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Historical Data now available for 77 markets!

June 18th, 2014 3 comments

The Renault 4CV was #1 in France from 1949 to 1955

Best Selling Cars Blog now covers detailed Historical data for 72 markets. For the USA I can give you for now pre-war production figures, intermittent detailed models ranking throughout the seventies and eighties, and at least a Top 10 ranking for each year from 1992 onwards without interruption. However I have now access to much more detailed US data which I will upload shortly. Same goes for France with additional data throughout the 1930s.

Historical Data Highlights include Germany for each year since 1946France for each year since 1949the UK for each year since 1965Brazil since 1954 and Norway and Italy since 1956. Below you will find direct links for you to explore all Historical Data available for the countries listed.

IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

Algeria since 2004

Argentina since 1965

Australia since 1948

Austria since 1977

Bahrain since 2005

Belarus since 1970

Belgium since 1989

Bosnia & Herzegovina since 2008

Brazil since 1954

The VW Beetle was #1 in Brazil from 1954 to 1980

Bulgaria since 1980

Canada since 1984

Chile since 2004

China since 1980

Colombia since 1990

Croatia since 2003

Cyprus since 2005

Czechoslovakia 1969-1993

Czech Republic since 1993

Denmark since 1992

Ecuador since 2006

Egypt since 2005

Estonia since 1970

Europe since 1972

Europe (Central & Eastern) since 2002

The Moskvitsh Elite was #6 in Finland in 1971

Finland since 1971

France since 1949

Germany since 1946

Greece since 1932

Gulf Cooperation Council since 2005

Hong Kong (China) since 2010

Hungary since 1998

Iceland since 2001

The Hindustan Ambassador is likely to have been #1 in India from 1950 to 1984

India since 1950

Indonesia since 1976

Ireland since 1974

Iran since 1967

Israel since 2005

Italy since 1956

Japan since 1969

Kuwait since 2005

Latvia since 1970

Lithuania since 1970

Luxembourg since 2001

Malaysia since 2000

The Ford Model T was #1 in the US (and the world) potentially from 1910 to 1926

Mexico since 2003

Morocco since 2004

Netherlands since 1982

New Zealand since 2000

Norway since 1956

Oman since 2005

Pakistan since 1995

Peru since 2005

Philippines since 1995

Poland since 1992

Portugal since 1989

Qatar since 2005

Romania since 1969

The Lada 2101-3 was #1 car in USSR in the seventies

Russia/USSR since 1970

Saudi Arabia since 2005

Singapore since 2006

Slovakia since 1993

Slovenia since 2003

South Africa since 1973

South Korea since 1997

Spain since 1973 

Sweden since 1950

Switzerland since 1970

Taiwan since 2005

Thailand since 2004

Turkey since 1993

The Austin Mini ranked within the UK Top 10 up until 1981

UK since 1965

Ukraine since 1970

United Arab Emirates since 2005

USA since 1908

Venezuela since 1997

Vietnam since 2003

World since 1960

Please note you need to become a BestSellingCarsBlog Member to access detailed Historical data tables.

Categories: Featured Category, World

Lancia reduced to one model and banished to Italy!

May 27th, 2014 18 comments

1985 Lancia Delta S4Harsh landing for Lancia… (1985 Lancia Delta S4 pictured)

According to Automotive News, Lancia has seen its last days outside of Italy. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will reduce the brand to just the Ypsilon that will be sold only in Italy. “Marchionne is performing Lancia’s final requiem,” said Gianluca Spina, dean of Milan Polytechnic’s business school. “It’s a rational decision for a global carmaker. The brand has no appeal outside Italy.” To end losses in Europe and boost profit globally, Marchionne is expanding the range of upscale Alfa Romeo and Maserati models and rolling out Jeep vehicles worldwide. Even with 55 billion euros ($75 billion) budgeted for investments in the five-year plan, there wasn’t money available to overhaul Lancia, which lacks name recognition outside Europe.

1964 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport1964 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport

Lancia was founded in 1906 by Fiat racecar driver Vincenzo Lancia and once produced curvy roadsters such as the Aurelia Spider that appeared with Bardot in the 1956 film “And God Created Woman.” In the fifties and sixties, its luxurious coupés such as the Flaminia (picture above) and Flavia went head-to-head with Jaguar and Maserati, no less! However, after being acquired by Fiat in 1969, Lancia models veered between sporty hatchbacks like the Delta and big-box sedans such as the Thema. An attempt to renew with its glamourous past by hiring actor Richard Gere and singer Carla Bruni to promote the brand in recent years  has fallen on deaf ears.

1985 Autobianchi Y101985 Autobianchi/Lancia Y10 

From 1985 to 1995, Fiat sold the small Y10 under the Autobianchi brand in Italy, France and Japan but under the Lancia brand elsewhere, contributing to a increasingly diluted brand image. Autobianchi was killed in 1989 but survived until 1995 in Italy after a 40 year history, at which point the Y10 became the Lancia Ypsilon, arguably bringing the brand down market.

2012 Lancia Flavia2012 Lancia Flavia. Rebadging Chryslers was a bad idea indeed.

The linkup with Chrysler provided Lancia with a (slim?) chance to widen its appeal. The merger of the two brands began in 2011, when Marchionne pulled the U.S. nameplate from continental Europe in favor of Lancia, which sold re-badged versions of the Chrysler 300 sedan, 200 convertible and Voyager minivan, respectively called Thema, Flavia and Voyager. Chrysler only survived in the UK where the Delta and Ypsilon were sold under that brand. Confusing? Indeed.

Lancia Ypsilon Italy August 20132011 Lancia Ypsilon in Ventimiglia, August 2013

All in all, Lancia’s decline is the result of an inconsistent strategy that hesitated between upscale and mass-market segments over the years. Lancia sales in Europe dropped 20% in 2013 to just 75,000 units, 76% of which in Italy alone, and sales outside Europe are non-existent. By 2016, Lancia will consist of just the 12,650 euro Ypsilon subcompact as sales of the Delta will end this year and all re-badges next year. The Italian carmaker intends to invest in restyling the Ypsilon next year as the model has been one of the top sellers in Italy over the past decade.

Si a Lancia No a Marchionne Facebook pageSi a Lancia No a Marchionne Facebook page

Lancia’s demise has angered fans. More than 3,000 of the so-called Lancisti signed an online petition to save the brand, a Facebook page titled “Yes to Lancia, No to Marchionne” received almost 9,000 likes, while on Twitter “Occupy Lancia” sends messages to Fiat such as “Lancia will end Delta production: shame on you.”

Lancia Delta Italy June 2012The 2008 Lancia Delta never convinced, even in Italy.

Reducing a carmaker to a single vehicle line in a single country is a veiled death sentence, as even ultra-luxury brands such as Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce have multiple models. But putting Lancia on life support rather than shutting it down outright helps Fiat keep its options open until other models hit the market to fill the gap, according to Ian Fletcher, an analyst with IHS in London. “It looks like a tactical short-term move, Marchionne may wait for Alfa Romeo’s strategy to yield its first results before killing the Lancia brand.”

Categories: Italy, World

World: Mercedes, Audi post strong gains on compact demand

May 8th, 2014 No comments

Audi Q3 Mercedes GLA World April 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Q3 and GLA are lifting Audi and Mercedes worldwide…

Both Mercedes and Audi continue to post record sales in April and year-to-date, partly thanks to the strength of their compact range. On Tuesday, Mercedes announced its global sales were up 14% year-on-year in April to 133,077 vehicles, buoyed by the new C and E-Class and its entire compact lineup. It is the 10th consecutive month of double-digit percentage growth worldwide, adding up to a record 507,353 vehicles in 4 months so far in 2014, up a splendid 15% on 2013.

The arrival of the GLA compact crossover helped lift the brand’s compact sales by 20% in April. Mercedes rose 10% in the USA to 25,887 sales, 38% in China to 22,438 and 10% in Europe as a whole to 62,868 including 24,430 in Germany, up 3%. 

Mercedes A Class World April 2014Both manufacturers also benefit from very popular compact cars.

Today Audi share its global sales for April, up 12% to 149,050 vehicles. This result was boosted by strong demand for the A3 and Q3 models. Over 4 months, Audi is at a record 561,900 units, up 12% on 2013. The A3 is up an astounding 44% worldwide to 25,766 sales now that the sedan variant has kick started in the US. The Q3 for its part is up 29% to 15,542 units.

In China, Audi is up 17% to 45,216 sales, while in Europe it is up 9% to 71,150 including 25,503 in Germany (+9%) and 12,360 in the UK (+9%). Audi sales in the US are up 19% to 15,653 units. Audi is aiming to sell 2 million cars a year globally by 2020. Last year, the company sold 1.58 million, an 8% increase on 2012.

See the Full source articles below.

Read more…

Categories: World

World Full Year 2013: Discover the Top 10 best-selling models!

April 29th, 2014 9 comments

2015 Ford F-Series World 2013Only commercialised in a handful of countries, the Ford F-Series is #3 worldwide in 2013.

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

As an appetiser for the full Top 1000 models that will be published shortly, I now give you temporary figures for the Top 10 most popular models in the world over the Full Year 2013. The data will be refined over the next couple of weeks but it already gives you a good idea of which vehicles sold the best worldwide last year. As discussed last week, the Toyota Corolla finishes in the lead ahead of the Ford Focus but the surprise comes from the F-Series pick-up truck. Although only sold in North America, the Middle-East and a handful of other countries, it totals 897,445 units for the year, up a beautiful 14% on 2012 and earning it a spot on the worldwide podium!

Honda CR-V World 2013The Honda CR-V is by far the best-selling SUV in the world.

The F-Series kicks the Hyundai Elantra down to 4th place at 861,417 sales while the VW Golf benefits from the worldwide launch of the 7th generation to gain 10% and 4 spots to #5 at 824,629 units. The Ford Fiesta is up 3 ranks to #7 in spite of sales down 1%, while the Honda CR-V breaks into the worldwide Top 10 for potentially the very first time at #9, by far the most popular SUV in the world, and the VW Polo reappears inside the Top 10 at #10.

Previous World Full Year 2013 updates:

Toyota Corolla or Ford Focus #1? BestSellingCarsBlog has spoken

Discover the #1 models in 160 countries

World Full Year 2013: Now with Top 25 best-selling brands

World Full Year 2013: Now with Top 20 biggest manufacturers

World Full Year 2013: Total sales now available for 143 countries

The 20 biggest cars markets in the world: China, Indonesia, Australia and Argentina beat records

Full Year 2013 Top 10 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: World

World 2013: One in every 2.5 Rolls Royce sold in China

April 24th, 2014 2 comments

Rolls Royce Phantom Pinnacle Travel Collection Beijing 2014. Picture courtesy of driving.caRolls-Royce presented the $1.6m Phantom Pinnacle Travel Collection in Beijing this week.

* Click on title to see the Global, China and US sales of 6 luxury manufacturers! *

Global, China and US sales of luxury manufacturers are a rare find so I trust you’ll enjoy this…

According to an April 22 China Daily article, China accounted for a staggering 39% of Rolls Royce global sales in 2013. The British manufacturer, who presented the Phantom Pinnacle Travel Collection at the Beijing Auto Show – rumoured to go for at least $1.6 million, delivered a 4th consecutive year of record Global sales at 3,630 units, up 1.5% on 2013. China sales however were up 11% over the period to reach an all-time high 1,400 units, or 1 in every 2.5 Rolls-Royce sold worldwide! Rolls-Royce added 7 new dealerships in China last year, extending its coverage to 20 cities across the country.

2014 Maserati Quattroporte2013 Maserati sales were up a huge 334% in China to represent 25% of the brand’s Global sales.

Whereas the overall Chinese market grew 14% in 2013, paradoxically most luxury brands lost ground due to more restrictive government measures on luxury buying. Bentley dropped 2.8% to 2,191 sales (22% of Global sales), Ferrari was at -5.5% to 554 units and Lamborghini down a harsh 16.7% to 267 sales due to a delivery shortage of Gallardos, the most popular Lamborghini model in China. Only Porsche (+19.9%) and most spectacularly Maserati, up a whopping 334% year-on-year, saw their results improved last year in China.

Lamborghini Aventador China 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.comChinese Lamborghini sales were down 16.7% in 2013. Temporary set-back?

This doesn’t deter Andrea Baldi, Lamborghini China head: “Super sports cars currently only hold about 0.1% of the passenger car segment in China, whereas this figure is 1 to 2% in Western countries. So the potential is there.” As for Ferrari, the Chinese decline is in line with Global sales (-5.4%) and the manufacturer’s aim to reduce sales to maintain the brand’s luxury status and increase the cars’ value. Bentley’s Chinese decline can be attributed to the Flying Spur model change: zero delivers for the first 9 months but 927 during Q4, while the Continental GT improved by 46% year-on-year. China loves luxury, and is set to become the world’s largest market in this segment as well within the next 5 years. Source: China Daily

Full Year 2013 Global, China and US sales for 6 luxury manufacturers below.

Read more…

Categories: World

World Q1 2014: Toyota ahead of VW and GM again

April 24th, 2014 3 comments

Toyota Tundra. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comToyota Tundra. Global Toyota sales are up 6% year-on-year so far in 2014.

Toyota announced yesterday they sold 2.583 million vehicles worldwide over the First Quarter of 2014, enabling the Group to keep the world leadership for the third Quarter in a row. General Motors comes second with 2.42 million vehicles and Volkswagen is in third position at 2.4 million units. Year-on-year, Toyota is up 6% vs. just +2% for General Motors, #1 a year ago. At this rate, all 3 carmakers could pass the 10 million units by the end of the year at this rate! Source: ibtimes.com

Categories: World

World Full Year 2013: Toyota Corolla or Ford Focus #1? BestSellingCarsBlog has spoken

April 22nd, 2014 20 comments

Toyota Corolla World 2013. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe new sedan enabled the Toyota Corolla to keep its worldwide crown in 2013.

As it has been the case for almost two years now, Toyota and Ford are at odds when it comes to declaring which is the best-selling car in the world. Ford quotes Polk saying the Ford Focus is #1 (as it did in 2012) with 1,097,618 units sold last year including 317,110 in Europe and 403,219 in China. Toyota for its part says the Corolla leads the way with 1.2 million units, adding up to 40,820,000 sales since the nameplate originally launched in the sixties. Who is right?

BestSellingCarsBlog has spoken, and the Toyota Corolla wins the title of best-selling car in the world for 2013, roughly confirming both manufacturers’ figures. The Corolla leads with 1,245,404 sales vs. 1,107,253 for the Ford Focus. Keep in mind these remain temporary figures and will be slightly refined in the next couple of weeks.

As usual there are a lot of different ways to skin this cat especially on Toyota’s side, and the decisions to include or not certain versions have created a lot of debate over the years on BSCB. So today and for the first time I detail the exact splits for the different models and generations that make up these worldwide sales figures, with the only unknown being the split between the last two generations of Corolla (10 and 11) which were both on sale worldwide in 2013. This way you can play with the figures and decide which car in your view should earn the world best-seller title. :-)

Ford Focus World 2013Caramba, missed again. The Ford Focus is #2 in the world in 2013. Unless…

The Corolla methodology is as follows: the sales figure includes the 9th generation still sold in China, as it is slightly facelifted now but still for the most part faithful to the original model, unlike for example the Chinese Jetta not into worldwide Jetta sales as the current model is not a facelifted 2nd gene anymore but an entirely new car. In the same vein, the Japanese Corolla was not included in the Corolla total as it has departed from the original model. Estimated US Matrix sales have been deduced from the Corolla total as well, and finally Auris sales were included as this very same model is called Corolla hatchback outside of Europe.

For the Focus it’s much simpler, as the total figure includes the IIf generation still on sale in China and the hatchback and station wagon versions which retain the Focus nameplate. Based on all these numbers, Ford is still not right to claim the title of best-selling nameplate in the world. If we count the cars that actually have the Corolla nameplate printed on them (no Auris but including the Japanese Corolla) we arrive at 1,201,238 sales vs. 1,107,253. Only when deducting both the Auris and the Japanese Corolla is the Ford Focus worldwide best-seller by the skin of its teeth at 1,107,253 units vs. 1,099,574.

Toyota Corolla vs. Ford Focus – Full Year 2013:


Model 2013
Toyota Corolla 1,245,404
including Corolla IX (China) 147,921
including Auris (Europe) 145,830
NOT including Matrix (USA) unknown,      est. 2,000
NOT including Corolla XI (Japan) 101,664
Ford Focus 1,107,253
including Focus IIf (China) unknown, est.133,200

Source: All usual sources worldwide.

Categories: World

World: How the Chinese are setting themselves up for success (Part 5: Mature markets)

April 20th, 2014 12 comments

Qoros 3 The Qoros 3 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last April.

* This is Part 5 of 5 in my series on Chinese carmakers abroad. See also Part 1 (Africa)Part 2 (Latin America)Part 3 (Eastern Europe) and Part 4 (Asia) *

The first 4 Parts in this series have shown Chinese manufacturers securing the less developed markets in each region as springboards to expand further. Less developed means smaller and less sophisticated but also less regulated as far as pollution and security are concerned. These last two aspects have been the main barrier to the Chinese carmakers’ entrance in mature markets to date, and specific strategies have had to be developed to address this. This is why I am grouping all ‘mature markets’ in one article, independent of their geographic location.

Brilliance BS6 Crash Test 2007. Picture courtesy of autozeitung.deBrilliance BS6. This 2007 crash test put a dent into Chinese carmakers’ plans in Western Europe.

Chinese manufacturers have learnt this the hard way back in 2007 when disastrous crash tests for the Brilliance BS6 and Landwind SUV meant these two carmakers and all other Chinese manufacturers that were seriously thinking about setting shop in these regions had to postpone their plans. 7 years later, manufacturing quality has improved and there are a few mature markets where the Chinese have started to make their mark, among them Australia, Italy and the UK. The launch of the new Qoros brand by Chery at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show is another important milestone even though European sales of the brand will remain limited.

Great Wall V200 Australia October 2012The Great Wall V-Series is the first Chinese model to break into the Australian Top 50

The main success story so far for a Chinese manufacturer in a mature market is Great Wall in Australia. You can see the full details in my article Australia: An interview with Daniel Cotterill from Great Wall and hear the experience of a very happy Great Wall customer met in Bourke last week here. Great Wall launched in Australia in 2009 and finished 2012 as #17 brand with sales up 27% to 11,006 units and 1% share, totaling over 30,000 to-date. Even though these figures seem small, they are based on only two models and as a result it is actually one of the most successful car brand launches in the country in the past decade, as the market is already completely saturated with over 50 brands present, way more than in the US which is 14 times bigger…

The Great Wall V-Series pick-up (aka Steed) is the first Chinese model to break into the Australian Top 50, finishing 2012 at #49 with 7,490 sales, up 35%, and the Great Wall Australian range has only one other model, the Hover SUV.

Even if 2013 and 2014 year-to-date figures have been disappointing, one of the key factors in Great Wall’s success in Australia has been to embrace the brand’s provenance rather than hide it. Both their slogan ‘The Great cars of China’ and strong positioning on price are unapologetic. The main element to remember here is that by focusing on a sturdy workhorse (the Steed pick-up truck), Great Wall is building itself a solid reputation of reliability under the harsh Australian climate which is at polar opposites with the likes of Hyundai when they first launched there, as evidenced by the healthy amount of repeat business the brand is already experiencing. Chery, Geely and Foton are also present in Australia but not successful at this stage.

DR1 Europe April 2011The Riich M1 is assembled and sold in Italy as the DR1

Italy is the only mature market to assemble Chinese models. Chery cars are assembled by the DR Motor Company since 2007 in Macchia d’Isternia, North of Naples. The range is composed of the DR1 (Riich M1), DR2 (Chery Kimo) and DR5 (Chery Tiggo) however sales dropped from 2,938 in 2011 to just 710 in 2012 and 435 in 2013.

The Great Wall Hover ranked #32 in Italy in December 2011. More of a freak event though.

Great Wall also imports in Italy which became the first Western European country to welcome a Chinese model within its monthly Top 50 in December 2011 when the Great Wall Hover ranked #32. This was a freak event though as it seems Great Wall sold all their stock that month to dealerships but continued to sell to consumers all through 2012 even though official sales figures were down from 1,675 in 2011 to just 10 (!) in 2012, before going back up to a still extremely shy 235 in 2013.

The MG6 has disappointed in the UK so far.

The UK is the third mature market where the Chinese are gaining valuable experience. MG, now owned by SAIC, was reintroduced there in 2011 with the MG6 albeit with disappointing results: the model ranked only #203 with 772 sales for its first full year in 2012 and was down 82% over the first Quarter of 2013. Inspired by its Australian success, Great Wall soft-launched there in 2012 with the Steed pick-up and finished the year as #15 LCV brand with 476 sales and 0.2% share. Very small numbers still but the footprint is there.

Shanghai Englon TX4 Shanghai Englon TX4

Another angle Chinese manufacturers are starting to pursue is the delivery of electric public transport to big metropolitan cities. BYD is set to deliver 50 of its electric hatchback e6 to operate as London taxis while the first batch of 45 e6 has now arrived in Hong Kong, and will start manufacturing electric buses in California later this year. But the biggest development in that area happened last February when Geely acquired iconic London Taxi maker Manganese Bronze. Geely was already manufacturing and selling the London Taxi in China as the Shanghai Englon TX4 and is now looking into developing an electric version.

Qoros logo. Picture by theglobeandmail.com

The last element of the puzzle of Chinese carmakers in mature market is a rather puzzling one indeed. The new company Qoros is a joint-venture between Chery and Israel Corporation which was created in 2007 and has put together a European team of motoring executives and experts with extensive experience from mainstream brands to lead it. Gerd Volker Hildebrand, creator of the modern Mini design, came up with the first Qoros model, the Qoros 3, which was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show along with two concept cars announcing the future of the brand.

Qoros sales are only now starting in China – very slowly for now with just a few hundred units so far in 2014. However, far from announcing the long-dreaded large scale invasion of Europe by Chinese manufacturers, Qoros say their main target is… the Chinese market, where consumers like buying European products but don’t like diesel. As a result, no diesel motorisation is planned in any of the future models, which considerably reduces their appeal in Western Europe, and Qoros predicts that only 10% of its sales will actually be in Europe. Its price point between 16,000 and 20,000 euros place it well above the budget brands currently selling like hotcakes there, but could be an interesting test to see whether European consumers are ready to buy ‘expensive’ Chinese cars. More details on Qoros’ launch plans in Eastern and Western Europe here.

Last bit of information, all Qoros cars will be made in Changshu in China, in a new factory that will initially have a 150,000 cars/year capacity, with the possibility to extend to 450,000/year. Not a single Qoros will be made in Europe. So in other words, Qoros is a Chinese brand that wants to sell European-designed models made in China to Chinese consumers thinking they are buying a European car. Tricky.

This concludes our series about Chinese carmakers abroad. I hope you enjoyed it!

Categories: China, STRATEGY, World

Strategy: How the Chinese are setting themselves up for success (Part 4: Asia)

April 19th, 2014 7 comments

Chevrolet Enjoy India May 2013. Picture courtesy of motoroids.comThe Wuling Hongguang launched this month in India as the Chevrolet Enjoy.

* This is Part 4 of 5 in my series on Chinese carmakers abroad. See also Part 1 (Africa)Part 2 (Latin America)Part 3 (Eastern Europe) and Part 5 (Mature markets) *

In the first 3 parts of this series we observed that Chinese carmakers have managed their expansion into Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe by securing less developed markets and using them as anchor points for a more widespread presence in these regions. In this context it’s interesting to note that in their own ‘backyard’, Asia, the same strategy has not been met with the same success, with only a handful of small markets in the region ‘cracked’ so far. However as you can expect, Chinese manufacturers are now busy working on correcting that situation, so they can finally surf on what is currently one of the most dynamic car markets in the world.

Chery QQ Myanmar 2012. Picture by Ryusuke IkedaChery QQ in Yangon, Myanmar

In Myanmar, as the market becomes normalised, all 1,000 Chery QQ imported by the Ministry of Industry sold out within a week in December 2012 in spite of seeing their original price more than double once various duties, taxes and licensing fees were added. The QQ is now a common sight in the main city in the country, Yangoon, mainly as taxis.

Chery M1 in Luang Prabang, Laos, January 2011.

Laos is the only other South-East Asian market where Chinese carmakers seem to be enjoying very healthy sales, with the Chery M1, QQ & Tiggo, JAC Tongyue and BYD F0 all noticed in the streets of Luang Prabang my dear Mum and Dad during their last trip there in January 2011.

Pyeonghwa Samchunri North KoreaThe Pyeonghwa Samchunri should be the best-selling vehicle in North Korea.

Neighbour North Korea is potentially the market in the world where the Chinese dominate the most, thanks to government links between the two countries. I estimate this based on the observation of rare videos of the streets of the capital Pyongyang. Local manufacturer Pyeonghwa assembles under license the Samchunri (aka Jinbei Haise) which should be the best-seller in the country, Brilliance BS4, FSV and Huanghai Shuguan, romantically renamed Ppoggugi 4WD. More recently, a batch of 200 Hawtai Lusheng E70 taxis were imported from China.

Micro Panda Sri Lanka February 2013Micro Panda in Sri Lanka

A little more to the West in Sri Lanka, Geely has associated with local brand Micro Cars to assemble and sell the Panda and MK (renamed MX7) to relative success. Micro Cars also assembles and sells Great Wall and Jinbei vehicles and ranked #2 in the country in February 2013. In India, Chevrolet launched the Enjoy in 2013 which is in fact a rebadged Wuling Hongguang and Chery assembles and sells the QQ in Pakistan, however no sales figures are available so far.

Change Freedom Dushanbe TajikistanChangHe Freedom in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Another part of the world completely bypassed by most car manufacturers except the Chinese is all the Central Asian former Soviet nations. Even though official data is still rare for these countries, anecdotal evidence shows they are present there en masse. For example, did you know that judging by YouTube videos the Changhe Freedom must have been the best-selling car in Tajikistan for a couple of years before such minivans were abruptly banned over safety concerns in 2010? Lifan has been assembling cars in Azerbaijan since 2010 and the MG3 can already be noticed in the streets of the capital Baku. Finally Geely will export part of its Belarus production to Kazakhstan from 2014 onwards…

Geely MK2 Indonesia April 2012Geely MK2 taxi in Bali, Indonesia April 2012

All other significant markets in the region have resisted the Chinese assault so far. Chery apparently assembles cars in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam but their only claim to fame to-date has been the 27th place of the Chery Eastar in Malaysia in 2010. Geely assembles in Indonesia but the only models I saw in two weeks in Bali were a few MK2 taxis and one single Panda.

chana-era-cv6-changan-compactMalaysian advertisement for the Chana Era CV6

Hafei launched the Brio as the Naza Sutera in Malaysia in 2006, then renamed it Forza in 2007 without luck, while Chana’s attempt at launching the Era CV6 and CM8 there in 2009 also failed. Lifan assembles in Vietnam since 2007 and I did see one 520 sedan in Sapa when I travelled there but it seems DongFeng is having much more luck in the heavy commercial vehicle sector there. The situation is similar in Iran where Chery and Lifan have been assembling cars since 2006, and even though the Fulwin 2 hit a record #4 in April 2013, the volumes remain very small.

Manila Auto Show Foton2Foton Thunder at the Manila Motor Show, April 2013

However the Chinese carmakers’ situation in Asia may change rather quickly, judging at how dynamic the entire Chinese delegation was at the Manila Auto Show in the Philippines one year ago, as I detailed in my article Manila Auto Show 2013: Has the time come for Chinese manufacturers? According to Leon Herrera, CEO of Chery Motors Philippines, Chery is “aiming at a spot in the Top 5 at the end of 2013 year and between 10 and 15% of the market” by 2015 which is exceptionally ambitious given this is Chery’s second attempt at cracking the Filipino market after the first one failed.

Paradoxically, their proximity with Asia seems to have worked against Chinese car manufacturers so far, giving a surprisingly less positive balance sheet in a region where defiance towards Chinese domination may have hindered their progress. Potentially not for too much longer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way?

Stay tuned for the final Part of this series about Mature markets!

Categories: China, STRATEGY, World

Strategy: How the Chinese are setting themselves up for success (Part 3: Eastern Europe)

April 19th, 2014 3 comments

Vortex Tingo Russia 2012TagAz has been manufacturing the Chery Tiggo in Russia – rebranded Vortex Tingo.

* This is Part 3 of 5 in my series on Chinese carmakers abroad. See also Part 1 (Africa)Part 2 (Latin America)Part 4 (Asia) and Part 5 (Mature markets) *

As illustrated in Africa and Latin America, Chinese manufacturers have been working extra-hard under the radar to secure less developed markets that will form the bulk of global car sales growth over the next couple of decades. Their approach to Eastern Europe is very similar. There are currently three Chinese assembling hubs in the region – in Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria – acting as a very convenient springboard for further expansion throughout the continent, including all the ex-USSR nations and potentially Western Europe in the longer-term.

Police Lifan Solano in Moscow, Russia

Even though their market share is limited to just under 4% for now, Russia is currently the overseas country delivering the largest volume for Chinese manufacturers, and even become the first overseas country to buy more than 100,000 Chinese passenger cars annually with 102,389 sales in 2013. That’s up a whopping 23% on 2012 in a market down 5%. Import tariffs are too high to allow sizeable direct imports from China, so the 4 main Chinese carmakers present here have already all invested very significantly to assemble locally and as a result are registering extremely strong growth rates in 2013: Lifan is up 34% to #24, Geely up 55% to #25, Great Wall up 39% to #28 while Chery is slower at +4% and #29.

Chery Amulet Russia 2007The Chery Amulet was one of the first successful Chinese models in the region.

Chery has the longest (and most troubled) history in Russia: the Chery Amulet ranked within the monthly Top 20 as early as 2007 but the brand saw sales plummet on the back of poor quality perception, to which Chery responded by rebranding their cars Vortex. Since last year though, the Chery brand is back in Russia with encouraging success. Model-wise, the Great Wall Hover is the best-selling Chinese vehicle in Russia in 2013, up 37% to #41, followed by the Lifan X60 (#42), Geely Emgrand (#46), Geely MK/MK Cross (#54), Lifan Solano (#67) and Chery Tiggo (#93).

Geely CK Ukraine March 2012The Geely CK has managed to top the Ukrainian models ranking 3 times already.

Although Russia does not qualify as a “less developed” market, its structure heavily weighted towards low-cost models like the Lada range and Renault-branded Dacias make it one of the biggest opportunities for Chinese manufacturers worldwide. However in Eastern Europe too, it’s in the developing car markets that we see the Chinese grab their highest market share. Ukraine is the only market in the world with regular available sales data outside China to have repeatedly crowned a Chinese model in the monthly rankings. The Geely CK ranked #1 there in July 2012, December 2012 and January 2013 and finished 2013 in third position.

Geely SC7 Belarus 2013The Geely SC7 will be assembled in Belarus later in 2013

But the CK is not a one trick pony: Geely was simply the most popular brand in Ukraine in January 2014 with 12.7% market share above Toyota (11.4%)! The Geely Emgrand EC7 peaked at #2 in September 2013, the MK-2/Cross was #15 in March 2013 and the MK was #19 last September 2012. All in all Chinese carmakers currently command around 10% of the Ukrainian car market.

ZAZ Forza Ukraine 2013Chery sells the Fulwin 2 as the ZAZ Forza in Ukraine

Other Chinese actors in Ukraine include Chery, 25th brand in 2013, BYD up 144% to #27 Great Wall at #32 and MG at #34, placing the MG 350 at #77 in April 2013. Another example of Chinese manufacturers immersing themselves in the local culture, Chery manufactures at the local ZAZ plant from CKD kits and sells the Chery Fulwin 2 as the ZAZ Forza which ranked among the Ukrainian Top 10 from May to August 2012.

Great Wall Voleex C10 Bulgaria June 2012bBulgarian police has already adopted the Great Wall Voleex C10

Another milestone event for Chinese manufacturers in Eastern Europe was the opening of the Great Wall factory in Lovech, Bulgaria, in February 2012. This is the very first automotive plant set up in Bulgaria and as a result Great Wall has played the ‘made in Bulgaria’ card to the fullest since, with great results: it was #10 brand in the country over the first 6 months of 2012 and quickly went up to #2 overall with 10.5% share below just Volkswagen in October and December 2012, placing the Steed pick-up in pole position that same month, the Voleex C10 at #2 in April 2013 and the Hover at #6 in December 2012. 2013 was a little more discreet however for Great Wall in Bulgaria as a whole.

Great Wall’s Bulgarian hub is planned as the focal point for their expansion throughout Europe, and Bulgarian exports have already started to trickle down in sales stats for countries like Macedonia where in December 2012 Great Wall was the #10 brand with 4.7% share and the Voleex C10 was #5 model at 3% share. This expansion will likely reach more neighbouring markets in the near future, once again the less mature ones like Serbia (where Chery ranked #25 in 2012), Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and potentially Albania and Moldova.

A fourth Chinese assembly hub in the region kick started in 2013 in Belarus, where Geely has set up a joint venture with Belarusian company BelDzhi and is has launched the locally assembled SC7, ranking 19th overall in 2013 with 1.2% of the market and pushing Geely up to #18 brand with 1.5% share for its first year in market. The assembly facilities, located in Zhodino and Borisov, are scheduled to produce 60,000 cars/year for the first three years, with capacity potentially doubling in 2017. From that 4th hub, exports towards Russia and Kazakhstan are on the cards.

Launching from their 4 hubs in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Belarus, Chinese carmakers are getting ready to expand further in Eastern and Western Europe in the very near future. Russia will remain by far their biggest opportunity in the region with local assembly plants already in place and ready to gear up to surf on the growing demand for affordable cars in that market.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series: Asia!