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China 5 months 2014: Wuling Hongguang tests new heights

5 Wuling HongguangWuling Hongguang in Beijing

* See the Top 348 All-models and Top 66 brands by clicking on the title! *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after exploring the May sales figures in detail and focusing on the all-new models launched this month, we go through the year-to-date rankings to try and extract longer-term trends. 348 locally produced models ranked, one above 300,000 sales already this year, two above 200,000, 15 above 100,000, 164 above 10,000 and 51 all-new entrants: the Chinese year-to-date ranking is all yours below. According to many analysts (not me), every year is the year that the Chinese car sales ‘bubble’ will explode, as it cannot sustain such growth levels year after year. Well 2014 is not that year. The Chinese market is up a very healthy 9% on 2013 after 5 months to a record 9,84 million units, on track to reach an astounding 24 million by end of year.

VW Gran Lavida China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Gran Lavida

As opposed to last year when the race to pole position was rather tight, we have one clear winner in 2014: the Wuling Hongguang, gaining over 100,000 units year-on-year – the sales of the Chevrolet Cruze or Sail! – or 45% to reach a record 320,451 units. Never before had any Passenger Car passed the 300,000 annual sales so fast. The Hongguang is the poster child for a long-term trend at play in China: consumers in rural and remote areas upgrading their flimsy minivans (think Wuling Sunshine) to larger, sturdier, more ‘luxurious’ but not that much more expensive budget MPVs. The Chana Honor up 116% and 41 spots to #26 and the Dongfeng Future up 23% and 7 ranks to #31 also illustrate this trend.

Ford Focus China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Focus

The tremendous success of the Hongguang also shows that selling well in Top-Tier cities is not enough anymore to top the sales charts nationally. As more of these cities limit car purchase to curb pollution, lower-Tier cities, countryside and rural areas will weigh more and more in the sales charts, favouring more functional vehicles. In 2nd place like last year, the VW Lavida is up 24% to 230,722 sales, mainly due to the Gran Lavida hatchback variant, very successful at 51,603 units. Add to this the fact that 51.6% of the 167,850 Ford Focus sold in China so far this year (+9% in 3rd position) are hatchback, and you can start to see that even though China remains a sedan-buying country, launching a hatchback here is not a lost cause, far from it.

Haval H6 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Haval H6 is up 59% and breaks into the Top 10.

Volkswagen cements its Passenger Cars ranking domination (ex-MPV, ex-SUV), placing no less than 4 models inside the Top 5! The German manufacturer has hit gold with the new generation VW Santana up 145% to 134,934 sales, followed by the Sagitar (+14%) and Jetta (+32%), while the Golf (+70%) and Tiguan (+28%) also outperform the market. The Nissan Sylphy is #1 Japanese at #8 (+29%) while the Haval H6 cracks the Top 10, up a fantastic 59% and 9 spots to #10 and 118,666 units. Sadly the Hongguang and H6 are the only two Chinese models in the Top 25 so far this year, with the ChangAn Eado (#29, +74%) and Emgrand EC7 (#35, -26%) the only two Chinese sedans in the Top 40! You can check out my Strategy analysis on How can Chinese brands unlock their home market here.

Hyundai Mistra China May 2014. Picture courtesy of Hyundai Mistra is on track to sell 100,000 units this year.

The two best-selling all-new entrants over the period uncover a new trend: the creation of intermediary sedan segments exclusive to China. Such huge overall volumes enable a more detailed segmentation and justify the launch of models dedicated to this market. The Honda CRider is slotted between the Civic and the Accord and already outsells both of them at #24 with 66,466 sales, while the Hyundai Mistra is equally as impressive at #37 with 52,200 units, below the Elantra Langdong (#16) and Yuedong (#25) but above the Sonata (#82). Interestingly the Crider and the Mistra are the only all-new entrants inside the Top 50…

Ford Mondeo China May 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comThe new generation Ford Mondeo is the third best-selling all-new model in China in 2014.

…but there are 7 more in the Top 100, led by the Ford Mondeo at #51 with 43,351 sales, ahead of the Chery E3 at #62 and 34,634 units, the Chery Tiggo 5 at #69 and 32,856 sales, the Toyota Yaris L at #71 and 32,774, the Peugeot 301 at #79 and 31,432, Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 at #85 and 28,898 and the Honda Jade at #98 and 24,951. Add to this the Mazda CX-5 at #102 and 7 of the 10 best-selling new models in China over the period are… not Chinese, which is a little alarming given their shrinking market share at home. The Chinese fare better further down the ranking with 7 of the newt 10 new entrants.

FAW Besturn X80 China May 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comFAW Besturn X80

Other noticeable gainers towards the top of the Chinese year-to-date ranking include the Ford Kuga up 96% to #33, the Toyota Vios up 7454% to #34 thanks to the new model, the Citroen C-Elysée up 77% to #39, the ChangAn CS35 up 70% to break into the Top 50 at #46, Skoda Rapid up 705% to #65, Beijing Auto E-Series up 118% to #66, Audi Q3 up 345% to #67, Ford Ecosport up 134% to #134, FAW Besturn X80 up 730% to #76, Haima M3 up 322% to #81 and the Dongfeng Fengguang up 8599% to #89 as it launched exactly one year ago. The trend here is clear: a very strong push from small and medium SUVs, both foreign and Chinese.

Previous post: China May 2014: Focus on the all-new models

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

One year ago: China May 2013: VW Lavida leads, Ford Ecosport up

Full January-May 2014 Top 348 All-local models and Top 66 brands Ranking Tables below.

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