Archive for the ‘China’ Category

China 5 months 2014: Wuling Hongguang tests new heights

June 14th, 2014 1 comment

5 Wuling HongguangWuling Hongguang in Beijing

* See the Top 348 All-models and Top 66 brands by clicking on the title! *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring the May sales figures in detail and focusing on the all-new models launched this month, we go through the year-to-date rankings to try and extract longer-term trends. 348 locally produced models ranked, one above 300,000 sales already this year, two above 200,000, 15 above 100,000, 164 above 10,000 and 51 all-new entrants: the Chinese year-to-date ranking is all yours below. According to many analysts (not me), every year is the year that the Chinese car sales ‘bubble’ will explode, as it cannot sustain such growth levels year after year. Well 2014 is not that year. The Chinese market is up a very healthy 9% on 2013 after 5 months to a record 9,84 million units, on track to reach an astounding 24 million by end of year.

VW Gran Lavida China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Gran Lavida

As opposed to last year when the race to pole position was rather tight, we have one clear winner in 2014: the Wuling Hongguang, gaining over 100,000 units year-on-year – the sales of the Chevrolet Cruze or Sail! – or 45% to reach a record 320,451 units. Never before had any Passenger Car passed the 300,000 annual sales so fast. The Hongguang is the poster child for a long-term trend at play in China: consumers in rural and remote areas upgrading their flimsy minivans (think Wuling Sunshine) to larger, sturdier, more ‘luxurious’ but not that much more expensive budget MPVs. The Chana Honor up 116% and 41 spots to #26 and the Dongfeng Future up 23% and 7 ranks to #31 also illustrate this trend.

Ford Focus China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Focus

The tremendous success of the Hongguang also shows that selling well in Top-Tier cities is not enough anymore to top the sales charts nationally. As more of these cities limit car purchase to curb pollution, lower-Tier cities, countryside and rural areas will weigh more and more in the sales charts, favouring more functional vehicles. In 2nd place like last year, the VW Lavida is up 24% to 230,722 sales, mainly due to the Gran Lavida hatchback variant, very successful at 51,603 units. Add to this the fact that 51.6% of the 167,850 Ford Focus sold in China so far this year (+9% in 3rd position) are hatchback, and you can start to see that even though China remains a sedan-buying country, launching a hatchback here is not a lost cause, far from it.

Haval H6 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Haval H6 is up 59% and breaks into the Top 10.

Volkswagen cements its Passenger Cars ranking domination (ex-MPV, ex-SUV), placing no less than 4 models inside the Top 5! The German manufacturer has hit gold with the new generation VW Santana up 145% to 134,934 sales, followed by the Sagitar (+14%) and Jetta (+32%), while the Golf (+70%) and Tiguan (+28%) also outperform the market. The Nissan Sylphy is #1 Japanese at #8 (+29%) while the Haval H6 cracks the Top 10, up a fantastic 59% and 9 spots to #10 and 118,666 units. Sadly the Hongguang and H6 are the only two Chinese models in the Top 25 so far this year, with the ChangAn Eado (#29, +74%) and Emgrand EC7 (#35, -26%) the only two Chinese sedans in the Top 40! You can check out my Strategy analysis on How can Chinese brands unlock their home market here.

Hyundai Mistra China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Hyundai Mistra is on track to sell 100,000 units this year.

The two best-selling all-new entrants over the period uncover a new trend: the creation of intermediary sedan segments exclusive to China. Such huge overall volumes enable a more detailed segmentation and justify the launch of models dedicated to this market. The Honda CRider is slotted between the Civic and the Accord and already outsells both of them at #24 with 66,466 sales, while the Hyundai Mistra is equally as impressive at #37 with 52,200 units, below the Elantra Langdong (#16) and Yuedong (#25) but above the Sonata (#82). Interestingly the Crider and the Mistra are the only all-new entrants inside the Top 50…

Ford Mondeo China May 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comThe new generation Ford Mondeo is the third best-selling all-new model in China in 2014.

…but there are 7 more in the Top 100, led by the Ford Mondeo at #51 with 43,351 sales, ahead of the Chery E3 at #62 and 34,634 units, the Chery Tiggo 5 at #69 and 32,856 sales, the Toyota Yaris L at #71 and 32,774, the Peugeot 301 at #79 and 31,432, Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 at #85 and 28,898 and the Honda Jade at #98 and 24,951. Add to this the Mazda CX-5 at #102 and 7 of the 10 best-selling new models in China over the period are… not Chinese, which is a little alarming given their shrinking market share at home. The Chinese fare better further down the ranking with 7 of the newt 10 new entrants.

FAW Besturn X80 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comFAW Besturn X80

Other noticeable gainers towards the top of the Chinese year-to-date ranking include the Ford Kuga up 96% to #33, the Toyota Vios up 7454% to #34 thanks to the new model, the Citroen C-Elysée up 77% to #39, the ChangAn CS35 up 70% to break into the Top 50 at #46, Skoda Rapid up 705% to #65, Beijing Auto E-Series up 118% to #66, Audi Q3 up 345% to #67, Ford Ecosport up 134% to #134, FAW Besturn X80 up 730% to #76, Haima M3 up 322% to #81 and the Dongfeng Fengguang up 8599% to #89 as it launched exactly one year ago. The trend here is clear: a very strong push from small and medium SUVs, both foreign and Chinese.

Previous post: China May 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Monthly post: China May 2014: VW Santana breaks record in market up 8%

One year ago: China May 2013: VW Lavida leads, Ford Ecosport up

Full January-May 2014 Top 348 All-local models and Top 66 brands Ranking Tables below.

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Categories: China

China May 2014: Focus on the all-new models

June 14th, 2014 No comments

Mazda3 Axela China May 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comMazda3 Axela

* See the Top 327 models by clicking on the title! Thanks Carnewschina for the pricing info *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after going through detailed sales figures for May, I spend a bit more time acknowledging the all-new entrants in the models ranking, to ensure you are across the latest news in the biggest car market in the world. This month like in April 4 new models make their appearance in the Chinese ranking. Keep in mind all models detailed here are locally produced as import data is not communicated.

The most successful new entrant in May is the new generation Mazda3 Axela, differentiated from the other 2 generations of Mazda3 by its Japanese name. Priced between 114.900 and 159.900 yuan (US$18.500-25.800), it lands at a very satisfying #129 with 3,343 sales. This is already better than the Mazda3 Xingcheng (2nd generation) over the Full Year 2013 (#153) and the Mazda3 (first generation) at #203, so a great opportunity for Mazda to step up its overall sales in China with this new model… It will compete with the Ford Focus (#3), VW Golf (#20) and Honda Civic which it already nearly toppled (#126) so the sky is the limit for the 3 Axela which could push Mazda to new heights. A monthly Top 50 ranking before 2014 comes to an end would be a great achievement.

Beijing Auto Senova D50 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Auto Senova D50

Just below at #132 with 3,238 sales is the Beijing Auto Senova (or Shenbao) D50, which is now separated sales-wise from the Senova D-Series (renamed D70) and therefore appears in the ranking for the first time even though it launched in April. Year-to-date sales add up to 4,918 in two months for a #204 ranking. The D50 is priced between 74.800 and 119.800 yuan (US$12.000-19.300) and is positioned below the D60 which was unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show and will launch in August. It is based on the new M-trix platform, itself based on the Saab 9-3 platform which BAIC bought from GM in 2009.

With its May score the Senova D50 already beats the D70′s all-time record of 3,194 and #151 reached last December, so it is assured to bring the Senova sub-brand to new levels this year. The D50 has an air of ChanAn Eado which is a good thing, the latter currently being the best-selling Chinese sedan in the country. Breaking into the Top 100 would be a great start, but expect some cannibalisation once the D60 hits dealerships over the last Quarter of the year.

Mazda6 Atenza China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Atenza

A second very important Mazda makes its entrance in China this month: the new generation Mazda6, named Mazda6 Atenza at #169 with 1,731 sales. It is priced between 179.800 and 238.900 yuan (US$29.000-38.500) and competes with the Toyota Camry (#22 so far in 2014), Ford Mondeo (#51) and Honda Accord (#91). Similarly to the new gen Mazda3, its Japanese naming differentiates it from the first (Mazda6) and second generations (Mazda6 Ruiwing) still in production here. The first gen is surprisingly the most popular by far but is logically down 28% this month to #98 with 4,946 sales, ranking #72 year-to-date after being #56 in 2013. The 2nd gen is #243 in May and #199 in 2014.

The level at which the 6 Atenza launched means it could replace the 1st gen, not the 2nd, in the sales charts. Breaking into the monthly Top 100 and passing the Honda Accord would be a very noticeable step especially given the Accord is also new now. Mazda can genuinely aim at a Top 50 annual ranking in 2015 for the 6 Atenza, which would place it at the same level as the Ford Mondeo. Teasing the Camry seems far-fetched, but possible on a one-off basis.

Maxus G10 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of G10

Finally the last new-entrant in May is the Maxus G10 which I described during my visit to the Beijing Auto Show earlier this year. Launched last March, it only appears in the ranking now at #303 with 36 units which may be due to the CAAM hesitating on its classification as a Passenger Car or Commercial Vehicle (as it did for the Wuling Hongguang). From May onwards it is considered an MPV but it may have sold more units as an LCV prior to this. Ah the tricks of Chinese data… The Maxus brand was bought in 2010 from the British LDV Group by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) which launched a first model, the V80, in September 2011.

The G10 is actually a pretty impressive-looking vehicle which picked my curiosity at the Auto Show. It is priced from 129.800 to 219.800 yuan (US$20.900-35.400) and has its sights firmly aimed at the Buick GL8, #58 so far in 2014 with 37,595 sales. Although we have seen that the budget-end of the MPV segment is the one currently booming in China, this is the first true attempt from a Chinese brand to compete in the luxury MPV segment. According to Carnewschina, these vehicles are used by many businesses as mobile offices, and by taxi companies for VIP transport. I did indeed spot an astounding amount of Buick GL8 in Beijing.

This concludes our focus on all-new models in China for May – stay tuned for the June update in one month!

Previous post: China May 2014: VW Santana breaks record in market up 8%

Previous month: China April 2014: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China May 2013: Focus on the all-new models

Full May 2014 Top 327 All-local models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: China

China May 2014: VW Santana breaks record in market up 8%

June 13th, 2014 4 comments

VW Santana China May 2014. Picture courtesy of chexun.comVW Santana

* See the Top 327 All-local models and Top 64 brands by clicking on the title! *

Still no sign of slowing down for the Chinese new car market, with May up another 8.5% to 1.91 million units across all segments, bringing the year-to-date total to 9.84 million units, up 9% on 2013. China Manufacturers Association CAAM tables on a 10% increase this year that would bring the overall market to an out-of-this-word 24 million units by end 2014, and we are in line with this projection after 5 months. Passenger cars are up a strong 14% to 1.59 million, Commercial vehicles are down 12% to 320,800. Among passenger cars, sedans are up 7%, SUVs up 40% and MPVs up 54%.

ChangAn Eado China May 2014. Picture courtesy of ChangAn Eado is the best-selling Chinese Passenger Car (ex- SUV and MPV) at #26.

The Wuling Hongguang continues to dominate the models sales charts thanks to exceptional penetration rates in rural areas, up a huge 85% on May 2013 to 50,333 sales and adding up to 320,451 units so far in 2014, a record for any Passenger car in the history of automobile in China. In fact this month the Top 7 best-sellers are identical to the year-to-date ranking: the VW Lavida is up 23% year-on-year to 37,557 sales, the Ford Focus up 22% to 33,341, the VW Santana up a massive 276% thanks to the new generation to an all-time high 28,440 units, the VW Sagitar up 13% to #5, VW Jetta up 61% to #6 and the Buick Excelle up just 3% to #7.

Nissan X-Trail China May 2014. Picture courtesy of new generation Nissan X-Trail definitely stroke a chord with Chinese buyers: +740%.

The Haval H6 pauses its unstoppable race to the top this month at 24,404 sales and #8 (+56%): only the 2nd time in the past 11 months that it doesn’t break its monthly volume record! Talk about being regular at the top… The VW Bora (#10), Passat (#11) and Tiguan (#13) make it an incredible 7 Volkswagens in the Top 13. Volkswagen’s domination in the hatchback/sedan market is such that it places 6 models in the Top 9 this month, all above 21,500 sales!

Peugeot 2008 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.qq.comThe Peugeot 2008 is up 171% on April to #107.

Further down, the Honda Crider is back inside the Top 20 for the first time this year at #19, the Toyota RAV4 is up 16 spots on April and 92% year-on-year to #25, the ChangAn Eado continues to impress: up 81% to #26 and #3 Chinese with 12,991 sales and the BYD F3 is back in the game thanks to its facelift: up 91% to #31 and 11,590 units vs. #61 year-to-date, the nameplate’s strongest monthly score since March 2012 after reaching a low of 2,662 units last February. The Nissan X-Trail is up a further 11 ranks to #35 vs. #95 YTD and the Audi Q3 is up 39 to #51.

ChangAn CS75 China May 2014ChangAn CS75

Among recent launches, we have a lot of very interesting movement this month. Launched last month, the Chevrolet Trax is up 187% and 81 spots to break into the Top 100 at #88 with 5,293 sales, to be compared with #71 and 6,500 units for its twin the Buick Encore, released over a year ago. The Peugeot 2008 for its part is up an equally impressive 171% and 67 ranks to land at #107 with 4,510 sales, now the brand’s 5th best-seller below the 308 (#52), 301 (#73), 3008 (#83) and 408 (#93). The Top 100 could be for next month…

Zhongxing C3 Urban Ark China May 2014ZX Auto (Zhongxing) C3 Urban Ark

Also launched last April, the Haima S5 is a little more shy: up 7% and 4 spots to #135, while the DS5 LS is up 19% and 16 ranks to #172. First ‘real’ month of sales for the Audi A3, shooting up to #156 with 2,354 sales, while the ChangAn CS75 also takes off at +420% and 86 spots to #167, as does the Zhongxing C3 Urban Ark up 95 ranks on last month to #187. Finally the Qoros 3 remains extremely discreet and vastly below expectations at #231 with just 641 sales.

There are 4 all-new models making their first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month, and these are described in detailed in China May 2014: Focus on the all-new models.

Previous post: Strategy: How can Chinese brands unlock their home market? (Part 4)

Previous month: China April 2014: Now updated with Top 10 LCVs

One month ago: China April 2014: Haval H6 breaks records in market up 13%

One year ago: China May 2013: VW Lavida leads, Ford Ecosport up

Full May 2014 Top 327 All-local models and Top 64 brands Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: China

Strategy: How can Chinese brands unlock their home market? (Part 4)

June 3rd, 2014 No comments

Beijing Auto Weiwang M20. Picture courtesy of carmakers are starting to make big waves in the MPV segment (Beijing Auto Weiwang M20)

NOW UPDATED with MPV analysis.

This is Part 4 of my special Strategy series about Chinese manufacturers at home. Check out Part 1 (introduction and Medium & Heavy Trucks)Part 2 (Small, Medium & Large Buses and Light Trucks) and Part 3 (Pick-ups, Mini Trucks and Minivans). We are exploring the Chinese market segment by segment and studying how local brands fare in each segment and every Commercial Vehicle segment has now been covered. Far from having to try ‘unlock’ these segments, Chinese manufacturers actually hold an almost unbreakable monopoly on local production and sales of Commercial vehicles.

Chana Taurus. Picture courtesy of Taurus. Chinese manufacturers monopolise all Commercial Vehicle segments at home…

The relative weakness of Chinese carmakers at home has often been pointed at as a factor that could potentially hamper their progression overseas, but the Commercial Vehicle sector in China actually behaves a lot like the Passenger Car sector in Japan and South Korea before their worldwide expansion. The Chinese are buying Chinese trucks of all size, buses, minivans and pickups and their strength at home is an invaluable base for progress in export markets. Neighbouring countries such as Mongolia and Vietnam already buy a majority of Chinese medium and heavy trucks, and the situation is likely to be similar in a lot of developing countries, except I can’t report it here because sales data is unavailable.

Segment Total Prod Chinese
Medium & Heavy Trucks 1,044,619 97%
Medium & Large Buses 175,266 97%
Small Buses 389,963 100%
Light Trucks 1,894,993 99%
Mini Trucks 527,232 100%
Minivans 1,634,922 100%
TOTAL 5,666,995 99%

Before we go into the Passenger Car segments in China let’s first take stock of the outstanding domination of Chinese manufacturers at home in all Commercial Vehicle segments. Keep in mind these are mainly production figures with a tiny part of it being exported, however imports are also minimal in these segments so it is a good summary of sales as well. Out of a 22 million vehicle-strong total market in 2013, Chinese manufacturers secure 5.6 million thanks to their near-monopoly of Commercial Vehicles. It also means that their share of the 16 million remaining Passenger Cars sold in the country last year is roughly 20%… Now that’s when we can talk about ‘unlocking their home market’ as per the title subject of this Strategy series…

Wuling Hongguang China 2013. Picture courtesy of nextcar.comThe Wuling Hongguang is responsible for the MPV sales explosion in China.


This is a key category in the Chinese market and one that will potentially make a lot of difference for Chinese manufacturers. I will go as far as saying MPVs are capital for Chinese brands to unlock their home market. In an overall market up 12% so far in 2014, MPV sales are up a gigantic 45% to 612,544 units in 4 months, that an impressive 1.8 million annual units rate. But even more tellingly, Chinese MPVs are up 51%, going from 85.7% to 89% market share. A testimony to its relatively late blooming, the MPV segment is still a little vague in China, with the Wuling Hongguang counted as a Commercial Vehicle by Chooseauto up until one year ago.

ChangAn Honor China March 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comThe Chana Honor is the 2nd best-selling MPV in China.

The Wuling Hongguang is indeed responsible for the explosion of MPV sales in China, currently holding a 44% market share in the category. Along with Dongfeng and Chana, Wuling basically created the ‘affordable MPV’ category in China. My trip there unveiled the fact that affordable MPV are an upgrade for Minivans owners and the explanation for the Minivan plateauing we spoke about in the last Part of this Strategy series. At 1.8 million predicted units this year, MPVs should overcome Minivans for the first time in China.

1. Dongfeng FengguangDongfeng Fengguang in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uyghur – May 2014

The Wuling Hongguang is no less than the most popular vehicle in China outright nowadays, and its success relies on an incredible penetration rate in countryside and remote areas. When I travelled on the Karakoram Highway near the border with Pakistan, the Hongguang was simply the only new vehicle around. The Chana Honor, #2 most popular MPV in the country, sold over 20,000 monthly units for the very first time last March. This success has already spawned a few lightly disguised clones: the Dongfeng Fengguang, particularly popular in Kuqa in Xinjiang Uyghur, has already sold 23,000 units so far in 2014 while the Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 is just below at 22,300 sales.

Baojun 730Baojun 730 at the Beijing Auto Show last month

And the Chinese domination in the segment is set to continue: Baojun unveiled the 730 at the Beijing Auto Show whereas foreign manufacturers have yet to respond to the exploding demand for this kind of vehicles. The Top 5 foreign MPVs all behave worse than the market: the Buick GL8 is up 36%, the VW Touran down 7%, the Nissan NV200 up 38%, Toyota E’Z Yizhi up 15% and the Honda Odyssey down a horrendous 55%. As you can notice, none of them can be qualified as ‘affordable’…

Next stop: SUVs, so stay tuned!

Full China 4 months 2014 Top 33 All-SUV Ranking Table below.

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Categories: China, STRATEGY

Strategy: How can Chinese brands unlock their home market? (Part 3)

May 30th, 2014 1 comment

Great Wall Wingle. Picture courtesy of 360che.comGreat Wall Wingle

This is Part 3 of my special Strategy series about Chinese manufacturers at home. You can check out Part 1 (introduction and Medium & Heavy Trucks) herePart 2 (Small, Medium & Large Buses and Light Trucks) here and Part 4 (Commercial Vehicles summary and MPVs) here. We are exploring the Chinese market segment by segment and studying how local brands fare in each segment, going from big to small. Today we go through 1 tonne Pick-ups, Mini Trucks and Minivans.


One tonne pickups are actually part of the Light Truck segment we covered earlier totalling roughly 350,000 annual units, however I wanted to dedicate some more time on this segment because it was one of the biggest surprises of my recent trip to China. Worldwide, this sector is dominated by the Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT-50 and other VW Amarok, most of which are manufactured in Thailand. Up until now I had no access to sales data for pickups in China and I had only visited Beijing and Shanghai where civilian pickups are not even allowed in downtown areas! So this was an entire swath of the market totally unknown to me.

ZX Auto Grand TigerZX Auto Grand Tiger

I ended up spotting thousands of pickups, as I describe in my article The pick-ups of Kashgar, South-Western China, and the big learning is: Chinese car buyers are actually not interested in foreign pick-ups. At all. In the week I spent in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, the only ones I spotted were the locally-produced Nissan D22, the Isuzu TF and the Ford F150 Raptor (what is Ford waiting for to officially import these into China?). Not a single Toyota Hilux, although I saw a lot of Hilux lookalikes! Official sales data for 2012 (and it shouldn’t have changed much in 2013) indicate the Great Wall Wingle is the best-selling pickup in China with 113,305 sales and a gargantuan 31.5% market share. Interestingly, 56% of Wingle sold in China in 2012 were diesel and 20% only were 4WD.

JMC BaodianJMC Baodian

Contrary to my observations in Xinjiang Uyghur where the ZX Auto Grand Tiger could be threatening the Wingle for the pickup crown, nationally the JMC Baodian is #2 with 61,899 units and an outstanding 17.4% share, a fair way above the Grand Tiger at 37,837 and the Dongfeng Rich at 37,059. What does this all mean? Well in a region where sealed roads are often a distant memory, Chinese pickups are absolutely up for the task, to such an extent that vehicles hugely successful elsewhere don’t even register here. It’s not a surprise that the Great Wall Wingle has already made some inroads in export markets, notably in Australia.

Chana PickupChana Star Pickup in Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur – May 2014


The Mini Truck segment is a little vague as the only information I have is a list of brands, so I am assuming we are talking about the pick-up variants of the minivans we talk about later down in this article. In any case, the production figures are suspiciously low compared to the amount of ‘mini pickups’ I spotted in Xinjiang Uyghur, where they were often outselling their minivan variants. I may also have been in a region where mini pickups are especially successful. In any case, we are looking at 527,000 vehicle produced in 2013, 100% Chinese! Wuling dominates the category with 181,677 units (I estimate the Rongguang pick-up to lead the models charts), followed by Foton at 102,723, Dongfeng at 80,968 and Chana at 76,447.

Chana Taurus. Picture courtesy of Taurus


Minivans are notorious for their success in China and 2013 production figures confirm it: over 1.63 million of them came out of factories last year, 99.9% of them Chinese! Only the Suzuki Landy (1,899 units) makes a frail appearance in the models ranking, dominated by the Wuling Sunshine (463,800), Rongguang (359,400) and Dongfeng Xiaokang (166,100).

Beijing Auto Weiwang 306. Picture courtesy of sxac.comBeijing Auto Weiwang 306

For the first time on BSCB I can indeed share with you detailed Minivan production data, and this is particularly interesting for the detail of Chana Minivans, all grouped into one in the traditional monthly sales rankings. We learn that the Chana Star 2 is the most popular in 2013 with 127,135 units produced, ahead of the Star (80,393), Taurus (56,706) and Star 4500 (28,186). We also learn that Beijing Auto’s new brand, Weiwang, has been very well received: the Weiwang 306 already ranks 5th in 2013 with just under 90,000 units.

Dongfeng Xiaokang V27Dongfeng Xiaokang V27

Notice also the Lifan Foison at #8, the Beijing Auto Weiwang 205 at #10, Haima Fushida 2 at #14, GAC Gonow Xingwang at #16, Zotye Z10 at #17 and BAW Minivan at #20. So this is another segment that Chinese manufacturers have completely locked down, and are very unlikely to let anyone near: given how cheap all these Minivans are, there is actually no competition for them worldwide.

Haima Fushida 2. Picture courtesy of Fushida 2

One issue: the Minivan segment seems to have plateaued somehow over the past 12 months, with the Wuling Sunshine down a harsh 36% year-on-year in April for example. Travelling through China I think I has managed to garner a few explanations to this Minivan pause, which I will detail in the next part of this series, so stay tuned!

Full Year 2012 Top 6 Pick-ups, Full Year 2013 Top 10 Mini Truck brands and Top 20 Minivan rankings below.

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Categories: China, STRATEGY

Strategy: How can Chinese brands unlock their home market? (Part 2)

May 28th, 2014 No comments

Yutong School BusYutong School Buses

This is part 2 of my special Strategy series about how Chinese carmakers can achieve a better market share in their home market. You can check out Part 1 (introduction and Medium & Heavy Trucks) herePart 3 (Pick-ups, Mini Trucks and Minivans) here and Part 4 (Commercial Vehicles summary and MPVs) here. We are exploring the Chinese market segment by segment and studying how local brands fare in each segment, going from big to small. Today we go through Medium & Large Buses, Small Buses and Light Trucks.


175,266 Medium and Large Buses came out of Chinese production lines in 2013, keeping in mind an estimated 10% of these get exported. If Chinese brands held a whopping 97% of the Medium and Heavy Truck market, their domination in this sector is similar, holding 96.7% of last year’s production with Toyota (3.2%) and Hino (0.1%) the only foreign manufacturers in the ranking. Note this doesn’t mean these two are the only foreign buses to be sold in China but imports in this sector are anecdotal.

Sunlong logoSunlong logo: pretty cool

With a total of 175,000 Medium and Large Buses produced in China in 2013, only 3 manufacturers stood above 10,000 units. Yutong, which claims to be the #1 bus manufacturer in the world, aptly takes the lead with 29.4% share, followed by King Long at 19.8% and Dongfeng at 7.5%. Lots and lots of obscure brands in the ranking: have you ever heard of Ankai, Zhongtong, Yaxing, Sunwin, Lushan, Hengtong, Guilin, Nanjun, Sunlong or Zhongke? Didn’t think so.

Jinbei Haise Beijing October 2013Jinbei Haise in Beijing – Jinbei dominates the Small Bus segment in China.


I have separated this category for the Medium & Large Buses because they involve significantly different brands. Almost 400,000 small buses came out of Chinese factories in 2013 (389,963 to be precise) and if the Chinese brand ratio was 97% among Medium & Heavy Trucks and 96.7% among Medium & Large Buses, here we are simply looking at… 100% Chinese. Easy. Even though a lot of Small Buses are in actual fact derived from various generations of Toyota Hiace, there is no such thing as a foreign small bus produced in China, and imports are scarce.

Jinbei leads the ranking in this category with 104,265 units produced, and it makes sense given the extremely high number of Haise I saw in Beijing and Chongqing. Less so as you get in the countryside though. JMC follows with 68,062 units while Yuejin rounds up the podium at 42,977 units. Notice also Dongfeng at #4, Foton at #5, JAC at #6, ChangAn at #12, Beijing Automobile Works at #15 and Chery at #20.

Foton Forland Light Truck China 2013Foton Forland Light Truck


Last category for today is the Light Truck segment, one of the most popular in the country with just under 1.9 million units produced locally in 2013. Once again an astounding 99.2% of these are Chinese, and with imports limited in this category, foreign carmakers are left with bread crumbs. Keep in mind we are also looking at a few hundred thousand exports within this figure as well, as Light Trucks are potentially with Medium & Heavy Trucks the segment where Chinese carmakers have been the most successful to-date overseas.

JAC Light Trucks. Picture courtesy of enbac.comJAC Light Trucks

If we look at the production ranking by brand, Foton dominates with 379,335 units ahead of JAC at 220,068 and Jinbei at 180,840. Dongfeng, JMC, Great Wall, Yuejin, FAW, Qingling and ZX Auto round up the Top 10 which is roughly consistent with my observations on the ground earlier this month. Sales-wise, we know that the Foton Forland sub-brand accounts for a large part of Foton’s overall score in this segment with 346,391 units sold at home last year. It is followed by the JAC Light Truck at 221,116 sales, the Jinbei Light Truck at 178,252 and the Dongfeng Light Truck at 165,779 – all consistent with their production figures.

Yuejin Light Truck. Picture courtesy of 360che.comYuejin Light Truck

A sub-segment of Light Trucks is Pick-up Trucks and I will cover this sector in a separate update as for once I can share with you exclusive sales figures by model (albeit 2012 ones). The Pick-up segment was one of my biggest surprises during the visit I made to Chinese countryside earlier this month so it deserves its own write-up. Stay tuned for Pick-ups, Mini Trucks and Minivans next…

Full Year 2013 Top 20 Medium/Large, Small Buses and Light Truck brands rankings below.

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Categories: China, STRATEGY

Strategy: How can Chinese brands unlock their home market? (Part 1)

May 28th, 2014 1 comment

Shanghai Englon SC7 Photo2Shanghai Englon SC7 in Ürürmqi, Xinjiang Uyghur – April 2014

This is Part 1 of my special Strategy series on Chinese manufacturers at home. You can also check out Part 2 (Medium & Large Buses, Small Buses and Light Trucks)Part 3 (Pick-ups, Mini Trucks and Minivans) and Part 4 (Commercial Vehicles summary and MPVs).

It’s not a secret that Chinese carmakers have a relatively weak market share in their home market, sliding downwards for the 8th consecutive month to 37.1% in April, compared to 39.6% one year earlier. My recent trip to China, visiting Beijing, Chongqing, Ürümqi and a large part of the rural Xinjiang Uyghur province in the West of the country, has clarified a lot of elements participating into this trend, but also unveiled a list of keys that Chinese brands could utilise to unlock their home market. So I will start with 3 observations:

1. It’s not that bad

Let’s not forget we are talking about 37% of the world’s biggest car market by far, forecast to hit 30 million annual units by 2020, so even if the local brands’ share stays around 35 to 40% by then, that’s still 10 to 12 million annual units, way more than the 7 million units American brands sold in the US in 2013 for example.

Wuling HongguangThe Wuling Hongguang justified its #1 spot nationally by a very strong presence in the countryside (here in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur).

2. Geographical imbalance and potential

Travelling across cities at various levels of development during my trip, it became clear that the more remote the town, the more Chinese the car landscape became. From 10 to 15% in Beijing, to 33% in Chongqing, 40% in Ürümqi and reaching levels up to 90 to 100% Chinese penetration in some parts of the Karakoram Highway in the extreme South West of the country. My observations concerned a limited area of the country and can in no way be generalised to the whole of China.

However, if we take this step and assume this is the way the market is segmented, then the question becomes: will car buyers in the developing regions of China choose local brands when they purchase their first car or will they behave like their East Coast counterparts and fall for the charms of German, French, American, Japanese or Korean cars. The widespread assumption in the industry is that they will be more enclined to choose Chinese brands. I am not convinced and to me the jury is still out on this. I will conduct more in depth research over the coming months to try and answer this capital question.

Dongfeng Fengguang China April 2014. Picture courtesy of qc.comThe Dongfeng Fengguang, particularly popular in Kuqa, is helping building the Chinese MPV segment.

3. Segment disparities

A meticulous study of the Chinese market segment by segment shows huge disparities, with some segments actually under near monopoly from Chinese carmakers, potentially making it simpler to concentrate on the ones where local brands are under-performing. One of my most interesting observations in China was witnessing the creation from almost the ground up of new segments by Chinese carmakers themselves, unlocking huge potential for the future. So this series will focus on the study of the Chinese car market by segment, exploring each segment’s evolution and potential for Chinese brands. In short: how can Chinese carmakers unlock their home market, segment by segment?

We’ll start big, and finish small.

Donfeng-truckDongfeng holds 23% of the Medium & Heavy Truck market in China


This is a segment we rarely mention on BSCB for lack of available sales figures, however today I am in a position to share with you Production figures for Medium & Heavy Trucks in China in 2013. You basically need to consider China as a giant construction site, with roads and buildings constantly being built and upgraded. Just when I was there, the Karakoram Highway was in the process of having its width tripled and construction workers were hard at work for hundreds of kilometres along the way. During my entire time in the country I did not see one single foreign medium or heavy truck, an observation that was already true in Mongolia last year.

Production figures confirm this, with only the SAIC-Iveco joint venture (2.6% share) and Hino (0.4%) not Chinese. The rest of the medium/heavy trucks production in China in 2013, a whopping 97% of the market, is Chinese. Dongfeng logically dominates the segment with over 240,000 units produced last year or a 23% market share, ahead of FAW (17.3% share), China National Heavy Duty Truck (13.6%), Beiqi Foton (12.3%) and Shaanxi (9.7%), the only other manufacturers above 100,000 units. The total medium/heavy truck production in China in 2013 was just over 1 million – 1,044,619 units to be precise, keeping in mind some of it gets exported. Needless to say imports are minimal here so there we have it: a near-monopoly for Chinese carmakers in the first segment we observe.

Full Year 2013 Top 20 China Heavy & Medium Truck brands below.

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China April 2014: Now updated with Top 10 LCVs!

May 27th, 2014 1 comment

2. Chana MinivanChana (Star) Minibus in Chongqing, China – April 2014

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

Thanks to LMC Automotive I can now share with you more detail about the Chinese car market, including the Top 10 best-selling Light Commercial Vehicles which is a new monthly update on BSCB. Lucky you! Note LMC still considers the Wuling Hongguang as a LCV so we are actually dealing with the Top 9 best-sellers here. Interestingly, among the LCVs for which I have April 2013 data to compare with (the Top 5), only two gain ground year-on-year: the Hongguang (+92%) and the Chana Minibus (+13%) which includes the Star and Taurustar I spotted many, many times in my visit to China last month.

Great Wall Wingle 2013. Picture courtesy of Great Wall Pick-up is among the 50 most popular vehicles in China this month.

All others lose ground and for the Sunshine it’s a dramatic -36% to 6th overall with 29,575 sales. Further down, notice the JAC Light Truck at #15 with 23,240 sales, the Wuling Mini Truck at #27, Jinbei Mini Truck at #36, Dongfeng Minibus at #39 and the Great Wall Pick-up making its appearance at #41 and #10 LCV with 11,493 units, a large part of which should be the Great Wall Wingle.

Previous post: China 4 months 2014: VW Santana and Golf biggest gainers in Top 20

Previous April post: China April 2014: Haval H6 breaks records in market up 13%

Previous month: China March 2014: Now updated with LCV data!

One year ago: China LCV April 2013: Wuling Sunshine reclaims throne

Full April 2014 Top 50 models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: China

China 4 months 2014: VW Santana & Golf biggest gainers in Top20

May 20th, 2014 2 comments

VW Santana taxiVW Santana in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur – May 2014

* See the Top 339 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring detailed sales for April and focusing on the all-new models for the month, we now go into the year-to-date charts to try and extract longer-term trends. New locally-produced passenger car sales in China are up 12% so far in 2014 to just under 7 million units. The top of the sales charts is stabilising, with the podium unchanged on the same time last year. In pole position, the Wuling Hongguang is up a very healthy 40% on last year to 270,118 sales, a new record after only 4 months. The VW Lavida for its part is up 24% thanks to the arrival of the ‘Gran Lavida’ hatchback variant to 193,165 units and the Ford Focus is up ‘only’ 6% to 134,509 sales.

VW Golf China April 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comCan the VW Golf ever sell more in China than in Europe? Talk about a milestone…

In 4th place the VW Santana is the biggest gainer in the Top 20 thanks to the new model at +125% and 106,494 units. In fact the rest of the Top 7 is 100% Volkswagen, with the German carmaker amazingly placing 5 models inside the 2014 Top 7 so far: the Sagitar is up 14% to 102,010 sales at #5 (helped by a record month in April), the Jetta is up 25% to #6 and the Passat up 13% to #7. The Nissan Sylphy is up a very impressive 31% but remains 9th, while the Haval H6 is up 10 spots and 60% to a splendid 10th place with 94,262 units.

Nissan Teana China April 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comNissan Teana sales are up 78% so far in 2014.

Further down, the VW Golf is the 2nd biggest gainer in the Top 20 thanks to the 7th generation now widely spread, up 67% to #20 and 61,447 sales vs. #48 over the Full Year 2013. The Chana Honor is up a gargantuan 127% to #21, the Dongfeng Future up 23% to #29, ChangAn Eado up 72% to #31, Ford Kuga up 117% to #35, Citroen C-Elysée up 79% to #40, Nissan Teana up 78% to #47 and the ChangAn CS35 up 73% to #48.

Honda CRider China April 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comHonda created a new segment with the CRider

No less than 49 all-new models have popped up in the Chinese sales charts over the past 12 months, or 50 depending on which way you look at it… In any case the Honda CRider leads the way among all-new entrants at #28 with 50,224 sales. The Toyota Vios new generation is up… 20578% to #33 and 44,664 units so we may as well consider it as all-new. We then have the Hyundai Mistra at #36, the Ford Mondeo at #51, Chery E3 at #61, Toyota Yaris L at #70, Chery Tiggo 5 at #78, Peugeot 301 at #79, Dongfeng Fengguang at #87, Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 at #90 and Mazda CX-5 at #101.

A more in-depth analysis of the Chinese car market and the relative weakness of local brands based on my recent trip in the country will be published shortly.

Previous post: China April 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Previous April post: China April 2014: Haval H6 breaks records in market up 13%

Previous month: China Q1 2014: VW Santana, Haval H6 & Chana Honor biggest gainers

One year ago: China 4 months 2013: Great Wall Haval H6 now best-selling local

Full January-April 2014 Top 339 All-models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: China

China April 2014: Focus on the all-new models

May 18th, 2014 13 comments

Haima S5 China April 2014Haima S5

Today we resume a BSCB tradition: after going through detailed sales for April, I spend a bit more time acknowledging the all-new entrants in the models ranking. 4 new models make their very first appearance this month, led by the Haima S5 landing directly in 139th position with 2,986 sales. The S5 was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show less than a month ago with a live performance from local popstar Wu Mochou, and is the second SUV for the Haima brand after the larger S7 which it already outsells (#153). It gives the carmaker an entry in the compact SUV segment, currently booming in China. The S5 price range is 89.800 to 107.800 yuan or US$14.400-17.300, and as such it should aim at the #44 ChangAn CS35 (smaller), #60 Great Wall M4 (smaller) and #66 Geely GX7 (bigger), keeping in mind Haima’s current best-seller in the country is the M3 at #77 so far in 2014.

Chevrolet Trax China April 2014. Picture courtesy of Trax

30 spots below at #169 with 1,846 sales we find the Chevrolet Trax, launched almost 2 years ago overseas but arriving fashionably late in China. This is basically a rebadged Buick Encore, but the Chevrolet is aimed at young buyers whereas Buick is more targeted at middle-aged consumers. According to Carnewschina, price for the Chevrolet Trax starts at 119.900 yuan and ends at 159.900 (US$19.200-25.600). The inevitable benchmark for the Trax is of course the performance of the Buick Encore, ranking #78 in April and #72 so far in 2014.

Peugeot 2008 China April 2014. Picture courtesy of cheshi.comPeugeot 2008

The third new entrant in China in April is yet another compact SUV: building on its incredible success in Europe, the Peugeot 2008 lands at #174 with 1,664 units sold. The 2008 is the second SUV to be manufactured by Peugeot in China after the 3008, but the French have bigger plans with the 4008 and the China-only 6008 waiting in line to conquer the Chinese market. You can never have too many SUVs if you want to succeed here! The 2008 is priced between 99.700 and 136.700 yuan (US$16.000-21.900) and competes with the Ford Kuga (#35 year-to-date) and Nissan Qashqai (#43). With the 3008 currently at #87 and the 308 being Peugeot’s best-seller at #66, a spot inside the Top 100 would be a good start for the 2008, breaking into the Top 50 would be ground-breaking and go a long way into helping Peugeot reach the next level here.

DS 5LS China April 2014. Picture courtesy of 5LS

Finally the last newcomer in the sales charts this month is another Frenchie: the DS 5LS sedan arrives at #188 with 1,436 sales. This is great news for Citroen’s new premium brand, as the China-only DS 5LS immediately takes the advantage over the DS 5 hatchback (#220) which is the way it should be given Chinese buyers’ love for sedans. Price starts at 146.900 yuan and ends at 246.900 (US$23.600-39.600), however as Carnewschina pointed out, the cheaper models come without anything resembling a proper screen on the dashboard whereas these days a US$9.000 Chinese sedan comes standard with a 7 inch touch screen Must. Try. Harder.

Previous post: China April 2014: Haval H6 breaks records in market up 13%

Previous new car post: China January 2014: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China April 2013: Honda CR-V up to #4, Nissan Teana takes off

Categories: China