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

jmc-yuhu-china-august-2016-picture-courtesy-auto-ifeng-comJMC Yuhu sales are up 168% year-on-year in August. 

* See the Top 55 All-models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to a partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars we can now share with you August sales data for Light Commercial Vehicles in China with complete Minivan, Pickup and Mini Truck model figures as well as selected Light Truck data provided by LMC Automotive. Chinese LCVs as a while show another monthly decline at 239.202 units this month (-7%) yet one that is smaller than year-to-date at 2.151.377 (-12%). Micro/minivans sink even faster this month at a dismal -57% to just 24.964 units, mini trucks are up 10% to 43.238 but the hero segment of the month is once again pickups up 33% to 27.359, outselling minivans for the first time in history.

The Wuling Mini Truck is the best-selling LCV in China for the 2nd month running thanks to deliveries up 9% to 25.003. Once again it sells almost double the combined figure for the Wuling Sunshine and Rongguang minivans (12.710), once dominating the Chinese LCV market head and shoulders. The Foton and JAC Light Trucks round up the podium while in the pickup aisle the 10 best-sellers all gain ground, led by the Great Wall Wingle 5 (+15%), JMC Baodian (+29%), Dongfeng Rich (+15%), ZX Auto Grand Tiger (+21%) and JMC Yuhu (+168%).

Previous month: China LCV July 2016: Pickups up 26%, Mini Trucks up 12% in market down 11%

One year ago: China LCV August 2015: Third month of Wuling Mini Truck domination

Full August 2016 Top 55 All-models below.

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Media post: The Story Behind the Superbird


In the late 1970s, NASCAR was becoming a major automotive institution. With large audiences following the weekend races, the car industry noticed something interesting; when a particular car won a race, people went to their local car dealer the next week and bought that car. Essentially, a win at NASCAR was like any other sales campaign; it was a way to sell cars.

During these times, Chrysler Corporation was paying close attention and decided that they needed to start winning as many races as they could. They soon went to work on a NASCAR-killer racecar and what came out of the effort was a specially-modified Plymouth Road Runner. It was called the Superbird. To get the full story behind this car, we spoke with Kim’s Chevrolet of Laurel, MS, an authorized Chevrolet dealer, and they painted the whole picture for us.

Built for NASCAR

As mentioned above, the Plymouth Superbird was built with a singular purpose in mind and that purpose was to win at NASCAR. Problem is that because it was a “stock car race,” in order to race at NASCAR you had to drive a car that was unmodified. Basically this meant whatever car you raced had to be available to the general public. When questioned about this requirement, NASCAR stated that “available to the public” meant each of a company’s dealers needed to have at least one example of the model they wanted to race. This meant Plymouth needed to build 1920 high-performance race cars and ship them to all their dealers. That car was called the Superbird.

Why the wing and nose?

The Superbird was basically a modified Plymouth Road Runner. The first thing they did was make it more streamlined. This was accomplished by adding an aerodynamic nose-cone and a very large rear wing. In the power department, the Superbirds could be had with three engines: a 440 cu. in. Super Commando with a single 4-barrel, a 440 cu. in. with a 6-pack carburetor or a full race engine, the famous 426 hemi. For those who are wondering, only 135 street cars were fitted with the 426 Hemi.

The Superbird at NASCAR

Plymouth competed at 1970 NASCAR with their 426-power Superbird and did quite well. They won eight big races and placed quite high in many more. It certainly didn’t hurt that Richard Petty, known as one of the greatest NASCAR drivers ever, was behind the wheel. In fact, he was the winner of many of those eight big races.

For all the drama, Plymouth made quite a name for itself in the 1970s but sales of actual Superbirds were another story. The exaggerated looks of the ‘Birds was a little extreme for most customers. That being said, the dealer network sold a lot of standard Roadrunners. Today a Superbird, which represents a genuine slice of automotive history, is quite valuable. A nice example of a genuine Superbird with the 426 Hemi option can bring $300,000 to $500,000 at auction.

Media post: The Prowler


Chrysler’s Plymouth Division has been known to make some outrageous cars but there is one that takes the cake: the Plymouth Prowler. The Prowler was unlike any other car ever made by a major automobile company. It was basically a modern version of the California roadster hotrods of the 1940s. If you are like us, you will probably wonder what the story is behind the Prowler. We asked the folks at Kims Dodge of Laurel, MS, a full-service Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, to fill us in and, yes, there is quite a story behind the Prowler.

The 1990s

First, let’s put the times in perspective. In the late 1990s, Chrysler Corporation’s Plymouth line was being considered for termination. The argument was that the brand just didn’t have the cache that it used to have and sales were tepid. After a great deal of discussion, it was decided that one last attempt to reenergize the brand would be taken.

It is interesting to note that this story is similar to the Dodge Viper story. The Viper was also a speciality car that was designed to inject a little juice into the languishing Dodge brand. What is interesting is that neither the Prowler nor the Viper were really supposed to make any real money for the Chrysler. They were really just to revive the brands they represented.

Designing the Prowler

In the early 1990s, Chrysler’s Pacifica Design Center fleshed out the Prowler. It was basically a retro-looking roadster with modern drivetrain. The designer, Tom Gale, personally owned a ’33 self-built highboy hot rod so he was the perfect person to bring the Prowler to life.

The design was completed and shown at the 1993 Detroit International Auto Show. It was a show-stopping hit. With an open cockpit, wide back end with 20″ wheels and a narrow front end, there had never been anything like the Prowler before.

Full Production

The Prowler went into production in 1997 and dealers got them soon thereafter. Here’s what it looked like. Outside it had all the styling of a modern hot-rod. The paint colors were limited, but bold. They included large grain metallics such as purple, yellow, black, red, silver and “Inca Gold”. In the first year, there was only a V6 engine available. Inside the prowler, the seats were aluminum-framed and a retro-dash layout put a single gauge in front of the driver. The tachometer stuck up from the steering column giving it that “DIY add-on” look.

Limited Sales

Even though there was big interest in the Prowler, sales were modest. Some say it was because the Prowler wasn’t particularly practical for everyday use. After all, it had an open top, two seats, and a pretty small trunk. This was really just a big toy. Chrysler estimated that 3,000 would sell in its first year but only 457 drove off the dealer lots. The remaining years were a bit better, averaging a tad above 3,000 per year until 2002, when the Prower was discontinued.

Media post: The Fastest Vehicle in 1978 was a Truck


Sometimes car manufacturers make a special vehicle to make a statement. Take the Dodge Viper sports car, for example. This V-10 powered beast was specifically designed to inject some energy back into the languishing Dodge brand. The first Vipers were built in the early 90s and the concept worked quite well, as just about every journalist in the business wrote about them.

Back in time

Let’s go back in time and examine another interesting “statement vehicle.” It was 1978 and things weren’t very rosy in the car business because of new emission control standards and rising gas prices. To spice things up, Dodge developed their “Adult Toys” concept. Kims No Bull of Laurel, MS, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Nissan, Toyota, Chevrolet dealer, explained to us that these adult toys were created to put a little fun back into the car business.

Toy trucks

In 1978, Dodge released one of the most interesting trucks ever made. Called the Lil’ Red Express Truck, this vehicle offered unique styling and outrageous performance. In fact, in 1978, the Dodge Lil’ Red Express was the fastest American-made vehicle as tested by Car and Driver magazine. Yes, this included the Corvette and other brute American cars. A truck as the fastest American-made vehicle? It was a matter of the EPA emission regulations at the time. Because of a loophole in the regulations, the 1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck did not have to have any restrictive catalytic converters in the exhaust pathway like passenger cars did. What the Lil’ Red Express did have was a special high performance 360 ci 4-barrel small block engine (a modified version of the company’s 360 ci police engine). Also included was free-flow mufflers, a specially modified Mopar 727 automatic transmission, and a rugged 3.55:1 ration rear axle.

Bold styling

For styling, Dodge went to town. The trucks were painted in fire-engine-red paint and had large “Lil’ Red Express” graphics plastered on the cab doors. There were 2 x 2.5” monster chrome exhaust stacks sticking up the back of the truck. It rode on 15” raised white letter tires on chrome rims in the front, and 8-inch chrome wheels on the rear. The interiors were just as colorful with a standard bench seat or optional buckets, and a matching fold down arm/rest console was an option.

Huge sales – not quite

As unique as the Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck was, it didn’t sell very many copies. As matter of fact, just 2,188 were sold in 1978. However, like the Viper years later, the Lil’ Red Express Truck got a lot of press and threw a little fun into Dodge’s staid product lineup. If you would like to relive this interesting time in automotive history, you can get a classic example of the Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck for some $10K to $15K today.

Media post: Doing Nitrous


If you like performance cars, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Nitrous Oxide. Nitrous Oxide systems are a way to dramatically boost the horsepower of engines without internal hardware modifications. They really aren’t a good idea to install on standard street cars, however, because they can be dangerous. That being said, enthusiasts still install them on all sorts of cars. If you’ve wondered what they are all about, the service guys at Savage Chrysler of Robesonia, PA, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, gave us the low down.

The old way

Let’s start with traditional methods to increase an engine’s horsepower. Standard methods usually involve high performance hardware: things like high compression pistons, special intake manifolds, modified camshafts, etc. This sort of hardware modification does the trick but is very labor intensive and, if you have someone do it for you, very expensive. An alternative method is to install a nitrous oxide system if you need a car that requires rapid acceleration episodically.

How gas engines work

To understand how nitrous systems work, let’s quickly review how gas engines work. For a gas engine to run, it requires three factors: fuel, air and spark. The way it works is that the engine mixes the air and fuel and then ignites it with a spark. This, of course, creates an explosion that pushes the pistons down in their cylinders which turns the crankshaft and then transfers power downstream to the vehicle wheels.

How Nitrous works

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is what is known as an oxidizer. An oxidizer is a chemical that supplies additional oxygen to a chemical reaction, which is what basically is what engine combustion is all about. When nitrous oxide is added to the airflow into an engine, an enhanced combustion process occurs which generates considerably more horsepower. Think of it as being a stronger explosion inside the cylinders which translates to higher horsepower.

“Wet” and “Dry”

There are two main types of nitrous systems for automotive performance use – “Wet” and “Dry” systems. Wet nitrous systems come with their own special fuel system hardware which allows you to introduce more fuel to your intake charge and increase horsepower. Wet nitrous systems are generally expensive. Dry nitrous systems, on the other hand, don’t come with special hardware and use your existing fuel system. Dry nitrous systems are generally easier to set up between the two simply because you don’t have the added fuel components to install. Most do-it-yourselfers prefer dry systems because of that feature, and the fact that they are cheaper.


Safety is one concern that should be addressed whenever discussing nitrous systems.  Nitrous systems really aren’t for anything but specialty vehicles. And, as you might imagine, installing a nitrous system will immediately void the manufacturer’s warranty on your car. Another issue is legality. Check your local laws because in some states it is illegal to have nitrous in a street vehicle, in others it’s legal with certain rules. By all means look to see what regulations apply to you before you start ordering a kit.

Media post: 1.21 Gigawatts?


Have you seen the 1985 movie Back to the Future? If so, you know what 1.21 Gigawatts is needed for. As Michael J. Fox finds out in the movie, it’s the amount of energy that a Delorean time travel machine needs to work. Back to the Future was a great movie but did you ever wonder what the story is behind the Delorean? The story behind this car is just as interesting too. With the help of Suburban Chrysler of Ann Arbor, MI, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, we got the whole story concerning John Z. DeLorean and the car that bears his name.

John Z. DeLorean was born in 1925 in Detroit. He was the son of a Ford Motor Company employee so he grew up immersed in the world of car manufacturing. Young John DeLorean aspired to become a manufacturing engineer and he realized his dream when he graduated with a master’s in mechanical engineering from the Chrysler Institute. His first job post-college was working for Packard R&D developing new automotive technologies. After a few years, a more exciting position General Motors opened up and left Packard. In less than a decade, he was promoted to the head of the Chevrolet Division (1969).

The late 1960s were difficult times in Detroit. Delorean in his autobiography, DeLorean, wrote that he had ethical problems with GM’s management and, as a result, decided to resign. He had other ideas, though. Resigning allowed him to become an independent consultant with enough spare time to raise funds to design and build his own dream car. In 1975, he founded the DeLorean Motor Company to build this dream car. That same year, DeLorean created a separate company, Composite Technology Corporation, to develop cutting-edge automotive construction materials. This is what Delorean was working on at GM so he had background in the technology.

To build his dream car, the DMC-12, DeLorean hired the Giorgetto Giugiaro of Ital Design and Colin Chapman of Lotus. Both of these men were highly regarded in the automotive design world. Next he needed a place to build his factory. After looking into Puerto Rico and Ireland as sites, he settled on Northern Ireland. Delorean opened his factory in 1981 and soon started making the Delorean DMC-12. As the story goes, the early cars were a mess. DeLorean actually had to set up rebuilding facilities on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. to fix completed cars before they could be delivered to dealers.

Despite all the setbacks, there were orders on the books for thousands of DMC-12s. This isn’t surprising as the DMC-12 was a gorgeous car to look at and was receiving a lot of press. The result was that DeLorean tried to ramp production substantially. Unfortunately, this created cash flow problems that he had trouble overcoming. In his desperation, DeLorean pursued “questionable sources of funds” and ended up in an infamous DEA cocaine bust in 1982. His company collapsed shortly thereafter.

Today the DeLorean Motorcar legend is kept alive by a company in Humble, Texas. They have purchased the DeLorean trademark and most of the original parts left behind when the company went out of business.

Media post: Cuba’s Classics


The roads in Cuba are just packed with classic cars. Most of them are American cars from 1950s and 60s Why is this? It’s simple, since Cuba has effectively been isolated from the west for over 50 years, certain features of its society are effectively locked in time. When it comes to cars, the supply got shut off in the 1960s so the existing cars in Cuba were kept on the road. Vintage car buffs are going to wonder: Is this a gold mine just ready to be tapped? Where else could you actually buy a 1955 Chevy that has been running continuously since, well, 1955? We asked the guys at Suburban Chrysler of Farmington Hills, MI, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, what they thought and here is what we were told.

Friends again

Americans have not been allowed to do business in Cuba for the last 54 years. The reason, of course, was due to the Cold War, we have not had a political relationship with the island nation since 1961. However, the Cold War has been over for a long time now. Brewing for a few years, a new relationship seemed to be a good idea for both parties. The result was that US opened its embassy in Havana, and Cuba opened its embassy in Washington, DC, this year.

Not the cars you are looking for

So now that relations between Cuba and the United States seem to be on the mend, classic car collectors are salivating over the thousands of still running America classics on the roads. Is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for car enthusiasts? Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it. The reason: while some of these classic cars are in somewhat original condition, most aren’t even close. These are classic cars that have been heavily modified and patched together for over 60 years now. They are known to be patched up via all sorts of crude methods and few original parts are still on the vehicles. Virtually none of them have their original drive train. While some of them look nice from a distance, look inside and you will see that they are “Frankenstein” cars.

Not valuable?

How can a running 1950s American car not be valuable? Well, car collectors will tell you that in the US, the intrinsic value of vintage cars is in the originality of its parts. If there is any doubt that this is the case, just look at the value of classic cars that have “matching numbers.” If a car has the original drivetrain (with matching numbers), it is far more valuable than a car that doesn’t. And, as we learned above, Cuba’s cars are nowhere near original. Their probably are just a few matching number cars on the entire island.

Some exporting may still occur

We suspect that some exporting of Cuba’s classic cars will still occur. If a particular model isn’t available in the states, some collector will likely still want it; especially if it is affordable. Perhaps the greatest export interest, though, isn’t to car collectors but to Cuban exiles who are proud to buy a car that is quintessentially Cuban.

Media post: Electric Turbocharging


There was a time when a turbocharged vehicle was considered exotic. Turbochargers, which can increase a car’s horsepower up to 60%, were installed only sports cars and race cars. Today, turbochargers are still used on performance cars but they have become popular in standard passenger cars too. The reasoning in this case is that the car companies can install smaller motors in their cars when a turbocharger is used. This is advantageous because smaller motors get better gas mileage and pollute less.

How they work

With help from the experts at Suburban Chrysler of Garden City, MI, a Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram dealer, we will explain how standard turbochargers work. Fact number one: all internal combustion engines generate powerful exhaust gases. What turbochargers do is harvest the energy of these exhaust gases and uses it to power a small turbine. This turbine, in turn, is used to pressurize outside air so it can be driven into the engine for combustion. If you take a look at a turbocharger, it looks like a small fan with blades at either end. One end spins via the exhaust gases and the other end blows air into the engine.

Despite decades of improvements, all turbochargers suffer from something called “turbo-lag.” Turbo-lag is the delay in response that occurs when a turbocharger kicks in. Here’s what’s going on: when you punch the throttle of a turbocharged car, it takes a few seconds for the turbo to spool up and start working. This can be quite annoying when you need to accelerate quickly, as race cars do. Engineers have improved turbochargers over the years but turbo-lag still is a problem. Bottom line: it’s hard to make a turbocharged engine deliver the immediate response of a naturally aspirated engine.

A solution

Instead of driving the turbo with exhaust gases, why not drive it with an electric motor? An electric motor can respond within 250 milliseconds to a push on the gas pedal, so there really isn’t any turbo lag. It seems like a perfect solution. The problem is that that this technology will be expensive at first. The electric motor to drive the turbo will have to be quite powerful and will probably need more than 12 volts to power it. This is a major issue for engineers because higher voltages will require special alternators, multiple batteries and heavy wiring.

Is anyone doing it?

Most of the major automobile manufacturers are looking into electric turbo technology but few are saying much of anything yet. Audi is an exception, however. Their new SQ7 TDI sedan is slated to have an electric turbocharger installed on the engine. To drive it, a special 48-volt electrical sub-system will be located in the trunk. The results are impressive: Audi says their sedan SQ7 TDI with a 429-hp 4.0L V-8 diesel can hit 62 MPH in 3.6 seconds. That’s a fast diesel.

The future of electric turbos

If the electric turbocharger concept works well, it should proliferate rapidly. The driving public is going to love the fact that there is no turbo-lag. Electric turbochargers are unlikely to be seen on economy cars anytime soon but we should see it becoming common on larger, luxury sedans.

Media post: Belly Tank Racers


You have probably seen the black and white pictures of the old hotrods with aluminum, torpedo-shaped bodies. These vehicles were built to break speed records in the 1940s-50s. The reason they are called Belly Tank Racers is because the body of these hotrods came from the aluminum drop tanks of WWII aircraft. These hotrods were built only for a decade or so but were responsible for breaking many land speed records. We wanted to know more so we got in touch with Suburban Chrysler of Troy, MI, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, and they helped us with our research.

What are belly tanks

Belly tanks were the spare gas tanks that were strapped to the bellies of airplanes. They were designed to hold the extra fuel needed to extend a plane’s flying range. They were commonly added to P-51 Mustangs and P-38 Lightnings. After World War II ended, lots of belly tanks started to show up in scrap yards and hotrodders soon took notice. It wasn’t long before some used them to make land speed record vehicles.

There are two types

Some belly tank racers used a front engine design where the driver sat behind the engine. This configuration was necessary when using the smaller 165-gallon tanks from P-51 Mustangs. When hotrodders could get their hands on the larger 315-gallon tanks from P-38 Lightnings, they had enough room to put the engine behind the driver. This was the preferred configuration for those that wanted to use the really big engines, such as big block V8s.

Cheap power

Most belly tank racers had American-built engines because of their availability to builders at the time. American engines were plentiful and they could be hopped-up without spending a lot of money. The racers weren’t light, however, and designers compensated by mounting the wheels out to the side of the belly tank. It made the cars look like soap box derby racers but it was necessary for stability.

Natural race tracks

Breaking speed records required long race tracks. Fortunately, mother nature helped out by supplying spots in South Western part of the United States that were very flat and very long. These are the dry beds of prehistoric lakes and are located throughout California, Nevada and Utah. Often referred to as salt flats, wide-open expanses are glass-smooth. They’re perfect for high-speed runs in vehicles made to break land speed records.

The So-Cal Streamliner

One of the most famous belly tank racers is associated with Alex Xydias and his iconic So-Cal Speed shop. The So-Cal Speed shop was started in 1951 and it was responsible for some of the world’s early land speed records. They were the first to build hot rods that went 160, 170, 180 and 190 mph. In 1952, they built the “So-Cal-Streamliner” from the belly tank of a P-38 Lightning. Xydias managed to average 195 miles per hour in this belly racer and it made him famous.

The sunset of belly tank racers

At some point in the 1950s, belly tank racers fell out of favor. All the “slower” land speed records had been broken and the faster ones needed more sophisticated race cars.

Media post: HEMI History


“Hey, does that thing have a Hemi?” Do you may remember this line? It’s from a notable Dodge TV commercial of a decade ago. If you haven’t seen the original commercial, head on over to YouTube and take a look -it’s pretty funny. The original commercial, along with several follow-up ones, were part of a highly successful advertising campaign for Chrysler and their Hemi trademark.

So, now that “Hemi” has become a household word, have you ever wondered exactly what a Hemi is? Is it real technology or is it just a marketing term? As it turns out, its a bit of both today. And thanks to the Service Department at Temecula Hyundai of Temecula, CA, a full service Hyundai dealer, we have the whole story for you.

The first Hemi

Chrysler introduced a new line of V8 engines in the early 1950s that had an unusual shape to their cylinder heads. Unlike previous heads, Chryslers had chambers that were cast in the shape of perfect domes, also known as a hemisphere. It wasn’t long before “hemisphere” became “hemi” and a new word was born. Later in the 50s, it became a brand name registered by Chrysler Corporation.

The perfect design

Today, the Hemi design is legendary. The dome-shaped combustion chamber allowed engineers to do something they could never do before; they had enough room inside the head to place the intake and exhaust valves opposite each other. In previous designs, engine valves were crowded next to each other. However, with hemispherical heads, the engineers could make the valves oppose each other. This allowed for nice large valve surfaces and large head cooling passages; both of which made for a much cooler running engine. And, because the engine was cooled better, higher compression ratios could be designed in, resulting in an engine that also produced superior horsepower and torque.

Yes, it was banned

Chrysler’s Hemi engines were built during the 1950s and 60s. During this time, they had models such as Chrysler (FirePower Hemi Engine), DeSoto (FireDome Hemi Engine), Dodge (Red Ram Hemi Engine). Because the cars were so powerful and with fuel costs at historic lows, the automotive public loved these powerful, Hemi-engined cars. When researching this article, we learned that in 1964, the Chrysler 426 HEMI Engine (the largest one built) was actually so powerful that it was banned from NASCAR races as “unfair competition”.

End of the line

The downside to the Hemi design was complexity. Because of the opposing valves, Hemi engines had to have two rocker shafts per head and a relatively complicated valve train. While this lent itself to powerful engines, it cost Chrysler more money to make them. Unfortunately, this would set the stage for the discontinuation of the original Hemi design and the debut of cheaper wedge-head designs.

The marketing department

Today there are a lot of vehicles that bear the Hemi designation but do they have really Hemi engines in them? Well, today no one makes a true hemi engine. While some of today’s engines have roughly opposing intake and exhaust valves, they don’t have the true hemispherical cylinder heads of a real Hemi engine. That doesn’t stop the Chrysler marketing department from using the label, though. You will see the Hemi designation on many Ram trucks today but they don’t have a real Hemi engine.