China October 2015: Focus on the All-new models

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China April 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Geely GC9 China April 2015. Picture courtesy auto.ifeng.comGeely GC9

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring the April Chinese ranking, we then go into the detail of the all-new models landing into the largest new vehicle market in the world. 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 in March, once again we have 6 new nameplates in the charts in April, a handful of them we just discovered at Auto Shanghai 2015. And once again the listing of new entrants in the market illustrates the longer term trends currently at play in China: local manufacturers back to their former dynamism and of course… the SUV craze. 5 out of the 6 new April entrants are manufactured by Chinese carmakers, and 3 out of 6 are SUVs.

Geely GC9 China April 2015Geely GC9

1. Geely GC9 (#226 with 1.033 sales)

Geely is finally showing us the benefits of having purchased Swedish car manufacturer Volvo a few years back with this GC9 designed by Volvo’s head of design, and it shows. The GC9 is Geely’s new flagship, unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2015 and an extremely impressive quality leap forward for the Chinese brand. Astounding interior coupled with stylish exterior including a very unique grille make the GC9 a serious contender for the title of best Chinese car ever produced so far. At 4.96m long and powered by a choice of 1.8L turbo diesel, 2.4L or 3.5L petrol engines mated with a 6AT gearbox, the GC9 is on sale at the ridiculously low starting price of 119.800 yuan (US$19.300).

The range extends to a 3.5L “Flagship” tim priced at a still dirt cheap 229.800 yuan (US$37.100). We have found the new Hyundai and its name is Geely. Given this is completely unchartered territory for the brand, a sales prediction is proving rather difficult. The Volvo S60L on which the GC9 is loosely based points at a shy #175 so far in 2015, not much further up the ladder than the GC9’s very first month. Larger Chinese sedans have traditionally struggled, so much so that Brilliance all but stopped producing any for example, focusing instead on smaller sedans and SUVs. So in absolute terms, a Top 100 ranking would validate Geely in its upmarket pretentious.

Bar for success: #120 or 5.000 monthly sales

Haima M6 China April 2015Haima M6

2. Haima M6 (#238 with 905 units)

The Haima M6 wasn’t unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2015 but… 2013! Fast-foward two long years and it finally lands in the Chinese sales charts, albeit for now at a very discreet #238 for its first month in market. Powered by a 1.5L turbo petrol engine mated with a 6 speed-manual or CVT, the Haima M6 is priced from 76.800 to 102.800 yuan (US$ 12.400-16.600), slotting it in one of the most hotly contested segments in China. Weirdly, the M6 doesn’t really distinguish itself from the M5 aka All-new Family, the brand’s best-seller until last year when it ranked at #104. It is almost exactly the same size at 4.70m vs. 4.69 for the M5 and is priced almost identically with the M5 ranging from 76.800 to 98.800 yuan. Needless to say the M6 is going to struggle making its mark both within Haima’s range and on the market overall.

What can the M6 aim for? Unless we witness a complete sales replacement of the M5 (still a possible option) in which case a monthly Top 100 ranking is viable, my prediction is this outdated design isn’t going to make much waves. If we look up within Haima’s range, the flagship M8 only sold 50 units in April whereas if we look down the M3 ranked #118 in FY2014 but is down 42% year-on-year in April to #186. So far this year, the Haima S5 SUV is the brand’s best-seller at home, selling 4.014 units in April (#124) ranking just outside the Top 100 after 4 months. Haima should aggressively focus on launching a string affordable SUVs rather than pointlessly duplicating its sedan range.

Bar for success: #150 or 2.500 monthly sales

82. Leopaard CS10Leopaard CS10

3. Leopaard CS10 (#270 with 453 deliveries)

Leopaard was one of my biggest surprises at Auto Shanghai 2015, going from grossly made-up Mitsubishi Pajeros a year ago in Beijing to the very professional, fun and confident unveiling of the CS10 SUV at the Show. Confirming it is now a force to reckon with, Leopaard lands the CS10 inside the Chinese sales charts the same month it unveiled it – contrast this with the Haima M6 being two years late above… At a low #270 for now, the CS10 should climb further up shortly. But just how much further? At 4.66m long this is a compact SUV powered by a Mitsubishi 2.0L turbo engine competitively priced from 96.800 to 125.800 yuan (US$ 15.600-20.300).

Leopaard CS10 China April 2015Leopaard CS10 (back)

When climbing inside in Shanghai I had nothing bad to say about its interior quality, the dashboard is stylish and complete and the exterior design is among the best for a Chinese SUV, especially the back looking rather aggressive. What will limit CS10 sales is the small dealership network of the Leopaard brand. To benchmark its sales performance we have to look at other nameplates from Chengfeng (the overarching brand sitting on top of Leopaard). The Kingbox DUV ended 2014 at #194 but ranks #253 so far this year, the original Leopaard (a facelifted Mitsubishi Pajero) sold just 110 units in 2015 and both the CS6 and CS7 have quietly stepped out of the ranking altogether. Not a great pedigree, which means the CS10 almost instantly became Changfeng’s best-seller at home. This is a giant step forward for the GAC-owned brand, so it should aim equally high. A Top 150 ranking in the coming months will be dynamic start, while cracking the Top 100 will put Leopaard on the map.

Bar for success: #150 or 3.000 monthly sales

Mercedes GLA China April 2015. Picture courtesy wolfexp.netMercedes GLA SUV

4. Mercedes GLA (#278 with 365 sales)

Among the Top 3 Germans, Mercedes is the fastest-growing luxury brand in China, quickly bridging the gap it had let expand over the past decade on Audi and BMW. A capital piece to this sales race puzzle is the GLA SUV which kick started local production in Beijing on April 8, exactly two years after enjoying its world premiere at Auto Shanghai 2013. The GLA hits right into a very soft spot in the Chinese market: compact SUVs are currently being snapped up like cheap dumplings and East Coast consumers are craving the status that comes with owning a European car, let alone a Mercedes. The GLA ticks absolutely all boxes in the current Chinese environment, and its sales should take off to levels unheard of before for a Mercedes SUV, despite its steep 220k-450k yuan price range (US$ 35.500-72.500).

Up until now, the only locally-produced SUV in the Mercedes range was the GLK, oblivious to the GLA launch and up a fantastic 51% year-on-year in April to #91 and 5.513 sales while ranking just inside the Top 100 so far in this year at #95 and 22.000 deliveries. The two most relevant benchmarks to the GLA are its direct competitors the Audi Q3 – #98 with 21.642 sales – and BMW X1 – #137 at 13.542 units. Even though Audi sells more Q5 (35.675) than Q3 and BMW doesn’t produce either the X3 or the X5 locally so these are poor sellers, it is fair to assume the GLA will be more successful than the GLK in China, the same way it outsells it in Europe, one reason being the A-Class on which it’s based isn’t produced locally and therefore ends up being more expensive. The choice for cashed-up city youth then becomes very easy to make.

Bar for success: #100 or 6.000 monthly sales

Haval H8 China April 2015. Picture courtesy zhuayoukong.comHaval H8

5. Haval H8 (#287 with 252 units)

Originally launched in November 2013 but cancelled in January 2014 when bashed by the local automotive press for gross shortcomings, Great Wall’s SUV brand Haval has swallowed its pride, went back to the drawing board, made the required improvements and relaunched the H8 this month. This delayed launch may have hurt the model’s sales potential – some local media say it actually shows maturity and a willingness to take responsibility – but if in 2013 the H8 was a critical addition and the flagship to the Haval range, in the space of 18 months a lot has changed for Haval, enjoying absolutely euphoric sales gains, correlated to a lineup widening at lightning speed.

Relieving some of the pressure on the success of this model, the H8 does not top Haval’s range anymore, this honour now goes to the H9 launched last November, priced at 229.800-272.800 yuan ($37.200-44.100) vs. the H8 at 201.800-256.800 yuan (US$ 32.500-41.400). This isn’t cheap by Chinese standards but still a bargain compared to the Mercedes GLA for example (above). Havel now sells the H1 (#74 in April), H2 (#22), H5 (#159), H6 (#2 overall), H8 and H9 (#230) and has just unveiled both the H6 Coupe and H7 at Auto Shanghai 2015. Sales-wise, the H8 should find a spot above both the ageing H5 and the flagship H9 to claim success.

Bar for success: #110 or 4.500 monthly sales

Huasong 7 China April 2015. Picture courtesy 7

6. Huasong 7 (#334 with 60 deliveries)

As detailed in my review of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at Auto Shanghai 2015, Huasong is a new brand launched by Brilliance, offering upmarket MPVs based on Jinbei technology. A quick flick through Chinese media makes it pretty clear that Brilliance is aiming for the Buick GL8 with this first nameplate, the Huasong 7. At 5.00m long, the 7 is priced between 237.700 and 287.700 yuan (US$ 38.300-46.400), a steep ask for a Chinese nameplate and for an interior that isn’t actually that impressive. Second handicap: the Huasong 7 is sandwiched price-wise between the – outdated but still somewhat prestigious previous generation – Buick GL8 Classic (209.000-248.000) and the current GL8 (299.900-399.900). Brilliance is taking a risk with the Huasong 7, but its attractive exterior design may help. One one hand, the targeted GL8 is flying high at #69 overall in April and #79 in 2015 (26.700 sales), on the other hand the cheaper Jinbei Granse on which the Huasong 7 is based didn’t cracked the Top 200 in 2014 (#205) nor has it so far in 2015 (#226 with 4.316 units).

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 monthly sales

Previous post: China April 2015: Growth cool down and SUV surge accentuate

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

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

China March 2015: Focus on the all-new models

Kia KX3 China March 2015. Picture courtesy

* Many thanks to 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous post: China January 2015: Market up 7% to 2.3 million units, Haval H6 on podium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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