* See the Top 343 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title *
New light vehicles sales are up 5% year-on-year in China to 1.775.300 units in November, and once again the entire market is single-handedly lifted by MPV and SUV sales. While sedans (the Chinese description for passenger cars) are down 5% to 1.074.300 units and microvans are down a horrid 32% to 85,600 sales, MPV deliveries surge 43% to 200.800 and SUV are up an equally impressive 38% to 414.600. Overall, November is the third consecutive month when the sales growth rate has fallen below 7%, confirming the market is definitely losing some momentum. Year-to-date, China’s light vehicle sales are up 9% to a record 17.639.700 units – note this total does not include commercial vehicles, trucks and buses. This rush towards the MPV and SUV segments is now very clearly visible in the models ranking and for once it would appear it has mainly benefitted Chinese manufacturers, notoriously weaker than their foreign competitors even at home.
Starting with the MPV segment, the Wuling Hongguang still reigns supreme at home with a huge 69,808 sales, its second best monthly volume ever below the 81,153 units it managed last January. But once again the most impressive performance is coming from the Baojun 730: the low-cost MPV astoundingly breaks the 30,000 monthly sales-milestone in November at 30,089 units for its 4th month of sales, becoming the fastest vehicle to reach that level of sales in the history of automobile in China. Given the Wuling Hongguang and the Baojun 730 come from the same company (SAIC GM), we are witnessing a great example of successful segmentation as the two models are definitely not cannibalising each other.
All the next best-selling MPVs shine: the Chana Honor is up 52% YOY to #21 and 14,310 sales, the Dongfeng Joyear is up 65% to break its monthly volume record for the third month in a row at #25 and 13,666 units, the Dongfeng Fengguang is up 117% to reach a record monthly tally of 13,114 sales parky thanks to the introduction of the ‘360’ crossover-looking variant, and the Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 triples its sales YOY to break the 10,000 monthly unit-barrier for the first time at 11,801 sales and #40, also a ranking record for the nameplate.
Moving on to the SUV segment: one month after becoming the first-ever SUV to sell over 30,000 monthly units in China, the Haval H6 does it again this month, breaking its volume record again at 31,019 sales. Get this: it is the 13th time in the past 17 months that the H6 beats its monthly sales record! But another Chinese SUV manages to surprise even more. Launched last August, the JAC Refine S3 is up 52% and 36 spots on October to stunningly break into the overall Top 20 at #20 with 15,004 sales. This means the Refine S3 is the 2nd best-selling SUV in the country below just the Haval H6 and above all foreign nameplates, including such established blockbusters as the VW Tiguan (#26), Hyundai ix35 (#34) and Honda CR-V (#35)! This is also the first time any JAC model manages to rank within the 20 most popular at home since BSCB started following on the Chinese market monthly a decade ago: the brand is normally relatively discreet in the passenger car category, with its expertise being trucks.
In a context particularly favourable to SUVs, the sky is the limit for Great Wall’s SUV-only brand Haval, selling a record 53,703 units in November. Apart from the record-breaking H6, the H2 reaches a best-ever 12,007 sales at #37 and both the H1 (#97) and H9 (#172) simultaneously hit the sales charts – which will be covered in detail in the China November 2014: Focus on the All-new models post. Another Chinese SUV making sparks this month is the Beijing Auto Huansu S3 up 28% on October to pass the 10,000 monthly units for the first time at 11,905, also delivering its very first Top 50 ranking at #37. Notice also the Chery Tiggo 3 up 164% YOY to #44, the ChangAn CS75 above 10,000 units for the 2nd consecutive month and the Zotye T600 selling a record 8,221 units.
Fortunately for the rest of the world’s automotive industry, a few foreign-branded (but locally-produced) SUVs also perform extremely well this month. Leading the charge for the first time is the Nissan X-Trail: its facelift increases sales 8-fold compared to a year ago, reaching a record #24 and 14,121 units, outselling the Qashqai by more than 2 to 1. Also, the two nameplates launched last month that rank the highest in November are two foreign SUVs. The Honda Vezel is up 702% and 153 spots to an excellent #57 and 9,697 – already not too far from the CR-V (12,256) and selling way more than in Japan this month (6,157). I predicted last month that a Top 50 ranking was well within reach for the Vezel and we are already almost there. Most importantly, the Vezel already outsells all its competitors by a comfortable margin: the Peugeot 2008 is #78 with a (record) 7,321 units, the Buick Encore is #105 and the Chevrolet Trax #131. The second best performing October-launched nameplate is the Buick Envision, up 136% and 66 ranks to #87, already inside the long-term Top 100 target I had fixed last month and instantly well above its stablemate the Encore. A real success for the American brand. Before we leave the SUV segment, let’s salute the Hyundai ix25 up a further 4 spots to #90.
The ‘sedan’ segment (Chinese for all passenger cars that don’t qualify as SUV and MPV) may slide by 5% in November, there are a few spectacular performers keeping the sales charts well and truly alive. The VW Lavida leads them all once again, up 41% to 38,072 sales but the star of the month is the Nissan Sylphy: thanks to sales 10% to 34,480 units, it delivers its best-ever monthly result and the highest-ever sales figure for any Japanese model in China. Note this figure includes two generations of the nameplate still on sale here. The Sylphy outsells the Focus (32,650) for the first time and outsells the Lavida as well if we exclude its Gran Lavida hatchback variant (28,800). Boosted by its facelift, the Chevrolet Sail is up 7 spots on October to #7, the Hyundai Elantra Langdong is up 45% YOY to #9 and the Toyota Corolla is up 141% to break its monthly volume record for the 2nd straight month at 21,569 units.
Further down, the VW Golf impresses again at +97%, the Honda Fit takes full advantage of its new generation, up 319% to a record #31 and 13,061 sales, the facelifted BYD F3 reclaims some of its past shine, up 139% YOY to #35 and 12,201 units, the Toyota Levin brilliantly maintains itself above 10,000 sales at #48, the Peugeot 408 is up 74% now that the new model is in dealerships and the Beijing Senova D50 makes its first incursion inside the Top 100 at #85 and a best-ever 6,937 sales. The Kia K4 continues to climb the ladder at #88 and a record 6,748 sales, having no negative impact on its twin the Hyundai Mistra (#32, +108%) but in essence killing the Honda Crider (-51% to #68). A good operation for the Korean manufacturer.
Among other October launches, let’s single out the MG GT that goes from 13 lonely units sold last month to a 2,959 for a #155 ranking. This is impressive, simply because it instantly propels the GT to best-selling MG in China by far, representing 68% of the brand’s sales in November! Whether this is a result of the GT launch or not, the MG 3 is down 75% YOY to #236, the MG 6 is down 74% to #261 and the MG 5 is down 83% to #299. An unthinkable situation in most other world markets, in China such a fast turnaround is possible as brands are still very young with very little loyalty and consumers tastes can report themselves instantly to a new model. Has the GT single-handedly revived the MG brand in China (and therefore the world)? Answer in the next few months. Still among October launches, notice also the Volvo XC60 up 296% to #159, the DS 6 up 51% to #186 and 1,971 sales – the brand’s best monthly volume (previous best: 1,739 by the DS 5LS last June), and the FAW Junpai D60 up 96 spots to #198.
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Full November 2014 Top 343 All-local models Ranking Table below.