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China May 2013: Focus on the all-new models

Beijing Senova D China May 2013The Beijing Senova D is based on the Saab 9-5.

* See the Top 304 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! *

Today I inaugurate a new series on BSCB. With the Chinese new car market growing and evolving at breakneck speed and displaying more and more models, I figured it could be a good idea to focus on the models that enter the ranking each month. This way we are all aware of the latest newcomers in this fascinating market. Note these will always be models manufactured in China as import stats are still a little wobbly for China. You can also check out the general China May 2013 article here.

VW Gran Lavida China May 2013VW Gran Lavida

In May we welcome 5 all-new models in the Chinese ranking. The most popular is the VW Gran Lavida, which is none other than a compact station wagon version of 2013’s best-seller. I may decide in the next few months to count its sales along with the Lavida but given it has been baptised with a slightly different nameplate let’s consider it as an all-new model for now. Borrowing its rear from the Audi A3 sportback, the Gran Lavida sells 2,021 units for its first month in market to rank at #157. It will be interesting to follow the career of the Gran Lavida as China does not have a history of strong station wagon sales…

The next best-selling newcomer in China in May is the Beijing Senova D. Now there is an interesting story behind this model. The Senova D is produced by Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (or BAIC) which I abbreviated as Beijing, and under its bonnet is the platform and engine technology of feu the Saab 9-5, the rights for which BAIC bought from General Motors in 2009. After being unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show, the Senova D was launched on May 13 in China with a big budget 90 second commercial featuring American actor Nicolas Cage (see video above) and a decidedly sporty positioning… The Senova D enters the Chinese ranking at #225 with 517 sales.

Dongfeng Fengguang China May 2013Dongfeng Fengguang

At #242 with a still shy 308 units we find the Dongfeng Fengguang, a mini MPV with the front of a VW Touran. Dongfeng has been very successful at home in the MPV segment with its 3 best-sellers being MPVs. It even improved its scores in 2013 with the Future up to #37 and #2 best-selling MPV in the country year-to-date vs. #60 in 2012, the Joyear at #72 YTD and the Shuai at #117 this month vs. #140 YTD. The Fengguang is smaller so may follow a different trajectory but this first month of sales is a little weak for it to hope to shake the ranking this year.

BAW Beijing 007 China May 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comBAW (Beijing) 007

The BAW (Beijing) 007 makes its first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month at #253 with 219 sales and even though it borrows its name from James Bond (I wonder how BAW managed that feat), it has nothing slick about it and looks like it could have been launched 15 years ago. That could be because it was originally unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show in… April 2010, but somehow hasn’t shown up in the sales charts since. The 007 could potentially work in the Chinese Far West where buyers are less concerned with brand image and need a robust (?) SUV to tackle rough roads.

FAW Hongqi H7 China May 2013FAW Hongqi H7

Finally the last new entrant in the Chinese new car market in May is the FAW Hongqi H7 at #270 with just 76 sales. Now this is a fascinating one. Hongqi (“Red flag” in Chinese) is a luxury marque now owned by FAW but Hongqi cars were the first domestically produced Chinese passenger vehicles in 1958! They were only for high-ranking party elite who now prefer Audis… Within the FAW stable of brands, Hongqi actually competes with Besturn and as a result showrooms for both brands were merged in 2008. There had only been 4 Hongqi models produced since 1958, successively based on the 1955 Chrysler, Audi 100, Lincoln Town Car and Toyota Crown Majesta. The Hongqi H7 is therefore only the brand’s 5th model in 55 years! Note the grille based on the traditional design of a Chinese fan which has been a distinctive feature on all Hongqis since 1958.

Previous post: China May 2013: VW Lavida leads, Ford Ecosport up

Previous month: China April 2013: Honda CR-V up to #4, Nissan Teana takes off

One year ago: China May 2012: Chevrolet Sail leads the way, Ford Focus #2

See more info on these models and the May 2013 Top 304 All-models below.

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