China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models

Lifan Xuanlang

* See the May 2017 Top 414 All China-made models and Top 74 brands here *

As is the case every month, we pay special attention to the new locally produced launches in China so you stay aware of the latest development in the fastest-evolving car market in the world. May marks the second consecutive month of year-on-year decline for the light vehicle market in China, and fittingly it is a very slow month for newcomers with only three new nameplates this month, all Chinese.

1. Lifan Xuanlang: 2.541 sales

With the recently launched Myway 7 seat SUV, Lifan had started to reassure us that they were back in the race. Unfortunately, here comes the Xuanlang. No, this is not a Ford S-Max, but an almost identical clone, up to the crease lines in the door and the alloys. The S-Max isn’t currently sold in China so unlike the Range Rover Evoque and its Landwind clone we can’t make a price comparison. The Xuanlang signals the fact that cloning is still very much present in the Chinese auto industry and not limited to Landwind and Zotye which we thought were the latest culprits of this dubious practice.

Lifan Xuanlang interior. Picture autohome.com.cn  

Seating seven and powered by a choice of three petrol engines:  1.8 (133hp), 2.0 (141hp) and 1.5T (141hp), the Xuanlang is priced very competitively from 69.800 to 106.800 yuan (US$10.250-15.700). This places it squarely against the #2 best-seller in the segment, the Baojun 730, as well as the Dongfeng Fengxing S500, Chana Ousheng and Changan Linmax. Already by far the most successful entrant this month with over 2.500 sales, this is unchartered territory for Lifan that hasn’t had a similar offering before. Doubling this initial monthly score would cement the Xuanlang as a force to be reckoned with in the MPV market.

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly sales

2. Zotye T700: 107 sales

Just as Lifan tests the murky waters of cloning, Zotye seems to have emancipated from it with this T700. Agreed, there is an air of Range Rover in the silhouette but the latest Zotye offerings had been almost identical clones so there is progress. Cue the Damai X7 (VW Cross Coupe GTE concept), T600 (Audi Q5), Damai X5 (VW Tiguan), SR7 (Audi Q3) and SR9 (Porsche Macan). The T700 is the new flagship of the brand and impresses with sharp design both exterior-wise and inside the cockpit featuring a 14 inch-touch screen.

Zotye T700 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The T700 is powered by a choice of three turbo engines a 1.8 (177hp) and two 2.0 (190 and 220hp) mated with a five-speed manual or six-speed DCT for the 1.8 and six-speed DCT for the two 2.0. It is priced from 106.800 to 155.800 yuan (US$15.700-22.900) and will aim at taking some business away from Haval. Zotye has been struggling lately with overall sales down 25% in May and its best-seller the T600 only gathering 3.654 deliveries, so our bar for success for the T700 is lowered down to 4.000 which would place it as the brand’s best-seller this month.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales

3. Geely Yuanjing X1: 104 sales

Going from strength to strength with sales up 87% year-to-date thanks mainly to a series of new SUVs, Geely launches its smallest SUV to-date, the Yuanjing X1, unveiled at the last Shanghai Auto Show in April. Unfortunately, under a new nameplate and a seemingly new car hides a hastily facelifted version of the Geely Panda. The interior is its best asset with a huge 11.6 inch touch screen.

Geely Yuanjing X1 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn 

The X1 keeps the Panda’s 1.0 68hp engine and replaces the 1.5 by a 1.3 88hp engine, and its price range is at a tiny 39.900-57.900 yuan (US$5.850-8.500). It seems everything Geely launches is a success these days, but this X1 will have a tougher job in a segment that has traditionally struggled with big volumes. It will compete with the Baojun 510 (that proved this struggle wrong), the Haval H1 and the JAC Refine S2mini.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models

China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models

We throw a laser focus on the all-new locally produced models hitting the Chinese market so you are up-to-date with all the latest news. No less than 11 new nameplates made their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts in April.

1. Chevrolet Equinox: 5.693 sales

Leading them all is the Chevrolet Equinox with an already very satisfying score. Manufactured by the Shanghai-GM joint-venture, the new generation Equinox is the first one to be produced in China and it’s another welcome breath of fresh air for the struggling Chevrolet brand after the arrival of the Cavalier sedan in September last year. Powered by a choice of 1.5T or 2.0T engines both matched with a nine-speed auto, the Equinox is priced from 174.900 to 249.900 yuan ($25.500-36.400), meaning Chevrolet had the choice of discontinuing the similarly priced Captiva or keep it at a discounted rate. Looking at the two lonely sales the Captiva managed to rack up in April, it would appear Chevrolet has decided to discontinue it instead.

The Equinox enters a very crowded foreign compact five-seater SUV segment that also includes the VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Ford Escape. It bodes well for its chances of strong sales and has emboldened us to lift its bar for success to 15.000. General Motors has also positioned it frankly below the hot-selling Buick Envision (209.900 to 349.900 yuan) which should eliminate the risk of cannibalisation among GM brands. The Equinox is destined to become the best-selling SUV Chevrolet has ever had in China so far, as it already comes close to the Trax’s personal best of 6.937 units.

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

2. Hyundai Celesta: 3.965 sales

Appearing in this month’s sales charts but already displaying a cumulative total of 11.983 sales, the Hyundai Celesta has chosen the wrong timing to enter the Chinese sales charts, in the midst of anti-Korean sentiment that has pulled both Hyundai and Kia sales down over 60% this month. Hopefully for the Korean carmaker this situation will recede shortly and its sales can return to their pre-crisis level. Under a new nameplate hides in fact the Hyundai Elantra Yuedong – the fourth generation Elantra – reskinned and with an updated interior. This is the same method Ford has adopted in China with the Escort, based on the previous generation Focus, and Chevrolet with the Cavalier which is a reskinned previous generation Cruze. Both the Escort and Cavalier compete with the Celesta.

Powered with the same 1.6L engine as the Yuedong matched with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, the Celesta is priced from 78.800 to 120.800 yuan (US$11.500-17.600) and adds to an already busy Hyundai sedan lineup. The Korean carmaker has indeed taken the habit of keeping older generations of the Elantra in production, and the Celesta slides above the new Verna (72.800-105.800 yuan) and the Elantra Yuedong (74.800-95.800 yuan) but below the two latest generations Elantra, the 5th – Langdong (105.800-127.800 yuan) and the 6th – Lingdong (99.800-151.800 yuan).

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly sales

3. Venucia M50V: 2.704 sales

Unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show last April, the M50V is the first MPV by Venucia, Dongfeng-Nissan’s low cost brand. Previously Venucia models have been based on older Nissan platforms but the M50V is based on the Dongfeng Fengguang 360. It is powered by a choice of either 1.5 or 1.6L engines and comes in six or seven-seat configurations. As it is the case for all Venucia nameplates, the M50V is priced sharply at 65.800-84.900 yuan (US$9.600-12.400) which is slightly more expensive than the Dongfeng Fengguang 360 on which it is based (57.900-74.900). Venucia is a late-comer in the struggling MPV segment but its sharp design and modern interior for the segment will make it a worthy option and should trigger solid sales.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

4. Borgward BX5: 1.593 sales 

The BX5 is the second offering from the revived Borgward brand after the BX7 launched last year. Borgward is a German brand that was resuscitated with the financial backing of Foton Motor, a subsidiary of Beijing Auto. Despite being priced dearly, the BX7 has shown strong figures, peaking at 5.556 units last December, and the BX5 should too as it is more sharply designed and more affordable, priced between 149.800 and 216.800 yuan (US$21.800-31.600). The BX5 is powered by a 1.8T engine matched with either a six-speed auto or manual and both FWD and real-time 4WD configurations are available. A 1.4T and 1.4T hybrid are set to join the lineup in the near future.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

5. Cowin C3R: 1.093 sales

This month the Cowin C3 has been replaced by the C3R in the Chinese sales charts, a model that was launched in 2015 and a quirk of the rankings.

6. Chery eQ1: 1.035 sales

After the eQ, an electric version of the QQ, Chery launches the electric eQ1, a mini hatchback that fits right in with the latest mini electric offerings. Priced competitively from 49.800 to 99.800 yuan (US$7.250-14.500) including green car subsidies, the eQ1 features an attractive exterior design and very trendy interior filled with orange and a 10 inch touch screen. Its range is 180 km. A very interesting offering from Chery indeed, the brand having stepped up its design efforts with its latest launches.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

7. Skoda Kodiaq: 913 sales

The Kodiaq we know in Europe is now also produced in China. Sharing the same platform as the new VW Tiguan L, the Kodiaq is made here by the SAIC-Volkswagen joint-venture. It is available in a choice of three turbo engines: 1.4L, 1.8L and 2.0L and priced from 189.800 to 269.800 yuan (US$27.600-39.300), keeping in mind Skoda is positioned slightly more premium in China than it is in Europe. It competes with the likes of the Peugeot 4008 and Chevrolet Equinox we described earlier in the article.

The Kodiaq is the first in a four-pronged SUV attack by Skoda in China. Yet to come are the code named Model Q which will replace the existing Yeti, the code named model K which will be based on the current Yeti platform to spurn a budget crossover and a Kodiaq Coupe, the future flagship of the brand, to compete with the likes of the Honda Avancier and UR-V.

Changan CS55

Also launching in April are the electric JMC E160 (285 sales), the Peugeot 5008 (242) which is the same as the European one, the Buick Velite 5, a rebadged Chevrolet Volt (67) and the Changan CS55 (30), the one with the largest sales potential.

China February-March 2016: Focus on the all-new models

Baojun 510

We are catching up on two months at once with a laser focus on the all-new locally produced models hitting the Chinese market. A total of 18 new nameplates made their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts over the past couple of months.

1. Baojun 510: February 8.086 sales, March 18.016 sales

Unveiled last November at the Guangzhou Auto Show, the 510 is Baojun’s second incursion in the crossover segment after the immensely successful 560, but this time the design is daring, especially for a low-cost Chinese offer. It worked. As we have already detailed in the China March 2017 update, the 510 is already a blockbuster with 18.016 sales for its second month in market. However this has come with a price: the cannibalisation of the 560, freefalling 64% at the same time the 510 is extending its wings. As for all Baojun nameplates, the 510 price range stands at a cutthroat 59.800-75.800 yuan (US$ 8.700-11.000) which means it doesn’t overlap with the 560, priced from 76.800 to 89.800 yuan ($11.200-13.050). The 510 comes with a petrol 1.5L litre engine with a 6 speed manual or automatic gearbox. The success of the 510 so far is a sign that Chinese buyers are ready to purchase more daring designs by their homegrown carmakers. Keeping things in perspective though: at 18.016 sales in March, the 510 remains way below the 560’s personal best of 42.077 units reached back in March 2016.

Bar for success: 20.000 monthly sales

2. Roewe i6: March 7.015 sales

After the tremendous success of the RX5 crossover (personal best at 24.778 units), Roewe continues to climb back up the Chinese brands sales ladder thanks to this new i6 sedan replacing both the 550 and 750. The 4.67m-long i6 is equipped with a 1.5L turbo engine, and is priced from 89.800 to 143.800 yuan (US$ 13.000-20.900). An electric variant called ei6 will also be launched. The i stands for internet, innovation and intelligence. It has traditionally been harder for local manufacturers to be successful in the sedan segment, with the most successful being the cheaper Geely Emgrand EC7 (69.800-100.800 yuan), Changan Eado (73.900-94.900 yuan) and Chery Arrizo 5 (60.000 to 80.000 yuan). The task is therefore arduous for the i6 which is a clear stab at the best-selling VW Lavida both in terms of design and price: the Lavida is priced at 112.900-166.900 yuan and comes with a 1.4L turbo or 1.6L.

Bar for success: 10.000 sales

3. FAW Besturn X40: March 4.905 sales

Finally the FAW sub-brand Besturn is getting its compact SUV, the X40, which hits the bullseye of what Chinese customers are waiting for: from its first month of sales the X40 is the best-selling, selling ten times more than the next best-seller! The Besturn X40 is based on the Senya R7 launched in 2016 but proposes a slightly more aggressive design that gives off a little air of Mazda. Powered by a 1.6L engine mated with a five speed manual or six speed auto, the X40 is priced from 69.800 to 103.800 yuan (US$10.100-15.100) which is almost exactly the same as the Senya R7, whose personal best is 7.967 sales last September. FAW Besturn would be happy with the same for its X40.

Bar for success: 7.500 sales

4. Toyota Yaris L Sedan: March 4.317 sales

After launching the hatchback variant back in November 2013, Toyota finally kick starts the career of the sedan variant of the Yaris L, manufactured by the Guangzhou-Toyota joint-venture. The sedan gets the same engines as the hatchback: a 1.3 and 1.5L, and is priced between 75.000 and 110.00 yuan (US$10.900-16.000).

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

5. MG ZS: March 4.264 sales

The new ZS crossover is built on the same platform as the MG GS and Roewe RX5. At 4.31m long, the ZS is entering the compact SUV segment which is arguably one of the most crowded at the moment.  The ZS has replaced the GS as the hippest MG around and as a result is the brand’s best-seller as early as for its first month of sales. The ZS comes with a choice between a 1.5L paired with a 5MT or 4AT and a 1.0T mated with a 6AT. It is priced between 73.800 and 115.800 yuan (US$10.700-16.800).

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

6. Toyota Vios FS: March 3.467 sales

Introduced at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the Toyota Vios FS is the hatchback variant of the Chinese Vios, completing the entry-level offering of the FAW-Toyota joint-venture – it is the equivalent of the Yaris L by Guangzhou-Toyota. There is a choice of two engines: a 1.3 or 1.5, mated to a five-speed manual or CVT. The Vios FS is priced between 60.000 and 105.000 yuan (US$8.700-15.200).

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

 

7. Honda UR-V: March 2.444 sales

This new UR-V is the same car as the Avancier launched late last year, but made by the other Honda joint-venture, Dongfeng-Honda – while the Avancier is made by Guangzhou-Honda. This situation already happened with the Guangzhou-Honda Vezel and the Dongfeng-Honda XR-V. Priced between 246.800 and 329.800 yuan (US$35.800-47.900), the UR-V comes with a choice between 1.5T and 2.0 engines.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

8. BMW 1 Series: February 887 sales, March 2.145 sales

China gets a country-specific 1 Series sedan as this format is favoured over hatchbacks here. At this stage there are no plans for exports to other countries. It is priced from 204.800 to 332.000 yuan ($29.700-48.200).

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

9. JMC Yusheng S330: March 1.804 sales

This month JMC has decided to split the sales of its Yusheng SUV into S350 and S330, marking the appearance of the latter in the ranking even though it launched back in September 2016. Looking rather bland, the S330 is powered by a 1.5T engine matched with a six-speed manual or automatic. It is priced between 100.000 and 130.000 yuan (US$14.500-18.900).

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly sales

10. Zotye Damai X7: February 2.564 sales, March 1.722 sales

Announced for October, the Zotye Damai X7 finally hits the Chinese sales charts. After the Audi Q5 (Zotye T600), VW Tiguan (Damai X5), Audi Q3 (SR7) and Porsche Macan (SR8), this time Zotye clones the Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept, making it the first time a concept car is cloned into a production car by a Chinese carmaker. At 4,74m long, the X7 is powered by a choice of two turbo engines: a 1.5L and a 1.8L and priced from 78.800 to 153.800 yuan (US$11.400-22.300).

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly sales

11. Acura CDX: March 1.055 sales

The CDX is the first Acura to be produced in China, and at this stage it is a China-only model. This 4.50m long compact crossover is made by GAC-Acura, a branch of GAC-Honda, in Zengcheng, Guangzhou. It shares the styling of the 2017 MDX and was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2016. Powered with a 1.5T engine mated with an 8-speed DCT, the CDX proposes both FWD and 4WD variants. Honda has chosen a steep pricing for the CDX: from 229.800  to 309.800 yuan or US$ 33.400 to 45.000, which will make it harder to reach high volumes.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengxing CM7

Yema T80Changan Linmax. Picture autohome.com.cn

Notice also the Dongfeng Fengxing CM7 landing in February with 462 sales and improving to 1.006 in March, the Yema T80 with 347 March sales, the Jinbei F50 landing in March with 610 sales, the Changan Linmax landing in February with a tiny 28 sales and improving slightly to 60 in March, the Bisu T5 appearing in March with 17 units and the Hawtai xEV260, the EV variant of the Shengdafei, selling its first 7 units in March.

China January 2017: Focus on the All-new models

The Brilliance H3 lands directly at #288 at home in China.

As per the monthly BSCB tradition, we put 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. 2017 is a wobbly start in China with passenger cars down 1.1%. Yet the flow of new locally-produced nameplates popping up each months is far from drying up. After a 13-strong December 2016 class, January 2017 offers us six new entrants, four of them Chinese and four of them SUVs.

1. Changhe Freedom M70 (#216 with 1.415 sales)

Yet another clone from Beijing Auto, the Changhe Freedom M70 is a step-up from the M50 but remains cut-throat priced between 52.900 and 61.900 yuan (US$ 7.700-9.000). This is one more attempt by Beijing Auto at destabilising the MPV supremacy of SAIC’s Wuling Hongguang S1 (53.800-64.800 yuan) at which it is aiming squarely, but also the Baojun 730 (58.800-100.800 yuan). The M70 will also compete with the likes of the Chana Oushang (43.900-69.900 yuan), the Karry K60 (59.000-79.000 yuan) launched last November and the Cowin V3 (60.800-77.800 yuan). Problem is, a significant part of its competition is internal to BAIC with the cheaper Freedom M50 and the Weiwang M50F. Launched in January 2015, the Changhe Freedom M50 peaked at 4.761 sales in July 2015, and in this context the M70 should aim at 3.500 monthly sales on average to be deemed a success.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

2. Brilliance H3 (#288 with 499 sales)

In the past two years, Brilliance has been smartly focusing all its energy on the V3 small crossover, an instant blockbuster that enabled Brilliance to be reborn from close to ashes and accounted for no less than 63.8% of the brand’s sales in China last year at 103.342 units. Brilliance is now begining the long process of replacing is slower-selling sedans, and the H3 comes in to erase all memory of the H330 (27.419 sales in 2016). Its styling is a lot sharper than the previous Brilliance sedans and with an air of Citroen C-Elysée coupled with a Fiat Viaggio. Priced between 63.900 and 88.900 yuan (US$ 9.300-12.900), the H3 enters the most competitive segment in the Chinese market: compact Chinese sedans, but should really be aiming at long-term segment best-sellers the VW Jetta (starting at 82.800 yuan) and Santana (84.900 yuan). The H330 peaked at 7.128 sales in March 2016 but spent most of its career between 4.000 and 6.000 monthly sales. To show it is now a serious competitor in the sedan segment, Brilliance should aim at 7.500 monthly sales for the H3.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly sales

3. Kia KX7 (#305 with 298 sales)

In effect a current generation Kia Sorento adapted for Chinese tastes with more long on the front end, the KX7 appears in the Chinese ranking two months before its official launch date of March 16, 2017. Produced in partnership with Dongfeng-Yueda, the KX7 is Kia’s new flagship SUV and should climb up the sales charts pretty quickly. Kia used to import the Sorento from South Korea but import taxes lifted its price range to a hefty 205.600-335.60o yuan (US$29.900-48.700). Producing it locally brings the price down to a more palatable 179.800-276.800 yuan ($26.100-40.200). This way, the KX7 competes with some very strong sellers in China, such as the Buick Envision, Honda CR-V, Toyota Highlander and Ford Edge. It could well unlock some untapped potential for the brand in China, or be snubbed altogether.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

4. BAIC Huansu S5 (#336 with 76 sales)

BAIC continues to expand its Huansu lineup in less time than it takes to write these lines: the S5 SUV makes its appearance this month with a definite air of bargain basement Lexus. With a price expected to start around 70.000 yuan (US$10.200), the 4.46m-long S5 uses the same platform as the 4.41m BAIC Senova X55, itself priced from 76.800 to 119.800 yuan (US$11.200-17.400). Beijing Auto is thus building two parallel lineups at lightning speed, with the Huansu series manufactured by a joint venture between Beiqi and Yinxiang Motorcycle Group based in Chongqing and now comprising the H2, H3 and H6 MPVs as well as the S2, S3, S5 and S6 SUVs. The S5 is powered by a 1.3L turbocharged engine that also powers the recently launched Bisu T3. You still with us? The Senova X55 peaked at 6.492 units back in January 2016 which was its 2nd month in market but has all but disappeared since. The Huansu S6 for its part peaked at 5.150 also in January 2016, spending most of its career above 3.000 monthly sales. The Huansu S3 has been in a category of its own, with a personal best of 20.868 in December 2015. Beijing Auto should aim somewhere in between the S3 and S6 scores and its aggressive design will mark bonus points with the youngsters, so the marque should be optimistic.

Bar for success: 8.000 monthly sales

5. Changan CS95 (#343 with 51 sales)

Unveiled as a concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show with the production version launched in April 2016 at the Beijing Auto Show, the very impressive Changan CS95 finally hits Chinese roads, albeit with tiny sales figures for now. Changan openly admits the CS95 is inspired by the Toyota Highlander, and it is powered by a Blue Core turbo 2.0L engine developed jointly by Changan China and its UK R&D Center in Birmingham. The CS95 is expected to be priced between 150.000 and 200.000 yuan (US$ 21.800-29.000) and will fight with the luxury Chinese offerings such as the GAC Trumpchi GS8 or Haval H7. Changan has a spotless track record of success as far as its crossovers/SUVs are concerned: the CS15’s personal best is 10.430 sales (Dec-16), the CS35 is at 22.155 (Jan-15), the CS75 at 27.148 (Jan-16) and the CX70 at 14.506 (Jan-17). The CS95, more expensive, should logically fall a little behind, but Changan could unlock a more premium positioning on the Chinese market if the CS95 consistently breaks the 10.000 monthly unit-barrier.

Bar for success: 9.000 monthly sales

6. VW Teramont (#359 with 45 sales)

Along with the Tiguan L (the Chinese name for the new generation Tiguan), Volkswagen suddenly wakes up to the SUV wave that has been engulfing the Chinese market for the past three years. It’s about time. Problem is: we believe at BSCB that the Teramont is a little too big and too expensive to single-handedly lift Volkswagen up. But we may be wrong. The Teramont is the production of the CrossBlue concert that has already been copied by Zotye. Launched at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November ahead of a commercial launch this March, the Teramont slots in between the Tiguan L and the imported Touareg. It will be called Atlas in North America, its other main market. Expected to be priced between 300k and 450k yuan (US$43.600-65.300), the Teramont will test Volkswagen’s mass market boundaries as it will compete with the likes of the Toyota Highlander (239.700-330.800), Ford Edge (249.700-429.800), Ford Everest (265.800-360.800) but also the Land Rover Discovery (368.000-518.000). The pent-up demand for an “affordable” VW SUV is high though, so the Teramont should be a success. A blockbuster though? Not so sure.

Bar for success: 8.500 monthly sales

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

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