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

China October 2015: Focus on the All-new models

Nissan Lannia China October 2015. Picture courtesy cnwnews.comNissan Lannia. Picture cnwnews.com

As is the tradition on BSCB tradition, after exploring October data in detail, we now go through the all-new locally produced models that enter the sales charts this month and study their sales perspectives. This section is reserved to models that have kick-started local production, import launches will be covered within the import data monthly updates. After welcoming 4 new nameplates in July6 in August and 5 in September, four newcomers make their first appearance in the Chinese charts this month. For once, we have two sedans in the lot, accompanied with one SUV and one MPV, with 3 out of 4 launches selling over 2.300 units in October.

Nissan Lannia interior China October 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.comNissan Lannia interior. Picture chinaautoweb.com

1. Nissan Lannia (#145 with 3.756 sales)

This is a very important nameplate for Nissan and the first one it has totally dedicated to China. As I detailed in my highlights report of this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, the Lannia is a Chinese mid-size sedan designed by and for Chinese youth. Its Chinese name is “Lan Niao”, which translates to “bluebird”, although there is no connection with the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy. The core target for the Lannia is consumers born in the 80s and 90s that want edgy design and a car that distances them from what their parents are buying. Sounds familiar? That’s because Chinese car buyers are fast catching up with Western ones in terms of purchase triggers.

Nissan Lannia China October 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.comHas Nissan gone too far with the Lannia’s convoluted design?

The Lannia is produced exclusively in China by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint-venture and is priced from 105.900 to 145.900 yuan (US$ 16.600 – 22.900) and one 1.6L engine available for now, mated with either a manual or automatic gearbox. Interestingly, this means it is actually playing in the same sandpit as the more conservative Nissan Sylphy (99.800-169.800) but will act as the ‘trendier’ option. Lannia total length is 4.68m vs. 4.66m for the Sylphy. The Lannia will compete with such blockbusters as the Hyundai Elantra Langdong (105.800-149.800 yuan), Honda Crider (114.800-149.800 yuan), Kia K3 (102.800-149.800) and VW Bora (107.800-148.300). However given it is Nissan’s second offering in this segment it is unreasonable to expect similar sales figures.

Bar for success: #80 or 7.000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Huansu H3 China October 2015. Picture courtesy auto.qq.com

2. Beijing Auto Huansu H3 (#147 with 3.607 units)

Despite the segment losing some of its steam lately, clones of the tremendously successful Wuling Hongguang keep popping in. The latest is the Beijing Auto Huansu H3, and credit to the state-owned manufacturer for making its design look a little more modern than the rest of the Hongguang clones. The H3 slots in above the H2 launched last year with a 4.66m length vs. 4.52 for the H2 that enables it to fit 7 or 8 passengers. As is the case for the majority of Chinese MPV in the market, its price is impossible to beat: ranging from just 55.800 yuan (US$ 8.750) to 62.800 yuan (US$ 9.850) for different trims of the 1.5L manual variant.

As it was also the case for the Jinbei 750 launched last month, the Huansu H3 undercuts both segment leaders in price: the Wuling Hongguang S 1.5L (65.800-69.800 yuan) and the Baojun 730 1.5L (69.400-80.800 yuan), but it also fights against the top-end variants of another Beijing Auto low-cost MPV: the Weiwang M20 (46.800-63.800 yuan). Its launch month already sees the Huansu H3 outsell its smaller colleague the H2 by 2-to-1 and rank #12 among all MPVs in China. A good sign is it hasn’t affected sales of the Weiwang M20, reaching a record 16.248 units this month. The H3 could be an all-out winner for Beijing Auto, enabling the manufacturer to extend its footprint in the low-cost MPV segment currently suffocated by SAIC-GM-Wuling.

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

Citroen C4 China October 2015. Picture courtesy xinhuanet.com

3. Citroen C4 (#178 with 2.369 deliveries)

Launched in France in 2004, the C4 nameplate had never been used in China until now, Dongfeng-PSA preferring to use C-Quatre – the French spelling of the number four – in order to avoid the unlucky associations the number 4 often has in Chinese. The C-Quatre, launched in 2008 here and peaking at #22 and 13.618 sales in November 2013, is replaced by the C4, a different model altogether than the C4 available in Europe. But Dongfeng-PSA wouldn’t make the transition that simple: the C4 is still very confusingly called C4 C-Quatre in Chinese (C4 世嘉).

The C4 slots above the C-Elysée and below the C4L. Prices for the new C4 aren’t available yet but as a benchmark the C-Quatre ranged between 107.800 and 129.800 yuan (US$ 16.900-20.400), which may increase slightly for the C4, available with either a 1.6L or a new 3-cylinder 1.2L turbo engine. This is a very crowded segment in China and Dongfeng-PSA now has three offers sitting very closely to each other, but it should expect at least the same sales level as the C-Quatre.

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Senova X25 China October 2015. Picture courtesy qlogo.cn

4. Beijing Auto Senova X25 (#364 with 4 sales)

The last new entrant in the Chinese sales charts this month makes a very discreet appearance all the way down the bottom of the ranking with just four sales, however be assured it won’t stay there for very long. A rare fact, this is the only all-new SUV to enter the Chinese ranking this month, but the second Beijing Auto nameplate. Surfing on the incredible tsunami of SUV success this year (+61% in October alone), this is one of four Senova SUVs expected to launch in the space of 18 months after the X65 (February 2015) and before the X55 (later in 2015) and X45 (2016). Unveiled at the Chengdu Auto Show in September, the Senova X25 is based on the Senova D20 hatchback and comes right on time to quench the Chinese youth’s insatiable thirst for small, trendy crossovers.

Beijing Auto Senova X25 China October 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.comBeijing Auto Senova X25. Picture chinaautoweb.com

The X25 is just 4.11m long, powered by a choice of 1.3L or 1.5L engines and priced between 55.000 and 75.000 yuan, an incredibly low US$ 8.600-11.800. It competes at the low-end of the fast-expanding Chinese SUV offering, along the likes of the JAC Refine S2 launched last month and ranking at #87 in October, the FAW Junpai D60 (#183), Lifan X50 (#190), Weichai Enranger G3 (#232), Beijing Auto Huansu S2 (#233) and Zotye T200 (#307). Apart from the JAC Refine S2 delivering a promising first couple of months, this price range of crossovers has not been met with tremendous success yet, with similarly sized but dearer nameplates being favoured by (mostly female) Chinese city buyers so far. Cue the ChangAn CS35 (#36), Brilliance V3 (#78) and Haval H1 (#97). The other Beijing Auto Senova SUV in market, the X65, is still ramping up, hitting a best ranking of #136 last month and highest volume so far of 3.971 this month. In this context, BAIC should keep its hopes relatively constrained for the X25.

Bar for success: #120 or 4.500 monthly sales

Previous post: China October 2015: Market up 13% thanks to tax cut

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

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

China September 2015: Focus on the All-new models

JAC Refine S2 China September 2015. Picture courtesy toutiao.comJAC Refine S2

As per the BSCB tradition, after September data we now explore in more detail the all-new locally produced models that enter the sales charts this month. For the last time we will only cater for the models that have kick-started local production, import data will come very shortly. After welcoming 5 new nameplates in Maytwo in June4 in July and 6 in August, we have another very strong month for newcomers in September with five new entries, and as opposed to August when only one sold over 500 units, this time only one sell less than 1.500 units… And this month all newcomers are Chinese, with three SUVs, two MPVs and one electric sedan. How very on-trend.

1. JAC Refine S2 (#83 with 6.930 sales)

With the Refine S2, JAC is hoping to build on the runaway success of the Refine S3 which sold over 180.000 units in just a year. Powered with a 1.5L engine, the S2 is logically positioned below the S3 and above the upcoming S1, and priced between 58.800 and 75.800 yuan (US$ 9.300-12.000). It competes full frontal with the Beijing Auto Huansu S2, the Dongfeng Fengguang 360, Weichai Enranger G3 and Haval H1. Its first monthly score has it beating all the aforementioned nameplates already, showing it can pretend to shake things up in its category. A Top 50 ranking is a good first target, flirting with the gigantic success of its big brother the Refine S3 an ambitious stretch target.

Bar for success: #50 or 12.000 monthly sales

Jinbei 750 China September 2015. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn

2. Jinbei 750 (#107 with 4.810 units)

Just at the time when the MPV category is starting to lose steam (-5% in September whereas the market is back in positive territory), we welcome a new entrant that is showing great potential. The Jinbei 750, yet another Wuling Hongguang-inspired vehicle, land directly in 8th position in the MPV ranking – #107 overall – with 4.810 units finding a new home in September. Powered by a 1.5L engine, the 750 has a tightly controlled price range of only 53.800 to 63.800 yuan (US$ 8.500-10.100), undercutting both the Hongguang S 1.5L (65.800-69.800 yuan) and the Baojun 730 1.5L (69.400-80.800 yuan) and positioned right against the Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 (46.800-63.800 yuan). The latter will sell well over 110.000 units for its first full year in market and constitutes a good stretch target for the Jinbei 750.

Bar for success: #60 or 10.000 monthly sales

Weichai Enranger China September 2015. Picture courtesy pcauto.com.cn

3. Weichai Enranger 737 (#195 with 1.658 deliveries)

Only two months after launching their very first vehicle, the Enranger G3 SUV, Weichai Auto, a new Chinese manufacturer owned by Weichai Power specialised in diesel engines, already kick starts its second offering, the Enranger 737 MPV. In July the G3 started at #202 with 1.043 units, this time the 737 does 59% better in a much less saturated segment. Powered by the same Mitsubishi 1.5L petrol engine as the G3, the 737 starts at an equally cut-throat 56.800 yuan (US$ 8.960) but climbs up to 99.800 yuan ($15.700), the reason for this being the top-spec 737s are equipped with a gigantic 16-inch touch screen inspired by the Tesla Model S – no less:

Weichai Enranger 737 China September 2015. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

With such a point of difference, the 737 can hope to shoulder its way towards the Top 100 best-selling nameplates in the country and start making a name for the Weichai brand – or is it Enranger?

Bar for success: #100 or 5.000 monthly sales

Zotye X5 China September 2015. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

4. Zotye X5 (#200 with 1.526 sales)

The X5 is called “Dai Mai” in Chinese and was unveiled at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, confusing everyone with a different naming code whereas Zotye was very satisfyingly using T200 and T600 for its first two SUVs. The X5 is powered by a choice of two turbo 1.5L engines and is 4527mm long, once again a confusing 4mm shorter than the strong seller T600. Its pricing (73.800-108.900 yuan / $11.600-17.200) is a tad lower than the T600 at equivalent spec (79.800-115.800). Whatever game Zotye is playing with the X5 Dai Mai, it’s a dangerous one that risks cannibalising sales of the T600, for now completely unfazed at +49% and 10.415 sales in September. The next few months will give us the answer.

Bar for success: #100 or 5.000 monthly sales

BYD e5 China September 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cn

5. BYD e5 (#323 with 125 units)

The BYD e5 is a full electric sedan unveiled at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, based on the BYD Surui. It is BYD’s second full-electric sedan after the e6 which has been sold to multiple taxi companies around the world. BYD indeed pushed the taxi angle to death at the Auto Show this year. Not destined for high sales figures at home, the e5’s sole purpose is to strengthen BYD’s green car credentials. For reference, the e6 is up 96% so far in 2015 with 3.922 units sold in 9 months at #293, so the e5’s start is already a strong future in itself, although it could hit higher ground due to its more affordable price of 140.000 yuan (US$ 22.000) with incentives and subsidies applied.

 

Bar for success: #270 or 500 monthly sales

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

One year ago: China September 2014: Focus on the All-new models

China August 2015: Focus on the All-new models

Soueast DX7 China August 2015. Picture courtesy toutiao.comSoueast DX7

As per the BSCB tradition, after August data we now explore in more detail the all-new locally produced models that enter the sales charts this month. Keep in mind we only cater for the models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still closely guarded when it comes to China. Even though the overall light vehicle market is down for the third consecutive month in August, the rhythm of new introductions has still yet to slow down, even increasing over the past couple of months: After welcoming 6 new entrants both in March and April, 5 new nameplates in Maytwo in June and 4 in July, we are up to 6 in August, half of them logically being SUVs. Only one new entrant sells over 500 units for its first month though, so all pretty discreet appearances for now.

Soueast DX7 interior China August 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.comSoueast DX7 interior

1. Soueast DX7 (#99 with 4.409 sales)

The only “true” new start this month is this rather good-looking SUV: the Soueast DX7, the brand’s very first entry in this segment. After selling re-badged Mitsubishis, Soueast impresses with this Pininfarina design that looks better than most Mitsubishi current SUVs – an easy task, granted. The DX7 is based on the R7 concept displayed a the 2014 Beijing Motor Show and was unveiled at the 2014 Guangzhou Motor Show. Soueast is not wasting any time in getting this vehicle in market, and is rewarded with 4.409 sales this month – or 77% of the brand’s sales at home! The DX7 is priced between 96.900 and 139.900 yuan or US$15.200-21.900 and competes with the hugely successful ChangAn CS75. Its initial sales figure is already well beyond its target so let’s set up a stretch target for the DX7…

Bar for success: #50 or 8.000 monthly sales

Changfeng Leopaard Q6 China August 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.com

2. Changfeng Leopaard Q6 (#267 at 406 units)

The Changfeng Leopaard Q6 was launched in the Chinese market in April 2014, just after its unveiling over a year ago at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show. So it’s an enigma as to why it only appears now in the sales charts.  Priced between 146.800 and 179.800 yuan (US$23.000-28.200), the Q6 is a facelifted Mitsubishi Pajero whose interior is a flashback to the basic 1980 4WDs. Changfeng traditionally supplies the Chinese army and this vehicle will have a hard time stepping out of its comfort zone commercially.

Bar for success: #200 or 1.500 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengshan E30L China August 2015. Picture courtesy xinhuanet.com

3. Dongfeng Fengshan E30L (#336 with 61 deliveries)

Originally presented as the Dongfeng EJ02 EV in 2011, the Dongfeng Fengshan E30L finally finds its way into the Chinese market, mainly as a compliance car to show everyone that Dongfeng is also working on manufacturing EVs. A hand-me-down launch instead of the traditional festivities seems to indicate the E30L may not even see Dongfeng dealerships… Even when taking into account the 90.000 yuan government subsidy for a four-seat EV, the E30L will set you back 109.800 yuan or US$17.200…

Bar for success: #250 or 500 monthly sales

91. BYD Song

4. BYD Song (#339 with 35 sales)

The latest BYD hybrid SUV was unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show (as pictured above) and is named after the Chinese dynasty “Song” in a new naming code that I believe should be applied to the entire range. The Song is the PHEV version of the upcoming S3 SUV and hits 100km/h from stop in just 4.9 seconds thanks to a petrol turbocharged 1.5l engine and two electric motors. the Song is priced between 120.000 and 160.000 yuan.

Bar for success: #150 or 2.000 monthly sales

BYD T3 China August 2015. Picture courtesy chinaautoweb.com

5. BYD T3 (#342 with 28 units)

The second BYD vehicle to hit the Chinese market this month, the T3 is a pure-electric minivan also unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show and derived from the M3 van – itself a copy of the Nissan NV200 yet to be launched in China. Specifications and pricing are yet to be released for the T3.

Bar for success: #200 or 1.000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Senova D80 China August 2015

6. Beijing Auto Senova D80 (#352 with 10 deliveries)

In 2009, Beijing Auto (BAIC) bought the platforms and production process for the Saab 9-3 and 9-5. The first Senova (“Shenbao” in Chinese) saw the light of day in May 2013 and was renamed D70 later that year. BAIC expanded the Senova lineup in 2014 with the D50 (April), D60 (September) and D20 (November). It is now the turn of the flagship D80 to hit Chinese roads after being unveiled at the 2014 Guangzhou Motor Show. It is derived from the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz E-Class built by Beijing-Benz on the V212 platform and is priced between 204.800 and 268.800 yuan or US$32.100-42.200. The D50 is currently the best-selling Senova at a shy #161 in August followed by the D70 (#248) and D20 (#276) so the ambitions of the D80 sales-wise are limited.

Bar for success: #200 or 1.000 monthly sales

Previous post: China August 2015: Baojun 560 soars to #3 SUV in third consecutive market decline

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

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

China July 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Baojun 560 China July 2015b

As is the tradition on BSCB, we now go into the detail of the all-new models landing into the largest new vehicle market in the world: China. Even though Chinese light vehicle sales are down for the 2nd month running in July, the rhythm of new introductions in the market remains as robust as ever. Keep in mind we only cater for the models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still closely guarded when it comes to China. After welcoming 6 new entrants both in March and April, 5 new nameplates in May and two in June, we are back up to 4 in July. No surprise at all: three of them are SUVs, the only segment still gaining ground in China (+41% in July).

1. Baojun 560 (#43 with 9.158 sales)

For you BSCB readers who have been following the Chinese market closely, this is one of the most anticipated launches of the year. The 560 was unveiled at Auto Shanghai in April exactly one year after the 730 MPV in another stroke of genius by the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint-venture, who made a clean sweep of their stand to only show the 560. No 730, 610 hatch or 630 sedan even though there was room for all of them… In one year, the Baojun 730 has sold no less than 300.000 units, making it the most successful new nameplate launch in the history of automobile in China. Can the 560 replicate this success in the SUV world? Even though this segment is a lot more crowded than MPVs with 112 locally produced SUVs on sale in China in July vs. 36 MPVs, the sky really is the limit for the 560.

Priced between 76.800 and 89.800 yuan (10.000 less than expected) or US$12-14k, and equipped with a petrol 1.8L engine mated with a 5MT, the 560 is a notch above the 730 (69.400 to 81.800 yuan) in terms of pricing. It competes full frontal with some of the best-selling SUVs in the country such as the JAC Refine S3 (104.000 sales so far in 2015 but 1.5L engine only), Changan CS35 (100.000 units, 1.6L engine), Chery Tiggo 3 (61.000 units, also a 1.6L engine) or the Haval H1 (40.000, 1.5L engine). A red-hot segment for sure, and judging by the Baojun 560 start this month at 6.451 sales, we have another blockbuster on our hands. In fact, the 560 will be an interesting test to see whether the success of the Baojun brand, which has until now been exclusively built on the 730 MPV – mostly successful in the countryside – is transferable to the SUV segment – traditionally popular in urban areas.

If the Baojun 560 manages to spread the SUV craze into rural China, it could definitely aim at fighiting the Haval H6 as China’s best-selling SUV. For now, battling at the same level as the JAC Refine S3 and Changan CS35 would be an excellent stretch-target.

Bar for success: #25 or 15.000 monthly sales

Weichai Enranger G3 China July 2015

2. Weichai Enranger G3 (#202 with 1.043 units)

Weichai Auto is a new Chinese manufacturer owned by Weichai Power, a state-owned company specialised in the manufacturing of diesel engines for vehicles, marine vessels and power generators. Weichai Auto launched the Enranger “brand” (sub-brand?) in December 2013 and will probably need to revise the name sounding dangerously similar – and annoyingly autocorrecting – to Endanger, if exports markets are in the works. The G3 is its first offering, a small MPV and a pickup will follow before the end of the year. Although only officially launched on July 30, the G3 already appears just outside the Chinese Top 200 with over 1.000 sales this month. Powered by a… Mitsubishi 1.5L petrol engine, the Enranger is priced at a cut-throat 57.900-70.900 yuan or US$ 9.100-11.100.

This places the G3 at the lowest end of the SUV segment in China, along with the BAIC Huansu S2 and the up-coming Lifan X40 and JAC Refine S2. Its success – or lack thereof – will test the lower limits of Chinese SUV offerings. Up until now consumers have resisted somewhat, with the BAIC Huansu S2 only seducing 12.000 buyers vs. 84.000 for the Huansu S3 for example. But this could be one of the directions the Chinese SUV market is moving towards, one that absolutely no foreign manufacturer can compete in.

Bar for success: #100 or 5.000 monthly sales

Roewe 360 China July 2015

3. Roewe 360 (#296 with 174 deliveries)

Roewe is breaking taboos: initiating a naming code that doesn’t end in -50 with the 360 which will eventually replace the 350. It will be priced between 80.000 and 150.000 yuan (US$ 12.500-23.500) and has already shown notable improvements in the less conservative exterior and much more refined interior with the now mandatory giant infotainment touch screen. It’s not a great time to launch a sedan in China with this segment freefalling 20% year-on-year in July, however this specific replacement was long overdue. As I pointed out at Auto Shanghai, the Roewe brand has been one of the most inconsistent in China with quality varying widely between the 350, 550 and top-of-the-range 950 as described in my coverage of Auto Shanghai 2015. That the 360 is catching up on lost time is great news for Shanghai Auto. But really what Roewe should be launching right now is a sexy compact SUV: at MG, SAIC’s other passenger car brand, the GS SUV offering, only just off the starting blocks, already represents 63% of its total July sales in China

Bar for success: #100 or 5.000 monthly sales

Foton Sauvana China July 2015. Picture courtesy fblife.com

4. Foton Sauvana (#327 with 64 sales)

The Sauvana fit in really well in the loud Foton stand at the latest Shanghai Auto Show. Even though it’s the heavy truck manufacturer’s first SUV, it seems like they are evolving in familiar territory with this no-frills but robust offering. Squarely aimed at the country’s rural areas, the Sauvana won’t reach the top of the sales charts just yet but could help the brand establish itself in the passenger cars world. After all, its Tunland pickup is already a success, both at home and in mature export markets such as South Africa and Australia. Foton says the Sauvana has been developed with the Toyota Fortuner in mind. It is powered by a choice of two turbo engines: a diesel 2.8L and a petrol 2.0L and priced between 125.800 and 167.800 yuan (US$19.700-26.200).

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 monthly sales

China May 2015: Focus on the all-new models

GAC Trumpchi GS4 China May 2015The GAC Trumpchi GS4 starts with a bang at #80 in China.

It’s now time to go into the detail of the all-new models landing into the largest new vehicle market in the world: China. As always this only concerns the models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still very patchy for China. After welcoming 6 new entrants both in March and April, we have 5 new nameplates in May, however 3 of them are already either inside or within throwing distance of the Top 100. No surprise here: they are all SUVs.

1. GAC Trumpchi GS4 (#80 with 6.451 sales)

GAC and particularly its Trumpchi sub-brand (brand?) is one of the most dynamic Chinese manufacturers of the moment, achieving rather satisfying designs of late. The GS4, unveiled at Detroit in January, is a prime example and has even been singled out by GAC as the company’s first nameplate to be introduced in the U.S. market, with a launched date aimed at 2017. For now it has hit its domestic market with a bang, landing directly at #80 with 6.451 sales in May. That’s already 60% of all Trumpchi sales in China this month! In comparison, the only other Trumpchi SUV, the GS5, landed at #200 for its fist month of sales in April 2012 and reached all-time bests of 9.406 sales in December 2014 and #56 in Dec 2013 – scores within reach for the GS4. It is now down 69% with the arrival of the smaller, cheaper and more modern GS4, sharply priced between 99.800 and 146.800 yuan (US$16.100-23.600). The GS4 could be the nameplate to take the Trumpchi brand to the next level, with the only other model to reach similar sales levels so far being the GA3S at a personal best of #73 and 8.585 sales last December. If the GS4 had started lower, I would have placed its bar for success around the level it has achieved this month, so let’s give it a stretch target.

Bar for success: #50 or 10.000 monthly sales

Brilliance V3 China May 2015. Picture courtesy qq.com

2. Brilliance V3 (#114 with 4.297 units)

The Brilliance V3 is the second all-new model for May that is completely reshaping its brand’s sales landscape in China. Making its entrance directly at #114 with 4.297 sales, it is not only Brilliance’s best-seller as early as for its first month in market, but it also manages to already represent 43% of the manufacturer’s total sales at home, lifting the SUV share in Brilliance sales to a whopping 73% (7.312 out of 10.055). This trend is set to accelerate with the V3 reaching cruising sales levels. As I described in my coverage of Auto Shanghai, Lifan, another domestic manufacturer struggling in the sedan segment, is taking a leaf out of Brilliance’s book by launching 3 SUVs in the space of a few months. Interestingly, the launch of the V3 has not affected sales of the larger and older V5 in any way: it is up 92% year-on-year in May to 3.015 deliveries. The V3 is very competitively priced from 65.700 to 102.700 yuan (US$10.600-16.500) and is aiming as such blockbusters as the Haval H1, JAC Refine S3 and ChangAn CS35. First signs are these other affordable small domestic SUVs  are pulling the Brilliance V3 up in their wake rather than obliterating it. The SUV segment still has very long legs in China.

Bar for success: #75 or 8.000 monthly sales

Ford Edge China May 2015. Picture courtesy emao.com

3. Ford Edge (#119 with 3.848 deliveries)

One of only two foreign new entrants this month in China, the Ford Edge is the first rocket launched by Ford this year in its plan to ramp up its SUV presence in China in order to benefit as much as possible from the current SUV craze affecting Chinese car buyers. Priced between 249.800 and 429.800 yuan (US$40.200 – 69.200), the seven seat Edge will be followed by an all-new Everest produced in Nanchang, Jiangxi from this July onwards and on sale in October. And the Edge’s first month of sales is great news for Ford: despite being priced markedly higher than both the 94.800-127.800 yuan Ecosport and the 193.800-275.800 yuan Kuga, it manages to land just below the former (#117, -45%) and at around 40% of the sales of the latter (#54, -15%), however both the Ecosport and the Kiga lose ground year-on-year this month, hinting at a possible partial cannibalisation.

Bar for success: #70 or 8.000 monthly sales

BAIC Senova CC China May 2015. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

4. Beijing Auto Senova CC (#253 with 657 sales)

The aggressive-looking Beijing Auto Senova CC is the performance variant of the Senova D60, with the underpinnings of the Saab 9-3 Aero. Aggressively priced between 99.800 and 149.800 yuan (US$16.100-24.100), the Senova CC is powered by either a turbo 1.8L or turbo 2.0L engine. Although launched last September, the Senova D60 bizarrely still hasn’t appeared in the Chinese ranking. In any case, sales pretensions are rather modest for this model. The best-seller in the Senova range is currently the D50 which peaked at an astounding #54 in March but is down to #177 in May, #98 year-to-date. The D20 sedan ranks at #159 in 2014, the X65 SUV is #202 and the D70 sedan is #328.

Bar for success: #175 or 2.000 monthly sales

VW Gran Santana China May 2015. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

5. VW Gran Santana (#307 with 155 units)

Following the tremendous success of the Gran Lavida, Shanghai-Volkswagen is taking the plunge into the hatchback world with the Gran Santana, priced between 96.900 and 138.900 yuan (US$15.600-22.400), a 14% premium on the sedan. So far this year, the Gran Lavida accounts for 22% of Lavida sales, with a peak at 25% this month – effectively enabling the Lavida into the overall pole position. Potentially in anticipation of the Gran Santana launch, Santana sales are down a harsh 33% in May to 19.146 units with year-to-date sales stable at 133.625. Applying roughly the same market share the Gran Lavida has reached vs. the Lavida gives us an average of just under 5.000 monthly sales for the Gran Santana. Anything bigger will prompt Volkswagen to rethink the prority they give to sedans in China and will trigger the launch of a Gran Jetta and Gran Bora, equivalents of the Gran Santana and Gran Lavida but this time through the 2nd Volkswagen joint venture in China: with FAW.

Bar for success: #100 or 5.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

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

Overall May 2015 post: China April 2015: Wuling Hongguang, VW Group tumble in slow market

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