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China June 2018: SUV sales drop for first time in 9 years in spectacular trend reversal

The VW Lavida is the best-selling vehicle in China for the third month running.

* See the Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 445 models by clicking on the title *

According to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), new light vehicle sales in China gain 2.3% year-on-year in June to 1.874.200 units. For the second consecutive month, the market is surprisingly pulled up by very dynamic sedan sales at +9.1% to 963.400. But the June thunderclap is the year-on-year drop of SUV sales at -0.5% to 737.600 units. After losing share year-on-year for the first time in 6 years last month, we estimate that this is the first decline for SUV sales in China in 9 years, since 2009 at a time when the segment only accounted for 8% of overall light vehicles sales vs. 39% this month. Now let’s pause for a minute to digest what is a spectacular trend reversal in the largest car market in the world. Up until two months ago, SUVs had been the unique engine of growth in the Chinese light vehicle market, the only segment enjoying year-on-year gains for the past couple of years just as all others (sedans, MPV and microvans) were declining sharply. So much so that almost all China-made car launches in the past two years have been SUVs, a new model trend that will continue deep into 2018 as these were conceived during the heydays of the SUV boom.

The Haval H6 (-25%) leads a suddenly weak SUV segment in China.

Is this the end of the SUV boom in China, and the world?

If one month of weakness could definitely be deemed a freak event, poor SUV sales have now been on display for two consecutive months in China, with the trend accelerating in June and pulling the segment into negative growth. It’s no secret that the SUV sales boom has been decelerating for some time already, with the explosive growth of 2015 (+52%) and 2016 (+45%) dampened by a more measured but still very impressive +13.3% in 2017. Before the slump of May, SUV sales were still up 12.9% year-on-year over the first 4 months of 2018 and remain more dynamic than sedans over the First Half of 2018 at +9.7% vs. +5.5%. However a worrying indicator is that the sudden fall of grace of SUVs in China is not just affecting a few selected models but is damaging the June sales of most best-sellers including the Haval H6 (-25%), Baojun 510 (-33%), VW Tiguan (-35%), GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-50%), Honda XR-V (-29%) and Changan CS75 (-44%).

Even the VW Tiguan is down 35% in June…

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it does appear that the Chinese have suddenly fallen out of love with SUVs, not just a couple of brands they could have been tired of. It’s useful to also keep in mind that a majority of local carmakers had dropped their prices significantly over the last couple of years in order to fuel continued growth (I’m looking at Haval here). If confirmed over the next few months, this incredible turn of events will have a huge impact on the worldwide car industry as most global carmakers have their production decisions strongly influenced by the Chinese situation. The plethora of SUVs that is stil scheduled to hit the market over the next 18 months will have a much harder time to shine than expected and if this SUV slump is confirmed, it will hurt Chnese carmakers much more than the foreign ones as the locals have put all their eggs in the SUV basket to survive over the past 5 years. Once again, the manufacturers that will be most able to adapt to this unexpected trend u-turn by swapping their reliance towards a strong sedan lineup (and Volkswagen is best placed here) will be the only ones that can come out of this storm unscathed.

Like in May, the Nissan Sylphy is the #2 vehicle in China this month, helping Nissan up 16%.

So if the SUV sales tap is drying out, where else can the Chinese market look for sustained growth? Sedans are the first bet with very dynamic sales over the past two months offsetting the SUV weakness to deliver overall monthly gains in the light vehicles segment. Meanwhile minibus sales drop 0.5% to 43.900 which is a striking slowing down of its freefalling over the past 5 years, but MPVs struggle again at -21% to 129.300 this month. Although they still account for a tiny part of the Chinese market, eco friendly cars continue to gallop ahead, up 43% to 84.000 in June, with EV sales up 30% to 62.000 and plug-in hybrids doubling year-on-year to 22.000. Finally, commercial vehicle sales surge 18% in June to 399.000 thanks to robust demand from shippers and domestic logistics providers. All-in-all, the Chinese total vehicle market is up 4.8% to 2.273.000 units in June, a new record for the month.

Volkswagen places 5 nameplates among the Top 7 best-selling sedans, including the Bora (+41%).

A direct illustration is the China-made brands ranking for the month, with the entire Top 6 in positive thanks to solid sedan sales. Volkswagen (+2%) ends the month just under 254.000 wholesales, that’s more than double any other carmaker in the country. Honda (+1%), Toyota (+4%) and Nissan (+16%) also shine but it’s Hyundai (+147%) that performs best near the top, offsetting a paltry start of 2017 handicapped by negative buyer sentiment towards South Korea in the wake of a tense North Korea situation. Up a formidable 35% on June 2017, Geely remains by far the best-selling Chinese brand at home, celebrating a 27th consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains and its 10th month in a row above 100.000 units. In the remainder of the Top 10, only Chevrolet (+18%) impresses while Baojun (+3%) has now stabilised and both Buick (-22%) and Changan (-20%) freefall.

Mercedes (+27%) is back above Audi (-4%) as the #1 premium brand in China in terms of wholesales (no imports are accounted for here), with BMW (+20%) also in great shape but almost 9.000 units below Audi this month. The Chinese carmakers that have a smile on their face in June include Qoros (+678%), Brilliance (+101%), MG (+100%) thanks to the new 6 sedan, Changhe (+90%), Maxus (+69%), Hawtai (+58%) thanks to a new electrified lineup, Roewe (+52%), Yema (+40%), Landwind (+38%), Borgward (+28%), Hanteng (+22%) and BYD (+17%). Among foreigners, the most impressive are Jaguar (+65%), Citroen (+59%) thanks to the new C5 Aircross, Infiniti (+55%), Kia (+49%) also catching up on a dismal 2017 like sister brand Hyundai, Volvo (+29%) and Mitsubishi (+16%).

Reversely, Jinbei (-78%), Bisu (-68%), Weichai (-66%), Cowin (-63%) and Soueast (-62%), Haima (-57%), SWM (-46%), Lifan (-43%), Dongfeng (-39%), Leopaard (-38%), FAW (-25%), Karry (-25%), Wuling (-25%) JAC (-22%), Haval (-20%) hit full frontal by SUV disaffection, Foton (-19%) and Great Wall (-19%) are the worst performing locals. Among foreigners, Fiat posts zero sale in June, Suzuki (-61%) has decided this month to pull out of the Chinese market, Ford (-55%) continues to freefall, while Denza (-54%), Acura (-40%), DS (-35%), Jeep (-34%), Mazda (-23%) and Peugeot (-19%) all implode.

Among new brands recently launched in market, Great Wall’s WEY (+241%) shows spectacular year-on-year gains but has been steadily declining month-on-month since March, hitting just 10.481 units in June with 3 models (VV5, VV7 and P8) which is only 49% of its all-time high of 21.349 hit last December. In contest, its direct competitor, Geely’s Lynk & Co continues to progress, up 0.1% on May to a record 9.247 sales this month and still with only one nameplate, the 01, with the 02 and 03 slated for H2 2018. These two carmakers dominate recent launches in China head and shoulders, with the next best thing being Traum which seems to already have plateaued at 1.168 units (-4% on May). Next are Yudo (461), Xpeng (146) and June arrival COS (80), a new marque by Chana Oshan. EV makers Arcfox and Dearcc are both below 10 sales for the month.

Over in the models ranking, confirming the fall of grace of SUVs, the Top 5 best-sellers are all sedans, and this officially for the first time since August 2013 when the Wuling Hongguang was still counted as a commercial vehicle. However, inserting the Hongguang as it should be into the PC sales ranking from its launch in 2011 leads to an even more impressive feat by sedans this month: the Top 5 best-selling passenger cars in China are 100% sedans for the first time since January 2012. Leading the way is the VW Lavida (+26%) boosted by a new generation – and snapping the YTD lead off the Hongguang – ahead of the Nissan Sylphy (+32%) and Toyota Corolla (-0.4%) reproducing the May podium. The VW Santana (+81%) and Jetta (+14%) round up the Top 5, with Volkswagen even placing 5 nameplates in the Top 7 sedans: add the VW Sagitar (+3%) and Bora (+41%).

The Wuling Hongguang (-25%) skids down to #7 – its lowest ever ranking – cannibalised by the Baojun 360 up 37% on its inaugural month in May to record 11.002 units. The Haval H6 sinks 25% to #6 but overtakes the Baojun 510 YTD, ad the Geely Boyue (+4%) steps up to #2 best-selling SUV in China for the first time and the only other one inside the Top 10. For once, sedans monopolise the largest year-on-year gains in the Top 50 with the best performers including the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+740%), Hyundai Celesta (+485%), BMW 5 Series L (+123%), Toyota Camry (+73%), Geely Emgrand GL (+68%), Hyundai Mistra (+68%), Chevrolet Cavalier (+63%), Chevrolet Sail (+60%), Honda Fit (+58%), Mercedes C-Class L (+47%), Audi A4L (+31%), Mercedes E-Class L (+29%), Geely Emgrand (+25%), Honda Accord (+15%) and Geely Emgrand GS (+13%). Only the Hyundai ix35 (+1263%) boosted by the new model, the Changan CS35 (+19%), Nissan X-Trail (+14%) and Buick Envision (+10%) shine among SUVs.

The Baojun 530 (#26) is the most popular recent launch (<12 months) but is already down 12% on May to just above 15.000 units. It is followed by the BYD Song MAX (#38), Baojun 360 (#50), Geely Vision X3 (#56), Lynk & Co 01 (#66), Geely Vision S1 (#86), GAC Trumpchi GS3 (#88), Haval H4 (#93) up to a record 6.114 sales and Kia KX Cross (#102). Among nameplates launched last month in May, the Baojun 360 is obviously the best performer at +37% to #50, followed by the FAW Senia R9 up 232% to #160, the Skoda Kamiq up 554% to #183, Jeep Grand Commander up 703% to #184, Changhe A6 up 31% to #215, BMW X3 up 3090% to #242, VW T-Roc up 25250% to #278 and WEY P8 up 13% to #319. The Changhe Q7 is the only nameplate to see its sales drop vs. its inaugural month at -25% to #281.

Previous month: China May 2018: SUVs drop share for the first time in 6 years

One year ago: China June 2017: Buick Excelle in the lead, market back up

Full June 2018 Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 445 models below.


Belarus First Half 2018: Lada up 213% to #2 in market up 70.5%

The VW Polo and Lada Vesta are the two best-sellers in Bearus.

* See the Top 32 All-brands and Top 30 models by clicking on the title *

New car sales in Belarus shoot up an incredible 70.5% year-on-year over the First Half of 2018 to 23.196 units. Renault (+30%) remains the most popular carmaker in the country but significantly trails the market to post a 25.2% share vs. 33.1% a year ago. Lada on the other hand is up 3-fold at +213% to achieve a 18.1% share, almost doubling the 9.9% it commended over the same period in 2017. As a result Lada overtakes Volkswagen (+51%) for 2nd place overall while Nissan (+94%) and Kia (+86%) both outpace the market to round up the Top 5. Hyundai (+92%), GAZ (+82%) and Ford (+79%) also shine in the Top 10 but the best performer is Chinese Geely with deliveries up 4-fold (+311%) to crack the Belorussian Top 10 at #9. Further down, Changan (+3600%), Haval (+243%), Mitsubishi (+224%), Chery (+196%), Mercedes (+95%) and Mazda (+85%) make themselves noticed. As a whole, Chinese carmakers jump 351% to hold 5.4% of the Belorussian market so far in 2018 vs. just 2% a year ago.

The Geely Atlas breaks into the Belorussian Top 10.

Model-wise, the VW Polo is headed towards a 6th connective year atop the sales charts despite trailing the market at +41% to see its share thaw from 11.4% to 9.5%. The Lada Vesta storms onto the podium thanks to sales up 9-fold on the same period in 2017 when it launched to 8.5% share. The Vesta knocks the Renault Sandero down to #2: it is up “just” 29% to 7.1% share vs. 9.4% a year ago while the Renault Logan is up a fantastic 111% but also drops one spot to #4, as do the Renault Duster (-10%) and Kaptur (+13%). The Kia Rio (+252%) is boosted by its new X-Line crossover-looking variant and the Largus (+189%) enjoys a second wind at #7. But the mots impressive performer in the Top 10 is the Geely Atlas landing directly at #10. Further down, the Lada XRAY (+221%), Nissan Almera (+159%), GAZ Next (+132%), Lada Granta (+125%), Nissan Terrano (+123%) and VW Tiguan (+109%) make themselves noticed.

Previous post: Belarus First Quarter 2018: VW Polo leads, Geely Atlas up to #13

One year ago: Belarus H1 2017: VW Polo leads, Kaptur #4, four Renaults in Top 5

Full H1 2018 Top 32 All-brands and Top 30 models below.


Chile June 2018: Suzuki leads, Chinese up 47% in market up 21.6%

Maxus sales are up 345% year-on-year in Chile in June, helping Chinese carmakers up 47%.

* See the Top 50 best-selling brands by clicking on the title *

New vehicle sales in Chile soar 21.6% year-on-year in June to 33.228 units, that’s a 6th consecutive double-digit year-on-year gain and a new all-time record for the month lifting the year-to-date volume up 24.3% to 202.130 sales, also a new record halfway through the year. This month, Passenger Cars gain 11.9% to 81.435, SUVs are up 31.9% to 69.578, light commercials up 20.6% to 32.107 and medium/heavy commercials up 34.1% to 19.010. Suzuki soars 46% year-on-year to take the lead of the brands ranking for the 2nd time this year after last February, ranking #2 YTD at 8% share. Kia (+16%) is up four spots on May to #2 despite trailing the market, ahead of Toyota (+32%) and Nissan (+22%) whereas Chevrolet (-4%) and Hyundai (-0.3%) the May leader both significantly under-perform. Further down, notice Opel (+386%), the Chrysler Group (+101%), BMW (+82%), Volvo (+46%), Mercedes (+36%), Volkswagen (+33%), Land Rover (+32%), Mazda (+31%) and Skoda (+30%) all posting stunning gains just as Chinese carmakers, as a whole up 47%, continue to shine, notably Maxus (+345%), Changan (+125%), Dongfeng (+114%), ZNA (+63%), Foton (+62%), JAC (+59%) and Lifan (+46%).

Previous month: Chile May 2018: Hyundai leads, Chinese up 56% in market up 18.1%

One year ago: Chile June 2017: Chevrolet back to #1, Chinese brands up 46%

Full June 2018 Top 50 brands ranking below.


Pakistan June 2018: Toyota and Honda strong in market up 19.8%

Honda sales are up 27% in Pakistan in June.

* See the Top 3 Pakistan-made brands and Top 12 models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to PAMA we can share with you June sales of locally-produced light vehicles in Pakistan, a fair representation of what the best-sellers are here, given high taxes make imports negligible. The market is up 19.8% year-on-year in June to 18.518 units, lifting the year-to-date volume up 16.4% to 134.494. Brand leader Suzuki (+15%) trails the market at 55.9% share whereas Toyota (+26%) and Honda (+27%) both outpace the overall growth. The Top 6 best-selling models are identical to the YTD order with the Toyota Corolla (+18%), Suzuki Mehran (+20%) and Suzuki WagonR (+61%) on the podium followed by the Honda Civic (+40%) and Suzuki Bolan (+23%). The Toyota Fortuner (+73%) and Hilux (+68%) shine.

Previous month: Pakistan May 2018: Toyota up 20% in market up 5.3%

One year ago: Pakistan June 2017: Suzuki Cultus and Wagon R shine, market down 2%

Full June 2018 Top 3 Pakistan-made brands and Top 12 models below.


Singapore June 2018: Honda (+80%), Hyundai (+322%) impress in market up 26.8%

Honda sales surge 80% year-on-year in Singapore in June.

* See the Top 40 All-brands by clicking on the title *

The Singaporean new car market scores its second year-on-year gain of 2018 in splendid fashion with a 26.8% surge to 10.464 registrations leading to a half-war tally at 43.377, still down 5.25% due to four months of decline in the First Half of 2018. Honda brilliantly holds onto the brands top spot thanks to deliveries soaring 80% year-on-year to 25.5% share, distancing Toyota/Lexus up 33% to 23.4%. Hyundai is up 4-fold (+322%) to step onto the podium and earns the 4th spot YTD vs. #9 in FY2017. Mercedes (+25%) and BMW (+19%) round up the Top 5 but both trail the market. Notice also Skoda (+2600%), Peugeot (+226%), Volvo (+121%) and Audi (+53%) also posting spectacular gains.

Previous month: Singapore May 2018: Honda remains in charge in market down 11.9%

One year ago: Singapore June 2017: Toyota reclaims year-to-date lead

Full June 2018 Top XX All-brands ranking below.


Cyprus June 2018: Kia Rio #1, VW T-Roc in Top 10, market down 26.7%

The VW T-Roc breaks into the Cyprus Top 10.

* See the Top 30 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to our partnership with SEMO Cyprus and INNOSOFT, we can share with you today new car sales data for Cyprus new car sales data for June when the market sinks 26.7% to 1.146 units. Year-to-date sales remain in positive at +1.3% to 7.614 registrations. This month the Kia Rio takes the lead despite deliveries down 39% to 5.1%, distancing the Toyota C-HR (stable), Kia Sportage (+15%), Nissan Qashqai (+19%) and Hyundai Tucson (+39%). The VW T-Roc storms into the Top 10 at an estimated 7th place, earning a spot inside the YTD Top 30 (#27) and becoming the brand’s best-seller in Cyprus for the month. The Range Rover Evoque (+1150%), Kia Picanto (+144%) and Toyota RAV4 (+100%) also impress in the Top 15.

Previous month: Cyprus May 2018: Nissan Qashqai takes control

One year ago: Cyprus June 2017: Ford Fiesta leads, Toyota C-HR up to #5

Full June Top 30 models ranking below.


France First Half 2018: Dacia passes Volkswagen to #4, Top 13 is 100% French for first time since 1979

The new Duster (+46%) helps push Dacia up to #4 brand for the first time in a half-year ranking.

* Now updated with the Top 40 brands, Top 270 models, Top 10 private sales, Top 10 LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models – click on title to see *

“In a country caught by a forgotten fever, the French soccer team has instilled in the nation, by mimetism, a dose of energy and self-confidence that it sometimes misses (L’Equipe/La Croix).” Today we celebrate the French victory in the Soccer World Cup with complete June and H1 2018 data. We mentioned earlier the “World Cup” effect that can vitalise car sales in nations with a surprisingly good performance at the World Cup. During the year of its last victory in 1998, French new car sales saw a fantastic 14% uplift, and this year’s victory was also unexpected. As you will see below, the French new car market is already robust in 2018 but the team’s victory could strengthen sales further over the second half of the year. We’ll know more when September figures get released in early October, as Summer sales are always disrupted by holidays.

Helped by June sales amounting to the third largest volume of any month in history, new car sales in France gain a solid 4.6% year-on-year over the First Half of 2018 to 1.188.127 units. This is the largest H1 volume since the all-time record of 2011 (1.225.148) and the fifth largest ever, after 2001 (1.204.411), 1990 (1.200.103) and 2010 (1.189.434). Up until the nineties, the new model-year in France was in July and resulted in sales brought forward to that month and comparatively low H1 scores, but nowadays H1 sales are on average 17% higher than H2 in France, making the H1 records above the actual straight out half-year records. Keeping this in mind, the French market is headed towards at least 2.2 million registrations in 2018, which would put it at its best since 2011 again but only 8th all-time with the best years ever remaining 1990 (2.309.130), 1989 (2.274.307) and 2009 (2.268.671). Yet another 4.5% uplift in 2019 would result in a straight out record year. Private sales have outpaced the market through the entire semester, reversing a five-year old trend and giving a welcome injection of health into the overall market: they gain 6.3% over the period to 560.832 units and 47.2% share vs. 46.4% a year ago.

France – annual and half-year all time volume records:

Meanwhile diesel sales continue to freefall and are now down to 40% share over the First Half of 2018 vs. 47% in FY2017 and 67% five years ago in 2013 (see CCFA graph above).

The 3008 enables Peugeot to deliver a 7.6% uplift so far in 2018. Picture

Among the Top 3 French carmakers, Peugeot is clearly above the rest and the only one outpacing its home market with a 7.6% gain to 18% share. Renault (+2.3%) is more discreet and falls below the symbolic 20% share mark as a result while Citroen (-0.4%) inexplicably struggles even with the new C3 now in cruise control and the arrival of the C3 Aircross. It’s the second consecutive semester (and potentially second ever) below 10% for the carmaker that became famous with the original DS. Thanks to the new Duster and an ever-green Sandero, this year Dacia surges 20.8%, stepping up to a new dimension and overtaking Volkswagen to rank #4 overall for the first time in any half-year. In the private sales channels Dacia cements its third place below just Renault and Peugeot and above Citroen and, of course, Volkswagen. This is a stunning performance for a brand that was completely unknown by the entire French population only a little over a decade ago. Adequately, its 6.5% share and 77.700 volume are the highest 6-month results in the brand’s history in France with a new all-time record monthly share (7.5%) hit in April.

Fiat sales are up 19.7% year-on-year, prodded by the 500 and Panda.

Only Fiat (+19.7%) markedly outperforms the market in the remainder of the Top 10, wth Toyota (+5.1%) matching the overall growth, Volkswagen (+3.3%) trailing slightly and Nissan (-13.7%), Ford (-4.5%) and Opel (-4.2%) all receding. Just outside the Top 10, the 3 premium Germans are all in difficulty and see their order completely reshuffled. Mercedes (+0.8%) is now the most popular thanks to a meagre increase whereas BMW (-2.9%) remains in 2nd place and Audi (-13.7%) implodes. In contrast, Jeep (+37.1%), Hyundai (+25.6%), Skoda (+21.7%), DS (+20.1%), Kia (+19.6%), Suzuki (+18.8%) and Seat (+18.2%) all post very vigorous gains further down. Alpine (#34) confirms its renaissance with 384 sales of the new A110 over the period.

The Renault Clio is headed towards an 8th consecutive title of best-selling car in France.

Over in the models ranking, there is no surprise on top with the Renault Clio (+9%) headed towards an 8th consecutive annual win, the longest winning streak for any nameplate in France since the Renault 5 topped the annual charts for ten consecutive years from 1974 to 1983. The Clio even widens the gap with its eternal rival the Peugeot 208 (+3%). But below the two leaders, the ranking gets a good shake. The Peugeot 3008 soars 26% to land on the third step of the podium, a position it has already managed over the Full Year 2017. The 3008/5008 tandem was even the “unofficial” best-selling vehicle in France in January, February, April and May. Still reaping the added sales of the new generation, the Citroen C3 (+13%) leaps three spots to #4, overtaking the Renault Captur (+7%), Peugeot 2008 (-4%) and 308 (-7%) while the Dacia Sandero jumps 12% and two ranks to #6. The Sandero however remains by far the favourite choice of private buyers at almost 33.000 units (+10%) ahead of the Peugeot 208 over 28.000 (+18%) and the Renault Clio under 27.000 (+15%).

The Citroen C3 Aircross is the most popular new launch and marks 13 French nameplates in the Top 13.

But the best performer in the Top 10 is the Dacia Duster, propped up 46% by the new generation and up five spots to #9, making it two Dacias in a half-year Top 10 for the first time in French history. The Duster hasn’t ranked inside the French annual Top 10 since 2011 which was its only stint so far among the country’s ten favourites. The Duster also ranks 5th in the private sales ranking at +53% – that’s two Dacias in the private Top 5, a record. Below the Renault Scenic (-2%), Twingo (+27%) and Megane (-10%), the Citroen C3 Aircross lands directly at #13 with over 21.000 sales and 1.8% share. This means that counting Dacia as French because Renault-owned, there are 13 French nameplates in the Top 13 vs. 12 in the Top 12 over H1 and FY 2017. If held until the end of the year, this would be the strongest contingent of French nameplates since 1979 when the Top 15 best-sellers were French, the most popular foreigner then being the Golf at 2% share. This year, the #1 foreign car is once again the VW Polo (+0.2%) hardly up despite a brand new generation, ahead of the Toyota Yaris (+14%), Fiat 500 (+21%) and VW Golf (-1%).

The VW T-Roc directly lands inside the Top 30.

The VW T-Roc (#28) is the only other all-new nameplate in the Top 50, and is followed by the Opel Grandland X (#58), Seat Arona (#67), DS 7 Crossback (#70), Kia Stonic (#84) and Hyundai Kona (#86). The Opel Crossland X (+924%) celebrating just over one year in market, Renault Koleos (+203%), Peugeot 5008 (+163%), Ford Mondeo (+120%), Fiat Panda (+107%), Nissan Micra (+98%), Kia Picanto (+68%), Suzuki Swift (+61%), Ford Ecosport (+56%) and Mini Countryman (+55%) also perform greatly. Sales of light commercial vehicles outpace passenger cars at +5.1% over the First Half 2018 to 241.265 units. Distant brand leader Renault trails the market slightly at +3.1%, leading to a thawed share at 30.8% vs. 31.4% a year ago. Peugeot (+4.7%) matches the overall growth at 17.2% share while contrary to its passenger car performance, Citroen (+13.9%) is the most dynamic Big 3 French carmaker when it comes to LCV sales, seeing its share jump from 14.9% a year ago to 16.2% now.

The Citroen Jumpy LCV is up 11% year-on-year so far in 2018.

Fiat (+1.5%) easily remains the #1 foreign brand at 9.1% share, distancing Ford (+3.7%) while Mercedes (+9.6%) overtakes Volkswagen (-3%) to #6. The Renault Kangoo (-1%) and Clio (-1%) easily cement their lead despite declines while the Renault Master (+6%) and Citroen Berlingo (+18%) advance in the ranking to close up the Top 4. Other great performers include the Citroen Jumper (+20%), Peugeot Boxer (+18%), Peugeot Expert (+17%) and Citroen Jumpy (+11%). In the pickup truck aisle, the Ford Ranger (+11%) keeps the title of best-seller at #20 overall, distancing the Toyota Hilux (+7%) at #25. The Nissan NP300 (-8%) is in difficulty at #30 but the VW Amarok (+11%) and Isuzu D-Max (+24%) are all guns blazing as is the Renault Alaskan making its appearance at #54 vs. #63 over the Full Year 2017. The twins Mitsubishi L200 (-7%) and Fiat Fullback (-24%) decline.

Previous post: France June 2018: Renault, Dacia, Fiat lift market to 3rd largest monthly volume in history

One year ago: France First Half 2017: Market lifted up 3% by tactical sales

Full H1 2018 Top 40 brands, Top 270 models, Top 10 LCV brands and Top 100 LCV models below.

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France June 2018: Renault, Dacia, Fiat lift market to third largest monthly volume in history

Fiat is up 42.4% to hit its highest ranking in France this decade at #6

* Now updated with the Top 45 brands, Top 265 models and Top 10 private sales – click on title to see *

At +9.2% to 252.222 registrations in June, the French new car market posts a sixth consecutive year-on-year gain, its largest leap this year so far and, most impressively, a new all-time record for June – beating the 235.137 previous best established in 2009. It is also the largest outright monthly volume in two decades, the third largest monthly volume in history and only the third time the French market surpasses the quarter-million mark in a single month after July 1999 (292.625) and December 1988 (257.349). Satisfyingly, as it has been the case in 2018 this growth is relatively healthy, with private sales up 7.1% to 112.271 and company/government sales + leases up 12.5% to 56.263. Self-registrations by manufacturers sink 47.8% to 1.187, demo sales trail the market at +5% to 39.818 but short-term rental sales shoot up 33.7% to 32.193 as rental companies stock up for the summer holiday season. Diesel sales have stabilised at 40% of the market since March vs. 49% in June 2017.

Renault Twingo sales surge 62% year-on-year in June.

As is the tradition with the carmaker, Renault backloads its sales at the end of the quarter even more so this year at +12.4% to 23.6% share vs. 19.9% YTD. The is Renault’s highest share at home in two years, since the 25.1% hit in June 2016. The carmaker is particularly strong in the company/lease channel at a splendid +41% to 21.047 units, but also through typically artificial channels such as short-term rentals shooting up 86% to 9.437. Demo sales are also down (-4.2%) but remain high at 8.899. Reading through the lines, in fact private buyers have scolded the brand this month at a painful -15% to 16.820 units, only representing 28% of Renault’s June sales and frankly outsold by Peugeot (18.472) which is an impressive feat as end of periods are normally “owned” by Renault across all channels.

The 5008 (+41%) helps Peugeot up 4.6% in June at home.

Peugeot advances much more slowly at +4.6% to 17%, but its growth is somewhat healthier than Renault with private sales up 5.4% to top the market, even though demo sales (+12.7%) and short-term rental sales (+22.5%) are more dynamic. Finally feeling the benefits of the new C3 Aircross and C4 Cactus and with the C5 Aircross just hitting the market, Citroen records its first double-digit gain of the year at +11.1% to 9.7%, lifted by an exceptional performance with private buyers at +23.7% to 11.287.

Dacia ranks 4th brand overall for the 4th time this year.

Dacia at #4 overall above Volkswagen has become the new normal in 2018 (January, April, May and June) but it had only ever happened twice before this year: in March 2010 and August 2017. In June, the low-cost brand posts another spectacular 28.2% year-on-year gain to 6.6% share and remains #3 with private buyers above Citroen, up 24.5% to 12.522. Not that Volkswagen isn’t keeping up either: the German carmaker confirms it has no competition among foreign brands with deliveries up 19% to 6.3%, a dynamism spread across demo sales (+32%), short-term rentals (+31.3%) and private sales (+16.4%).

Seat is up 50.4% thanks mainly to its best-seller the Arona.

It’s however Fiat, at polar opposites from its paltry performance at home in Italy, that manages the largest gain in the Top 15 at +42.4%, hitting its highest monthly ranking this decade at #6, compared with #12 during the tail end of 2017 in both November and December. And for once, Fiat’s growth is healthy with private sales up 57%, helped by short-term rentals up 75% and demo sales up 10.7%. Toyota (+15.7%) also impresses in the remainder of the Top 10 while below, Seat (+50.4%), DS (+38.7%) thanks solely to the 7 Crossback (#38) representing 42% of the brand’s June deliveries, Kia (+30.3%), Skoda (+23.1%) and Volvo (+22.3%) make themselves noticed. At the other end of the scale, Ford (-21.6%), Nissan (-15.2%) as well as the Top 3 premium Germans Mercedes (-19.6%), BMW (-11.8%) and Audi (-4.5%) all endure painful falls.

The DS 7 Crossback is up to a record #38, pushing DS sales up 38.7% this month.

Propelled by backloaded artificial deliveries, the Renault Clio sails off at +19% to 7% share, that’s 60% above its long-term rival the Peugeot 208 (+7%). The Renault Captur(+11%) is back on the podium as it has been the case over the past five quarter ends, knocking the Peugeot 3008 (now plateauing at -1%) down to #4. The Renault Twingo (+62%), Dacia Duster (+29%), Sandero (+27%) and Citroen C3 (+19%) also frankly outpace the market near the top. The Citroen C3 Aircross drops one spot on May to #13 but remains by far the best-selling recent launch in France (<12 months) ahead of the VW T-Roc (#28), DS 7 Crossback (#38) and the Seat Arona (#55). Strong performers also include the Opel Crossland X (+178%), Fiat Panda (+117%), Kia Picanto (+101%), BMW X1 (+67%), Toyota C-HR (+55%), Renault Koleos (+47%) and Kangoo (+46%).

Previous month: France May 2018: Peugeot 3008 up to #2, Dacia Duster at highest in 4 years

One year ago: France June 2017: Peugeot 3008 up to #4, breaks market share record

Full June 2018 Top 45 brands, Top 265 models and Top 10 private sales below.

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China 2018 Photo Reports: The cars (and LSEVs) of Zhongwei, Ningxia

Outstanding local snacks and LSEVs: that’s the Zhongwei vibe for you.

This is Part 9 and the last iteration of our 2018 China exploration. You can check out Part 1: The cars of Beijing and using the Didi app herePart 2: Renting a car in China here, Part 3: The cars of Yinchuan, Ningxia province herePart 4: The cars of Bayanhot, Inner Mongolia herePart 5: The Gobi and Tengger deserts herePart 6: The cars of Alashan Youqi, Inner Mongolia herePart 7: The Badain Jaran desert here and Part 8: The cars of Jiayuguan, Gansu province here. For this last section we are headed back east towards Yinchuan where I must return my rental VW Lavida, and we stop on the way in Zhongwei in the Ningxia province, a full day, 750km (466mi) southeastern drive. Yinchuan is then a quick 200km (125mi) north.

After a near-miss, a providential servo and a Zhongwei hotel not quite used to English yet.

But first, drama almost strikes just before I arrive in Zhongwei after nightfall. Incorrect highway signage announcing one last petrol station that ended up not being completed yet means I almost run out of fuel after exiting the highway, as the “Around me” app on my phone failed me not once, but twice, leading me to venues where the actual petrol stations had long closed down and gone bust. So between the servos that weren’t there just yet, and the ones that had disappeared by the time I arrive, I watched the “Refuel soon” alarm on my rental Lavida go from a casual ICYMI alert to a “drop everything and feed me!” scream that monopolised my dashboard screen and anxiously wondered how many additional km I was allowed to drive “dry”. It all ended well with a providential servo inside Zhongwei.

Cars in the Shapotou parking lot included a yellow BAW Jeep and a pink VW Sagitar.

Shapotou is the reason why I stopped in Zhongwei. On paper, it sounds like a fantastic place: 17km (11mi) west of town, it lies on the fringes of the Tengger Desert at the dramatic convergence of sand dunes, the yellow river and lush farmlands. But in reality it’s a tourist circus with zip lines, overcrowded rafting “boats” and off-road buggy rentals. Very far from the calm and serenity of the Badain Jaran desert we visited a couple of days ago. I don’t stay long, and choose instead to snap pictures of the most interesting cars parked in the gigantic tourist parking lot.

Foton SUP, Great Wall Wingle 6 and Wuling Mini Truck in Zhongwei.

Although it is home to 1.041.821 inhabitants, Zhongwei remains a Tier 4 city – see an excellent Tier calculation explanation and complete map of all Chinese cities by the South China Morning Post here. This means a few things in terms of car landscape: Chinese carmakers have a strong dealership network here, local crossovers fuel the national surge we have seen in the past 5 years, pickup trucks remain the surefire choice in town and the most popular foreign manufacturers are the ones offering affordable options, not the premium Germans dominant in the largest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Zhongwei taxis are mainly Skoda Rapid and VW Jetta.

We are now definitely back into civilisation with a large town and a strong need for cheap public transportation. The taxis are mainly Skoda Rapid – a first in the Chinese towns I have visited so far – and VW Jetta, and the Wuling Hongguang and other mini- and microvans are back atop the sales rankings, as is the Wuling Mini Truck whose popularity never really faded during this 2018 exploration, except in Bayanhot.

Nissan Kicks and Lifan Myway in Zhongwei

As expected local crossovers have convinced many buyers in town, with the Geely Vision SUV once again among the favourites – it has been in every city I visited, the FAW Besturn X40 being one other notable success here. The VW Bora is the favourite sedan in Zhongwei and the Chevrolet Cavalier has already established itself solidly here. Venucia as a brand is also strong here.

Red carpet for Traum and Geely at the mini Zhongwei pop up Auto Show…

But without a doubt the most interesting element of my Zhongwei visit is the mini pop up Auto Show that suddenly appeared in one of the town’s main street on the morning of my departure, complete with street food vendors – notably one of the local delicacies, a delicious spicy tofu. There were “traditional” carmakers, and the list is telling for a Tier 4 city such as Zhongwei: Traum, a new brand by Zotye which wasn’t at the Beijing Auto Show, and Geely the current #1 Chinese brand at home.

One of the main streets of Zhongwei was transformed into a mini pop up Auto Show when I visited.

However to me the most interesting element of this pop up Auto Show is the dominating presence of LSEV carmakers (Low-Speed Electric Vehicles). And it’s a great opportunity for us to start covering LSEVs on BSCB. Sales of LSEVs in China surged 79.1% from 688.000 units in 2015 to 1.232 million in 2017 and probably over 1.5 million in 2017, but these sales aren’t covered in the monthly statistics we publish on BSCB as these vehicles, which don’t require a driver licence to be operated, are not considered “real” cars. With a top speed traditionally limited to 50 to 60km/h (30-35 mph), LSEVs are not authorised to leave the city centres.

Yogomo 330, X350 and Han Tang brochure

Absent from the largest cities in the country, LSEVs are more and more frequent in smaller towns such as Alashan Youqi. Clearly, Zhongwei had been deemed a perfect breeding ground for LSEVs judging by their overwhelming presence in this pop up Auto Show. Note our Exclusive Guide does not currently include LSEV carmakers as it would add a staggering 50+ brands to the 174 currently active, but we do keep a close eye on LSEV makers as at least four of them have already “graduated” to so-called high-speed EVs such as Levdeo, Senyuan, Yogomo through the YGM brand and Zuojun.

Baoya Yabei and Levdeo D70

Among the LSEV carmakers present at the Zhongwei pop up Show were Levdeo which seems to stand out as one of the leaders in the category, showing its D70 hatch but also its V60 sedan and S50 crossover which aren’t LSEVs but high-speed EVs, Yogomo showing off its 330 and X340 hatches, Baoya propping no less than three examples of the Yabei. Here is the list of the 54 LSEV makers we have been able to compile to date: AGSEV, AIMA, Baoya (宝雅), Bidewen, Bodo, BYVIN, Conors, Dayang, Dexing, Dojo, Entu, Fulu, Henghe Fuxing, Hongdi, Hongri, Inmax, Jiayuan, Jijie Tule, Jingcai, Jinpeng, Jinxiang, Kaiyun, Levdeo, Lewei, Lichi, Lishededidong, Longqi, Luxing, Qianli, Qifeng, Qingqi, Rainchst, Rattle, Reiters, Sendi, Senyuan, Shaolin, Shenghao, Shifeng, SUNRA, Tieke, Today, T.R.P, Weikerui, Xinyuma, Xinyuzhou, Xuanyu, Xuzhou, Yadea, Yogomo (御捷), Zhonghui, Zhongjue,  Zhongxin and Zuojun.

The Haval H6 is one of the cars I was able to test drive in Yinchuan before flying back to Australia.

In the few hours I have between my return in Yinchuan and my flight back to Beijing I managed to test drive the Baojun 510, Haval H6 and Geely Boyue. See the Test Drive reports and videos here. We end the trip with my rental VW Lavida displaying 31.021 km on the odo, that’s 2.565 km (1.593 mi) in 6 days in what will remain my very first driving adventure in China, and hopefully the first of many to come. If you are wondering how it is possible to rent a car and drive (almost) anywhere in China as a foreigner, all the steps to do so are here. I hope you enjoyed exploring the lesser known parts of China with me this year, it’s over for this year but we will take it where we left it in 2019 for the Shanghai Auto Show. 谢谢你,再见! Xiexie Ni, Zaijian! Thank you and good bye!

China 2018 Photo Reports: The cars of Jiayuguan, Gansu province

Geely Vision SUV in Jiayuguan, Gansu province

This is Part 8 of our 2018 China exploration. You can check out Part 1: The cars of Beijing and using the Didi app herePart 2: Renting a car in China here, Part 3: The cars of Yinchuan, Ningxia province herePart 4: The cars of Bayanhot, Inner Mongolia herePart 5: The Gobi and Tengger deserts herePart 6: The cars of Alashan Youqi, Inner Mongolia here and Part 7: The Badain Jaran desert here. For this next iteration we leave the desertic regions of Western Inner Mongolia and travel 350km south-west to Jiayuguan in the Gansu province.

Our itinerary from Alashan Youqi to Jiayuguan, the only Lynk & Co 01 of the trip

To reach the Gansu province from the Badain Jaran desert we must first zig zag down a barrier of mountains where goats happily roam the highway. Then, it’s a high speed valley all the way through a lunar landscape. It’s on this highway that I spotted the only Lynk & Co 01 I would see in my ten days in China. You can check out my exclusive test drive of the Lynk & Co 02 here. On the way back from Jiayuguan to Yinchuan to the east, I also scored my very first Chinese speed ticket!

The Jiayuguan Fort

Jiayuguan is located at the western extremity of the Great Wall of China – you can see our 2013 exploration of the Badaling section of Great Wall located near Beijing here. The main attraction in town and one of the classic images of Western China is the grandiose Jiayuguan Fort, dating from the Ming dynasty and built out of tamped earth in 1372. It stands like a full stop at the end of the Great Wall. Then, it was seen by the Chinese as the last outpost of civilisation, beyond which lay barbarian country reserved to banished criminals. The fort thus gives the town a very significant strategic importance, even if outdated.

English translations err on the romantic side in Jiayuguan Fort.

Exploring it confirms the imposing nature of the structure, and a clean and pure architectural style, as well as very well restored buildings following a refurbishment in 2015. But what makes the location awe-inspiring is its surroundings, with a horizon of snowy mountains overhanging in the distance. There are no cars to be observed in the close vicinity of the fort as it is a pedestrian-only area, but I still found a way to amuse myself with a couple of approximative English translations of warning signs, probably word-for-word from Mandarin, revealing the romantic nature of the Chinese language…

FAW Xiali N7, FAW Senya R7, Leopaard CS10 and Wuling Mini Truck in Jiayuguan.

Notwithstanding its cultural significance, Jiayuguan is also a relatively sizeable town of 231.000 inhabitants, however in China this doesn’t lift the town higher than Tier 4 level, the lowest of all Tiers. See an excellent Tier calculation explanation by the South China Morning Post here. This Tier level dictates which carmakers operate in town, strongly skewed towards Chinese brands such as Leopaard, Great Wall, FAW and Wuling, relatively rare in the largest cities in the country.

Haval H6, Haval H9 and Changan CS55 in Jiayuguan.

As it is the case in almost all secondary Chinese towns we have visited in the past 5 years, SUVs are the visible engine of growth in Jiayuguan. Changan is particularly strong in town with its CS75 SUV and its sedan lineup as well as the Chana CX70. Contrary to the previous regions we have visited this year, the success of the Haval H6 in Jiayuguan hasn’t really spread towards the rest of the brand’s lineup, except perhaps the H9. Also of note are the Haima S5 and Geely Vision SUV.

Hyundai Elantra and VW Santana taxis, Maxus T60 in Jiayuguan.

Hyundai (Tucson, ix25, new ix35) and Kia (KX3) seem to be the most popular foreign carmakers below Volkswagen. In fact, the taxis of Jiayuguan are mainly various generations of Hyundai Elantra and VW Santana. Pickups remain dominant in town with the Wingle still topping the charts but it is much less frequent than in Bayanhot and Alashan Youqi in neighbouring Inner Mongolia. The novelty is the stream of obscure pickups: JMC, JMCG and JAC brands are frequent.

Geely Vision in a service area, and my rental VW Lavida near the overhanging Great Wall in Jiayuguan.

Confirming our observations in the more remote areas of this exploration, as soon as we return to more densely populated regions, the Wuling Hongguang reclaims its rank near or at the top of the local charts as it is used as an intercity mini bus. The Wuling Mini Truck, a mini pickup derived from the Rongguang microvan, however has my vote as the best-seller in Jiayuguan, a city focused on manufacturing and small businesses which is the perfect environment for this type of vehicles.

Stay tuned for the last iteration of our 2018 Chinese exploration ending in Zhongwei, still in the Gansu province.