn

8. Mercedes V-Class (#271 – 628 sales)

This is the V-Class we know in Europe, aka the Metris in the U.S., manufactured in China by Fujian Benz, a subsidiary of Beijing Benz. Mercedes is selling the standard 5.14m variant as well as a 5.37m LWB. The pricing, between 489.000 and 618.000 yuan (US$ 74.800 – 94.500) reserve the V-Class to a very exclusive elite and 5-star hotels, and is here too grossly exaggerated compared to a humble U.S. pricing going from $29.945 to $33.495. Yes you have read right, we’re looking at a 182% markup at equal production cost, and with the China production cost standing well below the U.S. one, closer to 200-250% markup. Neither the Viano nor the Vito venture very often above 500 monthly sales in China so doubling that amount would be a significant achievement already for the V-Class.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

GAC Trumpchi China May 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

9. GAC Trumpchi GA8 (#331 – 215 sales)

The last new entrant this month is by a brand that has distinguished itself with the tremendous success of its Trumpchi GS4 SUV, appearing in the overall Top 10 for the past two months. Making no secret of wanting to enter the U.S. market in the next few years, GAC has requested the help of its Chinese joint-venture partner FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in doing so. The GA8 is the brand’s new flagship, and although it’s not headed for registering much of a mark on the Chinese market, this is precisely the type of format that could give GAC the best chances at succeeding on American shores. The GA8 has two engine options: either a 2.0T 4-cyl. with 188hp or  a 1.8T with 177hp, both mated to a seven-speed DCT. It is over 5m long and priced between 169.800 and 299.800 yuan (US$ 26.000 – 45.800). In China, it competes with the Dongfeng Aeolus A9, Geely GC9, Zotye Z700 and Roewe 950. Were it to come to the U.S., it would need to shave off a few thousand bucks to be a reasonable alternative to the best-sellers Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, ranging between $23,000 and $35.000. See what GAC did there?

Bar for success: 1.500 monthly sales

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

Wuling Hongguang S1 China May 2016A new crossover-looking variant helps lift the Wuling Hongguang back to #1 in May.

* See the Top 70 All-China made brands and Top 396 All-models by clicking on the title *

The Chinese light vehicle market manages a double-digit year-on-year gain for the second time in three months in May, up 11% to 1.793 million units, pushing the year-to-date total up 7.8% to 9.258 million deliveries, according the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Note these figures exclude medium and heavy commercial vehicles. Once again the SUV segment is the engine of growth in China with volumes up 38% in May to 637.256 and up 45% year-to-date to 3.218 million. That’s over one million additional SUVs Chinese consumers bought this year compared to the same period last year… MPV sales are up 19% to 170.332 and up 11% year-to-date to 1.017 million. Even sedans are back in positive at +0.8% to 922.125 sales but remain down 6.5% so far this year at 4.652 million units. Microvans on the contrary continue their freefall at -37% to 64.300 units now that they are being ditched by rural buyers for MPVs and crossovers.

VW Bora China May 2016. Picture courtesy gouchezj.comThe facelifted Bora (+46%) helps Volkswagen China sales up 6% in May. 

General Motors posts a 17% increase to 295.282 sales, with Buick the most dynamic Top 10 brand at +36% but Chevrolet disappointing again at -26%. Volkswagen remains by far the most popular marque in China despite growing slower than the market at +6% to 232.400 deliveries. The majority of VW sedans display outstanding gains this month: the Lavida is up 19% in 2nd place overall, the Jetta up 31%, the Sagitar up 25%, Polo up 17% and refreshed Bora up 46%. The Tiguan (-11%) is waiting for the new generation to kick start production in China. Toyota Motor Corp. follows the overall trend with sales up 12% to 102.900, but Hyundai at 100.328 (+25%) and Honda Motor Co. at 99.456 (+24%) are gaining twice as much ground as the market and catching up fast. Honda places 3 nameplates among the Top 10 SUVs in the country this month: the XR-V (14.959), Vezel (14.398) and CR-V (14.194).

Honda XR-V China May 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnHonda is up 24% mainly thanks to the XR-V and Vezel twins adding up to 29.357 sales.

The Nissan Group is struggling to keep pace: up just 3% to 106.100 deliveries including Infiniti and low-cost brand Venucia. Year-to-date, Nissan is up 1.3% to 500.900 sales whereas Toyota is up 20% to 495.000 and Honda up 15% to 445.800. At this rate, Toyota could overtake Nissan as the most popular Japanese carmaker in China by the end of 2016. Meanwhile Ford drops 2.5% to 88.248, handicapped by declining light commercial vehicle sales through its joint-venture with Jiangling Motors Corp. (JMC), down 4% and imports down 45% to just 1.501 units. Ford’s year-to-date volumes are up 5% to 479.542.

Chery Arrizo 5 China May 2016. Picture courtesy cheshi.comThe Chery Arrizo 5 hits five-digit sales figures for its third month in market. 

In the luxury aisle, Audi keeps its crown with deliveries up 5.5% to 50.002 units in May, adding up to 239.600 (+6%) so far this year. BMW is up 7% to 40.123 sales and up 6% over five months to 202.300 while Mercedes continues on its stellar run: up 39% in May to 38.271 units and up 36% so far in 2016 to 180.537. The Audi A6L at 11.227 units is the best-selling luxury nameplate in China in May, distancing the Audi Q5 (10.708), Audi A4L (9.774), Mercedes C-Class L (up 179% to 9.582), BMW 3 Series L (8.285) and Audi Q3 up 78% to 8.269.

Changan CX70 China May 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cnInstant blockbuster status for the Changan CX70.

Among Chinese carmakers, Great Wall Motors is up 9.5% to 71.636 units including 61.793 (+20%) for its SUV brand Haval. The H6, the first SUV to ever top the overall Chinese sales charts last month, is back down to #3 overall but still up 25% year-on-year to 37.435 units and has had to see its starting price cut by 16% in one year to 88.800 yuan (US$13.500) to achieve these figures. Geely is up 18% to 46.134 units, lifted b  impressive scores by its two best-selling sedans, the Emgrand EC7 up 17% and the Vision up 24%, as well as a great start by the Boyue SUV, already inside the Top 100 thanks to 6.049 units sold in May. Wuling (+24%) gets a boost from a rejuvenated Hongguang, up 31% to reclaim the pole position it holds year-to-date thanks to the arrival of a crossover-looking S1 variant.

Geely Boyue China May 2016. Picture courtesy che.comThe Geely Boyue is already inside the Top 100. 

On the other hand, Baojun significantly slows down its growth at +14% to 34.459 units: the 560 crossover is down a further 3 spots on April to #12 vs. #4 year-to-date while the 730 MPV is down 46% year-on-year to #28 vs. #8 so far in 2016. In other model news, the Buick Excelle GT continues to post stunning scores (+59%), the GAC Trumpchi GS4 remains in the overall Top 10 and ranks #2 SUV, the Ford Escort breaks into it for the second time ever, the Buick Envision is up 40% to a best-ever #11, the Hyundai Tucson is up 25 ranks on last month to #23 and the Changan Oushang is up 9 spots to break is volume record at 12.928.

Changhe Q25 China May 2016. Picture autohome.com.cnThe Q25 single-handedly puts back the Changhe brand on the map. 

Among recent launches, the Chery Arrizo 5 is the biggest surprise of the month, gaining a further 35% on April to reach 10.986 sales for its third month in market and becoming the 2nd best-selling Chinese sedan at home below just the Geely Emgrand EC7 and above the Changan Eado. The Changan CX70 is up 127% on last month to land at #62 with 9.723 units, the Geely Boyue is up 51% to #94 and 6.049 deliveries, the BYD Yuan is up 69% to #114 and 5.248, the BAIC Weiwang S50 up 94% to #133 and the Cadillac XT5 up 53% to #165.

Haval H7 China May 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnEarly signs are good for the Haval H7. 

But the most significant new launches variations in May are posted by the Changhe Q25, literally taking off from just 829 sales in April to 5.259 in May and giving the brand a presence again in the market. Secondly, the Haval H7 is up 146% on its inaugural month to 3.175 sales. A momentous launch for the successful SUV brand, the H7 is already above the monthly bests for both the H8 (1.373) and H9 (3.066). If the H7’s upwards trend continues, it could demonstrate that Chinese buyers are now prepared to spend more on a Chinese SUV than the best-seller H6.

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

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

Full May 2016 Top 70 All-China made brands and Top 396 All-models below.

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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