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China November 2014: Focus on the all-new models

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

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

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

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

1. Haval H1 (#97 with 6,066 sales)

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

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

Haval H9 China November 2014. Picture courtesy of cheshi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chery Arrizo 3 China November 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BYD S7 China November 2014

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

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

Bar for success: 4,500 monthly sales

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

7. Infiniti Q50L (#221 with 998 sales)

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

Bar for success: 3,000 monthly sales

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

8. Zotye Z500 (#225 with 912 units)

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

Bar for success: 4,000 monthly sales

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

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

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

Bar for success: 4,500 monthly sales

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

10. Lifan X50 (#254 with 502 sales)

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

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

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

11. Chery eQ (#302 with 136 units)

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

Bar for success: 1,000 monthly units

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

12. VW Lamando (#323 with 28 deliveries)

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

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

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

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

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

Full November 2014 Top 343 models Ranking Table below.

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