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

One year ago: China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

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

China February 2016: Focus on the all-new models

Zotye SR7 China February 2016Zotye SR7: looks familiar?

After exploring February sales figures in detail, the BSCB tradition is to study the all-new China-made nameplates making their first appearance in the sales charts this month. Occupied with the Lunar New Year falling at the start of the month this year, car manufacturers slow down their release schedule and as a result we only have three new entrants in the ranking this month vs. 4 in January and 9 in December.

1. Zotye SR7 (#178 with 1.536 sales)

Chinese carmaker Zotye is on a roll the moment, with no less than five new launches in the past six months. The Daimai X5 SUV, launched in September, has already hit 10.000 monthly sales. The microcar E30 in December and the Z700 followed last month, with two additional new nameplates for February. The first is the SR7 crossover. With it, Zotye sinks even further in the murky waters of copycat. The T600 copied the Audi Q5 and the Damai X5 the VW Tiguan, but the S57 goes even further and is an almost identical version of the Audi Q3.

Zotye SR7. Audi Q3 China February 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sina.comThat’s why: with its “inspiration” the Audi Q3.

Credit is due to Zotye however for managing a third crossover in record time. But this is where the confusion continues: just as the Damai X5 was only 4mm shorter than the T600 at 4527mm long, the SR7 is once again sized very similarly at 4510mm long, and is also priced similarly to its two counterparts: between 73.800 and 106.800 yuan (US$11.400 – 16.500) vs. 73.800-108.900 for the Damai X5 and 79.800-115.800 for the T600. Zotye therefore finds itself with three similarly sized and priced crossover. In such a gigantic market as China, this is not so much of a predicament to be in, so long as the three offers are well differentiated, which is the case. The T600 is the robust option, the Damai X5 the classy one and the SR7 the sporty one. So far so good. Sales figures will now tell the real story.

Zotye SR7 interiorZotye SR7 interior

Like Zotye’s other two crossover offerings, the SR7 is powered by a 1.5L turbo engine (the T600 also gets a 2.0L), this time mated with a choice of 5MT or DCT gearboxes. Zotye has pulled all stops with the interior, featuring an imposing 12 inch touch screen that would be at home in a Tesla Model S.

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

Zotye E200 China February 2016

2. Zotye E200 (#285 with 214 units)

After the E30 last December, this is the second Zotye pure-electric microcar unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015 to hit the Chinese sales charts. Like its predecessor, the micro car’s electric motor only pushes 24hp of a top speed of “at least 80km/h”: in order to benefit from green-car subsidies, a car must qualify as a ‘real’ electric car, not an LSEV mini car, and to do so must drive at at least 80km/h. Built in Yongkang, Zhejiang, the E200 comes in two versions, as a two or four-seater. Once again Zotye disorients with its naming choice, the E200 sitting next to the E30.

Bar for success: #200 or 1.500 monthly sales

ChangAn CX70 China February 2016

3. ChangAn CX70 (#317 with 72 deliveries)

Chinese customers can’t get enough SUVs: Chinese carmakers keep churning new SUVs month after month. Simple enough. Naming rules seem to be harder to follow though: the new ChangAn CX70 slots between the hugely successful CS35 and CS75, yet sports an X. It is manufactured by the minivan arm of ChangAn (Chana) as shown by the logo on its grille, yet sports giant ChangAn letters on the back. It gets more confusing: at 4680mm long, it is actually longer than the CS75 (4650mm), as well as the top-selling Baojun 560 (4620mm). A seven-seater, the CX70 is, in true Chana fashion, on the spartan end of the spectrum, sporting an antediluvian five-speed manual transmission, yet allowing itself a reasonably-size touch screen, an item that has fast become mandatory in all new Chinese nameplates.

Bar for success: #80 or 6.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China January 2016: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China February 2015: Focus on the all-new models

China January 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Dongfeng Fengshan AX3 China January 2016. Picture courtesy chexun.netDongfeng Fengshan AX3

After exploring January sales figures in detail, the BSCB tradition is to study the all-new China-made nameplates making their first appearance in the sales charts this month. Imports are covered in separate updates. Being the month leading up to the Lunar New Year, January is more prone to big promotions than new launches, and accordingly we only have four new entrants in the ranking this month vs. 9 in December.

1. Dongfeng Fengshan AX3 (#171 with 2.508 sales)

Unveiled at last year’s Shanghai Auto Show, the Fengshan AX3 is built on the DF1 platform, a variant of PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s No.1 platform (PF1). With it Dongfeng is trying something new: slotted below the manufacturer’s other Fengshan SUV (the DX7) but at a leisurely 4.52m long, the DX3 mixes hatchback, station wagon and crossover aspects for a rather pleasant result. With the AX7 crossing the 10.000 monthly sales mark for the first time in January and the brand’s sedans all struggling except the revamped A60 (5.006), the AX3 could fast become one of Dongfeng’s top selling passenger cars at home. Its price range of 69.700 – 81.700 yuan (US$10.700 – 12.500) even generously undercuts the shorter and successful Dongfeng Joyear X5 (79.900 – 105.900 yuan). On the negative side, the AX3 looks like a station wagon version of the H30 Cross (a total flop), which could discourage potential buyers, but Dongfeng could be onto a new SUV niche with the AX3.

Bar for success: #80 or 7.000 sales

FQT Motor EX80 China January 2016. Picture courtesy auto.163.com

2. FQT Motor EX80 (#291 with 378 units)

FQT Motor belongs to Fujian Group, also part-owner of Soueast cars, Fujian-Benz trucks and King Long buses. FQT stands for Fujian QiTeng, a sub-brand launched in 2014 whose lineup is composed of the M70 microvan (described in our LCV updates) and this EX80 minivan launched last September but somehow only making its way into the Chinese sales charts this month. With the EX80, Fujian Motor is unabashedly trying to bank on the (still) booming MPV segment and copies its dimensions and target entirely onto the market’s best-seller, the Wuling Hongguang. Priced between 50.000 and 90.000 yuan (US$7.700-13.800), the EX80 takes the FQT range where the 36.900-45.900 yuan-M70 left it and targets both the Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan) and its cousin the Baojun 730 (69.400-81.800 yuan). Too ambitious?

Bar for success: #150 or 2.500 sales

Cadillac CT6 China January 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

3. Cadillac CT6 (#296 with 318 deliveries)

Perfectly illustrating that the centre of gravity of the automobile world has moved from the U.S. to China, Cadillac is launching a China-made CT6 even before it becomes available in America. Priced between 439.900 and 818.800 yuan (US$ 66.900 – 124.500), it competes with the upper-end variants of the Audi A6L, BMW 5 Series L and Mercedes E-Class L. However its dimensions (5.18/1.88/1.50m) position it above these aforementioned nameplates and just below the Audi A8L, BMW 7 Series L and Mercedes S-Class L. At 79.779 sales in 2015 (+17%), Cadillac is making progress in the Chinese luxury segment but remains far below the Big 3 Audi (571.000), BMW (434.000) and Mercedes (363.000). Undercutting its main competitors in price is therefore surely a good idea for this prestigious entry that will do probably more for Cadillac’s aspirational values in China than significantly boost the brand’s volumes there.

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 sales

Zotye Z700 China January 2016. Picture courtesy db2car.com

4. Zotye Z700 (#316 with 157 sales)

Topping Zotye’s lineup with a 5.02m-long flagship sedan seemed like a good idea when the Z700 was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April last year. Since then though, the SUV bulldozer has crushed almost everything on its way. In January, the brand’s two entries in the segment, the T600 (13.626 sales) and X5 (12.266), account for an incredible 83% of Zotye’s total (31.201), with no sedan selling over 1.800 units. A bland design vaguely inspired from a previous generation VW Magotan will do nothing to attract the SUV-obsessed crowds. Only the entry variant Luxury is priced below 100.000 yuan (US$15.300), with the top-end Executive reaching 158.800 yuan ($24.400). Zotye may have been better off never launching this nameplate. That’s awkward…

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 sales

Previous post: China December 2015: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China January 2015: Focus on the all-new models

China December 2015: Focus on the All-new models

Dongfeng Fengxing S500 China December 2015. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

After studying December sales figures in detail, as is the tradition on BSCB we now detail the all-new nameplates making their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts this month. Note this update is only for the locally-produced models. Imports are covered in separate updates. In December we welcome no less than nine models, seven of which are Chinese, a testimony to the ground that local carmakers have been catching up on lately.

1. Dongfeng Fengxing S500 (#68 with 10.858 sales)

Not satisfied with an already very imposing presence in the MPV segment, Dongfeng just released the seven-seater S500 after unveiling it at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. Priced from 60.900 to 99.900 yuan (US$ 9.250 – 15.200), the S500 is powered by a 1.5L or 1.6L petrol engine both coming from Mitsubishi and is produced by the Liuzhou branch of Dongfeng Motor (DFM). At 4.62m long, the S500 slots above the Fengguang (4.36m), the only Dongfeng selling more units in China this month. Yes you have read that right, the S500 lands directly as the 2nd best-selling Dongfeng in the country with 10.858 sales in December, one of the most impressive entrances of any all-new nameplates in the past couple of years. Like the Fengguang, the S500 takes its design inspiration from the VW Touran. It has put a dent into the ageing Dongfeng Future’s sales, down 28% year-on-year this month to 7.624. The Future – or Fengxing Lingzhi is also produced by Dongfeng Liuzhou, is larger (4.71m-5.11m) and more expensive (97.900-133.800 yuan) but a lot older. With such a start, it seems reasonable to expect a sales peak around 20.000 monthly units for the S500.

Bar for success: #25 or 20.000 monthly sales

Suzuki Vitara China December 2015

2. Suzuki Vitara (#152 with 4.550 units)

Already a runaway success in Eastern Europe, it was only a matter of time until Suzuki launched the all-new Vitara in SUV-crazed China. After debuting in September at the Chengdu Auto Show, the Vitara makes its grand entrance in the Chinese sales charts with an already solid 4.550 sales. Built by the Changan-Suzuki joint venture in Chongqing, the Vitara is priced between 99.800 and 159.800 yuan (US$ 15.200-24.300). Only a bargain basement 1.6L engine variant enables the Vitara to stay below the symbolic 100k yuan, unlike its brother the Suzuki S-Cross (109.800-154.800). Suzuki offers five versions of the other engine, a 1.4L turbo. It is the first time the Suzuki Vitara nameplate is produced locally in China.

The Vitara is one of the cheapest foreign SUVs in China, competing with Ford Ecosport (94.800-127.800 yuan), the Peugeot 2008 (99.700-137.600 yuan), Citroen C3-XR (108.800-171.800) and Chevrolet Trax (119.900-155.900 yuan). The S-Cross peaked at 5.122 sales in March 2014, so the Vitara’s initial score indicates it will climb much higher and could help lift Suzuki sales in the country to never-seen before heights, that is if its cannibalisation of S-Cross sales is limited which is not a given.

Bar for success: #75 or 7.500 monthly sales

Chevrolet Lova RV China December 2015

3. Chevrolet Lova RV (#154 with 4.544 deliveries)

With the Lova RV, Chevrolet revives a nameplate that disappeared in 2011 when the Lova sedan (the first generation Aveo-Sonic) was replaced by the Aveo (2nd generation) here in China. Halfway between a hatchback and a wagon, the Lova RV is produced by the SAIC GM joint-venture and is 4.20m long with one engine option: an 80kW petrol 1.5L. The Lova RV is priced between 74.900 and 99.900 yuan (US$ 11.400-15.200), a significant premium on the Sail sedan on which it is based (59.900-73.900) let alone the Sail hatchback (56.800-66.800). Yet and despite this overpricing, very low-end interior and dated mechanics, this was a great idea by Chevrolet. Replicating Volkswagen’s successful venture into the “hatch-wagon” segment (Gran Lavida, Gran Santana), the Lova RV sells more in its initial month (4.544) than the Sail hatchback in the whole of 2015 (3.170)!

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

Zhi Dou D2 China December 2015

4. Zhi Dou D2 EV (#171 with 3.777 sales)
5. Zhi Dou D1 EV (#198 with 2.387 units)

Just as the year closes, a slew of electric models launched earlier in the year “miraculously” appear in the Chinese sales charts in December – see also the Kandy EV by Geely at #149. Not so rare these days, we welcome a new manufacturer in the ranking: Zhi Dou Electric Vehicle Corporation, a subsidiary of the Xindayang Group. Zhi Dou also manufactures micro electric cars for Zotye. The D2 (3.777 sales) and D1 (2.387) manage quite impressive scores, but it is impossible to know whether these figures actually are for the past 6 months since the two models have been on the market, or just December. 2016 data will give a better indication of the success or lack thereof of these two diminutive electric offerings.

The D2 is priced at a very attractive 49.800 yuan (US$7,600), making it one of the cheapest electric cars in China – and the world. That’s thanks to huge central and local government subsidies of 109.000 yuan ($16.600). For this price, the D2 comes with a lot of tech indeed: a touch screen infotainment system controlling phone, GPS, TV, internet, music and radio, in-built wifi for connectivity in and around the car and, incredibly for this price, an ‘Advanced Driver Assistance System‘ (ADAS) including lane-departure and anti-collision warning systems as well as a ‘dozing off’ warning system connected to a camera constantly pointed at the driver! No this is not a Tesla, but a Zhi Dou…

Bar for success: #150 or 3.000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Senova X55 China December 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

6. Beijing Auto Senova X55 (#228 with 1.502 deliveries)

Only two months after the Senova X25 and less than a year after the Senova X65, Beijing Auto lifts its Senova SUV range to three models with the Senova X55 landing directly at #228 with over 1.500 sales. The X45 is coming in 2016… The X55 debuted as a semi-concept at the Shanghai Auto Show and was officially unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November. It shares its platform with the Senova D50 sedan, is 4.40m long and powered by a turbocharged 1.5L engine matched with a 6MT or CVT. The Senova X55 is tightly priced between 76.800 and 119.800 yuan (US$ 11.700-18.200). So far this is how the Senova SUV lineup has fared: the X65 peaked at 3.971 sales in October and the X25 shot up to 5.571 units this very month of December, so expectations for the X55 should be in line with this. There is still plenty of room for Chinese SUVs indeed.

Bar for success: #120 or 5.000 monthly sales

ChangAn Oushang China December 2015. Picture auto.sina.com.cn

7. Chana Oushang (#264 with 972 sales)

The Oushang is a 7-seater MPV built by the commercial division of Changan Auto: Chana. The Oushang was unveiled with much fanfare at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015 (and I was very impressed), now finally hitting Chinese dealerships. The seating layout is 2+3+2, a variation on the traditional 2+2+3 layout. The Oushang is a generous 4.46m long and powered by a choice of two engines a 1.5L and a turbo 1.0L. A modern exterior design hides a more ‘commercial’ interior yet the mandatory touch screen is present on the dashboard. Where the Oushang strikes hard is in the price aisle: from just 51.900 to 64.900 yuan (US$ 7.900-9.900), a lot less than the 70.000-90.000 yuan price range originally estimated and only slightly more than the smaller, older and definitely less sophisticated Honor (44.900-60.900).

With such a tiny pricing Changan positions the Oushang full frontal against no less than the #1 nameplate in the whole of China, the outrageously successful Wuling Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan), while operating completely below the Baojun 730 (69.400-81.800 yuan). While there is no way the Oushang will reach the same sales levels as the aforementioned models, it will definitely reinforce Changan’s position on the MPV map, especially given its other offering, the popular Honor, doesn’t seem to be affected yet (+41% in December).

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

Zotye E30 China December 2015

8. Zotye E30 (#290 with 572 units)

Another mini EV appearing in the sales charts this month, the Zotye E30 is a 2.80m long all-electric two-seater unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show. It strangely looks like an angry Smart Fortwo, with Zotye not worried in the least with copying the German microcar body structure, nor is it worried with copying the Tesla Model S extra-large touch screen on the central console. According to Zotye, the E30 can drive up to 80km/h (swoosh!), a questionable claim with only 24hp.

Zotye E30 interior. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.comZotye E30 interior

Why 80km/h? Simply because in order to benefit from green-car subsidies, a car must qualify as a ‘real’ electric car, not an LSEV mini car. Only cars able to drive at 80km/h and above are considered ‘real’ electric cars. The E30 joins an already large Zotye EV family, but with the E20 disappearing from the ranking this month, it is unclear whether this month’s sales figure of 572 is for just December or more, making it difficult to forecast long time sales accurately.

Bar for success: #220 or 1.000 monthly sales

ChangAn CS15 China December 2015

9. ChangAn CS15 (#362 with 40 deliveries)

Last but not least this month, the ChangAn CS15 lands in the charts ahead of its official launch in early 2016. Unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show in November, the CS15 is 4.10m long and powered by a petrol 1.5L engine of natural aspiration mated to a five-speed manual or a five-speed DCT. Priced between 55.000 and 75.000 yuan (US$ 8.400-11.400), the CS15 is slotted below the hugely successful CS35 (78.900-92.900 yuan) that sold 169.332 units in 2015 (+68%). The other ChangAn SUV, the CS75, did even better at 186.623 units, so expectations are very high for the CS15 that will compete with  the JAC Refine S2 (6.485 sales in December), Beijing Auto Senova X25 (5.571), FAW Junpai D60 (2.912), Lifan X50 (1.699) Beijing Auto Huansu S2 (1.346) and Weichai Enranger G3 (932). While the aforementioned names are not exactly setting the market on fire, count on ChangAn to break new sales ground with the CS15, as it did with the CS35 then the CS75.

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

China November 2015: Focus on the All-new models

Honda Greiz China November 2015. Picture courtesy mycar168.comHonda Greiz

After studying November sales figures in detail, as is the tradition on BSCB we have a closer look at the all-new nameplates making their first appearance in the Chinese sales charts this month. Note this update is only for the locally-produced models. Imports are covered in separate updates. In November we welcome six new models, and for once sedans are here in force with three arrivals, along with the expected three SUVs. No new MPVs this month, as most manufacturers are busy releasing upscale variants of their existing models – see the Wuling Hongguang SI, Lifan Lotto S, Dongfeng Fengguang 370 and Beijing Auto Weiwang M30.

1. Honda Greiz (#125 with 5.164 sales)

Unveiled in September and launched at the Guangzhou Auto Show last month, the Greiz is another China-exclusive nameplate from Honda after the exceptionally successful CRider. Manufactured by the Dongfeng-Honda joint-venture, the Greiz is in fact a sporty twin for the City, whose new generation also launched in Guangzhou and is manufactured by GAC-Honda, the other joint-venture the Japanese manufacturer has set up in China. Honda had in fact already made a similar move a year ago with the twin crossovers Honda XR-V (Dongfeng) and Vezel (GAC), with Toyota also duplicating the Corolla (FAW) with the Levin (GAC).

Honda Greiz China November 2015Honda Greiz

The Greiz is powered by a 1.5L engine, enabling it to qualify for the 50% purchase tax cut initiated in October. It is priced absolutely identically to the City: from 79.8k to 119.8k yuan (US$12.400-18.600), and competes in a crowed segment dominated by the Kia K2 (20.735 sales in November), Hyundai Verna (19.826) and Toyota Vios (11.397). The Greiz has managed a successful baptism-by-fire: at 5.164 units in its 1st month it already outsells its twin the City (4.976), itself up a fantastic 137% year-to-date. A few years back when competition was less intense in this segment, the City was a regular offender above 10.000 monthly units, peaking at 17.846 and #7 in December 2011. We cannot reasonably expect the same target for the Greiz but a peak goal of 10-12k monthly deliveries seems attainable.

Bar for success: #50 or 9.000 monthly sales

FAW Besturn B30 China November 2015FAW Besturn B30

2. FAW Besturn B30 (#132 with 4.612 deliveries)

FAW – for First Automotive Works, this is the first and oldest vehicle manufacturer in China – used to dominate the Chinese sales charts not so long ago: in 2005 the best-selling passenger car in the country was the Tianjin Xiali, at a time when annual sales amounted to 2.77 million units, only marginally more than the November 2015 figure alone… Since then it has been a slow and painful descent to hell for the Xiali sedans, down 53% so far in 2015 from #107 to #175 despite including all generations (N3, N5 and N7). FAW has been struggling to find a entry-level replacement since, with the Oley a total flop, while trying to shed its bargain basement reputation and move slightly more up-market with the Besturn sub-brand.

Besturn launched three sedans – the B50 peaking at 11.331 sales in January 2011, the B70 and B90 – and one SUV- the X80 peaking at 8.199 units in October 2014. Naming this new compact sedan the Besturn B30 is therefore an astute choice and one that gives the model its best chance at success. In fact, with 4.612 sales for its first month in market, the B30 is already the 2nd best-selling FAW nameplate in November below just the B50 (5.292). 4.62m long and powered by a FAW-made 1.6L petrol engine, the B30 is reasonably priced between 69.800 and 92.800 yuan (US$10.800-14.400) and can honestly aim at a significant share of the Chinese sedan cake.

Bar for success: #75 or 7.500 monthly sales

Jeep Cherokee China November 2015The cheapest Chinese Jeep Cherokee is more expensive than the dearest U.S. Cherokee…

3. Jeep Cherokee (#192 with 2.171 units)

As an imported brand, Jeep has been very successful so far in China – totalling almost 7.000 sales in September – with a lineup composed of the Compass, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Patriot and Wrangler. Through their joint-venture with GAC Group, FCA is now producing the Cherokee locally in its Changsha plant in Hunan since October 19. Only one engine option, the Tigershark 2.4L, with a petrol 2.0L coming later. Interestingly, localising the Cherokee’s production has not put a significant dent in its price: at 229.800-315.800 yuan (US$ 35.600-48.900), it starts higher than the most expensive Cherokee in the U.S., where it is priced at US$ 24.090 to $31.890! I’ll let you calculate the fat profits Jeep will be making with the Cherokee in China.

BAW Qishi China November 2015The 1984 Jeep Cherokee survives in China as the BAW Qishi.

Although this is the first collaboration between GAC and FCA on the Jeep brand, this Cherokee is not the first Jeep produced in China. The Cherokee XJ was produced locally from 1984 to 2005 by BAIC and sold as such, then renamed BAW Qishi and survives until today. Averaging 3.500 monthly sales, the Compass is currently the most popular import in the whole of China, so the Jeep brand benefits from a very solid reputation here. The Cherokee must do better to be deemed a success, and given the current SUV craze Chinese consumers are going through, the sky is the limit. It competes in the same segment as the best-selling foreign SUVs in China, such as the VW Tiguan, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Bar for success: #100 or 6.000 monthly sales

Ford Everest China November 2015Ford Everest

4. Ford Everest (#201 with 1.944 sales)

The Everest is the first Chinese Ford SUV manufactured in partnership with JMC, it completes a strong Ford SUV lineup along with the Edge (13.010 sales in November), Kuga (12.953) Ecosport (4.327), all produced with Changan, while the Explorer sold 1.136 imported units in September and will soon also benefit from local production. Interestingly, in November the most expensive Ford SUV (the Edge) is also the best-seller, with the cheapest (the Ecosport) struggling at -47% year-on-year. This can be explained by the sudden and massive interest towards small, cheap and cheerful Chinese SUVs that make the Ecosport look dear and dated.

Ford is pricing the Everest very high: from 265.800 to 360.800 yuan (US$41.200-55.900), in line with the Edge (249.800-429.800) and it could paradoxically be its saving grace, positioning it as a premium offer and playing on the iconic status of the brand. The Everest may struggle to hit similar levels as the Edge and Kuga, however the nameplates it competes with are all managing very solid results, so there is potential there: the Buick Envision is at 21.559 sales in November, the Toyota Highlander at 8.296 and the Nissan Murano at 2.214.

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Huansu S6 China November 2015Beijing Auto Huansu S6

5. Beijing Auto Huansu S6 (#208 with 1.795 deliveries)

The Huansu sub-brand is only 18 months old but already has three SUVs under it belt: the S2 (1.259 sales in November), the S3 (18.005) and the S6 – the largest so far at 4.69m – but still tightly priced from 79.800 to 116.800 yuan (US$12.400-18.100), making it one of the cheapest SUVs of its size in China. Good news: its turbo petrol 1.5L quality the S6 for the 50% purchase tax cut. The Huansu S6 competes squarely against the very successful Zotye T600 (13.699 sales in November), the Zotye X5 (6.756) and the Changfeng Leopaard CS10 (5.490). However as the very contrasting Huansu S2 and S3 sales figures show above, Beijing Auto launches tend to be hit and miss. The S6 has a good chance due to its very competitive price, allowing a lot of car for the money, and its design in vast improvement over its siblings.

Bar for success: #80 or 7.000 monthly sales

Ford Taurus China November 2015Ford Taurus

6. Ford Taurus (#247 with 1.003 units)

The second Ford to make its Chinese debut this month, the Taurus was unveiled at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show and is the brand’s flagship sedan in China. It is the first time the Taurus name is used in China, a nameplate very familiar in the U.S. where it was the best-selling passenger car from 1992 to 1996 before a bold redesign sent it to deletion in 2006. Although resurrected in 2009, the Taurus nameplate has never recaptured its past glory. Ford is hoping for a whole different story in China, pricing the Taurus at the edge of luxury from 249.800 to 349.800 yuan (US$ 38.700-54.200). The Taurus is produced along the Edge at Changan-Ford’s plant in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, is 4.996mm long and is powered with a choice of three turbo engines: 1.5L, 2.0L and 2.7L.

Ford Taurus China November 2015. Picture courtesy cheshenghuo.comFord Taurus. Picture cheshenghuo.com

With the Taurus, Ford is aiming at wooing the executive crowd with plush equipment in the rear seats which is where this chauffeured clientele rides. It competes with the flagships of other established brands such as the VW Passat (15.914 Nov sales), Buick LaCrosse (8.502) and Toyota Crown (3.453), but also the smaller BMW 3 Series L (10.068), Audi A4L (9.800), Mercedes C-Class L (9.552), Cadillac ATS-L and Volvo S60L (2.369). Ford is a respected mass brand in China, and as such can seriously aim with the Taurus at similar levels to those achieved by Buick and Toyota with their respective flagships. Going higher will be a real challenge, yet the similarly-priced Edge achieved 13.000 sales this month, so in the unlikely event Chinese executives decide to “downgrade” back from SUVs to sedans, the Taurus could be a surprise hit.

Bar for success: #100 or 6.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China October 2015: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China November 2014: Focus on the all-new models

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