China March 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Kia KX3 China March 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cn

* Many thanks to carnewschina.com for helping compile this report *

As per the BSCB tradition, after first exploring the monthly Chinese ranking, we then go into the detail of the all-new models making their first appearance in the biggest car market in the world, keep in mind this is only models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still a very well-kept secret in China. After welcoming 4 new entrants in January and 6 in February, we have 6 new nameplates in the charts in March. As it has been the case each and every month this year, the list of new entrants perfectly illustrate the current trends at play in China: a regain of form of Chinese manufacturers – 5 of the 6 new entrants including 3 from Dongfeng – and the strength of the SUV (2 newbies) and MPV (1) segments.

1. Kia KX3 (#102 with 5,596 sales)

After the Hyundai ix25 launched last year, sister company Kia unveiled its equivalent aimed at a younger, hipper audience: the KX3, also exclusive to China. Priced from 112.800 to 186.800 yuan ($18.018 – 29.830), the KX3 plays right into the compact SUV sales explosion we have witnessed over the past couple of years and lands directly just outside the Top 100 with a very vigorous 5,596 units sold for its first month in market.  By comparison, the Hyundai ix25 started at #129 and 3,972 sales last September, rapidly rising to a (temporary?) peak of 9,173 deliveries at #60 last January, a ranking it also holds in March. Direct competitors the Ford Ecosport (#46, 8.100 sales), Peugeot 2008 (#71, 8.010 units) and Chevrolet Trax (#78, 6.080 deliveries) have reached similar heights in the past few months so hopes are high for this KX3, manufactured by the Dongfeng-Yueda-Kia joint venture.

Bar for success: #50 or 10,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengxing Jingye S50 China March 2015

2. Dongfeng Fengxing Jingyi S50 (#180 with 2,127 units)

Launched back in September 2014 but somehow only appearing in the sales charts this month, the Fengxing Jingyi S50 is positioned right in the middle of the most competitive and saturated segment in the Chinese market: affordable compact sedans. Priced between 69.900 and 102.900 yuan (US$11.300-16.600) and with a design reminiscent of the Hyundai Verna, the oddly named S50 (Fengxing is the brand name, Jingyi S50 is the car’s name) does not have much to differentiate itself and its interior is reported to be of mediocre quality. Dongfeng may have a hard time squeezing significant sales figures from this nameplate, manufactured by Dongfeng Liuzhou, a subsidiary of Dongfeng Motor and based on the Dongfeng Fengshen A60 sedan, which again is based on the old Nissan Sylphy that was made in China by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengdu MX6 China March 2016

3. Dongfeng Fengdu MX6 (#203 with 1,640 deliveries)

Now that the platform of the previous generation Nissan X-Trail is available for Dongfeng to use, the Chinese manufacturer is launching a rebadge variant of it named the Fengdu MX6, priced between 122.800 and at 169.800 yuan (US$19.800-27.400), a full US$15.000 below the old X-Trail’s prices, which was very successful during its entire career here. The MX6 is manufactured by Zhengzhou-Nissan, specialised in small commercial vehicles, pickup trucks and SUVs, and is a good entry-level option for newcomers into the SUV segment – Dongfeng is eyeing young families outside the big cities here.

Bar for success: #75 or 7,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengshan L60 China March 2015

4. Dongfeng Fengshan L60 (#224 with 1,190 sales)

Last Dongfeng to land in the Chinese sales charts this month, the Fengshan L60 marks a new step in the collaboration between Chinese Dongfeng Motor and French PSA/Peugeot-Citroen now that the Chinese manufacturer holds 15% of the French carmaker. It has been jointly developed by the Dongfeng-PSA joint venture and Dongfeng Motor, the same sort of construction that is used for developing cars for sub-brands. Fengshen however is 100% owned by Dongfeng Motor, and not by the joint venture. The Fengshen L60 is based on the extended variant of the PSA PF2 platform, that also underpinned the previous generation Peugeot 408 sedan, which was made in China by Dongfeng-PSA. Priced very competitively between 89.700 and 129.700 yuan (US$14.400-20.900) and featuring a particularly sleek design, the L60 has a good chance to succeed.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Chery Arrizo M7 China March 2015. Picture courtesy autochina.com.cn

5. Chery Arrizo M7 (#259 with 607 sales)

We thought Chery was out of the woods a couple of years ago when it deleted a couple of irrelevant brands (Rely among others) to focus on its namesake marque. Not so. Chery is now bent on creating even more irrelevant sub-brands. The manufacturer is trying to transform Tiggo into its SUV brand, emulating what Great Wall did very successfully with Haval. But it has also created the Arrizo sub-brand from scratch, supposedly detained to more sophisticated vehicles. After the 7 and 3 sedans, here comes the M7 MPV, which is in fact a facelifted Rely V5. No pricing information yet as the M7 is scheduled for its debut at the Shanghai Auto Show next week.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Lifan 820 China March 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sina.com.cn

6. Lifan 820 (#338 with 26 units)

Although not officially launched yet, the Lifan 820 appears in the Chinese sales charts this month with a mere 26 units, most probably demo models. This is the Lifan brand’s new flagship, which debuted on the 2014 Beijing Auto Show a year ago and was originally slotted for a Q4 2014 commercial launch. Lifan, in dire straits at home in the sedan segment, must be relatively nervous about unveiling this large sedan to the public as it has the potential to either pull the brand out of insignificant sales in that category or kill it for good. Pricing for the 820 is estimated to roam between 90.000 and 140.000 yuan.

Bar for success: #150 or 3,000 monthly sales

China February 2015: Focus on the all-new models

MG GS China February 2015The MG GS Rui Teng is one of the best Chinese designs so far.

* See the Top 350 All-local models by clicking on the title. Pricing info from Carnewschina *

As is the tradition on BSCB, we first explore the monthly Chinese ranking, then detail the all-new models that make their entrance in the biggest car market in the world, in other words models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still a very well-kept secret in China. If you though the Chinese market was panting in 2015, think again. In February 2014, only one new entrant (the Qoros 3) hit the sales charts, this year they are 6, also up from 4 in January. Once again the new entrant illustrate perfectly the current trends at play in the Chinese market: none is a passenger car, 4 are SUVs, 2 MPVs and 5 out of 6 are Chinese. Only disappointment: all the new nameplates hitting the sales charts in February do so with less than 1,000 sales and beyond the 200th position – for now.

Lifan Lotto China February 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

1. Lifan Lotto (#221 with 848 sales)

There is still room in the Chinese market for Wuling Hongguang lookalikes: after Chery resuscitated the Karry brand last month for the K50, Lifan now has its own low-cost MPV: the Lotto. Price goes from 39.800 to 50.800 (US$6.400-8.200), thus clearly undercutting the Hongguang priced at 44.800-60.800 yuan ($7.200-9.700). One of the main reasons behind the tremendous success of the Wuling brand has been its cut-throat pricing, and the Lotto is rather lonely with its price positioning below ground level. Lifan goes against the overall trend upsizing from microvans (Wuling Sunshine) to low-cost MPVs (Hongguang) to more refined low-cost MPVs (Hongguang S), but this could also be a sign that the MPV growth is about to stop: there are now 38 nameplates in this segment and sales are up by ‘just’ 17% so far in 2015 vs. +47% over FY2014. Pricing the Lotto below the Hongguang may be the only way Lifan can hope to gather some momentum with this late entry into the segment. Plus Lifan has been struggling at home lately, at least up until this year with the arrival of the X50 SUV (#136), one of only 3 reps inside the February Top 200 with the X60 (#94) and 720 (#172).

Bar for success: #150 or 3,000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Huansu H2 China February 2015

2. Beijing Auto Huansu H2 (#248 with 456 units)

Beijing Auto could learn a lesson or two from the likes of Geely, Great Wall or even Chery in terms of brand management: after launching the Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 18 months ago and the rebadge Changhe Freedom M50, a third carbon copy hits the ground this month: the Beijing Auto Huansu H2. Only difference: this time the price is a notch higher at 58.800-66.800 yuan (US$9.500-10.800), to be compared with 49.800-51.900 yuan (US$ 7.900-8.300) for the Freedom M50 and 46.800-53.800 ($7.500-8.600) for the Weiwang M20. The reason: the H2 is slightly more refined, and also 12cm longer. I’m giving the H2 an equivalent bar for success as I did to the Changhe Freedom M50 last month. The fact that it is the third iteration of the same model is compensated by the Huansu sub-brand having seen a lot of showroom traffic lately with the S3 SUV peaking at 16,414 sales last month and the S2 hitting 6,220 deliveries in December.

Bar for success: #125 or 4,000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Senova X65 China February 2015. Picture courtesy auto.ifeng.com

3. Beijing Auto Senova X65 (#259 with 349 deliveries)

The X65 is the first SUV bearing the Senova sub-brand name from Beijing Auto. Its official launch was on March 21, so these are pre-sales to dealerships. The X65’s platform is derived on that of the Saab 9-3. BAIC, the mother company of Beijing Auto, bought the rights to the platforms for the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 from General Motors in 2009. The deal included the Saab-developed 2.0 turbo and 2.3 turbo engines, and we find the 2.0L turbo in the X65, an engine it also shares with the Senova D70. Its pricing is anticipated to hover between 120.000 and 160.000 yuan (US$19.400-25.800), pretty sharp for access to Saab-derived technology. The Senova brand, since its much-publicised Nicholas Cage-sponsored launch in May 2013, has been met with various fortunes depending on the nameplates: the original D70 culminated at #151 and 3,194 sales in December 2013 but has since fallen to beyond the 300th position (#315 in February) while the D50 has managed to regularly find its way into the monthly Top 100 over the past year, peaking at #81 last August and 8,000 sales last December. Can the Chinese market absorb yet another sporty-ish SUV? I say hell yes.

Bar for success: #125 or 4,000 monthly sales

ZX Auto GX3 China February 2015

4. ZX Auto GX3 (#278 with 219 sales)

Unveiled as a concept at the Guangzhou Motor Show last November, the ZX Auto GX3 has not lost any time hitting the country’s dealerships: it already appears in the sales ranking this month. The GX3 is a more up-market version of the C3 Urban Ark with the same 1.5L petrol engine delivering 104hp, and the 2nd inroad into the SUV market from this manufacturer known for its pickups – namely the Grand Tiger. The GX3 comes with trendy headlights, a new grille, a new bumper with LED lights, classy alloys, and an improved interior, with pricing at 63.800-69.800 yuan (US$10.300-11.300), just topping the most expensive C3. Given the C3 Urban Ark peaked at #150 and 2,549 sales during its 12 month-career, it is fair to expect at least the same sales level for this SUV looking a lot more expensive than it is. Whether the C3 or the GX3 will end up being the most popular will have a critical impact on the future direction of the brand in this segment: bare bones low-cost (C3) or trendy affordable (GX3)…

Bar for success: #150 or 2,500 monthly sales

Infiniti QX50 China February 2015. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

5. Infinti QX50 (#281 with 196 units)

This is not a new model per se, but it is a new entrant in the Chinese ranking because its local production has just kicked off, a few months after the Q50L. The Chinese model sits on a wheelbase extended by 8 cm and is powered by a 2.5L V6 engine mated to a 7AT. It is priced between 359.800-459.800 yuan (US$58.100-74.200). February sales are just 196 units, but given the Q50L has been stuck around the 220th place since its launch last November, there are no real reasons to believe this much older model can do a lot better for now.

Bar for success: #200 or 1,800 monthly sales

MG GS China February 2015b

6. MG GS Rui Teng (#287 with 161 deliveries)

The GS Rui Teng (Chinese for “vigorous rise”) is the very first SUV to be launched under the famous MG brand, now in the hands of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). Thanks to a deal between the two companies during the time SAIC owned a controlling stake in SsangYong Motor between 2004 and 2009, the GS is based on the third generation (2010) SsangYong Korando, it is priced between 135.000 and 190.000 yuan (US$21.500-30.300) and powered by a 2.0 turbocharged petrol four with a six-speed DCT. Officially launched on March 18, these February sales are to dealerships only, and expect the GS to climb up the ladder rather quickly. In fact, given the current craze for compact SUVs and given a very interesting design for a Chinese SUV, it could very well become the brand’s best-seller by far in a matter of months, a title held in February by the GT at a very achievable #185 and 1,469 sales. The GS could also unlock a few overseas markets as it has nothing to be ashamed of design-wise next to the über-successful Korean SUVs. An exciting – yet to be defined as vigorous – rise to follow indeed…

Bar for success: #175 or 2,500 monthly sales

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China January 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Venucuia T70 China January 2015. Picture couresy fblife.comAmong this month’s launches, the Venucia T70 has the biggest potential.

* See the Top 353 All-models ranking by clicking on the title *

The BSCB tradition is to first explore monthly Chinese ranking, then detail the all-new models that make their entrance in the biggest car market in the world, in other words models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still a very well-kept secret in China. After a record 12 all-new nameplates launched in November and a further 11 did so in December, new entrants slow down a little in this start of 2015 with four of them making their way into the January ranking, although two of them are rebadges. Interestingly this month, they are all Chinese: two MPVs followed by two SUVs. 100% on-trend.

Changhe Freedom M50. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

1. Changhe Freedom M50 (#179 with 2,136 sales)

Previously owned by ChangAn since 2009, the Changhe brand was in trouble and disappeared from BSCB’s rankings last year due to the discontinuation of the Ideal microvan. Beijing Auto bought a 70% stake in Changhe in November 2013, announcing plans to lift the production capacity from the current 270,000 units to 500,000 units by 2017 and 1 million by 2020. Typically Chinese grandiose targets, that start with a simple rebadge of the Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 launched 18 months earlier, called the Changhe Freedom M50. It is priced at an attractive 49.800-51.900 yuan (US$ 7.900-8.300) compared to 46.800-53.800 ($7.500-8.600) for the Weiwang M20, benefiting from a larger range. There are no price or spec differentiation, just a different branding. Illogical, but this is the Chinese market after all, where branding logic is a faraway concept.

This rebadge therefore seems to mainly target current Changhe owners, trying to entice them into upgrading from their microvan to this mini-MPV. This is something most of China’s countryside has done with Wuling and the Hongguang over the past 3 years, so a pretty reasonable bet. The Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 has steadily been lodging very strong sales figures since its arrival in the ranking in August 2013, peaking at 11,801 sales and #40 in November 2014 and still ranking at a 2nd best #56 this month despite the arrival of the Changhe. This shows the tremendous potential of this segment, and reaching 1/3 of these figures within the first year would be a cool achievement for the Freedom M50.

Bar for success: #120 or 4,000 monthly sales

Karry K50 China January 2015. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn

2. Karry K50 (#210 with 1,445 units)

Yes, the unprecedented success of both the Wuling Hongguang (a record 750,000 deliveries in 2014) and the Baojun 730 (30,000 sales at its third month in market) have logically spurred an assault of look-alike MPVs rushed by all Chinese manufacturers. Chery resuscitates a moribund Karry brand, specialised in commercial vehicles, with this K50, almost identical to the aforementioned Hongguang and M20/M50 badge twins. Price goes from 46.800 to 69.800 yuan (US$7.500-11.200) compared to 44.800-60.800 yuan ($7.200-9.700) for the Hongguang and 69.400-81.800 yuan ($11.100-13.100) for the Baojun 730. This positions the K50 as a direct competitor to the Hongguang albeit slightly more pricey.

Chery isn’t traditionally strong in the commercial segment even with the Karry brand, so this might be a tough one and the success or lack thereof of the K50 will give us a good indication of whether the MPV segment still has legs. Let’s not expect the heights of the Hongguang or 730 of course, but the K50 must do better than a plain Changhe rebadge to justify its existence.

Bar for success: #100 or 6,000 monthly sales

Venucia T70 China January 2015. Picture courtesy xcar.com.cn

3. Venucia T70 (#275 with 361 deliveries)

As opposed to Honda’s Chinese low cost brands Li Nian or Ciimo, GM’s Baojun and Nissan’s Venucia have managed to make their mark. After the R/D50 based on the Nissan Tiida, the e30 – a rebadged Nissan Leaf and the R30 based on the Micra, the T70 is Venucia’s first SUV. It uses the same platform as the first generation Nissan Qashqai, still in production in China, and is priced from 89.800 to 127.800 yuan ($14.480-20.610). Both mass market passenger cars Venucia has launched have done well: the R/D50 peaked at #26 and 13,751 sales, breaking the 10,000 monthly sales barrier 9 times since its April 2012 launch. The R30, launched in July 2014, has also started relatively strongly, reaching #133 and 3,393 sales in September and outselling the Nissan March on which it is based each and every month since launch.

The T70 marks a new step in Venucia’s expansion at home: not only is it the brand’s first SUV, it’s also the first model to have its own design identity. SUV sales are on fire in China, with new launches by Chinese brands previously discreet in this segment reaching 10,000 monthly units in no time – like the JAC Refine S3. With a reasonable price, ample size (4.54m) and 5 out of the 6 available trim levels using a 2.0l 142hp engine, the T70 could well reach that target also, but won’t need that much to be called a success. A score halfway between the R/D50 and R30 bests would suffice.

Bar for success: #70 or 8,000 monthly sales

Beijing Auto Weiwang 007 China January 2015. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

4. Beijing Auto Weiwang 007 (#308 with 116 sales)

The last model in the list is just the result of Beijing Auto streamlining its sub-brands. First it facelifted the E-Series and renamed it Senova D20 (see last month’s Focus on all-new models), now it’s the turn of the BAW Yusheng 007 to become the Beijing Auto Weiwang 007. Here too a simple change of brand but the “007” stays, not fitting the Weiwang naming pattern (letter-two figures). BAW is a subsidiary of Beijing Auto that mostly produces SUVs so this looks like an attempt at regrouping most BAIC models under the Beijing Auto brand and its sub-brands: Senova, Weiwang and Huansu.

Although I thought the Huansu sub-brand was created to house SUVs, so shouldn’t the Weiwang 007 be a Huansu instead? Go figure. In any case, the BAW Yusheng 007 had sold just 281 units in the whole of 2014, including 104 in December alone, and sold 130 more in January! Certainly clearing stocks at heavily discounted prices. In this context, the Weiwang 007’s start at 116 sales is actually pretty good. It is priced between 89.800 and 122.800 yuan (US$ 14.400-19.700) and powered with either a 2.0 or 2.4l engine. Surely Beijing Auto is aiming at significantly higher sales by transferring this nameplate under its own brand name.

Bar for success: #200 or 1,000 monthly sales

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Full January 2015 Top 353 All-models Ranking Table below.

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China December 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Ford Escort China December 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comFord is reviving the Escort nameplate, for Chinese car buyers only.

* See the Top 362 All-models ranking by clicking on the title *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring the monthly Chinese ranking, we explore in detail the all-new models that make their entrance in the biggest car market in the world, in other words models that have kick-started local production as imports data is still a very well-kept secret in China. After a record 12 all-new nameplates launched in November – and most of them improving further in December, we welcome another avalanche of newcomers in December: no less than 11 including 7 Chinese and a few very promising ones among them. Once again this is a lot better than the 8 all-new entrants from a year ago in December 2013. Complete analysis will follow shortly.

Beijing Auto Senova D20 China December 2014. Picture courtesy bitauto.com

1. Beijing Auto Senova D20 (#136 with 4,492 sales)

The D20 is none other than a facelifted E-Series moved under the Senova sub-brand as it was standing alone without any sub-brand attached to it up until now, a very rare situation for a Chinese nameplate. Available as hatchback or sedan, it is priced between 48.800 and 82.800 yuan (US$7.850-13.300) and based on the platform of the 2004 Smart ForFour. Interestingly, the E-Series hatchback outsold the sedan by about 2:1, at odds with the traditional Chinese love affair with sedans. As a logical result of the arrival of the Senova D20, the E-Series is down 56% to 5,192 sales in December, indicating an overall potential of 10,000 monthly units. The E-Series’ record monthly result is indeed 11,932 units exactly one year ago in December 2013.

Bar for success: #50 or 10,000 monthly sales

Ford Escort China December 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.com

2. Ford Escort (#156 with 3,710 units)

Over a decade after killing it in 2003 to make place for the Focus, Ford is reviving the Escort nameplate only for China with this model based on the current China-made Focus Classic, a slightly dressed up 2nd generation Ford Focus which it will eventually replace. The Escort enters the most crowded segment in China – compact sedans, and has big shoes to fill as the Focus Classic still accounts for around 40% of the 392,000 Focus sold in China in 2014, that’s roughly 160,000 annual units. To an already tough challenge on paper is added a surprisingly high price and disappointingly bare interior. Ouch. The Escort is priced at 96.800-119.800 yuan (US$15.500-19.200), a logical notch lower than the 119.000-169.900 yuan ($19.200-27.300) of the Focus. But.

Ford Escort China December 2014. Picture courtesy carnewschina.comNo LCV touch screen, instead: that. 

The compact sedans with which the Escort competes are all priced lower: see the Peugeot 301 at 84.700-116.700 yuan ($13.600-18.800), Citroen C-Elysée at 83.800-118.800 yuan ($13.500-19.100) and Toyota Corolla EX at 90.800-113.800 ($14.600-18.300). And the brand new Toyota Corolla is only slightly more expensive at 107.800-134.800 yuan ($17.300-21.700), making the Escort a good 13.000 yuan (US$2.500) too expensive, a price difference that could be fatal in this segment. Especially given the interior features no LCV touch screen or any other screen in any version. LCV touch screens have become a must-have in any car sold in China and local carmakers now have huge examples in 50.000 yuan vehicles ($8.000), or half the price of the Escort.

Ford Focus Classic China 2014Big shoes to fill: Ford wants to eventually replace the Focus Classic with the Escort.

According to local website Carnewschina, “buyers in the segment where the Escort operates are known to be mid-aged and conservative, so the conservative design of the vehicle makes some sense. However, younger buyers will walk away and that is the booming market Ford should really be after, in a time where other brands are designing cars especially for the young. All in all, it almost seems as if Ford didn’t really want this new Escort. The comments on Chinese websites are largely negative, with many commenters saying the Escort is too expensive for what it offers.” In this context, matching Focus Classic sales seems extravagant, where really the Escort should increase its predecessor’s sales by 20%.

Bar for success: #25 or 16,000 monthly sales

Hawtai Shengdafei China December 2014

3. Hawtai Shengdafei (#218 with 1,658 deliveries)

Unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show where it impressed me with its design but horrified me with the poor quality of its interior, the new Hawtai Shengdafei is a rather competitive addition to the fast-growing Chinese SUV world. Hawtai indeed designs its first truly attractive SUV after 6 years of manufacturing the first generation Santa Fe from 1999 and an awkwardly imposing Baolige. It is priced from 101.800 to 125.800 yuan (US$16.300-20.100). While its predecessors have been oscillating between #150 and #200 each month, the Shengdafei should be able to top this to take the Hawtai brand to new levels.

Bar for success: #125 or 4,000 monthly sales

Citroen C3-XR China December 2014

4. Citroen C3-XR (#228 with 1,246 sales)

Eight months after the Peugeot 2008 launched here, its twin from Dongfeng-Citroen the C3-XR arrives and is based on a stretched variant of the platform that underpins that very same Peugeot 2008. Priced between 108.800 and 171.800 yuan ($17.400-27.500), the C3-XR is more expensive than the 2008 which launched at 99.700-136.700 yuan ($16.000-21.900) and lands in a very competitive segment that keeps growing very fast month after month. So far the 2008 has peaked at #75 (last July) and 7,321 sales (November), while the similarly sized Chevrolet Trax has been roaming around the 100th spot. The C3-XR can reasonably aim at similar scores, keeping in mind the price difference will keep some customers away.

Bar for success: #90 or 6,000 monthly sales

Wuling Journey China December 2014. Picture courtesy of chexun.net

5. Wuling Journey (#235 with 1,009 units)

Wuling has managed the momentous transition from microvans to MPV that a huge swath of Chinese countryside customers is going through at the moment, placing the Hongguang at the very top of the sales charts for two years running, culminating at 750,000 annual sales this year – as much as the amount of Ford F-Series sold in the USA! Logically and cleverly, the brand is aiming even higher and larger with the new Journey MPV, Wuling’s biggest vehicle so far at over 5m long and coming in seven and nine seat configurations. The Journey symbolises where the Chinese market could go very soon into the future… or not.

Is it too big to reach high sales levels? Or is it actually exactly what the first 2012 Hongguang customers now want? Very difficult to predict, even looking at Chinese vehicle sales month after month, the reason being it is the first Chinese vehicle of its kind – another fascinating aspect of this market that keeps filling in with new concepts, segments and entrants. The closest successful vehicle is the Buick GL8 which hit 12,000 sales back in January 2014 but more traditionally evolves around 7,000 monthly units. However the GL8 is mainly purchased by government bodies to transport their VIP guests who may not want to travel in a *mass-market* Wuling. Not used to failure, Wuling should expect at least 5,000 monthly sales of the Journey, with 10,000 a market-altering performance that will trigger many new entrants on this nascent segment.

Bar for success: #75 or 7,500 monthly sales

Suzuki Alivio China December 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.com

6. Suzuki Alivio (#249 with 794 deliveries)

If this car looks familiar to you dear BSCB reader, it’s because an Indian version launched last October as the Maruti Ciaz. The Alivio is based on the same platform as the very successful S-Cross and is competitively priced between 84.900 and 121.900 yuan ($14.600-19.640). It enters the extremely crowded sub-compact sedan segment that sees the likes of the Honda City and Toyota Vios compete with much cheaper Chinese counterparts. The Alivio is priced slightly higher than its two Japanese competitors, at odds with its mostly bare-bones range in this country (thinking Lingyang and Liana). It must be able to get to a similar level as the S-Cross to start getting noticed.

Bar for success: #150 or 3,000 monthly sales

Honda XR-V China December 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.com

7. Honda XR-V (#267 with 526 sales)

In the 3 months since it launched in China, the Honda Vezel has aligned a set of stunning sales performances, reaching no less than 11,639 sales in December for a spot inside the Top 50 and making it an instant blockbuster. There is then room for a sportier version of the same car, named differently and manufactured by a different joint-venture. Crazy? Not in such a large car market as China and where most foreign carmakers have two joint ventures with two different Chinese companies, each wanting what the other one has. We have recently seen the exact same phenomenon with the new generation Toyota Corolla and Levin. The Honda XR-V, aimed at a younger target, is therefore manufactured by Dongfeng-Honda and priced at 127.800-162.800 yuan (US$20.400-26.000) whereas the Vezel is built by Guangzhou-Honda and priced at 128.800-189.800 yuan or US$20.600-30.300). Can the XR-V beat the Vezel? If both models could add up to a cool 15,000 monthly units, that’s as many conquests into the Honda brand.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Qoros 3 SUV China December 2014. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

8. Qoros 3 City SUV (#314 with 181 units)

Twelve excruciating months after the effective launch of a new joint-venture between Chery and Israel Corporation originally founded in 2007 with the new 3 compact hatchback, we now have another hyped up nothingness: the 3 City SUV, a roughed up variant of the 3 with fake roof rakes. All this useless black plastic and height is worth an additional 20.000 yuan than the 3 hatchback, with the 3 City SUV priced at 139.900-179.900 yuan ($22.500-28.900) compared to a 3 hatchback starting at 119.000 yuan. As Qoros is a Chinese brand supposedly designed in Europe to fool Chinese buyers into purchasing European flair whereas it is actually manufactured in China, the 3 City SUV is a marketing SUV that should only stay in the city. And for taking Chinese consumers for fools, Qoros pays the price: only 6,700 hatchbacks found a buyer in 2014 compared to a production capacity (and targets) of 150,000 sales. The 3 City SUV won’t fare much better despite the desperate hype.

Bar for success: #150 or 3,000 monthly sales

Ab Ende September kommt der rein elektrische DENZA in China zu d

9. Denza EV (#317 with 132 deliveries)

The BYD-Daimler joint-venture was created to offer affordable electric cars to Chinese consumers. For now its first model, the Denza EV, is far from affordable: price starts at 369.000 yuan and ends at 399.000 yuan ($60.000-65.000), and that includes all green-car subsidies but excludes the free license plate for electric cars which is worth about 90.000 yuan. Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing are currently the only cities in China where the Denza is available, the rest of the country will be served during 2015. BYD and Daimler are willing to grow the Denza range but not planning to export any time soon. It will be a tough act to convince Chinese buyers to fork out that type of money for a hatchback, just for the silent reward of doing a good deed for the planet. A pure result of the government’s pressure on manufacturers to produce more EVs, it’s fair to say the Denza EV’s sales prospects are limited for now.

Bar for success: #220 or 1,000 monthly sales

GAC Trumpchi GA6 China December 2014

10. GAC Trumpchi GA6 (#327 with 84 sales)

Presented at the latest Beijing Auto Show, the GAC Trumpchi GA6 confirms if need be that GAC is getting extremely serious with its Trumpchi sub-brand, after a highly publicised sponsoring of the Hollywood blockbuster movie Transformers IV and just as it presents the GA6 Limited at the Detroit Auto Show in the US, the GA6 hits Chinese dealerships. After the GA3 and GA3S, the GA6 is arguably the best design effort of any Chinese manufacturer so far, having nothing to blush about compared to the latest Toyota or Hyundai models. Priced from 116.800 to 196.800 yuan (US$ 18.700-31.500), it will have the hard task to lure Chinese car buyers away from foreign brands. The Trumpchi GA5 has struggled to pop its bonnet above the #250 spot whereas the GA3S is already #73 in December. The GA6 should find its place somewhere in the middle.

Bar for success: #150 or 3,000 monthly sales

Yema T70 China December 2014. Picture courtesy cntv.cn

11. Yema T70 (#344 with 20 units)

When will Yema stop spitting out clones of various foreign SUVs? Not anytime soon it would appear. Usually Yema models are based on the platform of the previous generation Subaru Forester, but the Yema T70 is the first “all-new” Yema passenger car since 2008, standing on a new platform and powered by new engines, albeit with its design an indigent mix of Range Rover grille, Volkswagen Touareg and wannabe Audi SUV. Its argument is its price ranging from 79.800 to 118.800 yuan ($12.800-19.000). In the history of the Yema brand, two models have managed to ever crack the monthly Top 200, each doing so once: the F12 at #177 in May 2014 and the F10 at #196 in August 2012. Stepping up to that level would have the T70 noticed.

Bar for success: #200 or 2,000 monthly sales

Previous post: China December 2014: Chevrolet Cruze shoots up to 2nd place

Previous month: China November 2014: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China December 2013: Focus on the all-new models

Full December 2014 Top 362 All-models Ranking Table below.

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China November 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Haval H1 China November 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.qq.comThe Haval H1 is the most successful new entrant in China this month.

* See the Top 343 best-selling local models by clicking on the title *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring the monthly Chinese ranking, we feature in detail the all-new models making their first appearance in the world’s biggest car market this month. Keep in mind these are models produced locally as imports data is a very well-kept secret in China still. If anyone needed a proof that the ‘cooling off’ of the Chinese market is merely an optical illusion, here it is: in November, no less than 12 all-new nameplates entered production in the country – including 9 Chinese and 6 SUVs. Production doesn’t mean sales I hear you say and you would be right, however that is the same amount of new nameplates that would enter the U.S. market in a year. It is also the highest amount of new entrants in a single month since BSCB inaugurated this ‘Focus on all-new models’ series 18 months ago and more than double the 5 new nameplates launched in November 2013.

Haval H1 China November 2014. Picture courtesy of autofan.com.cn Haval H1 interior. Picture courtesy of changsha.auto.sohu.comHaval H1 detail

1. Haval H1 (#97 with 6,066 sales)

That the 3 most successful new entrants this month are Chinese SUVs and the Top 2 from the SUV-only Haval brand is no coincidence. Haval was by far the most impressive Chinese manufacturer at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show (more here: Beijing Auto Show 2014: The most impressive Chinese carmaker: Haval). The success of the brand has pushed its parent company, Great Wall, to all but ditch the rest of its brands – namely its namesake brand which wasn’t even present in Beijing. Haval has gone from a two-model lineup (H5 and H6) to a full blown 6 models in less than 12 months. The H1 is the latest and smallest arrival, but also the one that has the most potential in export markets given the current craze for small SUVs in Europe notably. The Haval H1 is based on the Great Wall Voleex C20R crossover, so development costs have been minimal and will have maximum effects. It is priced between 68.900 and 82.900 yuan ($11.100-13.400). The sky is the limit for the H1 which benefits from the solid Haval brand image but offers a crossover at a reduced price. Could this become Haval’s best-seller at home?

Bar for success: #50 or 10,000 monthly sales

Haval H9 China November 2014. Picture courtesy of cheshi

2. Haval H9 (#172 with 2,242 units)

The second Haval SUV to hit Chinese dealerships this month is the H9, the largest vehicle ever developed by Great Wall Motors. It is priced between 229.800 and 272.800 yuan ($37.200-44.100) which puts it in the same sandpit as the Honda CR-V and VW Tiguan, however it is much larger than these two and is actually aiming at eroding the success of such established vehicles as the Toyota Land Cruiser, Prado, Highlander and Mitsubishi Pajero. Bigger is better in China and the H9 will climb the sales ladder very high and very fast. Haval has gone to great lengths to make sure the H9 doesn’t disappoint. The interior is sleek with high quality materials and the infotainment system comes with a permanent internet connection.

Bar for success: #70 or 8,000 monthly sales

Dongfeng Fengshen AX7 China November 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.com

3. Dongfeng Fengshen AX7 (#187 with 1,956 deliveries)

Only two months after the Fengshen A30, Dongfeng launches the  mid-priced Fengshen sub-brand’s very first SUV: the AX7. After the S30 sedan in 2010, the H30 and H30 Cross hatchbacks in 2011 and the A60 sedan in 2012, Dongfeng is accelerating Fengshen and will also launch a full-size luxury sedan shortly. It is priced between 115.700 and 149.700 yuan ($18.700-24.200), positioning it in a very competitive segment of the SUV market. Taking exterior cues from the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe and featuring an extra-large centre console screen, the AX7 undercuts these nameplates by 50% price-wise and will go full frontal with a slew of very successful Chinese SUVs like the Haval H6 and ChangAn CS75. Landing directly inside the Top 200, the AX7 will almost certainly become the Fengshen’s sub-brand’s best-seller in the coming months. The A30 is #145 but the H30/S30 (#193) and A60 (#231) are already below the AX7.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Chery Arrizo 3 China November 2014

4. Chery Arrizo 3 (#194 with 1,777 sales)

The Chery Arrizo is the second car under the new classier Arrizo sub-brand after the Arrizo 7 that launched in September 2013, peaking at 4,251 units and #122 in January. The Arrizo 7 interestingly ranks just below the Arrizo 3 this month at #197. This new compact sedan is competitively priced between 53.900 and 75.900 yuan ($8.700-12.300) but enters a very crowded segment. However Chery has big plans for the Arrizo sub-brand: the Arrizo 5 is on the way, as well as an entry-level sedan called Arrizo 1 and a handful of hatchbacks called Arrizo 2, 4, and 6, then an MPV called Arrizo 8. Yes you counted well, that’s 8 new models in roughly two years. No SUV in the cards though, that’s the specialty of the Chery Tiggo family.

Bar for success: #100 or 5,000 monthly sales

Kia K3s China November 2014. Picture courtesy of cheshi.com

5. Kia K3S (#199 with 1,593 units)

The Kia K3S is the hatchback variant of the Kia K3, finally landing two long years after the sedan’s launch. It will be integrated into K3 sales figures from next month onwards but for now it is one of the 12 all-new nameplates to break into the Chinese ranking in November. The K3S is priced from 101.800 to 143.800 yuan ($16.500-23.300) and will compete with the likes of the Buick Excelle XT and Fiat Ottimo. As most hatchbacks in China, a country of sedans, the K3S is marketed as a sporty car to young people, whereas the K3 sedan is aimed at traditional buyers. If exterior and interior looks fit the sporty positioning, the old 1.6L engine does not cut it. Typically the Excelle GT sedans sells 4 times as much as the Excelle XT hatchback while the Fiat Viaggio sells roughly at 3 times the rate of the Ottimo hatchback. These are the sales benchmarks for the K3S vs. K3 sedan.

Bar for success: #150 or 3,500 monthly sales.

BYD S7 China November 2014

6. BYD S7 (#220 with 1,002 deliveries)

An excruciatingly long 18 months after its original presentation at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show, the BYD S7 7-seater SUV finally hits the Chinese sales charts in November. The S7 is essentially an upgraded S6 that it should kill once it gets into sales cruising mode. An interesting marketing element BYD will surely milk to death is the fact that the BYD S7 features a built-in air purifier, the first car in the world to do so. The S7 is priced between 119k and 139.9k yuan ($19.200-22.600), much cheaper than the 150k-190k yuan price range local website Carnewschina.com had anticipated, and therefore becoming a very strong cannibalisation threat for the S6. Indeed if the S6 is up 12% year-to-date, it is already down 19% in November.

Bar for success: 4,500 monthly sales

Infiniti Q50L China November 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sohu.com

7. Infiniti Q50L (#221 with 998 sales)

The Infiniti Q50L is a China-only stretched variant of the Infiniti Q50, manufactured by the Dongfeng-Infiniti joint venture and the first Infiniti ever to be made in China. It is stretched by just 4.5cm while most China-only stretched vehicles are extended by at least 6 to max 12cm. Priced from 280k to 320k yuan ($45.300-$51.700), the Q50L will compete with the Audi A4L (10,733 sales in November), BMW 3 Series L (7,656), Mercedes C-Class L (3,899), Volvo S60L (2,431) and Cadillac ATS-L (1,995). Sales forecast for the Q50L are unchartered territory as the first locally-produced Infiniti, but Nissan’s grip on the Chinese car market should allow it to battle with the big boys mentioned above.

Bar for success: 3,000 monthly sales

Zotye fun Beijing 2014bThe Zotye 500 at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show

8. Zotye Z500 (#225 with 912 units)

Fast-growing Chinese manufacturer Zotye tops up its range with the new Z500 sedan, the brand’s largest sedan so far. Now only missing is the Z400 which will be a crossover based on the Z300. Modern design inside and out, leather seats Bentley-style and large centre console screen: Zotye means business with the Z500 and has priced it at a very attractive 76.800 to 101.800 yuan ($12.400-16.500), undercutting the similarly-sized Kia K4 and Hyundai Mistra by half. The Z500 is powered by a new 1.5L turbo four-cylinder petrol engine giving 150hp. with a new 1.8L and 1.8L turbo launched later in 2015. Zotye is going from strength to strength with the large T600 SUV, beating monthly sales records one year after its launch at #69 and 8,221 units in November, however its sedan range is in need of a sales boost, with its best-selling Z300 down 17% so far in 2014. The Z500 could be the answer.

Bar for success: 4,000 monthly sales

Geely Emgrand GX9 Pride China November 2014. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cn

9. Geely Emgrand GX9 Pride (#244 with 661 deliveries)

The design-challenged Geely Emgrand GX9 Pride 5-seater SUV finally launches in China, a full 5 years after its debut as the Emgrand EX8 concept at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show. Geely has decided its slightly upper-scale Emgrand brand will become a sub-brand with its own logo, and this applies to the GX9 Pride which slots above the Geely GX7. It is priced between 122.900 and 152.900 yuan ($19.900-$24.700), positioning it at the high-end of the cheap-SUV market. Freed by the streamlining of all Geely’s confusing brands, the GX7 is up 38% in November to almost 7,000 sales and the GX9 should be able to reach at least half that level in the near future.

Bar for success: 4,500 monthly sales

Lifan X50 China November 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.com

10. Lifan X50 (#254 with 502 sales)

Lifan is getting onto the booming small-SUV bandwagon with the X50, based on the 530 sedan. Looking a little like a previous generation Opel Mokka if it existed, the Lifan X50 is priced between 59.800 and 82.800 yuan ($9.700-13.400), and will fight head-to-head with instant blockbusters like the JAC Refine S3 (#20 with 15,004 sales in November), Haval H1 described earlier (#97 with 6,066 units) and also the Beijing Huansu S2 (#177 with 2,101 sales). Lifan is trying to shake off its bargain basement image, but with such conservative styling and an awfully black and cheap-looking dashboard, the road ahead is still long and perilous. Its big brother the Lifan X60 is a long-term success both at home (+60% YOY in November) and in such export markets as Russia, Brazil or Iran, so the prospects are good for the X50.

Bar for success: #100 or 6,000 monthly sales

Chery eQ China November 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.com.cn

11. Chery eQ (#302 with 136 units)

The Chery eQ is the electric variant of the diminutive Chery QQ and its starting price is 150.000 yuan or $24.200. Yes you have read this correctly. Thankfully the Chinese government is slashing that price by almost 100.000 yuan with its green-car subsidies to a 59.800 to 64.800 yuan range ($9.700-10.500), making it a much more attractive choice. Blue wheels come standard and the electric motor delivers 57hp for a range of 200km, a 100km/h top speed and a 8-10 hour charging time. Given the limited success of electric cars in China so far, Chery better not expect sales records to be broken but this is by far the cheapest offer in the segment so it will be interesting to follow its sales progression.

Bar for success: 1,000 monthly units

VW Lamando China November 2014. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cn

12. VW Lamando (#323 with 28 deliveries)

Volkswagen adds to its ever-growing China-only range with the Lamando, based on the MQB platform that also underpins the Golf 7. Its a coupe-styled sedan that can best be described as a Jetta CC, a good 35cm shorter than the CC currently on sale worldwide. Volkswagen is launching the Lamando as a pre-emptive strike agains the very popular Mercedes CLA, currently imported into China but that will be made locally by the Beijing Auto-Benz joint venture in the near future. Currently in pre-production for an official launch in market in December, the Lamando’s starting price will be around 180.000 yuan or $29.000

Bar for success: #100 or 6,000 monthly sales

Previous post: China November 2014: MPV sales up 43%, SUV up 38%

Previous month: China October 2014: Focus on the all-new models

One year ago: China November 2013: Focus on the all-new models

Full November 2014 Top 343 models Ranking Table below.

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China October 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Buick Envision China October 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comThe Buick Envision is the most successful all-new entrant in China this month.

* See the Top 325 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title! *

As usual after exploring the monthly Chinese ranking, we detail the all-new models making their first appearance in the world’s biggest car market this month. Even though some say (I’m not one of them) the Chinese automotive market is “cooling off”, the rhythm of new nameplate introductions into local production lines does not slow down at all, a sure sign of China’s incredible dynamism. After welcoming 8 new models in August and 3 in September, we are back up to 9 in October…

1. Buick Envision (#153 with 2,880 sales)

The most successful new entrant this month is the Buick Envision, tellingly launching in China first before a US release scheduled for the 2016 model year. It is manufactured by the Shanghai-GM joint venture and based on GM’s Delta global-compact platform. The Envision positions itself above the China-made Buick Encore and below the Buick Enclave that is currently imported into China. It is priced between 269.900 and 349.900 yuan (US$44.100-57.100) with only a 2.0 turbo engine available for now, to be soon joined by a low-output variant of the 2.0 turbo and a 1.5 turbo priced at 230.000 and 210.000 yuan respectively or $34,300 and $37,600. The Envision is the first Buick-badged vehicle to sport an Off-Road driving mode.

Vegetating in the US (#18 so far in 2014) and not sold much elsewhere, the Buick brand only owes its survival to its Chinese success where it regularly ranks within the Top 5 most popular brands, frankly outselling Chevrolet. The brand even sold over one million vehicles worldwide in 2013, topping a sales record that dated back to 1984 when China was out of the picture. The Envision’s bar for success here is a Top 100 ranking in the long run. The Encore ranks #65 so far in 2014 with 70,000 sales, but the Enclave is  above the real core of the Chinese SUV market in both size and price, and a good benchmark is the Hyundai Santa Fe, currently #88 and priced similarly.

Volvo S60L China October 2014. Picture courtesy of chexun.com

2. Volvo S60L (#162 and 2,552 sales)

Even though it launched at the end of last year, monthly sales of the Volvo S60L only pop up now, along with two other Volvos detailed further. Looks like Volvo is suddenly sharing sales figures of its locally-produced models in China. The S60L gets spit out in a new Geely-funded Volvo factory in Chengdu in central China, and as is the convention here, the L means this is a stretched variant of the S60 designed uniquely to China to allow more leg space for passengers in the back seats, simply because a large part of customers in this category do not actually drive the cars themselves, leaving this strenuous task to their drivers. Priced between 269.600 and 348.900 yuan (US$44k-57k), the S60L has for main rivals the Audi A4L, BMW 3 Series L and upcoming Mercedes C-Class L.

Its October performance already positions the S60L as the brand’s best-selling sedan in China by very far with the S80L at #256 with just 354 sales (#267 and 3,848 units year-to-date). Volvo did not communicate monthly data to CAAM and therefore the car hasn’t appeared in the ranking up until now but the Volvo website states 17,564 S60L have been sold so far in 2014, placing it at #183. In its line of fire, the Audi A4L sold 96k units (#41) and the BMW 3 Series L sold 78k (#56), out of reach at this stage for the S60L. A Top 100 ranking stretch target by the time 2015 comes to an end would mean Volvo has become a potent player in the Chinese premium segment, a Top 140-150 would be more realistic given the S60L has already stabilised around its long-term level.

DS 6 China October 2014. Picture courtesy of pache.com

3. DS 6 (#199 and 1,308 deliveries)

The new premium brand by Peugeot-Citroen PSA, DS, debuts its third locally-produced model this month: the China-only DS 6 SUV. It comes after the DS 5 hatchback launched in December 2013 and the China-only DS 5LS sedan launched last April, is based on the same platform and also manufactured in Shenzhen by the Changan-PSA joint venture, a second joint venture by the PSA group along with the one it has with Dongfeng. The DS 6 is priced between 199.000 and 309.900 yuan, or US$32.500-$50.600. While the DS brand has been created solely to aim at the German premium trio Audi-BMW-Mercedes, it will take a while before DS can pretend to play in the same sandpit. The Audi Q3 (#64 with 70,200 sales so far this year) and BMW X1 (#120 and 37,900 units) are the logical benchmarks as we await the production start of the Mercedes GLA.

In this context a first month inside the Top 200 is a good start for the DS 6, better than the DS 5 has ever done (best ranking: #206). Both previous DS models have tended to be quite front-loaded, reaching their best sales volume in their first few months: the DS 5 never topped the 1,271 units it sold in December 2013 and has fallen to a paltry 210 sales this month while the DS 5LS’s peak occurred in its third month in June with 1,739 units (best ranking: #172). However the DS 6 should improve progressively as this is the most promising segment for the brand in China. A Top 150 ranking would make the DS 6 the best-ranking DS ever, a Top 100 would cement it as a true competitor to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

Honda Vezel China October 2014. Picture courtesy of xgo.com.cn

4. Honda Vezel (#210 and 1,209 sales)

If you are a regular BSCB reader you will already know that the Honda Vezel is a runaway hit at home in Japan where it ranks #7 overall so far this year and will sell upwards of 100,000 units by the time 2014 comes to an end. The Vezel is now produced in China also and therefore enters the sales charts this month, a welcome breath of fresh air for the Japanese manufacturer that has been seriously struggling here of late, in steep YOY decline over the past 4 consecutive months. Honda has set very competitive prices for the Vezel (128.800-189.800 yuan or US$21k-31k) which should allow it to rise up the ladder fast.

Logical competitors are the Nissan Juke (not produced in China therefore not in the ranking), Buick Encore (#65 in 2014 YTD), Peugeot 2008 (best ranking so far: #75) and Chevrolet Trax (best at #78). Given Honda’s footprint in China, the Vezel can reasonably hope for better scores than all the aforementioned models. Failing to break into the monthly Top 100 will make the Vezel a dud, a Top 50 ranking seems well within reach and a Top 20 not impossible. Why so high? The small SUV segment is so hot right now in China and a semi-premium offering like the Vezel will make Eastern Chinese female car buyers hyperventilate.

Volvo XC60 China October 2014. Picture courtest of auto.msn.com.cn

5. Volvo XC60 (#234 and 706 units)

Unlike the S60L launched late last year, the XC60 has just kick started local production and therefore logically hits the models ranking this month, the third Volvo to be manufactured in China after the Geely take-over along with the S60L and the XC Classic detailed further down. The XC60 is manufactured in a Geely-built factory in the city of Daqing in Heilongjiang province, and is priced between 366.900 and 539.900 yuan (US$59.900-88.200). It competes with the Audi Q5 (#47 with 88,000 sales in 2014) and Mercedes-Benz GLK, the brand’s best-seller in China at #121 with 37,500 units so far this year. A shy start for now but a Top 150 ranking soon must be in the cards if Volvo really wants the XC60 to compete with the German premiums.

Yema F16 China October 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.com.cn

6. Yema F16 (#254 with 388 deliveries)

Yema Auto (Chinese for wild horse or Mustang) is a little-known Chinese manufacturer based in Sichuan province that currently builds small SUVs based on the ancient Austin Montego/Maestro platform that it acquired in 2008. All current Yema models have the shape of the first generation Subaru Forester, with only the front grille and headlights changing. The F99 and F10 do look like the Forester, the F12 looks like a Kia Sportage and somehow this new F16 doesn’t look like anything else from the front. Progress. The F16 is priced between 80.000 and 110.000 yuan (US$13k-18k) and this kind of large-for-the-money vehicles are still very popular in China’s vast countryside and in second and third tier cities, where citizens finally have enough cash to buy their first car, but not enough to buy a recognised brand.

Yema F16 interiorYema F16 interior

In line with the Chinese’s fascination for dashboard touch screens, the F16 has one that is bigger than in most Fords for example, including the Kuga. F16 sales potential can be gaged based on that of other Yema models: the F12 finished 2013 at #246 and currently ranks #226 this year, the F10 was #277 in 2013 but has been discontinued since, only ranking #317 this year, and the F99 is further down at #338 in 2013 and #365 in 2014. In this context the initial sales figures for the F16 are very encouraging for the brand. The highest ranking ever reached by a Yema model in China is #177 by the F12 in May 2014, and the F16 can do better. Reaching #150 would mean more Yema models should hit Chinese roads in the coming years. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen…

Volvo XC Classic China October 2014. Picture courtesy of pcauto.com.cn

7. Volvo XC Classic (#279 and 191 sales)

As its local production debuted last September, the Volvo XC Classic logically appears in the sales charts this month, albeit still at a modest level. It may seem counterproductive to launch production of the first generation XC90 in China at the same time the new XC90 is unveiled worldwide, but it is not uncommon here and explains the choice of the XC Classic name. Manufactured in a new Geely-funded factory in Daqing in Heilongjiang Province, the XC Classic is priced between 548.900 and 638.900 yuan ($89k-104k). The new 2015 Volvo XC90 will be imported into China starting in H2 2015, priced above 818.000 yuan or $133k, so a distinct notch above the XC Classic. The car’s Chinese tagline is “Legacy Continues.” Indeed, its production is scheduled to run four years with a facelift after two years. It is very difficult to forecast sales volumes as it is one of the rare large luxury SUVs to be produced locally. The Toyota Land Cruiser 200 for example vegetates at 2.500 sales so far in 2014 and the XC Classic is already above that level for its first month, so a Top 200 ranking with 1.000+ monthly sales would be a great achievement.

FAW Junpai D60 China October 2014. Picture courtesy of pcauto.com.cn

8. FAW Junpai D60 (#294 and 89 units)

Originally called the FAW Xiali T012 and still referred to as such in CAAM’s official sales statistics, the FAW Junpai D60 is yet another small Chinese SUV hitting the roads this year. FAW doesn’t learn and keeps creating new sub-brands that are perfect for confusing us and, well, the Chinese consumer as well, no doubt. Last arrival: Junpai with the D60, manufactured by Tianjin-FAW and priced between 64.900 and 99.900 yuan or US$10.600-16.300.

FAW Junpai D60 interiorFAW Junpai D60 interior, looking pretty good for the price

The Junpai D60 is in the bullseye of the fastest growing segment in China this year, competing with the likes of the Changan CS35, Haval H2, JAC Refine S3, and Chery Tiggo 3, all currently within or close to the country’s 50 best-sellers overall. With a somewhat good-looking exterior design and snazzy interior but old and underpowered engines, the D60 should position itself quite significantly below the aforementioned models, yet a great surprise isn’t to be discarded. Bar for success is the Top 175. Anything above is bonus for FAW.

MG GT China October 2014. Picture courtesy of xgo.com.cn MG GT China October 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.com.cn

9. MG GT (#314 with 13 deliveries)

Last but not least in this list of new entrants on the Chinese market in October is the MG GT, arguably the trendiest Chinese MG so far, showing a sleek sporty fastback shape but actually a sedan based on the same platform as the MG5 and Roewe 350. MG continues to draw parallels with the old British MG models as seen at the Beijing Auto Show, this time actively advertising the MG GT along the old MGB GT, MGC GT and MGB GT V8 which was manufactured from 1973 to 1976.

MG GT interiorMG GT interior

The 13 deliveries occurring in October are dealer demo models as the MG GT only launched to the public on November 1, so expect a much higher ranking next month. But how high can the GT go? Reasonably priced between 95.900 and 149.900 yuan (US$15.700-24.500), the GT should be able to revitalise MG sales as all models are currently in decline: the MG 3 is down from #110 in 2013 to #156 this year, the MG 6 down from #182 to #219, the MG 5 down from #226 to #238 and the MG 7 down from #333 to #363. A Top 200 ranking would be a good start and would logically position the GT as MG’s 2nd best-seller below the cheaper MG 3.

Full October 2014 Top 325 All-local models Ranking Table below.

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China September 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Hyundai ix25 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of huanqiu.comHyundai ix25

* See the Top 325 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title! *

As usual after exploring the monthly Chinese ranking we detail the all-new models making their first appearance in the world’s biggest car market this month. After a crazy August that saw 8 new nameplate hit the sales charts, we are down to a more reasonable 3 in September, one Korean compact SUV and two Chinese sedans.

The first is the much anticipated China-only Hyundai ix25, one of the stars of the last Beijing Auto Show, landing directly at #121 with 3,972 sales. The ix25 is based on the platform of the Kia Soul and is the second model launched by the Korean manufacturer in the past 12 months that will only be sold in China (with the Mistral) – clearly showing the scale of Hyundai’s ambitions for this market. It gives the carmaker its first entry into the very competitive compact SUV market and is priced from 119.800 to 179.800 yuan (US$19.600-29.400), competing with the likes of the Ford Ecosport (#68 so far in 2014), Peugeot 2008 (#90 in September) and Chevrolet Trax (personal best at #78). Its inaugural ranking already places the ix25 as Hyundai’s #2 SUV below just the ix35 (#40) but above the Santa Fe (#122) and Tucson (#204). A Top 100 monthly ranking seems a done deal, a Top 50 would seal the ix25 nameplate as a new household name.

BYD G5 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of qc188.comBYD G5

Much lower in 237th position with a shy 610 sales for now we find the BYD G5 which also debuted in April at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show. The G5 fits between the F3 and the G6 (no logic there) in the BYD range and is priced from 75.900 to 102.900 yuan (US$12.400-16.800). A hybrid variant, starting around 130.000 yuan ($21.200) will become available in 2015. According to Carnewschina, one interesting feature of the G5 is its ‘CarPad’ infotainment system where users can surf the internet, check microblogs such as Weibo (very important in China), find their way, watch movies, and listen to music played from the on-board flash drive. CarPad runs on Google Android.

Dongfeng Fengshen A30 China September 2014. Picture courtesy of jllmjt.comDongfeng Fengshen A30

The third and last all-new model in China in September is the Dongfeng Fengshen A30 arriving at #246 with 487 units sold. Fengshen is the mid-priced sub-brand/subsidiary of Dongfeng that is carefully extending its range. After the S30 sedan in 2010, the H30 and H30 Cross hatchbacks in 2011 and the A60 sedan in 2012, Dongfeng is now clearly accelerating Fengshen with the A30 and soon the AX7 SUV and a full-size luxury sedan. The A30 adopts a decidedly more modern design and is the largest Fengshen sedan so far, priced from 67.500 to 85.700 yuan (US$11.000-14.000).

This is mid-level price is the right place to be in for the Fengshen A30, as Chinese sedans have been struggling on the budget end of the market lately: only the BYD F3 (49.900 to 63.900 yuan or $8.140-10.400) sells in significant numbers at #54 year-to-date and the Chery E3 (52.900 to 67.900 yuan or $8.600-11.100) is a flop at #120 in September. Moreover, the two best-selling Chinese sedans in the same price range as the Fengshen A30: the ChangAn Eado (#25) goes from 73.900 to 94.900 yuan ($12.100-15.500) and the Emgrand EC7 (#34) is priced between 69.800 and 100.800 yuan ($11.400-16.500). So Dongfeng is holding the right end of the market with the A30, but it will be tough to impose this model in a very competitive market where foreign brands are dominant and becoming more so every month. A Top 150 ranking would almost certainly mean the A30 is the best-selling Fengshen, so a good objective to have, keeping in mind the the S30 ranks around #155 in 2014, the A60 at #164 and the H30 around #200.

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China August 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Baojun 730 family

* See the Top 319 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title! *

As is the tradition on BSCB we pay special attention to the all-new models making their first appearance in China each month. And August 2014 has been the busiest month since we started this new monthly update over a year ago. No less than 8 new entrants, and most of them are pretty high profile models with very strong potential.

1. Baojun 730

One of the most important launches of the year, the Baojun 730 lands directly at #26 with 12,006 sales. Assuming this is the correct figure for August (and not the addition of pre-sales occurring over a couple of months), the Baojun 730 is already the #2 MPV below the Wuling Honguang and it simply delivers the strongest first month of any passenger car in China… ever. Previous best is the Hyundai Elantra Langdong at 11,613 units back in August 2012, however that wasn’t a ‘true’ first month as the model was incorporated into overall Elantra nameplate sales for a couple of months at first. The 730 is also the second best first ranking below that same Elantra Langdong (#21). Based on the Langdong’s first month vagueness, the Baojun 730 could well be the first passenger car in China to directly sell over 10,000 units for its first month.. All these records broken already, and there is a very good reason behind it.

A few months ago following my trip to remote Western China, I noted that a large part of the rural Chinese population, now getting wealthier, was upgrading from minivans to MPV in order to accommodate both a commercial use of their vehicle but also extended family transport (see Strategy: How can Chinese brands unlock their home market?). The advertising illustration above is spot on and reflects the main reason behind the booming popularity of affordable MPVs: the practicality and roominess of a large van for the price of a sedan. The Wuling Hongguang is head and shoulders above all other models in the Chinese market (let alone MPVs) so it does make sense that a similar model created by the same company would also be a hit.

Baojun is a relatively new low-cost brand initiated 3 years ago by the SAIC-GM-Wuling joint-venture with the 630 sedan. This sedan has been successful enough to keep the Baojun brand afloat (as opposed to Linian or Ciimo) but only crossed the 10,000 monthly sales milestone once (10,220 in December 2013) and broke into the top 50 twice since its original appearance in August 2011 (#46 in October 2012 and #49 in December 2013). So the 730 has already smashed the brand’s records for its first month. The Baojun 730 debuted at the Beijing Auto Show and I reported about it at the time. According to Carnewschina, the 730 starts at 69.800 yuan and ends at 81.800 (US$11.400 – 13.300), an absolute bargain indeed and as such without real competitor as it slots below the Wuling Hongguang in terms of price.

Toyota Levin China August 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.com.cn

2. Toyota Levin

A new nameplate but a familiar model, the Toyota Levin lands at #62 with 6,588 sales. This is one fine example of the counter-productive (?) joint-venture situation in the Chinese automotive market. Toyota has two joint ventures in China: while FAW-Toyota gets the European model, supposed to look sophisticated (read boring) and aimed at older buyers, Guangzhou-Toyota gets a sporty (only in design) version of the US model, aimed at younger buyers. The engines and prices (120.000-160.000 yuan, that’s US$19.550-26.100) are exactly the same though. The new gen Corolla is currently accounted for under the general ‘Corolla’ nameplate at #16 this month.

What’s the Levin potential? Well it is already Toyota’s 4th best-selling sedan below the Corolla, Camry and Vios, all established nameplates with years of previous sales behind them. So in a way we already have a mission accomplished here, and any future milestones (a Top 50 seems assured but a Top 25 harder) will be impressive. Tycho from Carnewschina gives a pretty accurate description of this join-venture doubling up mess: “All this waste of resources and marketing money is a rather typical result of the weird joint-venture system. Volkswagen, Honda and others are also selling various cars manufactured by their various joint ventures that are competing with each other, instead of with the competition. The Toyota marketing plan sounds like a good idea in theory.” But then a ‘sporty’ Toyota Corolla was also seen on the Toyota booth at the Beijing Auto Show. Wait wasn’t it supposed to be the sophisticated, boring one of the two?

Having said all this, the Levin delivers in terms of sales. So perhaps this double joint-venture situation is not that penalising after all.

Beijing Auto Huansu S2 S3. Picture courtesy of fblife.comBeijing Auto Huansu S2 and S3

Next we have two small SUVs by the same automaker, making their first appearance in the Chinese ranking exactly at the same time, along with a new sub-brand: Beijing Auto Huansu (translated as ‘magic speed’). These two SUVs are built in the city of Chongqing by Beiqi Yinxiang Automobile, a new joint-venture between Beijing Auto (Beiqi) and the Yinxiang Motorcycle Group, and as such they both sport the logo of the joint-venture and not the Beijing Auto one – confusing, as always. This joint venture also makes the new Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 mini-MPV that launched on the Chinese market last year (and yet another sub-brand!).

Beijing Auto Huansu S3. Picture courtesy of fblife.com

3. Beijing Auto Huansu S3

The Beijing Auto Huansu S3 lands directly at #85 with 5,280 sales. It is a seven-seater very affordably priced between 61.800 and 72.800 yuan (US$10.100-11.900), positioning it across the two fastest growing market segments in China: small SUVs and MPVs. As described above with the Baojun 730, many Chinese car buyers, especially young families, have discovered these segments as a preferable alternative over similarly prices sedans or hatchbacks that tend to be much smaller inside. On top of this, the Huansu S3 is one of only two mass seven-seats SUVs at this price level, competing with the FAW Daihatsu Xenia S80 (#204). In this context its current ranking is already redefining the budget 7-seat SUV sales potential, so anything frankly up like a Top 50 ranking would trigger other Chinese carmakers to follow suit very soon.

Beijing Auto Hansun S2. Picture courtesy of suv.cn

4. Beijing Auto Huansu S2

The 5-seater variant of the S3, the Beijing Auto Huansu S2 launches a little lower at #122 and 3,520 units. Price starts at an even more enticing 58.800 yuan (US$9.600) and ends at 69.800 yuan (US$11.400). While the S3 ventures into unknown (but promising) territory given its larger size, the S2 slots into a very successful segment in China, competing with the Great Wall M4 (best ranking: #23), Chery Tiggo3 (currently #28) and Changan CS35 (best: #43), all crossing the 10,000 monthly sales milestone at some stage. It might take a bit of time to establish the Beijing Auto brand in this segment but the demand is there and a Top 60 ranking within the next 12 months would be a fantastic achievement.

GAC Trumpchi GA3S China. Picture courtesy of autohome.com.cn

5. GAC Trumpchi GA3S

Not really a new model per se but worth mentioning because of its uniqueness, the GAC Trumpchi GA3S arrives in 157th position with 2,333 sales in August. It is the sporty version of the GAC Trumpchi GA3 launched 18 months ago and currently ranking #256 with 399 units sold, after peaking at #135 and 4,041 sales last December. There. That’s why I’ve singled out the GA3S as it sold almost 6 times more than its ‘non-sporty’ version in August, which is rather unusual and extremely interesting. Guangzhou Auto (GAC) has two sub-brands, each with their own logo: budget Gonow and masstige Trumpchi, one of the most impressive carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show in my view (I ranked it #3) while Gonow was one of the worst at #28… A history-making large scale product placement in Hollywood mega-budget Transformers 4 this year is starting to put GAC Trumpchi on the worldwide map and the GA3S could soon join the GS5 SUV (best ranking: #56) inside the monthly Top 100.

Kia K4 China August 2014. Picture courtesy of pcauto.com.cn

6. Kia K4

Another very important new nameplate to make its first appearance in the Chinese ranking in August is the Kia K4 at #163 with 2,094 sales. The K4 is a China-only compact sedan, Kia’s version of the very successful Hyundai Mistra that has sold over 10,000 monthly units in China for the past 6 consecutive months after peaking at 11,749 last January. Even though Kia pushes the premium design cues as hard as Hyundai does in China, it is positioned cheaper and as such the K4 starts lower at 128.800 yuan (US$20,990) vs. 149.800 (US$24.700) for the Mistra. Both models end at 189.900 yuan (US$31.300). Other main competitors are the VW Sagitar (#4 in August), Honda CRider (personal best of #10 last December) and Citroen C4L (#70 highest). Chinese sales of Kia sedans average around 75% of their Hyundai counterparts, which would place the K4 just under 100,000 annual units and edging into the Top 50. Still far from it but it should be the benchmark for success.

JAC Refine S3 China August 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.com.au

7. JAC Refine S3

The fifth new Chinese model to make its debut at home in August is the JAC Refine S3, originally unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show, at #166 with 2,000 units sold. The Refine S3 is yet another mini SUV taking advantage of the sales surge in this segment over the past 24 months. It is priced between 65.800 and 84.800 yuan (US$10.700-13.800) and, like the Beijing Auto Huansu S2 described above, will compete against the 10,000 monthly sale-topping Great Wall M4, Chery Tiggo3 and Changan CS35. JAC already has a foot in the SUV segment with the Refine S5 (#151 so far in 2014) so may have an easier time than Beijing Auto to impose its own S3. However we may be nearing saturation in the Chinese mini-SUV segment: is there really more room for yet another mini clone of the Hyundai ix35? JAC thinks so as the S3 is part of a heavy SUV attack that will also include the S2 and the Heyue S1 in the coming months.

Cadillac ATS-L China August 2014. Picture courtesy of 52che.com

8. Cadillac ATS-L

Finally the 8th and last new entrant this month in China is a model well known to all of you but which has just kicked off local production, thus now allowing it a spot in this ranking (no imports model data is communicated in China): the Cadillac ATS at #197 with 1,160 sales. However as it is the case for most sedans in the luxury category, the owner is not the driver and more backseat legroom is required: the Cadillac ATS is manufactured in China exclusively in an extended wheelbase version called ATS-L, like the BMW 5 Series L and Audi A6L. The ATS-L is only the second Cadillac to rank in China this year along with the XTS at #145 in August and #149 year-to-date, so it is starting at a solid level for the brand and in time to pre-empt Lincoln’s launch in the country.

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China July 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Venucia R30 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of car.auto.ifeng.comVenucia R30

* See the Top 318 models by clicking on the title! Thanks Carnewschina for the pricing info *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after going through detailed sales figures for July, I spend a bit more time acknowledging the all-new entrants in the models ranking, to ensure you are across the latest news in the biggest car market in the world. After a surprisingly quiet month of June (no new model!), July is back to the traditional 4 all-new models making their first appearance in the Chinese ranking, like in April and May. Keep in mind all models detailed here are locally produced as import data for China is not communicated.

First in line we have the Venucia R30 landing at #164 with 1,662 sales. Quick reminder for you readers that Venucia is the low-cost brand created by the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, for the moment only selling in China and distributed via the existing Nissan dealer network. The R30 is based on the current Nissan March and is the 4th model launched under the Venucia brand after the D50 and R50 both based on the previous generation Nissan Tiida and the Morning Wind, a rebadged Nissan Leaf with a very unfortunate name. This makes Venucia the most prolific low-cost Chinese brand so far, taking the lead on SAIC GM’s Baojun.

Venucia R30 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of autofan.com.cnVenucia R30

The R30 will primarily be marketed in second and third tier cities where price matters more than badge, as the R30 is very conveniently priced indeed: starting at a cut-throat 39.900 yuan (US$ 6.490) and ending at 49.900 (US$ 8.100): straight in the territory of the legendary Chery QQ which is more expensive, smaller, less powerful and losing 47% year-on-year in July at a low #117… Another model in the R30’s line of fire is the (also smaller and less powerful) BYD F0, itself down 30% to #154, with the R30 already not far below for its first month of sales in the country. As a reference point, the R50/D50 currently ranks #48 year-to-date with just over 60,000 sales, so a monthly Top 100 ranking very soon for the R30 seems unavoidable, and a Top 50 ranking this end of Christmas would mark a significant change of guard and the advent of a new Chinese brand that could do wonders overseas…

Mazda CX-7 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of xgo.comLanding as all-new this month: the Mazda CX-7!

Just below at #179 with 1,328 sales we have a well-known nameplate but its appearance as a new model is rather puzzling. Discontinued in 2012 to make room for the CX-5, the Mazda CX-7 just launched as an all-new locally-produced model in China by the FAW-Mazda joint-venture! This is actually a pretty clever move in an SUV market growing at 20%+ with room for many more models than the US for example. Priced between 199.800 and 237.800 yuan (US$ 32.500-38.700), the CX-7 could help Mazda sandwich SUVs like the VW Tiguan (#10 this month), Toyota RAV4 (#23), Nissan X-Trail (#24) and Honda CR-V (#66) along the CX-5 at the other end. Keeping in mind the CX-5 is currently #110 so far in 2014, I don’t see the CX-7 climbing too much higher than #120 but then again, it could go much higher in a market that tend to like their SUVs bigger and doesn’t mind them old-fashioned – see the Nissan Qashqai first generation still on sale…

Haval H2Haval H2 at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show

The most promising all-new model to make its first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month is the Haval H2, the little brother of the tremendously successful Haval H5 and H6, landing at #184 with 1,260 sales. If you are a regular BSCB reader, you will know that Haval has been the best-selling SUV brand/sub-brand in China for the past 12 years and that it impressed me so much at the last Beijing Auto Show that I chose it as the Show’s ballsiest Chinese carmaker. More on this here. With a sporty bi-colour outfit, the H2 is already heralded as one of the best-looking SUVs on sale in China. Priced around 100.000 yuan (US$ 16.300), it competes with the Chery Tiggo 5, Haima S7, and Geely GX7, and is extremely important for Great Wall’s SUV brand in order to cement its domination in the segment even further.

Haval H2 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of autosina.comHaval H2

Needless to say the H2 won’t stay at its current level very long, but the jury is out as to how far up it can go. Given the popularity of small SUVs in China at the moment and sporting a very attractive design, the sky is the limit for the H2 but will almost certainly involve a reasonable level of cannibalising of the H5 and H6. With the H6 ranking at an out-of-this-world (and, let’s be clear, unattainable for the H2) #6 overall in July but the H5 at a low #125, a Top 50 ranking in the next few months for the H2 would seal its success, anything further up will mean it will most probably bring the H6 down along with it, exactly how the H6 did to the H5 a couple of years ago. Are the glory days of the H6 atop Chinese SUV charts counted? The answer could very well be yes. Reveal in a few months…

Maxus V80 China July 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.comMaxus V80

Finally the 4th all-new model in China in July is the Maxus V80, landing at #267 with 208 sales. SAIC bought Maxus from bankrupt British LDV in 2010 and set up production in China. If the Maxus G10 that launched last May at a much lower #303 was a truly all-new model, the V80 isn’t exactly. It started production as an LCV back in July 2011, and may owe its sudden appearance in the passenger car ranking to both a new front and potentially a MPV version hitting dealerships now. The V80 is priced between 145.800 and 239.800 yuan (US$ 23.700-39.000) so clearly not a cheap investment for Chinese entrepreneurs out there, although these vehicles are used by many businesses as mobile offices, and by taxi companies for VIP transport. Given the recent appearance of the brand inside the ranking it is almost impossible to predict the V80’s long-term sales level, but let’s just note that the more modern and cheaper G10 is now #234 with 491 units sold in July, so a Top 200 ranking is within the ream of possibles for the V80.

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China May 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Mazda3 Axela China May 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comMazda3 Axela

* See the Top 327 models by clicking on the title! Thanks Carnewschina for the pricing info *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after going through detailed sales figures for May, I spend a bit more time acknowledging the all-new entrants in the models ranking, to ensure you are across the latest news in the biggest car market in the world. This month like in April 4 new models make their appearance in the Chinese ranking. Keep in mind all models detailed here are locally produced as import data is not communicated.

The most successful new entrant in May is the new generation Mazda3 Axela, differentiated from the other 2 generations of Mazda3 by its Japanese name. Priced between 114.900 and 159.900 yuan (US$18.500-25.800), it lands at a very satisfying #129 with 3,343 sales. This is already better than the Mazda3 Xingcheng (2nd generation) over the Full Year 2013 (#153) and the Mazda3 (first generation) at #203, so a great opportunity for Mazda to step up its overall sales in China with this new model… It will compete with the Ford Focus (#3), VW Golf (#20) and Honda Civic which it already nearly toppled (#126) so the sky is the limit for the 3 Axela which could push Mazda to new heights. A monthly Top 50 ranking before 2014 comes to an end would be a great achievement.

Beijing Auto Senova D50 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of pcauto.com.cnBeijing Auto Senova D50

Just below at #132 with 3,238 sales is the Beijing Auto Senova (or Shenbao) D50, which is now separated sales-wise from the Senova D-Series (renamed D70) and therefore appears in the ranking for the first time even though it launched in April. Year-to-date sales add up to 4,918 in two months for a #204 ranking. The D50 is priced between 74.800 and 119.800 yuan (US$12.000-19.300) and is positioned below the D60 which was unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show and will launch in August. It is based on the new M-trix platform, itself based on the Saab 9-3 platform which BAIC bought from GM in 2009.

With its May score the Senova D50 already beats the D70’s all-time record of 3,194 and #151 reached last December, so it is assured to bring the Senova sub-brand to new levels this year. The D50 has an air of ChanAn Eado which is a good thing, the latter currently being the best-selling Chinese sedan in the country. Breaking into the Top 100 would be a great start, but expect some cannibalisation once the D60 hits dealerships over the last Quarter of the year.

Mazda6 Atenza China May 2014. Picture courtesy of auto.sina.com.cnMazda6 Atenza

A second very important Mazda makes its entrance in China this month: the new generation Mazda6, named Mazda6 Atenza at #169 with 1,731 sales. It is priced between 179.800 and 238.900 yuan (US$29.000-38.500) and competes with the Toyota Camry (#22 so far in 2014), Ford Mondeo (#51) and Honda Accord (#91). Similarly to the new gen Mazda3, its Japanese naming differentiates it from the first (Mazda6) and second generations (Mazda6 Ruiwing) still in production here. The first gen is surprisingly the most popular by far but is logically down 28% this month to #98 with 4,946 sales, ranking #72 year-to-date after being #56 in 2013. The 2nd gen is #243 in May and #199 in 2014.

The level at which the 6 Atenza launched means it could replace the 1st gen, not the 2nd, in the sales charts. Breaking into the monthly Top 100 and passing the Honda Accord would be a very noticeable step especially given the Accord is also new now. Mazda can genuinely aim at a Top 50 annual ranking in 2015 for the 6 Atenza, which would place it at the same level as the Ford Mondeo. Teasing the Camry seems far-fetched, but possible on a one-off basis.

Maxus G10 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of xcar.com.cnMaxus G10

Finally the last new-entrant in May is the Maxus G10 which I described during my visit to the Beijing Auto Show earlier this year. Launched last March, it only appears in the ranking now at #303 with 36 units which may be due to the CAAM hesitating on its classification as a Passenger Car or Commercial Vehicle (as it did for the Wuling Hongguang). From May onwards it is considered an MPV but it may have sold more units as an LCV prior to this. Ah the tricks of Chinese data… The Maxus brand was bought in 2010 from the British LDV Group by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) which launched a first model, the V80, in September 2011.

The G10 is actually a pretty impressive-looking vehicle which picked my curiosity at the Auto Show. It is priced from 129.800 to 219.800 yuan (US$20.900-35.400) and has its sights firmly aimed at the Buick GL8, #58 so far in 2014 with 37,595 sales. Although we have seen that the budget-end of the MPV segment is the one currently booming in China, this is the first true attempt from a Chinese brand to compete in the luxury MPV segment. According to Carnewschina, these vehicles are used by many businesses as mobile offices, and by taxi companies for VIP transport. I did indeed spot an astounding amount of Buick GL8 in Beijing.

This concludes our focus on all-new models in China for May – stay tuned for the June update in one month!

Previous post: China May 2014: VW Santana breaks record in market up 8%

Previous month: China April 2014: Focus on the all-new models

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Full May 2014 Top 327 All-local models Ranking Table below.

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