China December 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Soueast DX3 China December 2016. Picture courtesy mmia.comSoueast DX3

* See the December 2016 Top 75 China-made brands and Top 422 models here *

As is the tradition each month, BSCB puts a laser focus on the new China-made nameplates that make their appearance in market so you are on the bleeding edge of knowledge as far as the largest car market in the world is concerned. New car sales in China ended 2016 on a high note with December up to a record 2.6 million units. The December class of all-new nameplates is in line with this stunning figure: no less than 13 all-new nameplates point their bonnet in the sales charts, a new record.

1. Soueast DX3 (#100 with 8.535 sales)

The DX3 is Soueast’s second SUV after the DX7, it was launched at the Chengdu Auto Show last November and was also designed jointly with Pininfarina. At 4.35m long, it is powered by a choice of two Mitsubishi-sourced engines: a 120hp 1.5 and a 150hp 1.5T. Priced between 72.900 and 99.900 yuan (US$10.600-14.500), the DX3 enters the most crowded segment in China: small Chinese SUVs. It will compete with the likes of the JAC Refine S3, Changan CS35, Brilliance V3, BAIC Senova X35, Geely Vision SUV, Emgrand GS and Haval H2s among a plethora of others. The DX7, launched in August 2015, peaked at 9.531 sales last October so in this context the first month of the DX3, instantly making it the brand’s best-seller, is simply stunning. Regular stints at or above 10.000 units would delight Soueast.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

BAIC EC-Series China December 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cn

2. BAIC EC-Series (#174 with 4.128 sales)

Beijing Auto unveiled the EC180 at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November and although it is only due to go on sale in China on January 18, it already appears in the December charts with a sturdy 4.128 sales – probably to allow BAIC to meet its electric car sales quota for 2016. A small 3.67m-long hatch disguised as a crossover with black arches and bi-colour paint on some variants, the EC180 is powered by a 41hp electric motor with a 180km range (giving the car its name). Some nice touches include blue lines around the headlights but the interior is disappointing. The EC180 is manufactured by BAIC BJEV, a subsidiary of BAIC that it owns at 60%, the other 40% including LeEco, self-proclaimed competitor to Tesla. The EC180 joins an already extensive electric lineup by BAIC including the EV200, EX200 and EU260, and its December figure seems a tad inflated. A long-term career at this level would be very satisfying for BAIC indeed.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Bisu M3 China December 2016

3. Bisu M3 (#211 with 2.597 sales)

This month we welcome a new brand in the Chinese sales charts: Bisu Auto, its full name being Chonqing Bisu Automotive Corporation. Part of the Beijing Auto (BAIC) empire, this new brand has close links with Beiqi-Yinxiang which sells the Huansu brand. In fact, the Bisu M3 is only a disguised Huansu H3 targetting younger buyers after a cheap, spacious MPVs where the Huansu brand is for all ages. A large 4.76m seven-seater, the Bisu M3 is priced between 61.900 and 83.900 yuan (US$9.000-12.200), a premium over the Huansu H3 (55.800-62.800) and its first month is honest, above 2.500 sales. It will need to reach double that to truly establish itself in the hyper-competitive (and shrinking) MPV market.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Venucia T90 China December 2016

4.  Venucia T90 (#217 with 2.481 sales)

If you thought Venucia, a low-cost brand fruit of the Dongfeng-Nissan joint-venture, was destined to recycle unloved Nissan mechanics and designs to slowly disappear into oblivion, think again. At the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015, the brand unveiled the Vow concept, which I thought was a little far-flung. Not so. Only one year later at the Beijing Auto Show 2016, the Venucia T90 was born. A very impressive coupe SUV that only has an equivalent in the now-defunct Honda Crosstour, the T90 stands at 4.79 long and 1.59 high, with a ground clearance of 194mm. It is based on the current generation Nissan Murano (2015) and priced from 109.800 to 154.800 yuan (US$15.900-22.400).

The T90 interior is almost as impressive as its exterior design with a 12.3 inch touch screen larger than anything in the Nissan lineup, let alone other Venucia offerings. However the T90’s weakness is its engine: an antediluvian Nissan 144hp 2.0l 4-cyl petrol mated to a 6-speed manual or a ‘Xtronic’ CVT, only able to get you from 0 to 100km/h in 12.4 seconds. Yet the Chinese consumer may never push it that hard and most probably won’t leave the bitumen roads of the city it was bought in. In this context, Local outlet AutoHome.com.cn doesn’t hesitate to pit the T90 against such blockbusters as the Geely Boyue, Roewe RX5 and Nissan Qashqai, all able to sell over 20.000 monthly units. The other SUV in the Venucia lineup, the T70, isn’t affected in the least by the arrival of the larger T90 as it broke its month volume record just this month at 9.764. Let’s not put that much pressure on the T90 just yet, and we may well be happily surprised.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengshen AX5 China December 2016. Picture courtesy autoifeng.com

5. Dongfeng Fengshen AX5 (#232 with 2.246 sales)

Slotting in-between the AX3 and AX7, the Dongfeng Fengshen AX5 enters the most competitive and crowded segment in the entire Chinese market: compact SUVs. Priced between 89.700 and 128.700 yuan and at 4.50m long, it will rival the likes of the Haval H6 and GAC Trumpchi GS4, an arduous task to say the least. The AX5 is powered by a new 1.4 turbo engine delivering 140hp mated to a 6-speed DCT or a 6-speed manual. Its interior is a little morose with a small 8 inch touch screen giving permanent 4G internet connection. The AX7 has a personal best of 9.531 sales (last October) while the AX5 peaked at 4.177 (last September), but the AX5 fits the current size and price trends better, so it could reach higher ground. Plus Dongfeng’s most recent SUV launches have been runaway hits (the Fengguang 580 and Fengxing SX6)…

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

Volvo S90 China December 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com

6. Volvo S90L (#294 with 968 sales)

The Chinese version of the Volvo S90 has been named S90L because it is a long-wheelbase iteration of the S90 that launched earlier this year in Europe and North America. It has been extended by 12cm to allow more space to the rear passengers. The S90L is priced between 399.800 and 579.800 yuan (US$58.000-84.100) but an ultra-luxurious 3-seat variant, the S90L Excellence is scheduled for 2017: it has no front passenger seat to allow full space for the rear passenger, this type of cars being traditionally driven by a valet in China, with the owner sitting in the back.

Property of Geely since 2010, Volvo manufactures the S90L in Daqing and will later export this China-made sedan to Europe and North America. The S90L competes with the traditional leaders in the segments: the Audi A6L, BMW 5Li and Mercedes E-Class L, as well as a new entrant, the Jaguar XFL. Predicting its sales career is a little tricky as this is clearly the most luxurious and expensive offer by Volvo in China so far. The XC60 SUV peaked at 4.154 sales this month, while the S60L has a personal best of 3.190 deliveries in November. Before them, the S80L only managed four-digit sales figures three times, peaking at 1.291 sales in December 2011. Matching the S60L best should be a stretch target, but the S90 could go higher an may hit 5.000 sales on a freak month.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

JMEV E200 China December 2016

JMEV E100 China December 2016

7. JMC (JMEV) E200 (#295 with 951 sales)

8. Kandi K10 (#318 with 703 sales)

9. JMC (JMEV) E100 (#320 with 676 sales)

December is traditionally the month when Chinese manufacturers rush various electric models to market in order to meet sales target for this segment and qualify for government subsidies. This year is no exception, with a total of five electric or eco-friendly entrants, including these three. The Kandi K10 adds to an expanding lineup by the Geely-owned brand, along with the existing K11, K12 and K17. As for the two JMC nameplates, these are an odder appearance. Seemingly in market for at least a year, they only appear now to get inserted in the annual rankings, and their sales figure for December could actually reflect the whole of 2016 instead of just one month.  Priced from 179.800 to 182.800 yuan (US$26.100-26.600), the E200 is the most popular of the three and appears to be a clone of the previous generation Changan Benben.

JAC Refine A60 China December 2016

10. JAC Refine A60 (#351 with 376 sales)

Originally unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2014, the JAC Refine A60 finally landed in market after almost three years of unveiling, launching, tweaking and facelifting. This time the attraction is the new Lexus-inspired grille. JAC made a big deal of this final – promised – version at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November and displayed no less than 8 examples, the only nameplate on show in its stand. To be fair, it is the brand’s new flagship at 5.01m long and priced between 139.500 and 179.500 yuan (US$20.200-26.000), so JAC should be proud about it. It’s a tricky segment for Chinese carmakers though, with only the Geely GC9 having really succeeded so far (personal best at 6.001 sales in January 2016). Other competitors for the A60 include the Dongfeng Aeolus A9 (peak at 505 sales), GAC Trumpchi GA8 (509 sales) and Zotye Z700 (1.983). In this context, reaching a four-digit monthly sales figure would already be a relief for JAC.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

Bisu T3 China December 2016

11. Bisu T3 (#361 with 320 sales)

The T3 small SUV is the second model by new manufacturer Bisu, also launching the M3 MPV this month (see above). The creation of the T3 is shrouded in controversy: even though it is based on the platform of the Huansu S2 and S3, engineers employed at Changan – also based in Chongqing – moved to Bisu with the design blueprints of the Changan CS55, of which the Bisu T3 is a thinly veiled copy. To add insult to injury, the Bisu T3 has managed to beat the Changan CS55 to market… At 4.35m long and powered by a turbocharged 1.3L engine with 132hp, the T3 adds to a seemingly never-ending list of compact Chinese SUVs and given the market hasn’t quenched its thirst for this type of vehicle yet, it is a good idea indeed. The T3 is reasonably priced at 74.900-86.900 yuan (US$10.900-12.600), its design is cool enough for the youth in the booming countryside and both its mechanics and interior are modern. Bisu has all the cards for a solid success with the T3, and will launch a larger T5 before the end of the year.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Jeep Compass China December 2016

12. Jeep Compass (#368 with 300 sales)

Even before launching at home in the U.S.A, the new generation Jeep Compass has started production in Brazil (see November 2016 Brazilian sales article here) and now in China where it officially launched on December 28. It is manufactured by Guangzhou-Fiat and is the third China-made Jeep to hit Chinese shores in just above one year after the Cherokee and Renegade. The Compass is priced from 159.800 to 241.800 yuan (US$23.200-35.100), only slightly higher than the Renegade (134.800-202.800) and almost entirely below the Cherokee (229.800-315.800). The Compass is an extremely important nameplate for Jeep in China: the Cherokee and Renegade – although very successful – were merely tiptoeing into Chinese waters for the American legendary brand…

In the world’s thirstiest market about SUVs, the previous generation Compass held the title of best-selling import for the most part of 2015 before the manufacturer started producing locally. The Compass nameplate is therefore well-known to Chinese consumers and its local production has brought its price down significantly. True blockbuster material here, with the potential to lift Jeep to the next level in China. The Cherokee’s personal best was hit this month at 10.109 sales while the Renegade never did better than 4.050 sales on its 2nd month in market last July. A five-digit sales figure will label the Compass a success, but it should be able to hit 15.000 or even 20.000 in cruising mode.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Horki 300E China December 2016

13. Horki 300E (#409 with 5 sales)

In the same way Toyota created the Ranz and Leahead brands to sell (dated) electric vehicles and comply with Chinese government directions – their launch in market is still to come, Dongfeng-Yueda Kia launched the Horki brand back in 2013 but is only making its appearance in the Chinese sales charts now. The 300E is a rebadged previous generation Kia Cerato (still in production in China) with an updated front but a decidedly obsolete interior. It is powered by a 108hp electric motor with a 280km range, but is only playing a figurative role in the Chinese market.

Bar for success: 500 sales

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

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

China November 2016: Focus on the All-new models

vw-c-trek-china-november-2016VW C-Trek 

* See the Top 72 China-made brands and Top 415 models by clicking here *

After nine all-new locally produced nameplates entered the Chinese market both in September and October, the November class is a little more limited with five new entrants, including four SUVs.

1. VW C-Trek (#142 – 5.602 sales)

The C-Trek is the crossover-looking wagon version of the VW Bora, but its sales are counted separately (contrary to the Cross Lavida) as its nameplate does not include the Bora name. It is powered by the same engines as the Bora: a 100hp 1.6 and a 131hp 1.4 turbo, and priced between 107.800 and 153.800 yuan (US$ 15.500-22.100). This is a very unique segment in China with not many actors, but trust Volkswagen to transform the C-Trek into a hit.

Bar for success: 10.000 sales

zotye-sr9-china-november-2016-pictuer-cheshi-com

2. Zotye SR9 (#188 – 3.286 sales)

The car pictured above isn’t a Porsche Macan. I swear. It’s the new Zotye SR9. The manufacturer is developing a nasty reputation for (successful) copycat after the T600 (VW Touareg), Damai X5 (VW Tiguan) and SR7 (Audi Q3). The next one, the Damai X7, is a clone of the VW Cross Coupe GTE Concept: Zotye isn’t even waiting for already-launched models to copy them now. If the Macan starts at 558.000 yuan (US$80.200), the SR9 is priced between 109.800 and 162.800 yuan ($15.800-23.400), meaning you can buy five SR9 for the price of one Macan… It is powered by a 190ho 2.0 turbo engine like the Landwind X7, a clone of the Range Rover Evoque. Porsche announced plans to sue Zotye, but like Jaguar Land Rover and Landwind, this has little chance to getting anywhere. China is really still the wild wild west when it comes to copyrights. The truth is, like for each copycat Zotye has launched, the SR9 is likely to be a strong commercial success, and its initial month already goes this way.

Bar for success: 7.000 sales

renault-koleos-china-november-2016-picture-courtesy-liufen-cc

3. Renault Koleos (#204 – 2.878 sales)

After the Kadjar in March, the Koleos is Renault’s second ever nameplate to be produced in China, by the Dongfeng-Renault joint venture. It is based on the Nissan X-Trail platform with whom it shares the wheelbase, engines and gearbox. To establish the nameplate in the crowed Chinese SUV market, Renault has amped up the sophistication in the cockpit compared to X-Trail, all this for the same price: from 179.800 to 269.800 yuan (US$25.800-38.800) for the Kadjar vs. 181.800-267.800 ($26.100-38.500) for the X-Trail. Although the X-Trail is an absolute blockbuster in China with a personal best of 20.504 sales and three times above 20.000, Renault is still a newcomer in this market and must aim lower to start with. The Kadjar’s highest month so far is 4.006 sales in October, but the Koleos benefits from a relative amount of nameplate recognition as this is the second generation on sale in China – the first was imported. Given it is a much larger and improved car sold for less, 7.500 monthly units would really establish the brand.

Bar for success: 7.500 sales

karry-k60-china-november-2016

4. Karry K60 (#211 – 2.624 sales)

The Karry K60 is a rebadge of the Cowin V3 launched last July. Its SUV-MPV allure is right on target for current Chinese countryside customers and it should help further the brand’s sales along with the successful K50. Chery is now on a roll with three separate brands (Chery, Karry and Cowin) after years of stagnation. Available in five, six and seven-seat configurations, the K60 is priced from 59.000 to 79.000 yuan (US$8.500-11.400) and should aim at a 7.500 monthly sales average in the long term, with a potential peak around 10.000 like the K50.

Bar for success: 8.000 sales

gac-trumpchi-gs8-china-november-2016-picture-2-courtesy-ifeng-com

5. GAC Trumpchi GS8 (#215 – 2.505 sales)

The GAC Trumpchi GS8 was unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show and is the new flagship of the brand. It shares its platform with the GA8 sedan and the upcoming GM8 MPV. It is priced between 163.800 and 259.800 yuan (US$23.500 – 37.300) and is certainly the most American-looking Chinese SUV ever made. There’s a reason for that: GAC has made no secret that it wants to start selling in the U.S by 2020.

gac-trumpchi-gs8-interior-china-november-2016GAC Trumpchi GS8 interior

For now, the Trumpchi GS8 enters the Chinese SUV market from the top and will give Haval a run for its money. If marketed smartly, the GS8 could benefit from the incredible success of the GS4, currently ranking #7 overall (all segments included) and regularly selling upwards of 30.000 monthly units. Such high scores are impossible for an expensive Chinese SUV like the GS8, but the GS8 will certainly push the boundaries within which pricey Chinese SUVs previously evolved within. Haval has not been able to make a success out of the H8 nor the H9, but the GS8’s initial score is already higher than every single month of sales of the two Haval, bar two. Promising.

Bar for success: 6.000 sales

The last new entrant in China in November is the Kandi K12 (#313 – 644 sales) but irregular appearances of Geely’s electric brand inside the sales charts make it impossible to forecast their future.

China October 2016: Focus on the All-new models

dongfeng-fengxing-sx6-china-october-2016Dongfeng Fengxing SX6 

* See the Top 70 China-made brands and Top 400 models by clicking here *

Like in September, the October class of all-new nameplates amount to nine, including six above 1.000 units. Once again, SUVs dominate new launches with 5 of them this month vs. 2 sedans and 2 MPVs.

1. Dongfeng Fengxing SX6 (#90 – 8.157 sales)

Dongfeng continues its onslaught of cut-throat priced quality SUVs: after the tremendously successful Fengguang 580 (14.382 units in October and the brand’s best-selling passenger car), here comes the Fengxing SX6, also unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April. Its initial selling rate, above 8.000 units, is instant proof that this is yet another blockbuster for Dongfeng. A seven-seater crossover variant of the Fengxing S500 MPV, the Fengxing SX6 is priced between 69.900 and 102.900 yuan ($10.120-14.900) which is exactly the same range as the Fengguang 580 (72.900-99.999) but Dongfeng – probably rightly – thinks there is room for both in market. The SX6 also competes with the likes of the SWM X7 (85.900-101.900 yuan), BYD S6 (79.900-123.900 yuan) and Changan CX70 (68.900-84.900). Given the success of all aforementioned nameplates, a reasonable target for the SX6 is a long-term 10.000 monthly average. It is already almost there. It is powered by a choice of two engines: a Mitsubishi-sourced 1.6 with 117hp and a Peugeot-sourced 2.0 with 138 hp. No automatic gearbox is available.

Bar for success: 10.000 sales

hyundai-verna-china-october-2016

2. Hyundai New Verna (#130 – 5.887 sales)

Teased at the Beijing Auto Show and officially unveiled last September in Chengdu, the new generation Hyundai Verna hits the Chinese market this month and is counted separately from the previous generation which stays on Hyundai’s catalogue as it has now become the norm. Available with either a 1.4 with 100hp or 1.6 with 123hp and either six-speed manual or four-speed auto, the Verna is manufactured by the Beijing-Hyundai joint-venture and sharply priced from 60.000 to 90.000 yuan (US$8.700-13.000). The previous generations Verna hit a personal best of 31.469 units in December 2015 but only crossed the 20.000 unit-mark eight other times, so a mid-20.000’s monthly sales objective seems on par.

Bar for success: 25.000 sales

hanteng-x7-china-october-2016-picture-auto-sohu-com

3. Hanteng X7 (#144 – 5.006 sales)

After SWM (Start Win More) last month, we welcome another all-new Chinese manufacturer in the local sales charts: Hanteng. The number of Chinese carmakers in activity now stands at a mind-blowing 92 – we will cover them all in an Exclusive Chinese Brands Guide coming soon. Hanteng Autos was founded in 2013 and is based in Shangrao in the Jianxi province. Like Zotye, Hanteng is owned by Tech-New Group and it shows: its first offering, the X7, is basically a rebadged Zotye T600. Hanteng has very ambitious plans: launching four additional nameplates by 2020, starting with the X5 A-SUV, already unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last week, but also an A0-SUV called I3, an MPV called M6 and a B-SUV called X9… (see illustration below).

hanteng-plans-china-october-2016-picture-courtesy-pcauto-com-cnHanteng has ambitious plans centred around SUVs and MPVs. Smart.

The X7 is a 4.67m long five-seater SUV powered by a choice of two engines: a SAIC-sourced 1.5T with 150hp and a Shenyang Aerospace Mitsubishi 2.0T with 190hp. It is priced from 79.800 to 148.800 yuan (US$11.600-21.500) and will be almost exclusively distributed outside of the big cities on the East coast, more so in second-tier cities. For comparison, the Zotye T600 is priced from 79.800 to 115.800 yuan. The Hanteng enters one of the most competitive segments in the Chinese market, but also one that is still expanding a break-neck speed. There is room for many more Chinese SUVs, and its initial score of 5.006 sales is already very impressive. Keeping it this way in the long-term would be a step in the right direction for newcomer Hanteng.

Bar for success: 5.000 sales

foton-gratour-china-october-2016-picture-courtesy-gratourauto-com

4. Foton Gratour (#220 – 2.007 sales)

Foton launched the Gratour ix5 and ix7 at the Beijing Auto Show last April but had since been accounted for in the LCV sales charts. The Gratour sub-brand now changes segments and appears in the MPV ranking – one of the intricacies of a Chinese market still finding its labels… With a very sharp design for the segment, the ix5 is priced at an impossibly low 48.900-58.900 yuan (US$7.100-8.500  while the more sophisticated ix7 goes from 59.900 to 69.900 yuan ($8.700-10.100). Given its value-for-money, we’d expect at least double the current level of monthly sales to call the Gratour a success.

Bar for success: 5.000 sales

baic-weiwang-m50-china-october-2016 baic-weiwang-m50-china-october-2016

5. BAIC Weiwang M50F (#244– 1.500 sales)

Beijing Auto is on a new launch frenzy this year: after the Weiwang S50 and Changhe Q25 in March, the BAW BJ80 in April, Senova X35 in May, Borgward BX7 in July and BAW BJ20 plus Changhe Q35 in August, it’s the turn of the Weiwang M50F to make its first appearance in the Chinese sales charts ahead of its official launch in market in early November. The M50F is is a 7-seat MPV based on the Huansu H3 platform and is unabashedly aiming square and fair at the Baojun 730. Sized almost identically at 4.72/1.80/1.72 vs. 4.71/1.79/1.72 for the Baojun, the M50F undercuts its rival as far as entry prices go from 67.800 to 91.800 yuan ($9.800-13.300) vs. 69.400-81.800 for the 730. It is powered by a choice of 1.3T with six-speed manual or 1.5 with five-speed manual.

The M50F is the second MPV sold under the Weiwang brand after the M30, launched in August 2013 and with a personal best of 23.344 sales in December 2015. As for the Weiwang S50 SUV it hit a much more modest record of 4.132 in June 2016. In this context, it is reasonable for the M50F to aim at 7.500 sales with four-digit peaks most welcome.

Bar for success: 7.500 sales

honda-gienia-china-october-2016-picture-courtesy-mucang-cn

6. Honda Gienia (#253– 1.197 sales)

One of the biggest foreign beneficiaries of the SUV surge in China with its twin mini crossovers XR-V and Vezel, Honda doesn’t neglect the sedan segment and launches this China-only Gienia, a sort of mini Crosstour liftback based on the Greiz platform, itself an evolution of the City. It is manufactured in China by the Dongfeng-Honda joint-venture, powered by a 1.5 with 131hp and either a five-speed manual or CVT to benefit from the government’s tax cut currently in effect for cars with engines of or smaller than 1.6L. It is priced from 89.900 to 127.900 yuan ($13.000-18.500) but should set the sales charts on fire with its sporty grille and crossoverish profile.

Bar for success: 6.000 sales

honda-avancier-china-october-2016-picture-courtesy-autoifeng-com

7. Honda Avancier (#301– 629 sales)

The second Honda to land in the Chinese sales charts this month, the Avancier was teased at the Shanghai Auto Show 2015 as the Concept D then unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show. It’s a sporty five-seat (only) AWD SUV made exclusively for China and based on the third generation Honda Pilot’s platform. It slots in above the CR-V in Honda’s range and is manufactured by the Guangzhou-Honda joint venture. A twin, the UR-V, coming from Honda’s other joint-venture in China with Dongfeng, will arrive in early 2017, the same way Honda markets the XR-V and Vezel. Priced from 269.800 to 328.900 yuan (US$ 39.000-47.600) which makes it a luxury SUV, the Avancier with compete with the likes of the Buick Envision, Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander and the upcoming VW Teramont. The price range is set to go down next year though with the arrival of a 1.5T priced around 220.000 yuan, to support the 2.0T currently available. Given the tremendous success of Honda’s SUV lineup in China so far, it is legitimate to expect four-digit monthly sales figures as the norm for the Avancier.

Bar for success: 12.000 sales

weichai-enranger-g5-china-october-2016-picture-courtesy-cheshi-com

8. Weichai Enranger G5 (#305– 566 sales)

After launching the Enranger G3 SUV in July 2015, the 737 MPV in September 2015 and the 727 MPV in March 2016, Weichai Auto, a new Chinese manufacturer owned by Weichai Power specialised in diesel engines, now has a fourth nameplate in its lineup. The G5 SUV is in fact a crossover variant of the 737 MPV, priced between 69.800 and 93.800 yuan (US$10.100-13.600) and for this you get an incredible 16-inch touch screen! (see below)

weichai-enranger-g5-interior-china-october-2016-picture-courtesy-autohome-com-cnWeichai Enranger G5 interior

The 737 peaked at 5.139 monthly sales over a year ago but hasn’t gone above 2.000 since January this year, the G3 at 1.654 and the 727 at 774, so in this context the G5 cannot aim at very high scores, with mid-thousand a reasonable target.

Bar for success: 1.500 sales

peugeot-4008-china-october-2016

9. Peugeot 4008 (#340– 324 sales)

Behind this 4008 hides in fact the new generation Peugeot 3008 unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show this year and already on sale across Western Europe. The reason for this name change is the fact that the current 3008 will remain on sale in China. The new 4008 is manufactured by the Dongfeng-PSA joint-venture and comes with a choice of three engines: 1.2T with 136hp, 1.6T with 167hp and 1.8T with 204hp. It is priced between 185.700 and 273.700 yuan (US$ 26.900-39.600) and although in Europe it competes squarely with “twins” Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai, in China this pricing sets it against the larger Renault Koleos (179.800-269.800) with the Kadjar at a lower 163.800-219.800, and against the Nissan X-Trail (181.800-267.800) with the Qashqai at 139.800-189.800. An ambitious (pompous?) pricing policy from embattled Peugeot given the 4008 has the heavy task to turning the brand’s fortunes around in China by riding the unstoppable SUV wave. The 2008 peaked at 8.010 monthly sales and the 3008 at 7.352. The 4008 will have to do at least as well to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 8.000 sales

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

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

China September 2016: Focus on the All-new models

baojun-310-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-comThe Baojun 310 is one of nine new Chinese-made nameplates to enter the Chinese market.

* See the Top 70 China-made brands and Top 400 models by clicking here *

In September the Chinese market was up a whopping 29% and this dynamism is partly due to the large amount – and success – of all-new China-made nameplates making their appearance in the charts. The September 2016 class amounts to nine new entrants, only one of them below 1.000 units. The sedan/SUV ratio goes to sedans this month at 6 vs. 3.

chevrolet-cavalier-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-auto-sohu-comChevrolet Cavalier 

1. Chevrolet Cavalier (#73 – 9.741 sales)

Chevrolet is reviving the Cavalier nameplate for China only after discontinuing the U.S. version back in 2005. By far the most successful new launch this month with almost 10.000 sales, the Chevrolet Cavalier is in fact a reskined previous generation Cruze, sold at a cut-thorat price: between 79.900 and 109.900 yuan (US$11.800-16.300). Powered by a 1.5L engine matched to a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearbox, the Cavalier slots in between the Sail (59.900-73.900) and Cruze (109.900-169.900) with absolutely no price overlay within the Chevrolet lineup.

The 4.54m Cavalier is aggressively priced: it stands at the same price point as the 4.32m Ford Fiesta sedan (79.900-111.900) and undercuts all its direct competitors by a large margin: the Ford Escort  (96.800-119.800 yuan), VW Jetta (82.800-119.300) and Santana (84.900-123.800). The Cavalier should definitely help the brand stop its sales decline in China and could even pretend at a highesr monthly sales rate as the Cruze, the same way the Ford Escort now regularly outsells the Focus. Given the September sales figures of the Escort (28.944), Jetta (34.313) and Santana (25.680), the Cavalier can reasonably aim at a minimum 20.000 monthly sales peak and an average of 17.500 in the long run.

Bar for success: 17.500 sales

swm-x7-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-autohome-com-cn

2. SWM X7 (#124 – 6.000 sales)

SWM Motors is a new entrant in the tentacular Chinese passenger car brand scene. Originally an Italian motorcycle brand, SWM was bought by Xinyuan Holding in 2014 and is owned by a joint-venture between Brilliance Auto and Xinyuan Holding (aka Shineray). SWM Motors is headquartered in Chongqing, where it has a production capacity of 300.000 annual vehicles (!). Its initials stand for Sironi Vergani-Vimercate Milano but Chinese management canned that to replace it with Start Win More, in the same fashion as fellow Chinese brand BYD stands for Build Your Dreams. SWM has announced no less than 10 new models in the next few years, including MPVs, SUVs and pickup trucks.

swm-x7-interior-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-autohome-com-cnSWM X7 interior

The brand’s first launch is, very adequately, a 7-seater SUV logically baptised X7. Do an internet search on its Chinese name 华晨鑫源 斯威 X7 and you will find that Google Images assimilates it to a BMW, so striking is its resemblance with the BMW X5. The German manufacturer is Brilliance’s joint-venture partner in China. The X7 is priced at 85.900-101.900 yuan (US$ 12.700-15.100), a sharp deal for such roominess inside. It competes with the likes of the BYD S6 (79.900-123.900 yuan), Changan CX70 (68.900-84.900), Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (72.900-99.999) and Dongfeng Fengxing SX6 (69.900-102.900). Three of these four nameplates have crossed the four-digit monthly sales figure threshold: the S6 (15.012), 580 (13.022) and CX70 (10.058). In this context the X7’s start is still very impressive at 6.000 units given it’s a new brand. A long-term average of 8.000 would seal the brand as a solid player in China.

Bar for success: 8.000 sales

baojun-310-back-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-com

3. Baojun 310 (#132 – 5.310 sales)

The Baojun brand is one of the main success stories in the Chinese car world of the past couple of years with the tremendous success of the 730 MPV (personal best at 47.690 sales in December 2015) and 560 SUV (42.077). The brand has been more timid in the sedan category with the 630 (10.220) and Lechi (4.384). In this context, the 310 launch last April at the Beijing Auto Show seemed a little like a lost opportunity as a smaller SUV slotting below the 560 would have been by far a most obvious – and lucrative – choice. The first sales figures seem to indicate otherwise with the 310 instantly towering above 5.000 sales.

baojun-310-interior-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-comLooking a lot more expensive than US$5.400: the Baojun 310 interior.

At 4.03m long and powered by a 1.5L engine paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox, the 310 is priced at an impossibly low 36.800 to 49.800 yuan (US$ 5.400-7.400), in effect killing the antediluvian Lechi, actually priced higher at 39.800-49.800. It undercuts both the more powerful Chery Fulwin 2 (54.800-69.800) and low-cost Venucia R30 (39.900-49.900). The most impressive fact in the Baojun 310 launch is that these bleeding-throat prices do not come with sub-par quality. Both the exterior and interior designs have nothing to be ashamed of compared to cars costing two or there times the price. In the low-cost minicar the new SUV in China? The next few months will tell.

Bar for success: 8.000 sales

chery-tiggo-7-china-september-2016

4. Chery Tiggo7 (#136 – 5.223 sales)

Unveiled at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, the Tiggo7 inaugurates a new era for Chery with a new design language for the brand created by Granstudio, the design agency established by former Pininfarina design director Lowie Vermeersch. At 4.51m long, the Tiggo7 is 9cm longer than the Tiggo3, exactly the same length as the Tiggo5 but has a longer wheelbase (2.67m) and lower roof (1.67m in height). It shares its two engine options with the 5, a 2.0L and turbo 1.5L which will account for the overwhelming majority of sales. All variants are FWD.

chery-tiggo7-interior-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-emao-comChery Tiggo7 interior

Priced from 97.900 to 153.900 yuan (US$ 14.500-22.800), the Tiggo7 enters the wildly popular compact Chinese SUV segment that houses some of the best-selling SUVs in the country such as the Haval H6 Coupe (118.300-159.800),GAC Trumpchi GS4 (99.800-153.800), Roewe RX5 (97.800-177.800), Geely Boyue (98.800-157.900) and Leopaard CS10 (96.300-146.400). As such, it is likely to provide a welcome boost to Chery’s stagnating sales at home and should aim at peaking at 20.000 monthly sales at least, with a 17.500 long-term average a good compromise.

Bar for success: 17.500 sales

geely-emgrand-gl-china-september-2016

5. Geely Emgrand GL (#187 – 2.874 sales)

Geely continues its unbridled lineup renewal with this Emgrand GL, the sedan version of the recently-launched Emgrand GS, produced in Zhangjiakou in the Hebei province. Powered by 1.3T and 1.8L engines matched to 6MT or 6DCT like the Emgrand GS, the GL slots in Geely’s sedan lineup above the best-seller Emgrand EC7 and below the GC9. At 4.72m long, it is priced between 78.800 and 113.800 yuan (US$ 11.700-16.800) vs. 77.800-108.800 for the GS and 119.800-229.800 for the GC9.

geely-emgrand-gl-china-september-2016bGeely Emgrand GL

The GL is one of China’s finest looking sedans and comes into a hotly contested segment. It competes with the likes of the Changan Eado (73.900-119.900), Roewe 350 (78.700-140.700), FAW Junpai A70 (64.800-87.800) and FAW Besturn B30 (69.800-92.800). In terms of foreign entries, the GL will fight against the Buick Excelle GT (109.900-159.900), VW Jetta (82.800-119.300), Santana (84.900-123.800) and matches almost exactly the Chevrolet Cavalier – detailed above – in price (79.900-109.900). Given the success of the Emgrand EC7 (personal best at 25.841) and Vision (14.646), Geely would be in its own right to expect at least a five-digit sales figure from the GL.

Bar for success: 10.000 sales

jac-iev-china-september-2016JAC iEV5

6. JAC iEV (#226 – 1.665 sales)

While JAC has been selling iEV-named cars in its home province of Anhui since 2014, the overall sub-brand only appears this month in the Chinese ranking, and it’s unclear whether the sales figure is for the month or year-to-date. So far, the iEV5, iEV6 and iEV7 have been unveiled, and the iEV6 and iEV7 were scheduled to launch around this month, so this may have prompted JAC to release figures, just as they announced a joint-venture with Volkswagen to produce electric cars under a new brand.

Bar for success: 2.000 sales

jac-iev-interior-china-september-2016JAC iEV5 interiormitsubishi-outlander-china-september-2016

7. Mitsubishi Outlander (#230 – 1.479 sales)

Unveiled in March 2015 in New York, it took 18 months for Mitsubishi to finally kick-start local production of the facelifted Outlander, boosting its China-made SUV lineup to four nameplates along with the ASX, Pajero Sport and Pajero but the Pajero hasn’t sold a single unit since June 2015. The Outlander from two generations ago used to be assembled locally by the Beijing-Mitsubishi joint-venture, but this one is by the GAC-Mitsubishi joint-venture in at its factory in Changsha, Hunan. It is powered with either 2.0l or 2.4l petrol engines. The 2.0l model is a FWD five-seater while the 2.4l is a 4WD seven-seater. Prices range from 159.800 to 223.800 yuan (US$ 23.600-33.100). The ASX peaked at 7.900 sales in December 2015 and the Outlander should reach at least half on a regular basis to be considered a success.

Bar for success: 4.500 sales

jaguar-xfl-china-september-2016

8. Jaguar XFL (#240 – 1.272 sales)

The Jaguar XFL is a long-wheelbase version of the Jaguar XF exclusive to China. It was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April and is produced by the Chery Jaguar Land Rover joint-venture in Changshu in the Jiangsu province. The XFL’s wheelbase is 14cm longer than the XF at 3.10m, bringing the overall length of the car to 5.09m. The engine options are 2.0T 200hp, 2.0T 240hp and 3.0T V6, all mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The XFL is priced from 388.000 to 688.000 yuan (US$ 57.400-101.800) and competes with such strong sellers as the Audi A6L (383.000-742.000), BMW 5Li (428.600-797.600) and Mercedes E-Class L (443.000-779.000). Given the Chery Jaguar Land Rover is only starting to assemble cars in China, the sales figures of the aforementioned three models will remain unattainable for a while for the XFL.

Bar for success: 4.000 sales

citroen-c6-china-september-2016-picture-courtesy-58che-com

9. Citroen C6 (#305 – 544 sales)

Yet another new entrant that was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show, the Citroen C6 is a China-only sedan manufactured by the Dongfeng-PSA joint-venture and the brand’s new flagship. Just as the Chinese market can’t get enough of SUVs, Citroen/DS insist on launching increasingly irrelevant hatches and sedans such as the DS 4S and this C6. No wonder the brand is down 15% so far in 2016. The C6 comes with either a 1.6T or 1.8T petrol engine, both matched with a six-speed auto, but is in fact the same car as the Dongfeng Fengshen A9 with a different dashboard, exterior design and logo.

It is priced from 189.900 to 279.900 yuan (US$ 28.100-41.400) vs. 179.700-229.700 for the A9 which is only available as a 1.8T. The Citroen C6 enters a segment already very established that includes the Ford Mondeo (179.800-265.800), VW Passat and Magotan (183.900-332.900) at the lower end, and the Ford Taurus (249.800-349.800), Buick LaCrosse (259.900-369.900) and Toyota Crown (279.800-385.800) at the higher end. The Citroen C5 never managed to reach 4.500 monthly units and although the C6 won’t be enough to turn Citroen’s fortunes around, anything under 3.500 sales will be deem a failure.

Bar for success: 4.000 sales

China September post: China September 2016: Market up 29% anticipating expiring incentives

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

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

China August 2016: Focus on the All-new models

changhe-q35-china-august-2016-picture-courtesy-auto-tom-comChanghe Q35

* See the Top 70 China-made brands and Top 397 models by clicking here *

August showed an extremely dynamic 26% year-on-year gain in China for the second consecutive month. As is the tradition each month, BSCB puts a laser focus on the new China-made nameplates that make their appearance in market to you are on the bleeding edge of knowledge as far as the largest car market in the world is concerned. The August 2016 class is slightly disappointing given the strength of the market with only six new entrants and none above 3.000 sales. For once the sedan/SUV ratio is balance at 3 vs. 3.

1. Changhe Q35 (#174 – 2.556 sales)

After the Q25 last March, BAIC continues the revival of the Changhe brand with this Q35 unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April and none other than a rebadged BAIC Senova X35, itself launched last May with a personal best of 8.005 sales (July) at end August. At 4.29m and powered by the same 1.5L petrol engine, the Q35 is almost identically priced to its twin the Senova X35 at 65.900-86.900 yuan (US$ 9.700-12.800) vs. 65.800-88.800 which is both strange and dangerous, as the Changhe brand certainly do not have the access-premium credentials the Senova sub-brand has. Moreover, the Q35 enters a fiercely fought segment that already includes such blockbusters as the Changan CS35, Haval H2, JAC Refine S3 and Brilliance V3. The Changhe Q25, after hitting a splendid 5.259 sales for its third month in market last May, has fallen back below 1.000 monthly units for the past two months, so Changhe must be reasonable when predicting long-term sales for the Q35. Keeping the score hit during this first month in the long-term would be an achievement in itself.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

kandi-gleagle-k17-china-august-2016Kandi Gleagle K17

2. Kandi Gleagle K17 (#243 – 1.002 sales)

Looks familiar? That’s because the Kandi K17 is in fact an electric version of the now-defunct Shanghai Englon SC5… Confusingly, Geely has decided to transform its electric brand Kandi into Gleagle, a brand it killed a couple of years ago. So this vehicle is actually called Gleagle K17A in China… It comes along the existing K10, K11 and K12 which do not appear in China’s sales charts and competes with the likes of the Zotye Z100 EV. Priced at 164.800 yuan (US$24.300), it will be reserved to taxi companies and green car fanatics in the big cities. The K17 launched a few months ago already which makes it difficult to figure out whether this month’s figure is an aggregate of more than one month or the accurate August data. Keeping at this level in the long-term would likely make parent company Geely happy.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

baw-bj20-china-august-2016

3. BAW BJ20 (#264 – 807 sales)

Is the BJ20 the best-looking BAW SUV so far? It has a definite air of American Jeep with its six headlights and although convoluted, it marks a clear improvement on the brand’s previous offerings, the BJ40 and BJ80. Powered by a Mitsubishi 1.5T engine with only 147hp and at 4.45m long, the BJ20 is yet another BAIC vehicle based on the Senova X65.

baw-bj20-interiorBAW BJ20 interior 

Priced between 96.800 and 139.800 yuan, it slides in above the Huansu S6 (79.800-116.800), level with the Weiwang S50 (95.000-110.000) and below the Senova X65 (106.800-156.800) and Borgward BX7 (169.800-242.800). BAW vehicles have historically struggled to hit four-digit sales figures with the BJ40 peaking at 1.628 units in June 2014 and only crossing the 1.000 monthly unit-milestone twice since including this month. A long-term stint above that mark is a good target for the BJ20.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

faw-junpai-a70

4. FAW Junpai A70 (#295 – 479 sales)

Unveiled last April at the Beijing Auto Show, the A70 is the second Junpai-branded offering and the first sedan after the D60 small crossover. Produced by the Tianjin branch of FAW (First Auto Works), it is based on the FAW Besturn B30 launched in November 2015 and features a snout inspired from the VW Scirocco. At 4.61m long and powered by an FAW-made 1.6L engine, the A70 is sharply priced from 64.800 to 87.800 yuan (US$ 9.600-13.000), logically slightly below the more up-marlet B30 (69.800-92.800). It’s a very crowded and relatively stagnant segment in China though: after hitting a personal best of 6.219 sales last January, the B30 has since fallen back below 2.000 units (1.593 in August). The Junpai D60 for its part hit a record 4.154 sales in January 2015 but has not seen a 4-digit sales month since last April, seemingly indicating the Junpai sub-brand hasn’t yet struck a chord with Chinese customers. In this context the A70 may struggle to impose itself.

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly sales

hawtai-e80-china-august-2016

5. Hawtai Lusheng E80 (#372 – 30 sales)

Under the new name Lusheng E80 actually hides a E70 with a minor facelift. It doesn’t appear in many Chinese websites and its price in unknown, hopefully more will be known about this vehicle soon. Note the E70 hit a personal best of 2.776 sales in December 2014 and is down 79% this month to just 373 units, but it’s unclear whether it will be fully replaced by the E80.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

yema-e70-china-august-2016-picture-courtesy-wechatstyle-com

6. Yema E70 (#381 – 17 sales)

The Yema E70 is in fact an electric variant of the T70, itself a clone of the VW Touareg. Unveiled almost a year ago at the Chengdu Auto Show in November 2015, the E70 is a rare electric entry in the SUV segment. Anticipated to be priced at roughly 260.000 yuan (US$38.400) after eco car subsidies have been subtracted, its claimed range is 250km. The E70 was supposed to be launched in January 2016 but comes in market with over half-a-year delay. Discreet sales at best are to be expected.

Bar for success: 500 monthly sales

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

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

China July 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Borgward BX7 China July 2016Borgward BX7

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

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

Borgward logo old and newOld and new Borgward logo

1. Borgward BX7 (#118 – 4.079 sales)

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

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

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

Borgward 230Borgward 230

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

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

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Cowin C3 China July 2016Cowin C3

2. Cowin X3 (#128 – 3.744 sales)

4. Cowin V3 (#212 – 1.296 sales)

5. Cowin C3 (#215 – 1.205 sales)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Roewe RX5 (#190 – 1.620 sales)

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

Roewe RX5 China July 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

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

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

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

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

Luxgen 3 Sedan China July 2016

6. Luxgen 3 Sedan (#362 – 47 sales)

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

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly sales

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

7. VW Phideon (#373 – 28 sales)

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

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

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

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

Geely Vision China July 2016

8. Geely Vision SUV (#384 – 4 sales)

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

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

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

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

China June 2016: Focus on the All-new models

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

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

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

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

1. Mazda CX-4 (#92 – 6.347 sales)

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

Mazda CX-4 China June 2016. Picture courtesy autohome

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

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Jeep Renegade China June 2016

2. Jeep Renegade (#204 – 1.678 sales)

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

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

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

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

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

China May 2016: Focus on the All-new models

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

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

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

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

1. FAW Xenia R7 (#133 – 3.931 sales)

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

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

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

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

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

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengguang 580 China May 2016

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

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

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

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

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

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

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

Geely Emgrand GS China May 2016

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

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

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

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

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

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

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

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

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

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

7. Haima V70 (#230 – 1.152 sales)

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

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

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

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

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

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

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

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

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

Bar for success: 1.500 monthly sales

China April 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Haval H7 China April 2016. Picture courtesy sxac.comThe Haval H7 finally launches in China, one year after its unveiling in Shanghai. 

* See the April 2016 Top 380 All China-made models and Top 70 brands here *

After a record 12 new locally-produced nameplates hit Chinese dealerships in March, the pace of new launches slows down in April, yet there are a further seven new models landing this month. The SUV tap certainly has not dried up, with four of these new launches belonging to this segment and spanning the entire spectrum of price: from low-cost (Lifan) to luxury (Cadillac). Volkswagen is trying out a new format for China and Dongfeng launches its flagship sedan into its home market…

VW Golf Sportsvan China April 2016

1. VW Golf Sportsvan (#133 – 3.659 sales)

Volkswagen just launched local production of the two year-old Golf Sportsvan in China through its joint-venture with FAW at its plant in Foshan, Guangdong. The German brand, by far the #1 in the country and the foreign manufacturer with the longest presence in China, has the midas touch here: of all its China-made nameplates, only two have never crossed the symbolic 10.000 monthly sales barrier: the luxurious CC (all-time high of 5.783) and the Touran MPV (5.206). Even a risky bet such as the VW Lamando managed 16.452 units in March this year… In this context, a five-digit monthly figure seems a logical target for the Sportsvan even though this is unchartered territory for the brand: Chinese consumers are not used to this type of format. So much so that similarly to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer launched last month, the Sportsvan is categorised as a sedan instead of an MPV in China. The Golf Sportsvan is priced between 131.900 and 197.900 yuan (US$20.000-30.100).

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Lifan MyWay China April 2016. Picture courtesy chyangwa.net

2. Lifan Myway (#168 – 2.342 sales)

Lifan has been posting catastrophic results at home with sales down by an abysmal 74% so far in 2016 to just 15,375 units. To its credit, the manufacturer has rebooted at the Beijing Auto Show last month with *exactly* the format it needs to launch in current market conditions: a 7-seater cutthroat-priced SUV: the MyWay, also starting a new nameplate nomenclature. This the “make or break” model for the struggling manufacturer, and with a solid start at 2.342 sales, the MyWay already accounts for a whopping 44% of the brand’s sales in April. At 4.44m long and powered by a 1.5L petrol engine, it is priced between an almost impossibly low 57.300 and 73.800 yuan (US$8.700-11.200), making it no less than the cheapest 7-seater SUV in China, just below the BAIC Huansu S3 (61.800-72.800 yuan) which peaked at a stunning 20.868 sales last December.

Lifan MyWay China April 2016. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

The MyWay also competes in price with smaller crossovers such as the BAIC Senova X25 (10.593 sales in April), Brilliance V3 (peak at 9.325), JAC Refine S2 (8.073) and Changan CS15 (5.680) but also, thanks to its boxy shape and 7 seats – and this is where Lifan’s strategy is really smart – with a slew of extraordinarily successful local 7-seater MPVs that have been trying to look more like crossovers in recent times. I’m pointing at none other than the Wuling Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan), BAIC Huansu H3 (55.800-62.800) and Karry K50 (46.800-69.800). In other words, Lifan has delivered the perfect offer to get itself out of the sales ditch it currently is in. Now consumers need to respond favourably. The brand’s other two SUV offerings’ monthly volume records are 4.011 for the X50 and 9.273 for the X60. In less desperate times, levelling with the X50 would have been good enough, but Lifan needs much more out of the MyWay.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

Cadillac XT5 China April 2016

3. Cadillac XT5 (#187 – 1.863 sales)

The Cadillac XT5 appears for the first time simultaneously in the U.S. (#231 with 304 sales) and in China in April, with its Chinese score already vastly outpacing its performance at home. A sign of things to come for the Cadillac brand, as the XT5 fully taps into the most dynamic segment in China. Produced at SAIC-GM’s Jinqiao plant in Pudong, Shanghai, at 4.81m long and powered by a 2.0T engine, the XT5 replaces the SRX and is priced at 359.900-539.900 yuan (US$54.800-82.200). It competes with the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and the imported Lexus RX and Porsche Macan. Let’s pause here for a second and stress that the XT5 starts at US$39.990 in the U.S.A – a staggering US$15.000 than in China – and ends at $63.495. Another example of foreign manufacturers marking up their Chinese offering even though they are manufactured locally at reduced cost. The best monthly score for a Cadillac in China so far is 4.054 from the XTS, matching this is a pre-requisite for success for the XT5 which is evolving in a much more potent segment.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Haval H7 China April 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

4. Haval H7 (#219 – 1.290 sales)

The H7 was unveiled a year ago at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show and finally makes its appearance in market with a shy score for now. The Haval brand is now at a crossroads and the H7 is an extremely significant test. Until now, Haval has built its success on high quality, low-priced SUVs: the H6’s historical overall pole position in April had a lot to do with a third price cut bringing its starting tariff down to 88.000 yuan (US$13.400). The H1’s price range (68.900-82.900 yuan) and the H2 (88.800-128.800) are also on the affordable end. Both have been exceptional sales successes but are now losing steam: the H1 is down 9% in April and the H2 down 25%.

It is therefore now time for Haval to look elsewhere for engines of growth, and the H7 represents the up-market direction the brand would like to take moving forward. At 4.70m long and powered by a 2.0T engine mated with a DCT gearbox, it is priced between 149.800 and 169.800 yuan (US$22.800-25.900), logically slotting above the H6 (88.800-162.800) and H6 Coupe (122.800-171.800). It also competes in price with smaller foreign SUVs such as the Honda XR-V or Hyundai ix25, a ‘real world’ test of sorts for Haval. Problem is, the brand has failed so far with its high-end lineup: the H8 (158.800-256.800) peaked at a paltry 1.373 sales while the H9 (209.800-272.800) has an all-time best of 3.066 but is now struggling to reach four-digit monthly volumes. For Haval, a lot rests on the success of the H7: the pressure is real and it will need to reach five-digit figures to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly sales

Nissan Maxima China April 2016. Picture courtesy auto.eastday.com

5. Nissan Maxima (#225 – 1.158 sales)

Nissan wants to bank on the success of the Lannia with this Maxima, the same model as the one sold in the U.S and spreading the brand’s new design language across its Chinese lineup. In China, the Maxima slots above the Teana (177.800-244.800 yuan) and is priced from 234.800 to 267.800 yuan (US$35.800-40.800). Unlike Cadillac with the XT5 above, the prices are in line with what the Maxima sells for in the U.S.A. ($33.345-40.795). The Maxima goes full frontal with the very successful Buick LaCrosse (all-time high of 11.672 monthly units), about to be refreshed, and if Nissan managed to find room in its lineup for a Lannia that matches the Sylphy in size and price, it can definitely do so for the Maxima.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Aeolus A9 China April 2016. Picture courtesy emao.com

6. Dongfeng Aeolus A9 (#337 – 148 sales)

Two years after unveiling it as “Concept 1″ at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, Dongfeng makes the plunge with the Aeolus A9, the brand’s new flagship sedan. The A9 mission isn’t volume but brand image, and so far it has succeeded in lifting up the Dongfeng marque at home (see our list of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show) and is generating dithyrambic reviews from the local press. Priced between 179.700 and 279.700 yuan (US$27.400-42.600), the A9 competes with other Chinese flagships such as the more powerful Roewe 950 (189.800-309.900) or the GAC Trumpchi GA8 (169.800-299.800). It is however helpless against the Zotye Z700 (99.800-158.800) or the very impressive Geely GC9 (119.800-229.800). If the latter hit a stunning 6.001 sales last December, the Zotye Z700 (748 sales in April) is a more realistic target as Chinese nameplates in this segment traditionally struggle to post four-digit monthly sales figures. It should be an objective for the A9 but in the end this model is not designed to break sales records, rather showcase the marque’s potential. So far so good.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

BAW BJ80 China April 2016. Picture courtesy 58che.com.cn

7. BAW BJ80 (#374 – 10 sales)

BAW just introduced this clone of Mercedes G-Class and wants to emulate the success of the B40 which peaked at 1.628 sales in June 2014. With the BJ80, BAIC is nicely expanding its “rough-as-guts” BAW lineup and can expect a solid success with the Chinese army and police forces. The general public may be more cautious however, and a stint above 1.000 monthly units at some stage during the next year would label the BJ80 as a success.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly sales

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

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

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China March 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Hyundai Elantra Lingdong China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnHyundai Elantra Lingdong

After a break in February due to the Lunar New Year, the Chinese market is back on its unstoppable race to launch ever more models produced locally. In March, a record 12 new China-made nameplates have hit dealerships across the country, almost all of them with big potential. This month we welcome French carmaker Renault in the growing list of worldwide manufacturers now producing in China.

Hyundai Elantra Four generations China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cnHyundai now has four generations of Elantra in simultaneous production in China.

1. Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (#58 – 11.103 sales)

A first month above 10.000 units is a rarity in China: the last nameplate to have managed this feat is the Baojun 730 at 12.006 in August 2014, to then be met with the ground-breaking success we have witnessed in the past 18 months. But the new generation Hyundai Elantra – in essence the worldwide model we all know – is the last one in a line of extremely successful models in China. So successful in fact, that Hyundai has kept in production to this day every single generation of Elantra it has launched here in the past 12 years. The 2000 model, launched in December 2003 here, climbed up to 2nd place overall in 2005 just below the FAW Xiali and is kept on life support solely for Beijing taxi companies. The 2006 model, baptised Elantra Yuedong, launched in March 2008 with 11.023 sales, hit 26.034 units in March 2010 and went on to peak at #3 overall in 2009 and 2010.

Finally, the Elantra Langdong launched in August 2013 with 11.613 units, peaking at 35.654 in December 2015 and #10 over FY2015. Only 30 months after the previous generation launch, a fourth Elantra is now available in China – baptised Elantra Lingdong – and at 11.103 units its volume start is in line with the previous two generations. The first two generations only generate a few hundred sales a month so they won’t be any competition of the new model. To be deemed a success, it will have to at least reach 25.000 monthly units. A stint above 40.000 monthly sales would make it the most successful Hyundai in the 15 year-presence of the Korean manufacturer in China.

Bar for success: 25.000 monthly sales

Kia KX5 China March 2016. Picture courtesy car.bitauto.com

2. Kia KX5 (#106 – 6.001 sales)

Despite shy sales so far in 2016, Kia has been very successful at aggressively expanding its SUV lineup to suit the changing tastes of the Chinese consumer. The carmaker launched the China-exclusive KX3 one year ago in March 2015, accumulating over 65.000 sales since. Similarly to sister brand Hyundai with the Elantra, Kia is keeping the previous two generations of Sportage in its lineup and has therefore chosen to name the new model KX5 to give room to the previous two. The 2010 Sportage (baptised Sportage R) peaked at 11.326 sales last December and the 2004 model hit a personal best of 6.810 units in June 2010, so in this context the KX5 start is excellent. Interestingly, Kia does not price-cut the 2004 Sportage (159.800-238.800 yuan) vs. the Sportage R (164.800-249.800) aiming the former at 3rd and 4th tier cities and the countryside. Hitting 10.000 monthly sales regularly would establish the KX5 as a step-up from the previous two generations, but depending on how well the two Sportage hold on, it may not need to hit that high a figure to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

Chery Arrizo 5

3. Chery Arrizo 5 (#119 – 5.456 sales)

Unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the Arrizo 5 is the fourth nameplate to bear the more upmarket sub-brand label from Chery. The previous three have been painful flops but that hasn’t deterred Chery to insist with the Arrizo sub-brand. To the carmaker’s credit, the 5 marks a notable improvement in design and interior quality and clearly has the best chances of success so far. The Chinese customer agrees: with 5.456 sales for its first month the 5 signs the best monthly volume of any Arrizo model: the 7 peaked at 4.251 units in January 2014, the 3 at 3.944 in January 2015 and the M7 at 1.434 in April 2015. The Arrizo 5 is also the third best-selling Chery in China this month below the Fulwin 2 (6.549) and Tiggo 3 (5.932). If this launch level is maintained in the long term, Chery could start having a good case in its hand to transform its Arrizo sub-brand into a full blown brand in the way Great Wall did with Haval and also in the way they are thinking of doing with the Tiggo sub-brand to compensate for the sinking brand image Chery is handicapped with at home. Based on the previous Arrizo launches, the 5 is already a success, and will cement this status if it can maintain this level in the long run.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

Renault Kadjar China March 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn

4. Renault Kadjar (#166 – 2.753 sales)

With Subaru, Renault was the last OEM to not have a factory in China. Thanks to a long-time coming partnership with Dongfeng – the same company that also has joint-ventures with the two other French manufacturers Peugeot and Citroen – Renault finally enters the China-made scene this month, and with a splash at that. Choosing to discard its immensely successful entry range (Duster-Logan-Sandero-Kwid), Renault has opted for a French sophistication positioning in China. Following the success of the imported Koleos SUV (15.000 sales in 2015), the French carmaker is building a strong SUV lineup: after the imported Captur launched last July, the Kadjar is the first China-made Renault, produced in a shining new plant in Wuhan with an initial annual capacity of 150.000 units that can be doubled if there is enough local demand.

The new generation Koleos will follow in H2 after making its first appearance at the Beijing Auto Show next week. The Kadjar immediately raises the bar for Renault: it sells 2.753 units for its introductory month, to be compared with 1.500 at best for the Koleos. 7.500 monthly sales will establish Renault as a solid player in the SUV game, with stretch targets being the Nissan Qashqai (averaging 9.000 sales over the past 4 months) and the Hyundai Tucson (15.000 deliveries in March). These targets may seem a tad ambitious given the other China-made compact French SUV, the Peugeot 3008, has a monthly best of 7.352 units and PSA Peugeot-Citroen has been a local producer of close to 30 years. However Carlos Ghosn announced in 2014 that Renault could aim at 800,000 annual sales in China. The success or lack thereof of the Kadjar is therefore capital for Renault to hit its ambitious long-term sales plans, as it will be for the foreseeable future the main volume-maker for the brand.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

Qoros 5 SUV China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.lcxw.cnQoros 5 SUV China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.ks.js.cn

5. Qoros 5 SUV (#218 – 1.232 sales)

Aimed at tricking a wealthy Chinese clientele into believing this is a European brand, Qoros was born out of a joint-venture between Chery and an Israeli investment company. So far, a lot of money has been spent with not much success: Qoros posted a 2.2 billion yuan loss in 2014 (US$ 340 million), a figure that worsened to 2.5 billion yuan in 2015 ($385m). An introduction to Europe was aborted in 2014 faced with one-digit monthly sales figures in Slovakia, the brand’s test market. To Qoros’ credit, the carmaker understands its survival relies fully on the SUV segment. After a faked attempt at approaching the category with the Qoros 3 “SUV” a mere plastic-ed up variant of the Qoros 3 hatchback, the brand means business with the outlandishly-designed 5 SUV. So far so good: its introductory month sales figure is high. The 3’s best stands at 914 and the 3 SUV at 1.335, so at 1.232 the 5 SUV delivers the 2nd best-ever month for a Qoros nameplate. After delivering 14.000 sales in 2015 Qoros is aiming at “30.000 to 50.000″ in 2016. The road to profitability is a long and tortuous one though, so the 5 SUV will need to not only confirm this launch figure but improve on it drastically to maintain the brand’s chances of survival intact.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Picture courtesy auto.qq.com

6. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (#225 – 1.107 sales)

After the 3 Series L, 5 Series L and X1 crossover, the 2 Series Active Tourer is only the fourth BMW nameplate to be produced locally. As an import, the 2 Series nameplate sold 13.469 units in China in 2015, making it one of the 20 most popular imports in the country and BMW’s third best-selling import below the X5 (39.000) and X3 (30.000). Assuming that a large majority of these sales come from the Active Tourer variant, it is interesting to note that the Mercedes B-Class, also imported, sold roughly the same amount last year. As import data has only been made available recently, there are no robust data trends indicating an average sales lift when a model that was previously imported kick starts local production, but it’s safe to table on a 3-fold increase in sales, which would put the locally-produced Active Tourer around 3.500 monthly deliveries. Any more and this is a success. The 2 Series Active Tourer enters the China-made market with no real competitors as this is a new format for Chinese buyers, making forecasting sales a difficult task. Note the Chinese Automobile Association of Manufacturers incorrectly categorises it as a sedan: it should be an MPV.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

Geely Boyue China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.qq.com

7. Geely Boyue (#227 – 1.018 sales)

Finally. Since its takeover of Volvo, Chinese carmaker Geely has managed to streamline its brand stable to just its own and improve drastically its sedan lineup to go against the grain of the Chinese market and increase its sales. The EC7, Vision and King Kong all deliver sizeable volumes each month in a depressed segment and the GC9 has astonished with its interior quality and sleek design. All of this was achieved without a serious offer in the booming SUV segment, the GX7 featuring outdated design and mechanics. Geely’s much anticipated SUV offer based on the GC9 platform, the Boyue, has now hit dealerships and expectations are sky high. Playing in the larger end of the SUV segment and competing with Haval and Toyota to name but the best, the Boyue has by far the highest potential of any new March launches.

Geely Boyue China March 2016. Picture courtesy of auto.qq.com

In the past 18 months, an astounding number of Chinese carmakers have completely reversed their fortunes on the sole basis of their new SUV lineup. MG, Brilliance, GAC Trumpchi are some examples. The pent-up demand for a modern Geely SUV should be very high and its price range places it right in the middle of the hottest-selling SUV segment in China. At 4.52m long it ranges from 98.800 to 157.800 yuan (US$ 15.200 – 24.300), in direct competition with the 4.62m Haval H6 (88.800 – 141.800 yuan), 4.51m GAC Trumpchi GS4 (99.800 – 146.800 yuan) and 4.65m Changan CS 75 (108.800 – 143.800 yuan). These nameplates are some of the most successful of the past few months, with respective record monthly volumes of 46.075, 30.512 and 27.842 units. We should therefore expect at least 20.000 monthly units from the Boyue, with 30.000 in a good month a reasonable stretch target.

Bar for success: 20.000 monthly sales

88. BYD Song YuanBYD Yuan at the Shanghai Auto Show 2015 

8. BYD Yuan (#243 – 878 sales)

After the Tang (June 2015) and the Song (August 2015), BYD continues to expand its dynasty series with its smallest SUV yet: the Yuan, unveiled at last year’s Shanghai Auto Show. The SUV share in total BYD sales keep increasing, reaching 45% in March. If all goes well the Yuan should improve this further. It is however a test for BYD who has never sold such a small SUV. It is priced competitively at 59.900 – 121.900 yuan (US$ 9.200 – 18.800) for the petrol version, with the hybrid variant a lot more expensive at 209.800 – 249.000 yuan ($32.400 – 38.400). So far the Tang’s best month has been 5.503 sales and the Song 6.513 units, regularly ranking at #2 and #3 BYD SUV below the S7. The Yuan should at least aim at the same level to be deemed a success, but a peak around 10.000 monthly deliveries would be a welcome breath of fresh air for the brand, losing 11% year-on-year in March.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Changhe Q25 China March 2016. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cnChanghe Q25 China March 2016. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

9. Changhe Q25 (#251 – 791 sales)

Another model unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the Changhe Q25 is in fact the twin sister of the Beijing Auto Senova X25. Changhe is indeed a subsidiary of BAIC. Not famous for pleasant designs and a microvan specialist, Changhe is engaged in a joint-venture with Suzuki and has been relatively discreet in recent years. Its Freedom M50 MPV, launched in January 2015, is slowly creeping up the ladder and sold a record 4.761 units last December. Changhe productions also include the Suzuki Beidouxing and Liana. Somewhat surprisingly, this Q25 is actually nicer on the eye than the Senova X25 but the brand’s limited reach, appeal and experience in passenger cars will probably prevent it from reaching 10.000 units as the X25 did this month. A step in the right direction for this small manufacturer though.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

Weichai Enranger 727 China March 2016. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn
10. Weichai Enranger 727 (#272 – 583 sales)

It’s all guns blazing for newcomer Weichai Enranger: after the G3 crossover last July and the 737 MPV last September, the 727 is the brand’s third launch in nine months. The first spy pictures of its models appeared in 2014, so Weichai took some time to bring them to market but now that it has, nothing seems to be able to stop the new carmaker. If the G3 plateaued at 1.506 sales for its second month in market, the 737 has managed to make its mark in the MPV segment, hitting 5.179 deliveries last December but down to 1.937 in March. This is a good sign for the 727 which will logically be priced even more attractively, although not much information has seeped out about this new entry yet.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 China March 2016. Picture courtesy auto.ks.js.cnBeijing Auto Weiwang S50 China March 2016. Picture courtesy of auto.ks.js.cn

11. Beijing Auto Weiwang S50 (#325 – 188 sales)

Not learning any lessons from Geely’s aborted experience, Beijing Auto is currently juggling with a handful of different brands and replicating models across them at lightning speed. Even more strikingly than the BAIC Senova X25 and Changhe Q25 (see above), this new Weiwang S50 is an almost identical re-badge of the Senova X65, Huansu S6 and Borgward BX7. We should now consider the Weiwang and Huansu sub-brands as full-blown brands as their respective lineups (four nameplates each) is starting to hold ground and they both feature specific logos. Senova for its part features the BAIC logo. And Borgward is a different carmaker altogether using a German brand but financed by BAIC. Confusing much?

The S50 is positioned below the X25 and S6 in price, starting at 95.000 yuan (US$ 14.700) vs. 106.800. Weiwang’s strength so far has been in the microvan and MPV segment with 23.344 units hit last December by the M30 MPV. Its other SUV entry, the 007, is a total flop. Among BAIC brands, Huansu and Senova have been widely more successful, so it will be very hard for the S50 to single-handedly expand the Weiwang brand into the hotly-contested SUV segment. But anything is possible in China.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

DS 4S China March 2016. Picture courtesy lcxw.cn

12. DS 4S (#349 – 72 sales)

While the entire Chinese market has its sights firmly set on SUVs, French upscale brand DS continues to launch highly unadapted nameplates such as this 4S hatchback. According to the French press, the DS brand is a flamboyant success in China where it was born as a standalone brand rather than a premium lineup inside the Citroen range. The China hype was so loud that DS is now also a standalone brand in Europe. Yet looking at Chinese sales figures, it’s hard to see any sign of “flamboyant” success: 1.355 sales in March and less than 5.000 over the first quarter. Pure importer Lexus sells five times that.

The brand’s best-seller is, logically, its sole SUV: the DS 6, exclusive to China. After peaking at a reasonable 3.325 sales for its third month in market back in December 2014, it has repeatedly fallen well below 2.000 units ever since and is now down to a paltry 887 deliveries for March. The 5 and 5LS hardly register at all, with 123 and 273 units respectively this month. It’s time for another SUV or three. Well no, you can have a hatchback. To justify the brand’s existence in China, the 4S will have to reach at least 3.500 monthly sales, and stay there in the long term. An almost impossible task, as its inaugural month, at 72 units, is in line with the current performance of the other nameplates in the lineup.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

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