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China February 2015: Ford Escort and VW Lamando impress

VW Lamando China February 2015. Picture courtesy VW Lamando found 10,153 buyers in China this month.

* See the Top 350 All-local models by clicking on the title *

New light vehicle sales in China remain robust in February despite the Lunar New Year holiday (Feb. 18-24), up 6% year-on-year to 1.4 million, once again lifted by very dynamic SUV and MPV sales. Over the first two months of 2015, the market is up 9% to 3.4 million vehicles, with SUV sales up 46% to 818,100 units and MPV deliveries up 17% to 383.500. In contrast, sedans are stable at 2 million units and microvans are down 18% to 202,200 sales. China is potentially one of the fastest-moving automotive car markets in the world, and this month is no exception, with Chinese-branded SUVs and MPVs – among others – continuing to make very significant progress. With February overall numbers traditionally much lower than January, only a handful of nameplates deliver higher volumes than last month – the majority of them being recent launches.

Ford Escort China February 2015. Picture courtesy Ford Escort is up to #17 overall in February.

Unusually, 9 of the Top 15 best-sellers see their volume go down on a year ago, including the entire podium with the Wuling Hongguang (-21%), VW Lavida (-1%) and Santana (-4%) all receding. The Baojun 730 is back up 4 spots on January to reach an all-time best ranking in 4th place with 24,502 sales, while the Hyundai Elantra Langdong is up a fantastic 47% year-on-year and 6 ranks on last month to #5. Although the Haval H6 is up 11% on a year ago, it is down to #6 this month and does not break its monthly sales volume record for the first time since last August. The Ford Focus (-30%) is the hardest hit in the Top 40: this is logical as the new Ford Escort is supposed to replace the previous generation Focus still on sale in China and accounting for up to half of the nameplate’s sales in some months. The Escort continues its race to the top: up 11 spots on January to a best-ever #17 with 16,827 sales.

JAC Refine S3 China February 2015. Picture courtesy JAC Refine S3 hits a record #19 in China this month

One year ago in February 2014, there were only 3 Chinese models in the Top 25 and 11 in the Top 50. This month there are 8 in the Top 25 and 17 in the Top 50. Streamlined brand strategies and an extremely dynamic focus on the SUV and MPV segments are the reasons behind this turnaround. Along with the Baojun 730, one nameplate that perfectly symbolises this trend is the JAC Refine S3: celebrating 6 months since launch in February, the Refine S3 breaks its ranking record at #19 thanks to 16,193 deliveries, ranking 5th Chinese overall. The ChangAn Eado passes the Geely Emigrand EC7 for the title of best-selling Chinese passenger car this month thanks to sales up 68% to 15,051 vs. 14,789 (+76%).

Dongfeng Fengguang 360 China February 2015. Picture courtesy Dongfeng Fengguang is up to a best-ever #23 this month.

The Dongfeng Fengguang 330/360 is up 122% to #23 (ranking record), the ChangAn CS35 up 87% to #25, the BYD F3 up 4-fold on a year ago to #37, the Dongfeng Joyear up 44% to #46, Chery Tiggo 3 up 175% to #48 and the Geely Vision up 11-fold (!) to #50 thanks to a new generation. Recent Chinese launches are also hitting records: notably, the BYD S7 breaks the 10,000 monthly sales mark for the first time, up 84 spots on January to #30 and 10,649 deliveries, earning it a #5 SUV ranking overall and in effect killing the S6 it replaces (-85% to #178). The Haval H2 breaks its ranking record at #31 while both the ChangAn CS75 (#39) and Beijing Auto Huansu S3 (#40) flirt with 10,000 deliveries.

BYD S7 China February 2015. Picture courtesy blockbuster: the BYD S7 is up to #30 and #5 SUV for its 4th month in market.

There are a handful of other very interesting developments among recent launches in China this month. Firstly the VW Lamando, in essence a CC variant of the VW Sagitar, takes off this month: up 76% on January to fly up to an astounding 10,153 dales at #35. Once again Volkswagen has hit the bullseye while attempting to create a new segment – its latest successful attempt being the Gran Lavida. Up 46 spots and 11% on last month is the Honda XR-V at #57, now outselling its twin the Honda Vezel, down 16 ranks to #74. Both models add up to 12,019 sales, more than double the next best-selling Honda model this month (the CR-V at 5,207 units). Total success for Honda’s compact SUV in China. Notice also the Citroen C3-XR up 24% and 53 spots to #103 and the Hawtai Shengdafei up 22% and 44 ranks to #129.

Venucia T70 China February 2015. Picture courtesy its 2nd month in market, the T70 is already Venucia’s best-seller.

Finally, 3 of the 4 new entrants from January markedly improve their score. As expected, the Venucia T70 is now the most successful among them, slicing its ranking in two and multiplying its January sales by 7.5 to 2,694 at #134. BSCB’s bar for success for the T70 (#80 or 8,000 sales) is still far off, but in an unexpected and fascinating turn of events, it looks like the T70 has cannibalised the brand’s other nameplates, already becoming Venucia’s best-seller! The R50/D50 is down 75% year-on-year to #181 and the R30 is down 45 spots on last month to #236… The Changhe Freedom M50 gains 21 spots to #158 while the Karry K50 gains 36 to #174, improving its sales by 11% to 1,611. Only the Beijing Auto Weiwang 007 is stuck at #314 with a mediocre 67 deliveries.

Previous post: China LCV January 2015: Wuling Hongguang V appears

Previous month: China January 2015: Market up 7% to 2.3 million units, Haval H6 on podium

One year ago: China February 2014: VW Santana takes off at +189%

Full February 2015 Top 350 All-local models below.

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